Heeding the advice of planning consultants could pay off
considered on any planning application. The first is based on common sense and can be argued by anyone. For example, will the scale and nature of the proposed development generate noise or exert excessive pressure on local roads, in what is a quiet residential area? The second concerns planning law and development policies. These can vary depending on authority and area but typically include the designation of land for specific uses, scale of new buildings and levels of affordable housing that are required based on local demand.
In addition, to the local policies it is important to have a good understanding of government Planning Policy Guidance notes as well as the planning act itself. For a non-specialist this can be daunting, therefore you may want to consider employing a planning consultant.
Planning consultants are basically a “hired gun” and most should give an initial consultation free of charge. This will establish whether there are strong planning based arguments for the proposed development to be refused permission. They can also draft formal objections and speak on your behalf at the planning committee. They are skilled professionals and charge accordingly.
However, be prepared for them to be totally honest and I would urge you to heed their advice. Any self-respecting professional will refuse the commission if the grounds for objection are based purely on emotion. The concerns mentioned in your letter have no basis in planning terms. I also suspect that the proposed site has actually been designated in the local plan as a housing site and is not a formal public open space, although this is easy for you to check out with the Local Authority. Whilst I note your comment that the planning permission will be a mere formality, it has been my experience that exactly the opposite is the case. If you attend the committee meeting it is likely that this application will receive significantly more scrutiny and generate more debate than any scheme submitted by a private developer.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the new houses as the trend is to make affordable housing schemes “tenure blind”, which means they will be indistinguishable from the private sector. Furthermore, whether the houses belong to the Local Authority or a Housing Association they represent a significant investment and as such will be managed and maintained professionally. There is a tremendous shortage of affordable housing with many families living in terrible conditions and struggling to get on to the property ladder. Instead of adopting a “nimby” approach to this development, review the proposals and work with the applicant and planners to ensure it is of the highest design standard, which will then make a positive contribution to the area.
Jonathon Wingfield is MD at Acanthus WSM Architects, Leeds, www.acanthuswsm.com