Heed­ing the ad­vice of plan­ning con­sul­tants could pay off

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wing­field

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

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