Since the Conservative Government was elected into Parliament back in May, the focus has been on getting Britain building again. However, all developers, no matter how big the proposed development or how much the Government wants development to happen, must comply with planning law to avoid unnecessary delays in their planning application process; this gives their planning proposal the best chance of being accepted.
To do this, developers must first do some research. In relation to land, or a building that is to be redeveloped, find out if there are any special controls applied to it – for instance it could be a listed building, in a conservation area or in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is advisable to look and see if the local planning authority has adopted a local plan which will guide development in the area. If the proposed development matches the local plan, the application is more likely to get accepted.
Next, developers should try and get some pre-application advice from the local planning authority. This will help to form a positive and proactive relationship with the authority which is important considering that the authority will be making a decision on the application at the end of the day.
When it comes to making the application itself, the law is very clear about what is required. For a standard planning application, the application must be made on the correct form and all of the information required by that form must be included: most applications are now submitted online through the planning portal, which is designed to make the process easier. New planning applications will also require the submission of plans (drawn to scale and showing the direction of North) to identify the land, other plans, drawings (to scale) and information. It is important that the plans clearly show the location of the land, usually shown by drawing a red line on the border of the land.
If the application relates to land or a building that is not owned by the applicant, or there is a tenant in the property or on the land, the applicant must then give notice of the application to the relevant owner or tenant and certify, in the planning application, that this has been done. In some cases, a statement outlining the design principles applied to the development and also how issues regarding access to the development have been dealt with. Finally, the application must be accompanied by a fee; the local planning authority can advise how much this may be.
If any of those steps above are missed, the application may be considered invalid which means it will be delayed or it could even be rejected.
Unfortunately, even if all of these steps are followed, and a model application is submitted, the application may still be rejected. The local planning authority will inform you exactly why it has been rejected in the decision notice. However, if a decision is to be disputed, the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State against the decision. It is advisable, though, that a planning appeal is only launched when all other options have failed, including speaking to the planning authority about the rejection.
It is worth bearing in mind that all local planning authorities are on the side of the developer. They will want to see positive development in their area as much as anyone else. However, planning is a difficult job, and planners must juggle several different factors, even for the smallest of developments. Working with the planners, and approaching an application, in a positive way is a huge step towards success.