Monday, September 05, 2005

Speed of planning applications

Reader Sara writes:

Our plans are ready to go in and have been drawn up by a local bloke who has been very good but a bit slow (because he is always busy). We choose him because we have used him before, he knows the process and the planners.

He has done the plans for a fixed price and will charge us around £200 to "put the application in and manage it to decision". We want him to do that as we may have some neighbour issues and can therefore play good-cop, bad-cop! Concern is he doesn't have the same incentive as us to get it approved so I'm thinking we should offer him a £500 bonus if the application is approved and to speed it up an extra £500 if it is approved before Christmas ?

Anyone done anything like this? Any reason not to?

Housebuilder's Bible author Mark Brinkley reckons:

The nub of the problem here is that 80% or 90% of the delays in planning are caused by the planners themselves. Your man could be very "on the ball" but still not get a result before Xmas, through no fault of his own. Also you mention there are "issues with neighbours": it may be that the whole process becomes complex and convoluted and an early decision may not be welcome because it may well be a refusal!

Coincidentally, I just absorbed this snippet, extracted from Housebuilder magazine (Sep 2005):

"Developers are increasingly being forced onto a 'reject and resubmit' planning merry-go-round in order to win planning approval, as planning authorities seek to meet the government's speed-of-decision targets. Research published by Housing Market Intelligence reveals that the government's service delivery targets for planning authorities, which encourages them to determine 60% of major residential and industrial applications within 13 weeks, have not led to an improvement in the planning process, as the government has claimed. Planning authorities are now far quicker to reject applications, leading applicants to resubmit projects rather than entering into negotiations. This approach shortens decision times, on which authorities are targeted, but there is little evidence to suggest that it is reducing the time taken to get projects through the planning process. In SE England, currently a third of all projects granted planning permission have been rejected at least once (compared to just 19% only three years ago) and in London as many as 1 in 10 projects have required at least three applications before approval is granted."

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