We are delighted to have achieved planning approval this month on behalf of two of our lovely clients. On paper, both these projects are very similar - each, a householder planning application for a rear single storey extension, internal reconfiguration, and a dormer loft conversion on a mid-terrace period property, and both within the same Local Authority.
Although the outcome was the same having received planning permission successfully, the journeys to achieve this were both very different…
It’s important to note that under the Localism Act 2011, communities are empowered to have a greater say and involvement with regards to what’s happening in their neighbourhood. Rightly so; it’s important that your home, whether you’ve just moved in or lived there all your life, should feel safe, secure and comfortable, and that any new development shouldn’t detrimentally impact your privacy, light and amenity. Considered and considerate design for both homeowner and surrounding, nearby property is a highly important ethos here at British Home Design. Although design can be very subjective, we spearhead Design Excellence that is appropriate to its setting and which is a positive representation of the era in which we all currently live. However, although change is often embraced positively, change can equally be unwelcomed. Just the idea of change alone can encourage neighbouring objections, alongside the thought of living with an unknown view which is different, or concerns about how their light or privacy will be affected, amongst other worries. This is where both Local and National Planning Policy come in, as these aspects are considered by the Case Officer as material considerations to ensure that new development is appropriate.
For the purposes of this article, let’s label the more straightforward project of the two "property No.1" and the less-straightforward property No.2. Property No.1 received one neighbouring objection and no letters of support and took 6 weeks from point of validation to receiving approval. Property No.2 received 15 objections and 5 letters of support and took 19 weeks from point of validation to receiving approval.
Both properties, although in the same Local Authority, had different Case Officers. It’s also important to note that it’s really important to BHD when instructed to act as Agent for planning applications, to build up a positive rapport with the individual Case Officer, as although they are guided by policy, the individual stances and interpretation of these policies can often vary from planner to planner.
Generally speaking, for simple householder applications such as these, the Case Officer determines the application under what is called "Delegated Powers". They make the decision themselves, overseen internally by their line managers. Project No.1 was decided by the Case Officer under her delegated powers. However in the case of project No.2, this had to be decided at Committee. This was because, due to the number of objections received, a local parish councillor called-in the application for a democratic hearing and vote by the local committee panel. The Case Officers recommendation was for Approval of the application, however the democratic process is such that the end result really can go either way depending on the strength of the argument. Project No.2 was, thanks to being designed by BHD, a very strong application and so was successfully approved without a hitch.
This article has been written to demonstrate just how important it is to consider neighbouring impact with your design, as the locals say can be hugely influential. A strong design is required to ride the stormy tides if the journey does become treacherous. Appointing a professional to assist you, who will put in the time and passion that your project deserves to endeavour to cross this line is critical; schemes that have been designed by a fully trained, qualified and experienced architect generally command a respect, with a considered, clear and concise design and drawing presentation welcomed by the planners. It makes the experience for everyone so much easier; and if you are concerned that your project may receive objections, you can rest assured that your project is in the best hands that it can be in, not just at planning stage, but right through to the build.