Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The planning process – more nonsense


I had personal experience recently of the irritations caused by current bureaucratic nonsense in the planning system. I had submitted an application on behalf of a client for a Lawful Development Certificate, relating to an existing use or development. In addition to the application form, I had sent (in triplicate, of course) a bundle of statutory declarations and exhibits, which included site plans, photographs and other supporting documents, all of which had been referred to in the covering letter.

A week later a got a letter from the LPA saying that the application was invalid because it had not been accompanied by a check-list in accordance with the LPA’s validation requirements. A telephone call to the LPA made it clear that they would absolutely refuse to register the application without this vital information.

I duly downloaded a copy of the relevant check-list from the Council’s website. This contained only three items:

Other plans - YES/NO
Photographs - YES/NO
Supporting information - YES/NO.

I ticked ‘Yes’ to all three items and sent it off. I hope it makes some admin officer in this particular LPA happy.

This sort of thing is, of course, complete nonsense, but it is quicker and cheaper to comply than to argue about it. But it is no wonder that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the planning system, especially among the business community. I am completely convinced that it is pettifogging procedures like this which create this impression, rather than the substantive development control (or development management) process itself.

If planning officers wish to shake off their unfortunate public image, scrapping local validation requirements like the one cited above would go a long way to changing public perceptions of the planning system. But while nonsense of this sort continues, the calls for more fundamental and possibly damaging changes to the planning system will persist.

© MARTIN H GOODALL

1 comment:

AndyH said...

You are not alone in having this sort of experience. Some authorities do their best to avoid dealing with applications if their boxes aren't ticked even if the information is included.
Even worse, there are also some authorities that at the same time ask whether applicants want to continue with the application because it is unlikely to be approved! So that is an admin officer pre-determining an application - and at a CPD event about a year ago, the head of admin of the authority in questions couldn't see why i felt this was an abuse of the Council's position.