Friday, 21 September 2012

Simplification or complication?

As readers are no doubt aware, a local planning authority is required by Article 31 of the DMPO, when granting planning permission, to give a summary of the reasons for the grant of permission and a summary of the policies and proposals in the development plan relevant to the decision.

An amendment has now been made to Article 31 which requires the LPA to add to this note a statement explaining how, in dealing with the application, the authority has worked with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner based on seeking solutions to problems arising in relation to dealing with a planning application [!]

According to a letter from De-CLoG’s Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain, to Chief Planning Officers, this is in line with paragraphs 186-187 of the NPPF, which advise that:

“186. Local planning authorities should approach decision-taking in a positive way to foster the delivery of sustainable development. The relationship between decision-taking and plan-making should be seamless, translating plans into high quality development on the ground.

“187. Local planning authorities should look for solutions rather than problems, and decision-takers at every level should seek to approve applications for sustainable development where possible. Local planning authorities should work proactively with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area.”

Quartermain suggests that in the majority of cases it will be sufficient for the authority to include a simple statement, confirming that they have implemented the requirement in the NPPF. However, bearing in mind the number of cases that have reached the High Court based on a challenge to the LPA’s compliance with the requirement to summarise their reasons for the grant of permission, this seems to be offering yet another hostage to fortune. What the amended Article 31 requires is that the LPA should explain how they have worked with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner based on seeking solutions to problems arising in relation to dealing with a planning application. A simple assertion that they have complied with paras 186 and 187 of the NPPF would not appear to me to suffice for this purpose.

I cannot see what has been gained by this amendment. It seems to be an unnecessary complication which is of no assistance to anyone. Which bright spark dreamed up this daft idea? I sometimes wonder whether the denizens of De-CLoG live on the same planet as the rest of us.



  1. Having re-read the first version of this post, as published earlier this afeternoon, I couldn't leave it as it had been written. The opening paragraph, which went on for 10 lines, comprised a single sentence! It really was the most appalling piece of writing. I hope that this revised version is more readable.

  2. I've yet to speak to anyone who thinks this amendment is a good thing. My altogether more ranting response to this, and other recent planning changes can be found here if you'd like to read it: