Wednesday, 9 January 2013
More validation nonsense
You will have seen the comment posted on my last item on this topic. It seems that Hyndburn are not the only council making unreasonable demands in relation to the submission of planning applications. The following is the slightly abridged text of a letter recently issued by the London Borough of Newham.
“I am writing to advise you that the Council has undertaken a review of the Local List of Planning Application Requirements and that from the 1st January 2013, the following will be required to be submitted with every application: -
For any application submitted by post, an electronic copy of the application submission (all plans and documentation) will need to be provided: -
o The electronic copy of the submission should be provided on a CD which is submitted with the application submission. Alternatively the documents can be emailed to [the council’s email address]
For all applications submitted by post or via the Planning Portal: -
o 2 paper copies of the application submission (all plans and documentation) will be required for any application that is referable to the Greater London Authority (GLA);
o 1 paper copy will be required for all other applications.
Applications will be made invalid until the above requirements have been complied with. Subsequently if the above is not received within 21 days, the application file will be closed.”
So if you apply via the Planning Portal, they still want a paper copy (!!!), and if you apply in writing, they also want an electronic copy! This is frankly unacceptable, and arguably unlawful. Applicants for planning permission have the choice of either applying electronically via the Planning Portal or applying on paper, delivered by post or by hand. LPAs can’t have it both ways. The position is governed by the Development Management Procedure Order, and councils cannot demand more than is required by that Order.
My informant tells me that Newham are notorious for obstructive validation practices. On one occasion they printed an applicant’s colour plans on a monochrome printer and wrote to his agent to complain that there was no red line around the site on the location plan!
As I wrote in response to the comment on a similar demand being made by Hyndburn BC, it is high time the government got a proper grip on this and put a stop to all this nonsense. The new section 62(4A) of the 1990 Act may provide some limited relief from oppressive conduct of this sort on the part of LPAs, as it will restore the right to appeal against non-determination in a case where an LPA is unreasonably refusing to register an application (a step which has been denied to applicants since the High Court decision in the Newcastle case). Under section 62(4A) the LPA will no longer be the sole arbiter of the validity of a planning application; an objective test of reasonableness will apply, and LPAs may find themselves facing costs awards in addition to losing appeals in such cases.
But as I wrote before, most applicants simply don’t want this hassle, and can do without all the delay, worry and expense of running an appeal against non-determination. If Yorkshire’s largest export wants to prove that he really does have some use after all, he should bend his mind to this as a matter of urgency. It would do more to free up the planning system than any amount of tinkering with other aspects of the system.
© MARTIN H GOODALL