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simplifying the town planning process

Comment 8th August 2010

 I have been a development control planning officer for 30 years and an independant planning consultant for 4 years.

Section 36 of the 2004 Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act should be repealled. Its consequences for determination of planning applications are causing a disproportionate number of planning permissions being refused and loss of development benefit to the ecnomy and to local communities. With so many development plan policies now contained in development plans it is impossible for any development to satisfy the minutii of every one of them and  local authorities are applying them unthinkingly and disproportionately to the level of harm that the development might cause if planning permission were granted. As an example of what I mean, I have recently been refused planning permission for four stables in the countryside because they would create the need for additional travel by private car and the lack of alternative public transport meant they conflict with the sustainable transport policies in the developmnt plan. There is a dead hand of planning across much of the country which is stopping development which would cause no harm if it were premitted.

The level of harm is the test which should be applied to decision making, just as it is in the enforcement regime where local authorities are advised to consider harm to public amenity before issuing enforcement notices not the evidence of a mere breach of planning control.

Under the present regime we are running the risk that those who are prepared to run the risk of not applying for planning permission and get away with it for 4/10 years are getting a better deal than those who apply and go through the whole gamut of planning policy led control with a greater risk of getting a refusal.

 

Why does this matter?

We should go back to the previous legislative basis for determining planning applications which should be that there should be a level of demonstrable harm likely to result before planning permission is refused. Planning policies should inform but they should not be the legislative basis for planning decisions. This would premote more development which does not cause harm and will benefit the economy and growth.

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