Reduce Planning Bureaucracy

We need to make serious reductions to the amount of paperwork that needs to be done in order to speed up and streamline the planning system.

I'm a year or so from graduating as an architect and have already studied planning. I've worked in both fields and the amount of paperwork needed just to get planning permission is incredible. The previous government, despite making some positive changes, have made it harder and more expensive to get planning and build.

Public sector planners have been allowed to request an ever increasing range of documents and reports from developers – tree surveys, bat surveys, traffic impact assessments, environmental impact assessments, design and access statements, statements of community consultation etc etc, all of which can cost thousands upon thousands from specialist consultants. In some cases, these are necessary, however all too often planners aren't sure of whether they are needed so will request anything vaguely applicable to cover their own backs, with no understanding of the costs and time delays involved.

In short: make planners justify all aditional documentation that they request.

Why is this idea important?

We need to make serious reductions to the amount of paperwork that needs to be done in order to speed up and streamline the planning system.

I'm a year or so from graduating as an architect and have already studied planning. I've worked in both fields and the amount of paperwork needed just to get planning permission is incredible. The previous government, despite making some positive changes, have made it harder and more expensive to get planning and build.

Public sector planners have been allowed to request an ever increasing range of documents and reports from developers – tree surveys, bat surveys, traffic impact assessments, environmental impact assessments, design and access statements, statements of community consultation etc etc, all of which can cost thousands upon thousands from specialist consultants. In some cases, these are necessary, however all too often planners aren't sure of whether they are needed so will request anything vaguely applicable to cover their own backs, with no understanding of the costs and time delays involved.

In short: make planners justify all aditional documentation that they request.

Listed Buildings Act – make “de-listing” easier

This Act was designed to preserve our (architectural) heritage and within limits I am in favour of that.  However, it allows for a building to be listed on arbitrary grounds by people who have no responsibility for maintaining it, and against which it is extremely difficult to appeal.  This needs to change.  The onus should be on those who list a building (government/local authorities/heritage groups or whatever) to provide the funds to maintain it in the condition required by the grading.  Since that's not going to happen in most cases, it should then be possible for those responsible for the building to alter or demolish it as they see fit.  If the community objects, let the community put up the money to preserve it. 

Why is this idea important?

This Act was designed to preserve our (architectural) heritage and within limits I am in favour of that.  However, it allows for a building to be listed on arbitrary grounds by people who have no responsibility for maintaining it, and against which it is extremely difficult to appeal.  This needs to change.  The onus should be on those who list a building (government/local authorities/heritage groups or whatever) to provide the funds to maintain it in the condition required by the grading.  Since that's not going to happen in most cases, it should then be possible for those responsible for the building to alter or demolish it as they see fit.  If the community objects, let the community put up the money to preserve it. 

Reform and clarify the planning system to progressive beauty

The planning system is an out of date, dishonest and currupt monster. It restricts, hinders and punishers those who dare to challenge it and lead business forward with new ideas, buildings and concepts.

I and many of my collegues would invest far more money into business infrastructure to benefit the local enconomy, lower rents and capital costs, improve efficiency, and lower carbon footprints and improve the life of all who work in the economy. I personally invest only 20% of my potential in my business because of the problems, uncretainties and vagarities of the planning system.

This planning system is a mess. Since it was introduced the quality, range and visual amenity of all properties has deteriated, and has only seen a small improvement in the last decade, but still we live in a world of poor quality buildings and workspaces.

This system is policed by biased and corrupt planners who nearly always make a decision to refuse a progressive application and then bend and manipulate the law to fit their decisions. That is unless one of their pals on the planning committee is involved in which case they do just the opposite. Many progressive and highly functional and efficient buildings and land uses are stopped by the 1% of nimbies and their councillor chums whoc then unfairly and unconstitutionaly influence the planners to lie and missrepresent the planning law to refuse and application. I have a small business development which is both low impact and visually unintrusive for hi tech office use, but we have and continue to fight the planners for everything and 5 years in we are still fighting and subject to intrusive inspections by planning officers to try to stop us using our permitted development rights. Throughout this process we have shelved plans for wood fired heating, small wind turbine and a small solar project to progress our energy consumption and have had to aboandon all due to the local authority planning incompetance and obstructions.

here is the typical scenario. We contact the planner for some advice. Is this xyz alteration to our building okay. We then write in after no responce. We are told a load of rubbish that yes we will look at the application and we could not possibly issue a view on it prior to an application. Then as soon as we submit an application they are suddenly 100% sure that all they can do is refuse an application and there is no possibility of passing it. ??Why could they not have said it before. Then we go to appeal and as long as we do not get an x planning officer at appeal we get the permission granted and the planning authority make a fool of themselves lying through their back teeth to back up their reasons for refusal which were all fabricated.

This is all a long and drawn out unnecesary process and we should look at a form of zoning with restrictions on hieght and use in certain areas and alow a certain amount of land each year to be set aside fo new uses close to existing towns. Planners should be forced to represent the law correctly and not lie to applicants and give more honest and less obstructive advice. This unnecesary and overly beurocratic system is holding back business, increasing house rents and capital values andis not deliverying a better built environment or better houses to live in. The system has its head in the sand when in comes to solar gain through south facing windows, solar heating and panels, quality of living space and aspect and beauty.

We need to look at a total overhaul of this sytem and produce a postive progressive, not negative regressive process which encourages people to invest in quality eficient and beautiful buildings which are a joy to behold. When people look back at the buildings from 1960 to 2010 they will wonder what on earth we were doing bar a few fantastic exeptions. Lets make 2010 onwards more progressive, more beautiful, more postive and make Britain a fantastic place to live.

Why is this idea important?

The planning system is an out of date, dishonest and currupt monster. It restricts, hinders and punishers those who dare to challenge it and lead business forward with new ideas, buildings and concepts.

I and many of my collegues would invest far more money into business infrastructure to benefit the local enconomy, lower rents and capital costs, improve efficiency, and lower carbon footprints and improve the life of all who work in the economy. I personally invest only 20% of my potential in my business because of the problems, uncretainties and vagarities of the planning system.

This planning system is a mess. Since it was introduced the quality, range and visual amenity of all properties has deteriated, and has only seen a small improvement in the last decade, but still we live in a world of poor quality buildings and workspaces.

This system is policed by biased and corrupt planners who nearly always make a decision to refuse a progressive application and then bend and manipulate the law to fit their decisions. That is unless one of their pals on the planning committee is involved in which case they do just the opposite. Many progressive and highly functional and efficient buildings and land uses are stopped by the 1% of nimbies and their councillor chums whoc then unfairly and unconstitutionaly influence the planners to lie and missrepresent the planning law to refuse and application. I have a small business development which is both low impact and visually unintrusive for hi tech office use, but we have and continue to fight the planners for everything and 5 years in we are still fighting and subject to intrusive inspections by planning officers to try to stop us using our permitted development rights. Throughout this process we have shelved plans for wood fired heating, small wind turbine and a small solar project to progress our energy consumption and have had to aboandon all due to the local authority planning incompetance and obstructions.

here is the typical scenario. We contact the planner for some advice. Is this xyz alteration to our building okay. We then write in after no responce. We are told a load of rubbish that yes we will look at the application and we could not possibly issue a view on it prior to an application. Then as soon as we submit an application they are suddenly 100% sure that all they can do is refuse an application and there is no possibility of passing it. ??Why could they not have said it before. Then we go to appeal and as long as we do not get an x planning officer at appeal we get the permission granted and the planning authority make a fool of themselves lying through their back teeth to back up their reasons for refusal which were all fabricated.

This is all a long and drawn out unnecesary process and we should look at a form of zoning with restrictions on hieght and use in certain areas and alow a certain amount of land each year to be set aside fo new uses close to existing towns. Planners should be forced to represent the law correctly and not lie to applicants and give more honest and less obstructive advice. This unnecesary and overly beurocratic system is holding back business, increasing house rents and capital values andis not deliverying a better built environment or better houses to live in. The system has its head in the sand when in comes to solar gain through south facing windows, solar heating and panels, quality of living space and aspect and beauty.

We need to look at a total overhaul of this sytem and produce a postive progressive, not negative regressive process which encourages people to invest in quality eficient and beautiful buildings which are a joy to behold. When people look back at the buildings from 1960 to 2010 they will wonder what on earth we were doing bar a few fantastic exeptions. Lets make 2010 onwards more progressive, more beautiful, more postive and make Britain a fantastic place to live.

Remove restrictions on Listed Buildings

Too many houses have been include on the Listed Building register because Local Authorities were told they would get money to provide grants. This is now not the case (in fact it only realistically lasted a few years from 1974). However, the restrictions on a vast swathe of domestic houses are preventing sustainable development. Remove all lower grade residental buildings from to Listed Building register – retain Planning Permission/Development Control requirements but stop the hamstringing of people who want to sensitively develop there house to accommodate changing needs and community resources simply becasie the building was listed for often spurious reasons.

This will also allow Local authorities to save more money in Conservation officers, planning personnel time and expense in general admin and in defending the many appeals etc.

Why is this idea important?

Too many houses have been include on the Listed Building register because Local Authorities were told they would get money to provide grants. This is now not the case (in fact it only realistically lasted a few years from 1974). However, the restrictions on a vast swathe of domestic houses are preventing sustainable development. Remove all lower grade residental buildings from to Listed Building register – retain Planning Permission/Development Control requirements but stop the hamstringing of people who want to sensitively develop there house to accommodate changing needs and community resources simply becasie the building was listed for often spurious reasons.

This will also allow Local authorities to save more money in Conservation officers, planning personnel time and expense in general admin and in defending the many appeals etc.

Make energy efficiency targets apply to listed buildings

The property owner has a greater duty to fulfil his or her environmental duties than to protect the historic nature of the building.

This includes the right of the property owner to any reasonable measures to improve on the current Energy Performance Certificate of a Grade II listed building.

Why is this idea important?

The property owner has a greater duty to fulfil his or her environmental duties than to protect the historic nature of the building.

This includes the right of the property owner to any reasonable measures to improve on the current Energy Performance Certificate of a Grade II listed building.

Ease restrictions on earth sheltered & basement housing

There are only 60 earth sheltered houses in the UK mostly in Wales. The planning law for permission is as strict for earth sheltered as it is for above ground – this is wrong!!!!!

A council has to consider aesthetics as well as several other aspects, and any application in the green belt is automatically turned down as green belt building is considered best avoided.

An earth sheltered house is almost always eco friendly – I do not know why – but it is!!

An earth sheltered house cannot be seen or can barely be seen from above ground, other than an aerial view.  This sort of building should be encouraged as this small island has only limited space, we do not wish to see the loss of more green fields or parks, playing fields, agricultural land etc etc.  But earth sheltered would barely impact on infrastructure, does not spoil views or appearance to greenbelt land, and surely should be encouraged in an attempt to help find space for much needed homes. In my opinion all applications for earth sheltered housing should automatically be viewed as if they were brown field sites, and then each taken on its merits. 

Why is this idea important?

There are only 60 earth sheltered houses in the UK mostly in Wales. The planning law for permission is as strict for earth sheltered as it is for above ground – this is wrong!!!!!

A council has to consider aesthetics as well as several other aspects, and any application in the green belt is automatically turned down as green belt building is considered best avoided.

An earth sheltered house is almost always eco friendly – I do not know why – but it is!!

An earth sheltered house cannot be seen or can barely be seen from above ground, other than an aerial view.  This sort of building should be encouraged as this small island has only limited space, we do not wish to see the loss of more green fields or parks, playing fields, agricultural land etc etc.  But earth sheltered would barely impact on infrastructure, does not spoil views or appearance to greenbelt land, and surely should be encouraged in an attempt to help find space for much needed homes. In my opinion all applications for earth sheltered housing should automatically be viewed as if they were brown field sites, and then each taken on its merits. 

Ease restrictions on earth sheltered & basement housing

There are only 60 earth sheltered houses in the UK mostly in Wales. The planning law for permission is as strict for earth sheltered as it is for above ground – this is wrong!!!!!

A council has to consider aesthetics as well as several other aspects, and any application in the green belt is automatically turned down as green belt building is considered best avoided.

An earth sheltered house is almost always eco friendly – I do not know why – but it is!!

An earth sheltered house cannot be seen or can barely be seen from above ground, other than an aerial view.  This sort of building should be encouraged as this small island has only limited space, we do not wish to see the loss of more green fields or parks, playing fields, agricultural land etc etc.  But earth sheltered would barely impact on infrastructure, does not spoil views or appearance to greenbelt land, and surely should be encouraged in an attempt to help find space for much needed homes. In my opinion all applications for earth sheltered housing should automatically be viewed as if they were brown field sites, and then each taken on its merits. 

Why is this idea important?

There are only 60 earth sheltered houses in the UK mostly in Wales. The planning law for permission is as strict for earth sheltered as it is for above ground – this is wrong!!!!!

A council has to consider aesthetics as well as several other aspects, and any application in the green belt is automatically turned down as green belt building is considered best avoided.

An earth sheltered house is almost always eco friendly – I do not know why – but it is!!

An earth sheltered house cannot be seen or can barely be seen from above ground, other than an aerial view.  This sort of building should be encouraged as this small island has only limited space, we do not wish to see the loss of more green fields or parks, playing fields, agricultural land etc etc.  But earth sheltered would barely impact on infrastructure, does not spoil views or appearance to greenbelt land, and surely should be encouraged in an attempt to help find space for much needed homes. In my opinion all applications for earth sheltered housing should automatically be viewed as if they were brown field sites, and then each taken on its merits. 

Simplify the planning system

I work as an architect nationwide in a large practice.  The planning system has a significant impact on our work and it’s smooth operation is vital to our operations and indeed our profitability and survival as a business.  It is also vital to the country, especially at a time of economic problems, that decisions are made swiftly and at minimal cost to everyone involved, including the public purse.

The planning process, from our perspective, has become increasingly difficult over the last decade.  The introduction of fees and later of targets, has not eased the process from our point of view and we often find ourselves trapped in between the demands of our clients on the one hand and the planners on the other.  

The cost of making a planning application is now so high, because of the time scale required to put an appllication together and the vast number of reports and information required to enable a decision – that it has become beyond the reach of many private clients who cannot afford to venture into the system at huge personal cost, when the outcome is so uncertain.

Simplify the whole system.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Expand the scope of permitted development.
  • Introduce a "rules" based system where any proposal complying with the rules can be automatically permitted.
  • As in much of Europe any design submitted by a qualified architect should be deemed approved from a "design" perspective.
  • Introduce Local Development Orders to cover all main development sites with a set of criteria to be followed.  Any proposal complying with the criteria would be deemed approved.
  • Similarly – define rules within Local Plans whereby compliance deems approval.
  • Having introduced a predominantly rules based system – private sector planners could be engaged to run the system and manage the process.  The democratic element of planning would be in approving and determining the rules in the first place.
  • Many apoplications are stalled awaiting consultees responses.  Where consultees fail to respond – and indeed where the Planning Authority fails to make a decision in the proscribed time – an application should be deemed approved.

Why is this idea important?

I work as an architect nationwide in a large practice.  The planning system has a significant impact on our work and it’s smooth operation is vital to our operations and indeed our profitability and survival as a business.  It is also vital to the country, especially at a time of economic problems, that decisions are made swiftly and at minimal cost to everyone involved, including the public purse.

The planning process, from our perspective, has become increasingly difficult over the last decade.  The introduction of fees and later of targets, has not eased the process from our point of view and we often find ourselves trapped in between the demands of our clients on the one hand and the planners on the other.  

The cost of making a planning application is now so high, because of the time scale required to put an appllication together and the vast number of reports and information required to enable a decision – that it has become beyond the reach of many private clients who cannot afford to venture into the system at huge personal cost, when the outcome is so uncertain.

Simplify the whole system.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Expand the scope of permitted development.
  • Introduce a "rules" based system where any proposal complying with the rules can be automatically permitted.
  • As in much of Europe any design submitted by a qualified architect should be deemed approved from a "design" perspective.
  • Introduce Local Development Orders to cover all main development sites with a set of criteria to be followed.  Any proposal complying with the criteria would be deemed approved.
  • Similarly – define rules within Local Plans whereby compliance deems approval.
  • Having introduced a predominantly rules based system – private sector planners could be engaged to run the system and manage the process.  The democratic element of planning would be in approving and determining the rules in the first place.
  • Many apoplications are stalled awaiting consultees responses.  Where consultees fail to respond – and indeed where the Planning Authority fails to make a decision in the proscribed time – an application should be deemed approved.

Simplify planning regulations for private housing

We recently planned to take a chimney breast out of a room – no chimney, only the residual breast.

we required:

1. A builder – necessary

2. A structural engineer – possibly necessary. 1 Degree, large salary.

3. An architect – only necessary because the engineer couldn't get the "necessary" permissions. Another Degree.

4. Building Consent. Local Authority: A reasonably well paid person with, one assumes, yet another Degree.

5. Planning Officer: see above.

6. Listed Building officer: see above.

That's 5 Degrees for one RSJ.

Whilst major projects should be regulated to avoid shoddy development, small works could be deregulated and the areas of operation of Officers 4,5, and 6 above amalgamated into one.

Idea: Reduce the level at which regulation becomes necessary, to cover major works only.

Why is this idea important?

We recently planned to take a chimney breast out of a room – no chimney, only the residual breast.

we required:

1. A builder – necessary

2. A structural engineer – possibly necessary. 1 Degree, large salary.

3. An architect – only necessary because the engineer couldn't get the "necessary" permissions. Another Degree.

4. Building Consent. Local Authority: A reasonably well paid person with, one assumes, yet another Degree.

5. Planning Officer: see above.

6. Listed Building officer: see above.

That's 5 Degrees for one RSJ.

Whilst major projects should be regulated to avoid shoddy development, small works could be deregulated and the areas of operation of Officers 4,5, and 6 above amalgamated into one.

Idea: Reduce the level at which regulation becomes necessary, to cover major works only.