Building your planning relationships


CLA Rural Practice Surveyor Robert Frewen writes about the frustrations and difficulties regularly encountered with building in the countryside and what members can proactively do

Dealing with planning authorities can be a dispiriting business. In an age of austerity, many of them are under-resourced giving individual officers an excessive caseload. In these situations, it is unsurprising that standards sometimes fall, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on an application.

Some years ago, a client had a site in South Yorkshire. It was a brownfield site and an overgrown mess. The client owned an adjoining terrace of four small cottages so I put in an application to replicate this with a second terrace of four. The entire application was wholly in line with the Local Plan and yet…

Two years later I still had no progress. On one occasion I asked for a site meeting with the case officer which for me involved a 140-mile round trip. The planning officer turned up twenty minutes late and without the file. He could not recall any part of the comments on the application and the entire meeting was a complete waste of our time. This is an extreme example, but it is worth being proactive with planning departments and engaging with them at an early stage. The larger the application the more important the engagement.

Frequently, planning officers will come up with a policy in the Local Plan or the NPPF that gives them a valid reason to recommend refusal. It is well worth looking through the same documents as you can generally find other policies that contradict them and support your application. So “preserving the character and setting of a listed building” as against “the changes are demonstrably necessary either to make the place sustainable or to meet an overriding public policy objective or need.”

Before making an application, you can always talk to your Regional CLA officer. Find out who to contact here: