A positive attitude

Published December 1st, 2015

As reported on Berrys Planning Blog on 12th October the government continues to reform the planning system in an attempt to speed-up development and particularly house building.

Some further details on this were provided in the Chancellor’s autumn statement and comprehensive spending review on 25th November, which confirmed that substantial funding is being made available to achieve the building of 400,000 affordable homes by 2021. It was also announced that planning policy will be amended to support small sites and a proposal to allow previously developed brownfield sites in the green belt to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land.

We will have to wait for the details on these announcements to understand the practicalities but they are generally welcomed as they seek to speed up delivery and remove uncertainty in the planning process.

However, as we have seen before this isn’t always the result.

Perhaps the best example of this has been the Prior Approval proposals to allow the conversion of agricultural buildings to residential, which has generate much debate and media interest but not the number of conversions hoped for.

Whilst the wording of the original legislation and updated guidance hasn’t helped it is ultimately the interpretation of the policy that is key. Some recent statistics on refusal rates on these types of applications showed that Herefordshire Council refused 75%, Shropshire Council 38% and South Oxfordshire Council 0%.

That’s quite a difference!!

Whilst this is just a simplistic look at one particular planning issue it shows how important the attitude of the local planning authority or planning officer is. You don’t always need to reform legislation and policy…you just need to have a positive attitude.