Self-builders approaching their first project are often unaware of exactly how the British planning system works.
One key element that's often overlooked is the fact that local planning is run by local government. And where there's government – there's politics.
In this guide, we'll introduce self-builders to the politics of planning and highlight the key factors in local government that could impact your chances of gaining permission for your project.
How it works
As we've mentioned in previous posts, one of the key pieces of legislation in recent years was the Localism Act (2011). This aimed to bring about mass de-centralisation and in terms of planning, this meant the abolition of regional strategies – with development plans devolved to local governments across the country.
The Act enables local authorities to put together frameworks on the type of development they want to prioritise in their areas, the kinds they want to prevent and sets out their priorities on the local economy, infrastructure and community facilities.
Going further down the rabbit hole, invested community groups can also contribute to the process with Neighbourhood Plans. These work in a similar fashion to local plans, giving stakeholders a say on where new developments should go, what they should look like and what's not wanted.
With the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill working its way through parliament, it's likely that we'll see further changes in this area as London passes further powers to the regions.
There's several parties at the local authority who may be ultimately responsible for deciding the fate of your application. If it's a standard application that local residents don't take issue with – it can be approved by the chief planning officer.
However, if the application turns out to be contentious or attracts a high number of objections from local residents, parish or town councils – then it may have to go before the planning committee. If this does occur, you'll be notified and usually be given the chance to address the committee.
There's no hard and fast rules on this front, however, and things can differ according to a local authority's delegated agreement. This sets out in which cases officers can tackle an application on their own and when they'll be deferred to the planning committee.
If yours does end up in front of the committee, the officer will put forward recommendations, which the committee will debate and then vote whether to follow or not.