Local people and the performance of their council
Q: What can residents do about councils which give planning consent under delegated powers rather than taking the application to a Council Committee, even if objections are not resolved?
A: Councils will approve most planning applications under delegated powers, unless the application proves controversial, with the measure of controversy being the number of letters of objection received. Therefore if you are concerned about an application you should send in a letter objecting to the proposals and speak to your local councillor: As a general rule, the more objections they receive the more likely they are to refer the decision to the planning committee and even full council.
Q: What can residents do about councils which will not take enforcement action on any unauthorised development for which they think they might not be able to defeat a planning appeal?
A: Policy on the priorities of the enforcement section of any local planning authority will be determined by that council, and ultimately by the elected members. Residents should take up the issue with their local councillor/ elected member.
Q: What can residents do about councils which do not impose adequate and enforceable conditions with planning permissions in conservation areas and listed building consent to ensure use of appropriate materials and good detailing etc.?
A: If you feel that conditions should be applied to a planning permission it is always worth suggesting this to your council in making your written response to a consultation. Planning conditions often cover such issues as materials and architectural detailing. If consistently your council planning department does not do this you might consider pointing out to the Chair of the Planning Committee and your local councillor the effect that the lack of control over details on permissions is having. You might do this by offering to show them some recently completed developments where this is very apparent.
Q: Our council has given approval for a development in the conservation area despite huge opposition from local residents. Is there an appeals process?
A: The formal appeals process through the Planning Inspectorate is only open to applicants who have had their application refused. A judicial review of a decision on the grounds that it was legally flawed is a possibility but such challenges are expensive and the taking of specialist legal advice is strongly advised before embarking on such a course of action.
Q: Our council’s decisions relating to alterations to buildings within conservation areas are inconsistent, despite their own planning policies – is there anything we can do?
A: It is usually best to seek a meeting with your local councillor and the chair of the planning committee and come armed with factual documentation to back up your concerns. You will need to prove that your council is actually contradicting its policies rather than interpreting them differently than you.
Q: What can we, as a parish council, do when the local planning authority consistently allows developments that contradict the Village Design Statement, even though the local planning authority itself adopted the VDS as a Local Design Statement. Can’t English Heritage press for added weight to be given to Village Design Statements in the planning process?
A: You should seek a meeting with your local councillor and the chair of the planning committee and come armed with factual documentation to back up your concerns. You will need to prove that your council is actually contradicting its policies rather than interpreting them differently. English Heritage in our Guidance on the management of conservation areas encourages the use of local guidance on design as a way of helping to ensure that new development is in context with its area, and encouraging good design is a high government priority.
Q: How can we prevent the council demolishing or allowing demolition of a building in a conservation area but then doing nothing with the site?
A: Conservation Area Consent is required to demolish a conservation area building in its entirety. Guidance in the Government’s Planning Policy Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment (PPG 15) Annex B advises that conservation area consent should not be given for demolition of a conservation area building unless there are appropriate proposals for the redevelopment of the site in order to avoid an unsightly, cleared site. In determining an application for conservation area consent, the Council should take into account the guidance in PPG15*.
*Note: PPG 15 and PPG 16 have now been replaced by PPS 5 and a guidance document – Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide.