Negotiating the Planning Maze

20th April 2022

So, welcome to the world of Planning. You have dipped your toe into the realm of the small Developer. 

You’ve drawn up your plans, you’ve paid your planning submission fees and you’ve had the world and their uncle comment upon your proposals via the Council’s website from the comfort and anonymity of their armchair at home, and now after much heartache and many weeks (or months, in some instances) of waiting, responding, more waiting, amending and then waiting again, your planning determination lands upon your doorstep one morning.

It’s a Success! “Your Planning Permission has been Granted – Subject to the following Conditions…….”,

Oh, but hang on…, there is a list of a dozen or more lengthy conditions attached to the rear of the consent on pages 2, 3 and so on, which appear to require the specialist knowledge of a Cambridge Don to decipher what they really mean. In some instances, they don’t really seem relevant or even relate to your scheme. “Can this be correct?” you ask.

What does this actually mean for you and for your project, going forwards….? It can be a minefield!                                                                  
I can feel a headache coming on…. quick, reach for the paracetamols!

The reality of the situation described above is unfortunately too often a position in which people find themselves, upon receipt of a planning consent which requires all kinds of conditional action, which they weren’t anticipating.       

Usually, there are three common/typical categories of conditions that applicants find themselves burdened with upon receipt of planning. These form the basis of your permission however, and as such, must be fully complied with.

Firstly, there are “prior to commencement conditions” which are positive conditions which require you to “do something” (i.e. carry out further investigations or perform certain follow up work or actions) that must be carried out and approved by the Council, before your development commences.

Secondly, there are “prior to occupation/commissioning conditions” which are no less onerous, but (as above) direct you to carry out some work or actions, but to do so prior to you bringing your development into use.

Thirdly, there are “advisory or regulatory” conditions, which can cover all manner of things, (i.e. acceptable working times, or deliveries or numbers of cars, noise levels or advising of local constraints or restrictions etc…).

Lastly, there are also, numerous additional legal constraints and specific third-party obligations such as S106 restrictions for affordability and local occupancy controls, S278 obligations which can direct you to carry out off-site improvements and works outside of your boundary, or other County Council or Statutory Authority controlled matters.

The current UK planning regime and pre-development regulation is proven to be both complex and labyrinthine in nature and structure, and the system makes it very difficult for the amateur or small developer to exist in today’s environment, as any associated risk, timescales and cost impact proves to be either too great and/or prohibitive.     Worst of all, it is not uncommon for a planning approval to be issued to an applicant, whereby for various reasons, the consent once issued is potentially rendered worthless or inexecutable because the cost of implementing it renders the entire project either unviable to the applicant or in the view of an associated lender or funder, just way too risky.

What then is the answer to this continually evolving problem…. (if you want to avoid the paracetamols, that is)?

At Manning Elliott Architects, we have over 150 years of wide-ranging experience in compiling, managing and successfully delivering planning schemes across all sectors of development, ranging from single one-off domestic extension projects, one off self-build housing through to mass scale social and private housing schemes, master planning, mixed use commercial developments, large scale leisure schemes, retail schemes and new private hospitals.

Our vast experience ensures that we have the knowledge base to identify, comprehend and factor in advance the key fundamental planning obligations that an applicant needs to consider, and through understanding this, how best to mitigate and through negotiation potentially ameliorate where possible any such issues which might otherwise render that permission either unviable or undeliverable. When your planning is received, you can be assured that by considered planning management, the consent is as clean and free from restrictive obligation as it can be, and that by doing so your project has the best chance of getting on site, rather than running out its lifespan in a file, on a shelf, purely because the project is deemed inexecutable or not worthy of progressing in it’s approved state.

Please contact our Senior Management team at Manning Elliott Architect’s Penrith office to discuss your own project requirements in more detail and in complete confidence. We can help to guide you through the maze of planning restrictions and policy directives that you might otherwise find difficult to negotiate. We offer a free initial consultation to each new client, so we can advise and understand in principle the key objectives of your project aspirations.

We are open 09:00 to 17:30 Monday to Friday with a kettle that is always on the boil…. So, what’s stopping you…?    
[You can choose the paracetamols solution, we prefer you to take our advice and avoid the headache in the first place].

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Nick Bailey - Director / Partner / Head of Businesslinkedin Logo[email protected]linkedin LogoLinkedin
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