Planning Committee Meeting | Analysis of a Planning Application in the UK





Abstract

This report outlines the process in which a planning application is analysed at the planning committee meeting. It discusses the role of different members present in the meeting in the planning application process. Different stages of planning application process have been studied, which include pre-application advice, application submission, role of validation team, role of development control officer and planning committee involvement. Different types of applications have been mentioned. The planning application selected for analysis has been described. The planning officer’s report contents have been briefly summarised. The stages in the process of planning application assessment have been explained in detail. Lastly, the planning application process has been critically analysed.

 Background study of Planning Application Process

Planning takes places within the context of a system which is defined by Legislation, Regulations and Orders, Case Law, National policy and advice (NPPF), local plans (Neighbourhood plans), appeals and enforcement.

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) evaluate planning applications. This will be either District/Borough/City/Unitary/County/London/Borough/Metropolitan/National Park.

The applicant has an option to get free “Pre-application advice”. The applicant can discuss the documents with the council in presence of planning officers and get advice on the list of required documents for application approval. This is an optional service and depends on the applicant’s desire to use it. Instead, the applicant can directly submit the application to Local authority.

The application is then passed on to the Validation team who is responsible for checking all the documents against the local list (where all the policies relating to the application are considered) in order to validate if relevant. The application is then forwarded to the Development manager or Development control Officer (DC).

DC stage has two options.

  1. It is delegated by the officer. In this case, if the planning application is straightforward, the consent is given by the DC officer alone.
  2. Sometimes, there is a need for the planning committee to intervene and decide if the application is to be approved or refused. The DC officer sends his comments to the committee regarding his thoughts and analysis of the application.

Role of Planning Committee

Major and contentious applications are dealt with by Planning Committees. They also inspect the sites before coming to a conclusion. The Planning Committee includes Councillors from all political parties and areas of the City. Officers of the Council also attend to answer questions about the reports.

Decision making of the application

1)      Approved

The application is either approved by the DC officer or the committee.

2)      Refused

If the application does not fit in the criteria for approval, it is refused.

3)      Withdrawn

If the applicant believes that the application is not up to the mark and it is unlikely for it to get approval, it can be withdrawn.

If the planning application is disapproved by the planning committee, the applicant can appeal to the secretary of state. Secretary of State CLG has reserve power to call applications in. This happens in most cases.

 Types of applications

  • Outline Planning application
  • Full Planning application
  • Householder application
  • Listed Building & Conservation Area Consent application
  • Prior Notification Procedure  (Telecommunications & Agricultural/Forestry & Demolition)
  • Certificates of Lawfulness (Existing & Proposed)
  • Tree Applications
  • Advertisement Consent

 Selection of a planning application for analysis

BH2013/02616 – Land rear of 285 Dyke Road, Hove – Full Planning – Erection of 1no three bedroom bungalow with access from The Droveway.

 My involvement with regards to planning application study

The Planning committee report was available online 3 days before the meeting. Listed below is background research on the role of different members of the planning committee.

Visit to the application site

I visited the application site after having gone through the officer’s report. The plot lies under a residential zone. The surrounding area consisted of bungalows with huge gardens. The material planning issues that I considered applied were architectural character of the place, the average height of the bungalows in the locality. The area gave a feeling of spaciousness and hence it could be possible that lower density development would be expected.

 Role of Chair

Chair represents the council and the Planning Committee. He ensures that meetings are run in accordance with the Council’s Constitution and its relevant Standing Orders, statutory requirements, regulations or other codes of conduct, practice or agreed conventions. He takes the responsibility for the decisions of the Committee and acts as an advocate on behalf of the committee. He ensures that the planning matters are approached with an open mind avoiding predetermination or bias by the committee. He is responsible for maintaining discipline among the members and ensures that they follow high standards of procedure, behaviour and ethics.

Role of Councillors

Councillors have to work with the Chair of the Planning Committee and other Committee members and the officers of the Council. They are considered as knowledgeable persons regarding planning function and are responsible to the Planning Committee. They have to ensure that the approach taken towards planning is fair and is assessed with an open mind, avoiding any kind of bias. They have to follow the rules and conventions set out in the Members’ Planning Code of Good Practice in every meeting, however formal or informal. Active participation is expected from them and they are required to comply with the requirements set in the Council’s Constitution, its relevant Standing Orders, Statutory requirements, regulations or other codes of conduct, practice or agreed conventions.

Role of Planning Officer

The planning officer is responsible for making the report to be presented in the committee meeting. He has to answer all the questions regarding the specifics in the application asked by the councillors.

Public speakers

Public is allowed to speak on an application if they have registered prior to the meeting taking place. However, they are not allowed to ask questions at these meetings. They are given 3 minutes to say all that they have to in favour of or against the application.

Planning Officer’s report on the planning application

Planning officer Jason Hawkes was responsible for delivering the report for the planning application BH2013/02616.

The report was accurate and included relevant substance of objections and other responses received to the consultation. The report consisted of a written recommendation for a decision to be made. The recommendation was to refuse the planning permission. To support the recommendation, the reasons for refusals had been backed up with relevant policies and guidance that included National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Brighton and Hove local plan policies, Supplementary planning guidance, Supplementary Planning documents and Brighton and Hove City Plan Part One (Refer Appendix).

The major material planning considerations were detailed in the officer’s report which included siting and design proposal; impact on neighbouring properties; adequacy for living conditions provided for future occupiers and lastly, highway issues and sustainability matters.

Process of the consideration of Planning Application

Members present during the meeting:

Councillors Mac Cafferty (Chair), Jones (Deputy Chair), Hyde (Opposition Spokesperson), Carden (Opposition Spokesperson), Cox, Davey, Gilbey, Hamilton, C Theobald and Wells

Co-opted Members:Mrs Selma Montford

Officers in attendance:Jeanette Walsh (Head of Development Control); Nicola Hurley (Area Planning Manager); Rob Fraser (Head of Planning Strategy); Liz Arnold (Senior Planning Officer); Steve Tremlett (Senior Planning Officer); Steven Shaw (Principal Transport Officer); Hilary Woodward

Stage One: Introduction to the planning application by the officer

Mac Cafferty was the Chair of the Planning Committee and led the meeting. The meeting started with Nicola Hurley, the Area Planning Manager introducing the application. She presented the plans, photographs and elevational drawings to explain the content of the application. The planning application was made to seek permission for a detached bungalow in the rear garden of 285 Dyke Road where a large 3 storey building stood. There was a similar type of development at no. 283 which was granted permission, however, this application had been recommended to be refused on the grounds of overlooking and over-development.

Stage Two: Public speaker speaks for 3 minutes

Chair introduced the public speaker Ms Julie Cattel and she spoke on behalf of her client – the applicant. She explained that the proposal would not overlook, overshadow or over-dominate the property and that it was designed such that it blended with the surrounding architectural style. The proposed development would meet lifetime homes standards and be built to level 5 for Sustainable Homes. She explained that the minor issues picked up by the transport officer regarding the door of the cycle storage which needs to be repositioned and the signage which needs to be put up on the private access road will be resolved. She plainly disagreed with the recommendation of the council to refuse the application on the grounds of over-development and overlooking to the new bungalow. She argued that over-development could be measured in a number of ways. She explained this by giving an example of dwellings per hectare in the area which is equivalent to 28. The range of density in the immediate vicinity varies from 11 to 50. The percentage of site coverage of the proposed development would be 40% as compared to 44%, 30% and 31% in its immediate surrounding sites. She denies the factor of over-development and that states that the proposal is appropriate to the site location with all respect.

Another issue mentioned in the officer’s report was regarding the proximity to the site boundaries. In response to this, Ms Cattel, compared the site boundaries of the neighbouring bungalow which is 1.3m and 1.1m away from the defined site boundaries whereas the proposed bungalow would be 2m and 1m away from the site boundaries. She acknowledged that the only major difference would be the difference in the distance of the existing bungalow to the proposed would be less by 2m as compared to the similar development on plot no. 283.

Next issue was regarding the prominence of development. She explained that the bungalow was not visible from the public ramp and that it was lower than the ground level of the garden. However, the report says that the structure looks more prominent to which she argued by asking a question as to whom would it look prominent and from where?

Lastly, she talked about the issue regarding overlooking of site. In response to that, she explained that in urban areas, there is mutual overlooking. The back to back distance was slightly less than 20m and similar schemes in the area have been granted permission.

Stage Three: Councillors asking questions to Ms Cattel

Councillor Carol Theobald was one of the members who visited the site for inspection. She questioned Julie Cattel regarding the slope of the land shown in the drawings. She says that it did not seem sloping when they visited the site. Ms Cattel replied that the land sloped away from the rear of the plot.

Stage Four:

Councillors asked questions to the officer confirming certain areas in the report. The questions were raised by Councillors Hyde, Davey, Cox, Hamilton and Gilbey. Ms Nicola Hurley answered all of their questions satisfactorily.

Stage Five: Debate and decision making process

Councillors Hyde, Carol Theobald and Gilbey visited the site for inspection.

Councillor Hyde presented her site analysis and agreed with officer’s recommendation which was to refuse the application but would have considered the application if it was for a smaller proposal. She explained that the garden was smaller than the garden at no. 283 and that they had measured it themselves. She also said that the proposal would be detriment to the host building.

Carol Theobald spoke in agreement to the comments given by Councillor Hyde. She expressed her concern regarding over-development and overlooking. She agreed to support the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

Councillor Gilbey spoke about a balcony at first floor level which he believed would make the issues of overlooking even worse.

Councillor Hamilton expressed his concern regarding over-development of the site and referenced an application at no. 287 which Officers confirmed was for an ancillary building.

Stage Six: Voting

A vote was taken and planning permission was refused on a vote of 6 to 2 with 2 Abstentions.

Critical analysis

The application assessment took place in a smooth manner. All the pros and cons of the development were considered. The reasons mentioned for the refusal of the application given by the officer seemed quite valid and have been carefully assessed by the councillors. Site inspection was carried out by the councillors to reach a thorough decision. They physically measured the site which helped them put actual numbers together and gave them an idea about the shallow space that will be left after the development.

The proposal for new development met the required criteria for lifetime homes standards. Also, the client had promised to build the new structure to level 5 for sustainable homes standards. The major problems that led to the dismissal of the application were over-development and overlooking. Had the proposal been on a smaller scale, the application might have been approved.

Bibliography

Cullingworth, J. B. and Nadin, V. (2006) Town and country planning in the UK, 14th ed ed., Abingdon:Routledge.

Association, L. G. (2013) ‘Probity in planning for councillors and officers’, [online], available: http://www.pas.gov.uk/documents/332612/1099271/Probity+in+planning+guide/c2463914-db11-4321-8d38-be54c188abbe

Council, B. C. (2011) ‘Planning Committee Members’, [online], available: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=Planning-Management%2FPageLayout&cid=1223092740935&pagename=BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper

Council, B. C. (2011) ‘Planning Committee Members’, [online], available: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=Planning-Management%2FPageLayout&cid=1223092740935&pagename=BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper



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