Phil Kirby, President of the Planning Officers Society, shares his expert opinions on how to deal with applications...
What can I do if my application is refused?
Study the reasons for refusal that are set out on the decision notice. If you need clarification as to what they mean contact the local planning authority.
If you think you can amend your proposal to address the reasons for refusal, contact the local planning authority to see if your amendments will satisfy their concerns and if they do, it would then be preferable to submit an amended application.
If you are unable to amend or adapt your proposal to overcome the reasons for refusal you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State through the Planning Inspectorate. Details of how to appeal will have been provided to you by the local planning authority with the decision notice and can also be found in Planning Process Explained on this site. Only the applicant may appeal and you have to do this within 6 months of receiving your decision notice.
The appeal process itself is free. Unlike the application process, there is no fee for submitting an appeal. However, you and the local planning authority normally have to pay your own expenses for your appeal, whether it is decided by the written procedure, a hearing or an inquiry. If the appeal is to be decided by a hearing or an inquiry, you can ask the Inspector to order the local planning authority to pay all or some of your costs. The local planning authority can also ask for you to pay some or all of theirs. The Inspector will only do this if the person applying can show that the other side behaved unreasonably, and put them to unnecessary or wasted expense.
How can I speed up the planning process?
Allow sufficient time and resources to facilitate pre-application discussions and project development, with the local planning authority and other agencies that will have an interest in what you are proposing to do.
Talk to the local planning officer as soon as you have an idea of what you want to do, so that they can help steer a project into a form that will be attractive to the community and acceptable to the local authority. This can save you time and money, reduce the potential for confrontation and raise the quality of development, by ensuring that proposals meet policy objectives and expectations of the local community, whilst enhancing the development value and profitability.
Seek agreement on target dates for submission and determination of the application, and be clear on what documentation and supporting evidence will be required to comprise the application before submission.
Set an objective to provide a high quality planning application that takes account of the advice provided, and is complete from the outset.
Respond promply to requests for further information and you may want to consider formatting any submission in such a way that it reflects the way the local planning authority prepares its committee reports.
Keep in close contact with the planning officer to monitor progress of your application through the system.