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The one that caused some surprise

The Planning Process is a odd thing, we'll often have a 'feel' for a client's proposal : the concept that is really against policy; the concept that is clearly within policy; the one that will concern neighbours etc etc. We can work with these designs, we've never had a client who wants to upset a neighbour or the local community, so making adjustments can ease the path. But once in a while there is the unexpected.

So Planning has just been approved for a project that really wasn't expected to be an issue. The propsoasl was for the conversion of an existing building, that was orginally built and used as a stable, to be made into a new dwelling. Our client had done all the "right things": they had spoken in advance to neighbours and the neighbours made the supportive responses; a 'pre-application' submission was made and an agreement reached with the Planning department on what should be acceptable.

Everything was put in place to satisfy the discussions, the design completed and submitted as a Planning Application. Then some concerns of neighbours started to be aired through the Planning process and quickly momentum started to gather, many of the objections replicated or repeated earlier comments of others, even though some of the comments did not have a solid basis. The view points seem to become self-convincing.

It is so important to respect the views of others and it is also therefore important to identify views where something can be done or changed to resolve differences or tensions, and other issues, that are really not matters that have any bearing on the actual Planning Application, can be set to one side. It is easy to understand that neighbourly concerns arise when a development is proposed, it is natural for people to have fears, so we guide clients to look objectively at each and every concern. When something can be done there is merit in deciding the appropriate action, which is why we remain on-hand to assist throughout this stage of the Planning process.

In this instance the matter was referred to be heard and decided by the Planning Committee. This triggered a delay to the descion date, which ultimately stretched the planning process out further by about an extra 2 months. We knew that the proposal had the support of the Planning Case Officer, but none the less it would always be a concerning wait for any client: they have normally invested a good amount of money to reach this stage and, not least, they will have hoped to dream and visulise what their future home will be - and now through a committee decision there is a risk that it could come unravelled.

The Clients were relieved to hear the committee decsion on the night was a majority in favour of the Approval, so the Planning Case Officer was supported and the Application has been Granted Planning Consent. Planning Consents that do not cause worry to neighbours are of course a 'warmer success', but hopefully in this instance the objections that were not upheld during the committee process will be quickly be realised, by those with the concerns, that there was nothing to be concerned about. Only time will show this, and so it is forwards with the next stage to develop the technical information for Building Regulation Approval.


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