Hampton Ward Newsletter: August 2017
One of the most common complaints I receive revolve around the subject of planning and I’m sure most of my colleagues throughout the country receive similar complaints. No matter where you live, rich or poor, young or old; planning affects us all. The Council’s Core Strategy requires an additional 16,500 new dwellings to be built in the county between 2010 and 2031, so most of us will see new developments in our towns and villages. However, the main problems arise when plans submitted to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) are poorly presented and fail to comply with policies contained in the Core Strategy.
If you’re considering making a planning application, it’s vital you use an accredited agent, or architect, to prepare the plans for you and they should ensure that all the necessary and relevant information is included. Most domestic planning applications can be determined within 3 months, but a large majority suffer delays when planning officers have to continually ask for addition details missing from the original reports, or for clarification of the details already submitted. Pre-application planning advice is available – at a small cost, and is highly recommended if the proposed plans are unusual, controversial, or may be contrary to local or national policy.
The stress suffered by local residents when a potential site has been identified close by, is huge and is seriously exacerbated when it’s clear the planning application has no merit. But once submitted, all applications must go through the lengthy planning process, which in some cases can take many months. Even when an application has been refused, the applicant can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate for a review of the decision, which all results in ever more stress to the local residents.
Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) are now being prepared by many parishes in Herefordshire, which is a hugely time-consuming process for Parish Councillors, but fortunately financial and administrative help and support is provided by Herefordshire Council.
Once adopted these plans can help to ensure that inappropriate or unnecessary development within the parish is not permitted. The rules now state that when a local NDP has been approved and adopted, the planning authority (Herefordshire Council) must take full account of the parish’s recommendations.
On the other hand, the role of our town planners is not an easy one and most local authorities are usually short of trained planning and enforcement officers. We currently employ 20 planning officers and another 15 in technical support and with the LPA expecting a record 4,000 applications this year, the average number of ‘live’ planning applications being dealt with at any one time by our planning officers, is well in excess of 80, so if you have a planning application in the pipeline, you shouldn’t be surprised if you have trouble reaching your planning officer, so to avoid unnecessary delays, it’s vital your application contains all the necessary information, from the outset.
Some of the LPAs administrative problems are now being addressed and it’s hoped that the planning process can be streamlined and made more user friendly for our residents. This is now actively on-going and I’m confident that matters will improve, especially if we can attract more staff.
Maybe if you have children, or grandchildren, who are looking for an interesting and worthwhile degree course, you could suggest town planning as an option. At the very least they will be guaranteed a well- paid job, virtually anywhere in the country, following their successful graduation.
Cllr Bruce Baker