Most planning applications last approximately eight weeks from submission to decision. Things can go wrong at any stage during this time, whether it be issues with validating the application, appropriate consultation being carried out, local Council planning officers being unable to visit the site, decisions being postponed and planning applications being refused. A number of these issues can be caused by mishandling of the case by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) or incompetence on the part of the applicant and/or agent.
At Vitality Planning and Design, our Planning Application Management service is specifically designed to help ensure that the planning application process runs smoothly and efficiently, with the greatest chance of the relevant consent being granted.
Our planning application management service consists of three main stages:
A - Preparation and submission of information to the LPA B – Responding to and liaising with the LPA during the planning application process C - Post-application advice
Below is a discussion of what is involved in each stage.
Preparation and submission of information to the LPA
This stage consists of choosing the appropriate application, collecting together all the information that the LPA requires and submitting the documents, along with an application form and fee. If you have previously used our services prior to this service, then we will already have all of the information required for the LPA to validate the application.
If you choose to employ us for this service only, then it is important that as much relevant information is brought together as possible. This is because LPAs can delay or cancel processing planning applications if there is missing, inconsistent or incomplete information. Alternatively, some LPAs also sometimes choose not to comment on aspects of a proposal where there is missing, inconsistent or incomplete information. Such outcomes are frustrating, expensive and time-consuming, so we will endeavour to help you get the relevant information together, and check over the relevant documents, as part of our service to you.
The first stage of the planning application management service is that we will advise you of the different types of planning applications that are possible with your proposal, and which we consider to be the most appropriate for your project. There are pros and cons to each of these types of applications, which we will explain to you when advising you of our recommendation. For more information on the different types of planning applications that we deal with, please click HERE.
The next step is the submission of a valid planning application to the Local Planning Authority. This will involve the existing and proposed plans, elevations and sections (where needed), any supporting documents, the site location plan, the application form and application fee. Please note that you will need to pay the statutory planning application fee.
This stage also involves the submission of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) information requirements (where applicable). Prior to submitting CIL information, we will advise you on whether it is relevant to your proposal or not, and also advise you on how to reduce or avoid CIL liability, prior to the submission of the application. This is in order to help reduce your project costs, and is one example of how we help you save money with your project.
Responding to and liaising with the LPA during the planning application process
The next stage is where we work pro-actively and cooperatively with the LPA in order to help obtain a quick and positive decision for your proposal. It involves us making enquiries, responding to the LPA's queries, monitoring the progress of the application and providing additional information when required.
It is very unlikely that the LPA will invalidate the application as we are sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable so as to generally prevent this, thereby saving you time, and so far all of our submitted applications have been considered valid from the outset. In the highly unlikely event that the LPA considers the application to be invalid, we will firstly consult you on the problem, whether we consider their invalidation to be correct or not, and an appropriate response. Following your decision, we will respond to the LPA's request for additional and/or corrected information with the information they require, or challenge them if the reason/s for invalidation are spurious.
If the Council planning officer cannot see your proposal sufficiently from publicly accessible places, we will seek to arrange, and if appropriate accompany them on a site visit. Please note however that many Council planning officers arrange site visits with the applicant (i.e. you), or may not arrange a site visit at all (as it is the Council's choice regarding the site visit).
It is possible that the Council planning officer will request alterations to the proposal during the assessment period. If this occurs, we will firstly consult you on the problem, whether we consider their request to be reasonable or not, and an appropriate response. Following your decision, we will respond to the LPA's request for amended information with the information they require, or challenge them if the amendments requested are spurious.
Council planning officers have been known to make amendment requests within unreasonably short time-frames, often with a threat of refusal of the scheme if the request is not met within the tight-frame. In order to try to avoid this situation, and also so that we can keep you in the loop on your application's progress, we will correspond regularly with the LPA during the assessment period. Our regular contact can also help to prevent delays in the assessment period, thereby saving you time. Where delays are inevitable (often due to the LPA failing to provide adequate consultation for your application, which they are legally obliged to do), we will maintain pressure on the Council to reach a decision as quickly as possible, and let you know of our progress, thereby saving you stress.
The final stage of this service is where we give you detailed feedback on the planning decision. It is most likely that if you use our services then consent will be granted, but it is also common for the LPA to attach several conditions to your consent. We will explain to you in detail what these conditions mean, what action (if any) is required and other implications from them. Informatives are also usually attached to a planning consent, which we will also explain to you. We will also notify you of any planning obligations that the consent is subject to. Finally, we will recommend a series of next steps, when necessary.
In the unlikely event of a planning application being refused, we will advise you of different courses of action available and what they involve. We will draw up recommendations on the most appropriate way of achieving your development aims through a recommended course of action, and will happily assist you in pursuing your preferred course of action.
With simpler applications, it is often the case that once consent has been granted, then there are no further planning requirements. However, in general the more complex, larger and/or controversial the proposal, the greater the amount of work required following a grant of permission. Pre-commencement conditions in particular can be very time-consuming, expensive and complex to discharge, but are an essential process to follow to ensure that the development is authorised. For more information on this, please click HERE.