fees and conditions proportional to size of project.

I would like to see a change to the regulatory framework and the fee framework so that householders are encouraged to discuss their proposals with the planning department safe in the knowledge that their is greater flexibility for an amicable solution to be reached especially for minor works which have a limited impact on the wider environment. Things such as replacing already replaced windows in conservation areas, sheds in large back gardens (which may only last 10 years anyway), porches on the rear of houses and so on could be considered by a separate "minor works" fee and procedure for giving permission, saving householders and planners time and stress and making people more likely to seek advice and permission for projects, reducing unauthorised work and also making it more likely that historic buildings will be lived in and  maintained.

This is particularly relevant in conservation areas where the council's need to control what is happening is great but the perception of many householders is that the planning system is unkind, often seemingly arbitary, stressful, in conflict with the environment and expensive. 

It would be useful if the government or council could establish a "minor work" scale of fees and detailed guidance as to what kind of projects would be considered under this to aid the homeowner to partipate with the council planners before development.

The system could encourage people to discuss their ideas with planners and be confident that there was a greater flexibility within the system to allow small projects and those with clear environmental benefit (perhaps up to the level of permitted development in non-conservation areas) which have been discussed and compromises reached to be allowed by the planning officer then and there,  freeing up planning time for the large developments which substantially change the street scene for more of the community and reducing the number of unauthorised changes carried out. It would certainly encourage more people to ask before they develop.

The maximum fee level could be removed allowing big developments to cross finance these smaller minor works.

Why the contribution is important

At the moment the system of having a fairly high planning fee for even the most minor of works such as a bike shed in the front garden, a larger than 2m2 shed in the rear garden (even on a half acre plot) or a change of paint colour in some conservation areas means that householders are more tempted not to let the council know of their proposal and not benefit from the advice and control such asking would bring. The householder also has to go to the time and expense of preparing often very detailed plans without any security that it will bring them any benefit.

It can also mean that the very area which is meant to tbe protected is not for example someone may simply change their windows for UVPC , the subsequent enforcement of this by the council (if they ever do so) can not bring back the original windows and will generate ill feeling within both the applicant who resents the need to pay for very expensive replacement sash windows and the locals who wanted the original windows kept. So much better to have a proactive system which encourages discussion and compromise before development.

In addition the planners seem very inclined to impose extra expensive constraints on those who do apply for minor projects for example those who want to replace stone in  their front garden wall are told that they have to do a stone and morter analysis at the applicants cost before permission can be granted. These permissions and conditions can easily be half of the cost of small projects and are disproportionate to the risk imposed on the character of the area by that small development. The risk is that more historic buildings fall into disrepair as it is too expensive for anyone to redevelop and maintain them to the satisfaction of the planners and the often conflicting need to improve the building particulary in relation to its environmental performance and adaption to modern living or lifetime homes.

 

 

by bd79og on February 20, 2016 at 12:38PM

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