The planning process can be complicated and can invariably take longer than envisaged. In fact, omissions and errors made during the process can be difficult and costly to rectify and can lead to delays in obtaining planning permission and carrying out the development.
The following five pointers aim to assist to minimise delays and achieve a successful outcome. Some will be of greater/lesser importance depending on the nature and scale of the development.
When considering development proposals, assemble or liaise with an appropriate professional team who can advise in relation to the relevant planning policies and potential issues. Depending on the nature and scale of the proposed development, reports/assessments should be commissioned to support and form part of the planning application, such as transport impact assessments, tree surveys etc.
Advice should also be obtained on the title to the property. Careful consideration of the title is important at the outset to ensure there are no restrictions within it that would prevent the proposed development.
Engagement with the Planning Service and with the Community
Pre-application discussions with the Planning Service of the Development and Planning Authority will indicate whether the proposed development is likely to be acceptable and what changes may be needed for it to be acceptable in planning terms.
Pre-application discussions are helpful in providing an opportunity to discuss the possible mitigation of the impact of a proposed development, including any planning conditions.
The Planning Service may also advise on the information they will require and the relevant fee thus reducing the likelihood of delays at the validation stage.
Depending on the type and scale of the proposed development, community engagement may be helpful to identify issues that are important to the local community and it will provide the opportunity for any concerns to be addressed prior to the submission of a planning application.
Ensure the application is accurate and comprehensive
When preparing a planning application it is important to carefully check that the application form is completed accurately and comprehensively and to ensure that it complies with the Development and Planning Authority's guidance on the information that should be submitted with it.
The application should include all information and evidence to support it and to demonstrate compliance with the relevant policies including, where appropriate, expert reports/assessments.
Looking ahead, this is also important in case an appeal is submitted against the refusal of planning permission or in respect of conditions attached to a planning permission because the Planning Tribunal can only review and make its decision based on the material which was before the Authority at the time its decision was made.
Compliance with Planning Conditions
When planning permission has been granted, to minimise the risk of enforcement action it is important to carefully consider the conditions attached to it to ensure they are understood and can be complied with.
Some planning conditions require action to be taken prior to commencement of the development and require certain information to be submitted to and approved by the Development and Planning Authority. It is a high risk strategy to commence development prior to receiving confirmation that such conditions have been discharged as this could result in enforcement action, which could potentially require works on site to cease until the breaches have been rectified. This can prove costly and result in significant delays to the development.
'Saving' a planning permission
The law provides that planning permission ceases to have effect unless the development permitted by it is commenced within a period of three years immediately following the date on which it is granted (or such shorter period as may be specified in the permission).
However, if it is unlikely that the development will be carried out within the three years, it may make sense to start the development in order to 'save' the planning permission and allow it to be completed after the original three year period.
To be certain that the development has been lawfully commenced; it is advisable to have proof. This could be by way of photographs and it is advisable to obtain confirmation of the same, in writing, from the Development and Planning Authority.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.