Our recent planning approval for a 4-storey replacement dwelling in Richmond is a great example of how our negotiation skills add value to development projects.
In this particular case a planning application which sought to demolish an existing two-bedroom bungalow and replace it with an architect designed single dwelling with basement, had already been submitted without our assistance.
The initial 8-week determination period had expired yet the case officer continued to request further reports to support the application, which were felt to be unnecessary by the architect and client, and subsequently recommended the application for refusal. It looked like the case might be going to appeal and it was at this point that the architect approached us to help find a way forward for the project.
The importance of effective engagement and negotiation in planning
We reviewed the application, correspondence with the council, the architect’s drawings and the objections received, to inform our planning strategy. We felt that in this case the most effective approach would not be to pursue a non-determination appeal but to engage with the case officer and re-open the lines of communication.
Looking at the concerns the case officer had raised, we presented pragmatic solutions to deal with any issues effectively and provide a rational approach to evolving the scheme with minor amendments so that it would meet the requirements of both the council and the client.
Following our engagement and negotiation, the case officer reconsidered their position and recommended the application for approval. However, although the scheme now had the backing of the case officer, due to the objections received as part of the planning application process, the scheme would still need to be decided at planning committee.
The planning committee process – an overview:
The decision-making process through planning committee, usually commences with the case officer who presents the application to the relevant committee members and advises them on the reasoning behind the recommended decision.
Following this, provided you have registered your interest to speak in advance, the applicant will be invited to speak in support of their application, and a representative for the objectors will also have an opportunity to speak.
The scheme is then debated by the committee and questions may be directed at the case officer and or applicant during the debate process.
Making those 3 minutes count – speaking at planning committee:
Each speaker only has 3 minutes. As speaking in support of your development project at planning committee can be a nerve-racking experience, we often speak on behalf of our clients, or prepare a speech for them and school them on delivery to help ensure they make those 3 minutes count.
In this instance, we used the weeks leading up to the planning committee to continue our positive engagement with the case officer and to ensure that any minor issues were dealt with via conditions rather than a refusal.
We used our committee speech to emphasize the benefits of the project, how we had cooperated and worked positively with the case officer and evidenced how we had responded effectively to objectors’ concerns.
We are delighted that the Committee acknowledged our efforts, the effectiveness of our negotiation and confirmed approval of the application.
Our Plainview Planning team have been working hard for our clients to give their applications and appeals the best chance of success for over 10 years. If you need our professional planning expertise on your development project, then contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE SOURCE: Architecture WK (2017)