• Adam

    For as long as there have been planning departments in existence, man has been seeking the answer to this question……..

    And yet we are no closer to finding out. I’m afraid to pierce the veil of mystery that surrounds the planning system and it’s quirks you will need to either hire a very expensive person in a suit who says they know all about it (planning consultant; doesn’t always so beware! Read the fineprint) or undertake to get a clearer explanation from the Planners as to precisely what they are referring to in their decision. They must provide clear links between decisions they take and the relevant planning policies that influence these decisions. It is not as simple as it sounds however. Planning policy is not always clearly defined and as such is open to interpretation by individuals. It is also changing as an areas needs change so it is in a state of flux. The national guidelines are not always useful at a local level and can sometimes conflict.

    It is sometimes very difficult to understand the process. Even those administering it struggle sometimes! It should be remembered that the planners primary focus is to ensure that inappropriate development does not occur in the first place. They are responsible for the protection of our green spaces and for the quality of our built environment. That’s a fair weight of responsibility.

    If your query relates to a specific proposal you have submitted that has been rebuffed with that as a reason then I suggest you just ask for a clearer explanation in writing. I can’t guarantee that the answer will not just confuse you further but it is a start.

    Good luck.

  • rita hartley

    Many thanks Adam. I totally agree with all of what you say. Everything is down to the individuals interpretation. The problem we have got is that we have had 4 case officers since this started and most of them were part time, so when we wanted to speak with them, we ended up getting a planner who had to have it all explained to them. They would give their opinion and most of the time their opinions contradicted our case officer.
    We have built a house that has increased from the original derelict cottage by 48%. The allowance in Warwickshire is 30% volumetric increase. We have a very negative Parish Council who give their decision as ‘no representation’. They are a relatively ‘new’ Parish Council that are trying to protect the village from any change and are fighting now to stop development in the village as they like it as it as it is!! We now have an enforcement officer at our heals as they want us to knock down 18% from the house. It was agreed by our case officer and the enforcement that’ve moving part of our new garage/office would be a good compromise. This was refused by the Parish Council but agreed by the Case officer. We were preparing to go to ‘Committee’ when the Case officer phoned and said she had changed her mind and was refusing the application. Her report has really chewed us up and spat us out!!!! Pages of policy referred to and all to do with Green Belt and inappropriate development and the biggest problem is the 18%! The planners allowed a replacement with an increase of 93% in the next village and asking for an explanation as they quoted ‘no harm to the green belt’ on that increase, I have been totally ignored. They quote all these policies, but there is no continuity when searching different planning applications. All down to interpretation and probably how brave the planners are to actually make their own decisions. Somebody mentioned a number 89. (Policy?) which means we can agree to regularise our planning permission by agreeing to remove 18% and then when this is agreed! we can apparently send in an application for planning (retrospective??) to keep the existing property as built. Is this somebody can inform me about. Is there such a policy or condition? Also, the enforcement officer is saying that we need to put up a fence between garden and paddock. Is this something we ‘have’ to do?

  • Adam


    I’m afraid I’m not knowledgeable enough to answer the specific points you raise here. Whilst I have a reasonable grasp of the planning policies that affect me personally in the work I do locally, it does not directly follow that this knowledge is of use or relevant in your case or area!

    After reading and considering your post I have just the one question to ask; Were you granted planning permission to build your house as it stands today?

    If the council have granted permission based on the plans you supplied and you have built to these plans then I can’t see what you have done wrong. If you have built bigger or differently in any way then you could be on a sticky wicket.

    If you could answer that question first then we can move forward from there.

  • rita hartley

    Thanks Adam
    We had planning to build a detached house but were away in Oz when it was being put up. We came back and the ‘lovely neighbours-not!’, or at least a regular agitator in the village, complained to the Enforcement officer. The enforcement came around several times, but did not stop the build. We applied for retrospective for the extra amendments, the planners sat on the application for over 3 months, then sent it back!!! They gave it a number, but did nothing with the application. We had to draw up new plans of the existing as built. The Parish Council (one person related to the agitator!) rejected the increase. It went to the independent Inspector and he also refused it on the 18%. We agreed with the council n the enforcement that a sensible way forward was to offer 18% off the new garage/office. The PC again refused it. The planning officer who was going along with it, rang a few days after agreeing it and rejected it (this was after speaking with another officer, who was leaving that week!). Enforcement is now chasing for some sort of compensatory decision on which way we are going to solve this problem. I have asked my officer to give me an explanation about a planning approval of a very similar cottage being built and they allowed them 93% and we can’t understand why our 48% is harming the green belt! when the 93% was seen as not harming the green belt. I have to date had no reply. They have ignored this question 3 times now and I feel they should at least acknowledge my question, even though they are very inconsistent with their planning approvals!

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