Planning is a form of law and as lawyers know, law is not the objective arena we grow up believing to be. Planning decisions are subject to interpretation and emotive response in the same way as the testimony of defendants. Of course, we all have planning policy books and precedents to guide the decisions that are made, but the truth is that most applications go into the system subject to the responses of consultees and decision-makers.

Planning application drawings

Planning application drawings by PJT Design. Click on the image to view in more detail

Which is why the presentation of the planning application is so important. I spend an alarming amount of my time looking at planning applications and I’m struck by the generally poor quality of submissions. Basic plans, of course, but much more — limited amounts of information, supporting statements that are far from compelling and much more. I’d like to think we have taken a different approach. One of the reasons we chose our designer, Pete Tonks (who writes for us on the magazine) was the hand-drawn beauty of the plans he produces. Rather mirthfully my wife pointed out the flapping birds and wispy trees and rather striking human models on the plans. It’s hardly part of the design detail, after all, and I’m sure most builders will enjoy a wry smile when they see them. But in order to illicit a simple, hopefully pleasing response when the planners first set eyes on them, they can recognise that we care about the home’s appearance, and aesthetics are as important to us as they are them. A carefully worded, concise but informative supporting statement accompanied the raft of elevations and drawings — all with the intention of making the job of the planners easier, eliminating the need for guesswork and helping them understand, as we do, that our new home will be an enhancement to our local surroundings.

In planning – as with many things in life – first impressions count.

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