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Why The Pre Planning Application Process Must Change

Posted on Thursday 7th November 2013 by James Cain

Planners and developers are being urged to talk more before applications are submitted.James Cain - Solicitor, Coles Miller

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s Planning Charter says planners should “actively encourage” developers to enter into pre-application discussions.”

Planning officers should give “timely detailed, robust responses identifying issues and constraints and how these may be overcome,” states the charter.

This is laudable but sadly the present pre-application service is fundamentally flawed. Pre-application negotiations are not binding.

Developers and their legal advisers may engage in pre-app negotiations then submit an application six months later – only to find the original council officer has since moved on.

In theory, this should not make a difference – local authorities strive for consistency – but the reality is that it does. Like it or not, planning is subjective.

And besides, handovers of work can lead to duplication. This wastes time. It delays commercially important projects needed to create jobs and boost the local economy.

The Planning Charter is a step in the right direction but unless pre-application advice becomes binding then there will always be difficulties and a lack of certainty.

For more information about the pre-application process, please contact Coles Miller Chartered Town Planning Consultant James Cain, 01202 673011.

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