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Planning is a political matter

Governments over the years have attempted to make it appear clinical and objective by issuing formal guidance – but at heart it remains a matter of political decision-making. If anything the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act 2011 have made it even more political.

One set of people is key: the members of council’s planning committee. Going to appeal remains an option – but an expensive and time-consuming one in which there remains the risk of political interference from the Secretary of State, lobbied by members of parliament.

Councillors are, of course, heavily influenced by their planning officers, by fear of their electorate and by their local knowledge. But they are the key decision-makers and so the first objective of a planning application is to get them to put their hands in the air at the right moment at the council’s planning committee.

Despite the changes made in the Localism Act 2011, which removes much of the concept of predetermination, councillors still tend to hear the developers’ side only through a short presentation by the applicant or the officer report.

But it does not have to be like this. An applicant can make a stronger impression than the basic council proceedings may seem to allow.

For instance:

  • A well-constructed and thought through exhibition can make sure the case is presented clearly and articulately.
  • Positive feedback from local residents who write in to support the application can reassure councillors that it is politically safe to support an application.
  • A clear steer from the leadership of a council can, in some councils, give councillors a more positive attitude.
  • Countering negative or false impressions given by objectors can make sure that an application is seen in a positive light.

Chelgate Local can ensure that the political process is not weighted against an applicant and that the project gets a fair hearing.

For more information on Chelgate Ltd and its range of services, check Chelgate’s main website.