What determines whether planning permission is given or refused?
Some elements are not relevant to planning, but it is difficult to specify. However, where possible, all applications should relate in some way to the property purpose or its current development.
The following summaries factors affecting planning decisions and factors that should not affect planning decisions:
Affecting planning decision:
Should not affect planning decision:
Objections from local residents put pressure on local council’s, but should not be the sole reason for refusal. However, what would be considered an acceptable planning application could be refused due to local residents objections.
Sanctions are in place to monitor councils. Should an application be unreasonably refused, councils could be forced to pay the applicant’s cost of going to appeal.
In extreme and very rare cases, it has been known for council individuals to accept monitory gifts or favours in return for their support. This is naturally a criminal offence and prosecutions are made from time to time. Planning permission can add immense value to land, so the possibility will always be present.
The law stipulates the basis for deciding planning applications. Approved planning policies set out in development plans must follow by all councils and also inspectors on appeal unless ‘material considerations’ indicate otherwise.
Material considerations, although not limited to, can include:
Structure Plans and Local Plans documents set out planning policies. Welsh and English councils have Unitary Development Plans (UPDs) and contained in one document. We find it simpler to use the term ‘Local Plan’. Structure Plans are drawn up by county councils or by groups of unitary councils and cover whole county areas. This includes new building, expanding towns and protection of the countryside.
Local Plan policies can be general and apply throughout the area (standards for building design). They can relate to specific areas such as Conservation Areas and apply to developments such as house extensions. Local Plans give guidance of how a site should be developed (for example new homes).
Sections covered in Local Plan policies are relevant to residential developments and likely to be included within:
An application will be primarily judged through the Policies within the Structure and Local Plan (UPD). However, this is not always as simple as it might be and policies can contradict each other, point in different directions and be open to different interpretations. Planning policies are the starting point for decisions, but as we have already advised, material considerations have to be taken into account.
The government has it own national planning policies set out in circulars and in England, Planning Policy Guidance Notes. Scotland is National Planning Policy Guidelines and Planning Advice Notes. Northern Ireland, Planning Policy Statements and Policy Guidance Advice Notes. Technical Advice Notes applies to Wales.
Usually, councils will produce other statements and leaflets setting out their views and guidance. This is in addition to Structure and Local Plans. This may include advice on design and layout, trees and development or car parking and access. This advice can be helpful, but does not have the same status as Local Plan policies. They are mainly intended to give guidance and should not be applied rigidly by councils.
Special designations are within planning and can apply to individual buildings or areas of land. A majority will be:
A council would need to know how a development would impact on these designated areas.
Decisions can be influenced either way if there are previous planning applications or existing buildings and uses on the site.
If previous permissions have been granted, refusal should not be an issue. Unless a building has historic or architectural importance, a replacement will generally be granted.
Granting planning permission for something that replaces an undesirable site would provide a helpful solution. However, if your request is similar to previous planning permissions that have been refused, it is unlikely to succeed. Permissions for a replacement or extension larger than the existing building can also be restricted.
Appeals, although not always clear, are significant if an inspector’s decision is disputed. Explanations from previous refusal/s or permissions granted will listed. Versions are often disputed between applicants and councils.