On 1st August 2022 Cllr Julie Cook, the Chair of IPC’s Planning Committee came and spoke to the IVRA Committee about Planning permissions. We gained valuable knowledge on the application process that can and should benefit the whole community.
These are the main takeaways from the session:
The Planning Application Approval process
- Planning applications are submitted to Bucks Council. IPC or the public won’t know about them until they are initially processed by Bucks. They can sit with Bucks for an undisclosed period when nothing happens with them (while they are ‘sitting in the queue’ for processing).
- Once an application is processed by Bucks, it’s marked as ‘Registered’ and is published on Bucks Council’s website (we couldn’t find details about the process on Bucks’ website, but they are similar to the ones published by Surrey County Council: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/land-planning-and-development/planning/applications-register/process/application-process).
- The IPC gets a list of all the applications registered that week and the Parish Planning Committee discusses them and submits its comments to Bucks (the committee members are not allowed to form an opinion on an application before the meeting when it’s discussed). Normally, the Parish Council is required to submit its comments within one month.
- Important: While the IPC has to submit comments, members of the public can submit their individual comments as well – this means that the IVRA can submit its official comments, its members can submit separate (and different) ones, its committee members can submit other comments, and the individual councillors can submit theirs as well.
- Important: The comments need to be submitted using a specific technical language. For objections to be fully considered and make an impact, the points of objection should come from a limited list of subjects. These are not the official guidelines and they are not published on the Council’s website (as far as we are aware), but solicitors specialising in this field suggest that applications written without following these guidelines will have less impact on the result of the application. The list of subject you can write about in the objection to a planning application if you want to maximise the chances that it will be considered:
- Overlooking/loss of privacy
- Loss of light or overshadowing (this needs to be loss of natural light to the extent that you get nearly no daylight at all, not just a tall structure or a partial cover)
- parking/loading/turning (there should be adequate number of parking spaces and space for laoding and turning)
- Highway safety
- Traffic (how much will be generated and in reltion to the infastructure)
- Noise (how much disturbance will the new development cause)
- Smells (from restaurants, for example)
- Effect on listed building and conservation area
- Layout and density of building
- Design, appearance and materials (this should not be a personal dislike of the design, but has to be objective: wrong materials for the climate conditions, change to the unique characteristics of the area,etc.)
- Government policies, orders or statutory instruments
- Disabled persons’ access
- Proposals in the Development Plan
- Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
- Nature conservation (including the Green Belt)
- Archeology (preservation of)
- Fear of crime (You should show evidence that the fear is based in reality)
- Hazardous materials
- Road access
- Local, strategic, regional and national planning policies
You can read more about it here: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/services/help/faq/planning/about-the-planning-system/what-are-material-considerations.
- After the consultation period is over, the application is considered by the planning officer and a decision is made.
- Important: Each application is considered separately, so if 50 applications for a data centre are submitted, the officer can’t reject an application because too many are being considered. Only after one is approved does it become a consideration. So if there are two applications and one is better for the environment than the other, the officer can’t choose the better one and so the worse one can be accepted just because it came first, for example.
The IVRA’s Objectives regarding the application process: We needs to make sure that many residents comment on applications and that they are aware that a ‘proper language’ should be used and that ‘right subjects’ should be used as points for objection. The IVRA must also consider the major applications, form its opinion on them, and submit official comments.
This is a type of ‘compensation’ that the developers of big projects need to provide the community with to counter the negative implications of the project.
Major applications need to contribute back to the community in two ways :
- Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/community-infrastructure-levy) – the developer has to pay a certain sum for every square metre that they build. The sum goes to Bucks that take 85% of it which they can use anywhere in the county, not just in the parish. They then give the other 15% to the specific parish. So from the Pinewood development, 15% goes to the Ivers and 85% goes to Unitary Council.
- Section 106 – This is direct a contribution to the area and can be negotiated with the submitting party. The money must go towards a specific project and this project must be directly linked to the development (if the development brings more cars to the area, the money can go towards improving the roads, if it causes air pollution, it can be spent on mitigating the pollution). The developers can give the money to Bucks or they can do it themselves as part of the development. If Bucks doesn’t spend the money on the specific section 106 mitigation within 5 years, the money can go back to the developers if they ask for it.
- Developers can use the excuse of ‘Very special circumstances’ to ask for the release of greenbelt land. We need to make sure this doesn’t become a common practice to approve these requests because there’s no specific definition of ‘special circumstances’.
We thank Julie for taking the time to speak to us and share her knowlde with the community.