Planners are people too...
The debate on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) continues. There aren't any
surprises in the just-issued RTPI response. They are seeking, as do we all, a simpler planning system, a proper
definition of sustainability, tightening up of language and periodic reviews, amongst other concerns. More can be
read on http://www.rtpi.org.uk/item/4863/23/5/3
In the meantime, our day to day work continues, with all the attendant issues of dealing with blinkered planning
departments and members and occasionally with decisions we don't like.
Dealing with an open authority is a joy. If we are lucky, they might just have a culture of openness. Or they
may be interested and encouraged through seeing good development and a well presented case. Schemes are needing to
work harder to gain permission where they are stretching planning boundaries, or a site has a chequered planning
history. As sites become fewer, these scenarios will become more commonplace.
Sometimes it is the shock of the new that can worry a planner or committee, or even a local community that
doesn't see outside very much. Planning cases can be developed that highlight aspects of good neighbourliness,
responses to context or even providing current and historic examples of similar development locally. These aspects
can draw in welcome elements of familiarity to provide comfort about the acceptability of a scheme to otherwise
cynical or difficult decisionmakers and the local community. On this point, how are you viewing the role of Design
and Access Statements? More than another tick box, their opportunity to tell the 'story' of how the scheme has been
developed can be another opportunity to 'sell' the proposal to decisionmakers. Planners are people too and will
respond better to a concise, well presented and evidenced case for a considerately designed scheme. They get few
enough of these crossing their desks.
I hope you find the in-practice grumble and tips useful. Do contact me where you need additional support on
projects. For the time being, whilst the NPPF is still under development, I can be pleased to say that my
case-making work is still recommended in national planning guidance and is a useful pedigree and process to bring
to making cases for clients.
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