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Pre-App Advice

by on April 30, 2009

I’ve been sent a link to a form on the Maldon website that asks for a simple set of information that will enable them to give informal (and free) advice aswering the question "Do I need Planning Permission"

It looks good to me, how common is this approach and are there any practical issues to prevent widespread adoption.

  1. The form looks very helpful. I think it’s right that LPAs should offer this service for free to householders, developers should pay. North Somerset Council have recently introduced a £40 fee for pre app advice which seems to be the same whether for a householder or a developer. I think it’s wrong and that the LPA should be providing this service to council tax payers as part of their normal remit.

  2. Gilian permalink

    Now….. are you testing the audience? This looks like a form that would have been used before the 2008 GPDO changes. Many Councils had forms like this and I am sure many of them have still left them up on their Websites. This form, and forms like it, do not ask the questions to get the answers required to answer “Do I need planning permission” under the amended GPDO. A revised form asking the relevant 2008 questions could be useful for authorities that do not use the expert system to give their informal advice or it could be useful to reach a different audience. Does anyone have a revised one they would like to share?

  3. PortalDirector permalink

    I was referring to the approach rather than this specific form although as a non-planner I probably wouldn’t have spotted the difference.
    That’s why I ask you guys!

  4. Or a lawful development certificate which is the better option on Householder. Allk LPA’S tend to use similar forms but the ‘simplification’ of PD Rights has called these into question as there is less black and white and more grey!
    The use of pre-app advice on the bigger ones needs to be controlled. It gives some chance of a major app in 13 weeks if the clock starts and everyone knows what they need to do.
    But the time for officers and the admin of that service has a cost, and at a time of falling planning revenue it will be tempting to recover some of that cost. Otherwise the resource comes out of the DC staff and shrinking staff numbers and budgets.

  5. Tendring DC recently revamped their housholder form.

    Click to access NewHouseholderEnquiryFormApril2009.pdf

    Seems to be working well for them.

  6. At Charnwood we have a set of self-assessment forms for householder development to see if planning permission is required and we have links to advice on interpretation of the legislation. This approach is a paper based expert system and is saving approximately £10,000 per year in officer time in assessing every enquiry or request, with such advice previously being given on what the customer told us.
    We now do not give advice on whether planning permission is required or not (householders)and providing the customers answers the questions they can make that assessment. If customers want a formal determination or it in writing confirming planning permission is not required then an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development is required.
    We have been operating this process since October 2008 and have not seen a significant increase in CLD applications or enforcement matters. Applicants and agents have welcomed this approach and instead of waiting 10 days for a response to an enquiry on whether planning permission is required they get it instantly. It also makes it easier for them to adjust a proposal to ensure it is permitted development. The forms are available on our web site and we do not mind sharing them. This I see is an easy and quick expert system.

  7. Waverley have just put back on our website our “on line expert system” following updates for the new GPDO. it is interactive and linked to the property address. it bring up the constraints for that property and the planning history to check conditions. It takes the public (and agents) through a series of questions relating to each class to reach a view on pd.
    It cannot answer every single question but it will deal with all the common issues. The links to the Planning Advisery Service are not yet active for in depth definitions of terms but should be shortly. The public love it and it will release a lot of staff time. If you want to try it out use Waverley’s own post code for not in article 1 (5) land. You can use this post code for AONB test GU8 5TE.
    I would recomend it to any LA thinking of taking this system up.

  8. A Rigby(BSc hons), PGD computer science permalink

    This is a simple in the box aproach which as allready mentioned is not an expert system and would be little better if not worse than a telephone call. A System that is required would use the customers information to build a massive tree of question routes and answers which in the early stages would require planning professionals to provide the answers which would at the time be added to the tree. The customer would continue to answer computerised spoken questions from the automated system as long as the tree supplied answers. As soon as it did not an advisor would be switched into the loop who would add the problem to the system including an answer at that point. this would progressivly build the system therby requiring less and less planning proffesional input.

    However, this is just an initial thought


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