April Ponderings

April Professional Ponderings

The Planning & Development team, despite the uncertainties over BREXIT, remain busy with a number of large residential development sites where sales have been agreed to developers in the Cambridgeshire area including the sale of a site in Needingworth for 120 dwellings to a national housebuilder which completed on Friday last week.  It is good to see that house builders are still taking a positive view despite our current political uncertainties and almost all of the house builders that we talk to are reporting strong sales and a good level of market activity.


As well as development land work we also undertake a number of planning applications on behalf of clients, and we thought it would be useful to provide you with an insight into the work involved in preparing, submitting and handling applications through to determination, and offer you our top tips for a successful planning outcome.


  • Consider the benefits of making a pre-application enquiry in advance of submitting a planning application. Alternatively, prior consultation with statutory consultees can help to resolve technical issues at an early stage and reduce the likelihood of delay during the application process or the possibility of an unnecessary refusal.


  • Before deciding to submit an application, check some simple online resources for items such as potential flood risk, restrictive designations (such as green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings, open countryside policies etc) so that you can identify any areas that might need to be addressed in detail through an application.  Road noise, ecology and archaeology are also other potential areas to consider.


  • Consider the Local List of Requirements for the Planning Authority in advance of submission and ensure that you submit everything that they will require to determine your application. Failure to submit sufficient information can result in delays in validation, and/or an adverse determination.


  • Be prepared to engage with the planning officer regarding planning conditions. The NPPF encourages parties to agree planning conditions in advance of a determination, and this can save considerable later time having to apply for the variation or removal of a condition which would otherwise make a development less viable or practical.


  • It is important to engage with your parish council and local ward councillor at the earliest of stages.  This can be particularly helpful if your application is likely to be controversial or is contrary to planning policy.  Explaining the benefits of your application might help to minimise objections or build support for the scheme.  Ultimately ward councillors have the power to make sure applications are considered by the local planning committee (made up of elected councillors) rather than decided by case officers through delegated powers, and if the case officer is seeking to refuse the application then the planning committee can provide a more balanced view of any wider benefits.


  • Try to maintain regular contact with the Case Officer.  Try to establish if there are any issues with the application and quickly address any concerns with clarifying information or further reports.  It is particularly important to understand any objections from consultees because if these aren’t addressed it could lead to a refusal.  Also remember that Case Officers have a very large workload and if you can keep the application moving forward it should reduce the time taken to receive a permission.   


  • Once in receipt of the planning decision notice, whether it be a grant of planning permission or a refusal, read carefully the reasons for the determination before deciding how to proceed. You may need to clear down planning conditions before development can proceed, and these need to be complied with for the development to be lawful.


Finally, please do keep an eye out on our newly designed website for the latest Planning & Development news, including Local Plan consultations and other matters such as the Oxford – Cambridge Arc.

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