Giving Planning advice

I was getting on with some admin of my own down at the Council’s planning department reception when I was recognised and asked for my opinion on a planning issue.

There are lots of planning applications coming in at the moment, which is good news, expect that most are smallish ones, which often take more planning officer time.  And people also come in asking for pre-application advice, which is also good, as it means that they are less likely to fall foul of the law but also takes more time. 

All this means hard work for the planning officers, and when the advice someone receives is not what they hoped to hear they immediately want a second opinion.  And that’s where I came in.

17 years on the council providing such advice, half this time on the planning committee, has taught me something about planning.  I could see clearly why the fellow thought that what he wanted to do was reasonable, and was therefore perplexed at being told planners woudn’t like it.

I explained a bit more background to the planning system and borrowed a copy of the Local Plan (available on the Council’s website).   We looked at relevant pages and I encouraged him to contact both Planning Aid (a charity that provides planning advice) and speak to his local councillors.  I also gave him my contact details.

And the planning assistant who’d been giving him advice said thank you to me too – so maybe I walked the tightrope of helping the enquirer without undermining the department OK!

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