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Invented - a converted Edwardian

boiler house in the Bath countryside?

... replacing an open shed

Inside the arched window

Actually a new-build extension ...

Weapon 1


I have four unusual weapons, when trying for Planning Consent.

Subject to the current Planning Appeal described, I can't remember the last time I failed to get Consent for near-enough what we Applied for.


Weapon 1

is to go the extra mile with the Application documentation -

to submit drawings that far out-class the dreary dross that Planning Officers (and Listed Buildings Officers) have to look at routinely.

It's not difficult to do much better.

You'll see the quality of the drawn presentation,

incorporating photos and annotation to fully explain and justify the case,

which make the documentation interesting and attractive to jaded Planning Officers.

Only recently has the Planning Application process gone 'digital'.

Before that it was 'six paper copies of everything'.

Now, thankfully, it's mostly done on-screen.

This opens the possibilty of adding multimedia things to the Application, such as audio and walk-through video - a project under development.

Weapon 2

The things we did pre-digital!

As was

Before CGI was invented, we did watercolour impressions for Planning Applications - this by Geoffrey Gale over my manually constructed perspective


The scheme was Refused Planning Consent and again at Planning Appeal. But the Planning Inspector gave clear guidance for a revised Application, which received Planning Consent, in the Bath Green Belt

As built

Weapon 2

It's not just the fullness of the drawn presentation, that out-classes the typical Planning Application.


It's also the power of the design that's being proposed.

We may be ambitious in what we seek - but not greedy or cynically tactical.

We're not manoevring to get something that's excessive or crude.

We've collaborated to create a design that may not tick the rule-of-thumb boxes

(which are usually just 'guidelines', not hard rules as many assume)

but which is nevertheless shown to

comply with (or justifiably deviate from) the relevant and researched formal policies

and to be simply 'right' by human and environmental 'soft' criteria.

Our scheme has the full energy of our desire behind it - our determination to achieve what's justly 'right'.

The Planning office gets it that 'these guys are serious';

this may affect the choice of which case Officer is allocated to the Application;

we may get more quailty attention from the over-worked system.

At worst, we've provided ourself with the best possible basis for a Planning Appeal, if that's necessary after a Refusal.

In this way it's possible to get Planning Consent for excellent schemes that others would believe impossible.

Weapon 3

Weapon 3

is simple - to treat Planning Officers (and Listed Building Officers) as professional peers,

not as annoying obstructions.


Planning Officers are so used to attempts to manipulate them, to seeing Applicants' good intentions soon subverted, that they become cynical, fail-safe, bureaucratically protective.

For example I don't apply the typical folklore

"ask for the earth so they can cut it down to what I want".

Rather, we get very clear about what we want and Apply for that, no more and no less.

I find that most Planning Officers (and especially Listed Building Officers) will return to me the compliment of respect, glad to 'talk shop' and get a bit creative, even be prepared to accept my superior design wisdom.

Weapon 4

Before - 70s suburban

- draughty,

poky inside

Weapon 4

I strongly advise against any pre-Application consultation with the Planning office.

To do so is a misunderstanding of the true nature of Planning control.

If one believes that we have to humbly ask 'the all-powerful Planners' what kind of thing they'll allow, then that's what the average Applicant will get - a minimised, fail-safe response (which then goes on the record).

S/he then tells everyone that's how the system works.

Not correct.

Rather, it's for us to get clear on what we want, that's maybe ambitious but not greedy or cynically tactical,

document our justifications and benefits as fully as we can,

Apply for that, no more and no less,

and stay on-the-ball to advocate our case through the system and process.

That is how the Planning system is supposed to work

and it's what the hard-pressed Planning office prefers - it has few resources available for rambling consultations.

That's why the Planning system has rationalised such demands for consultation, into a Pre-Application procedure, for which there is a stiff charge.

Despite warm-sounding official description, and differences between Local Planning Authorities, this is how I find the Pre-Application procedure pans out:

  • It may start with a meeting face-to-face with a Planning Officer

  • But we have to be ready with everything we want them to consider, which to be useful means close to the fully developed scheme documentation

  • In due course we receive (hopefully the same) Officer's considered Response, a list of criteria and restrictions, an established take-it-or-leave-it Position which didn't exist before

  • That pre-App Response goes on the record and becomes the measly and defended basis for further negotiation

  • For this you've paid them a hefty fee

  • You'd hoped to get clarification from the Planners before your Architect does paid work which might prove abortive

  • But your Architect has had to be paid for near-fully developed scheme documentation, research into relevant formal policies etc, in order to prepare for a meaningful pre-App

  • The pre-App Response may say what reduced scheme might be acceptable and/or we'll have to deduce for ourselves what alternative direction to take - we'll be lucky to get a really freewheeling exploratory discussion

  • And after all that, the Planning office isn't bound by what it's said in writing at pre-App stage, when a full Application comes in!

  • So why not save the pre-App fee and just proceed straight to the full Application?

That is what I recommend -

to not give any hint of our intention until we hit the Planners with the power of our full Application documentation.

That way, we initiate the process, stake out the criteria, in the strongest, most justified and determined way we can.

In a full Application, I often get the chance to deal constructively with the single, responsible case Officer.

Anyway, s/he must respond in a way that's not take-it-or-leave-it,

but may be challengeable by us,

over-ruled by democratically elected Planning Committee Members

and/or judged by one of those heavy-duty Planning Inspectors, if the sceme is taken by us, after a Refusal, to Planning Appeal - an affair that's resource-costly to a Planning office.

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