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How to Deal With Delays in Planning Applications

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

This month, I thought it would be useful to look back at our recent experiences in how officers tend to deal with PD and Prior Approval applications, and how we have sought to deal with a delay in planning applications. This also provides an insight as to how applications are dealt with and the steps they have to go through; even if you cannot do much about it, it is important to be aware of it, so readers can build the possible costs and the extent of delay into their appraisals and manage expectations with investors and others.

Planning application process
When any planning application goes in, it requires monitoring and chasing. The job is only ever ‘half done’ just by submitting the application. Applicants need to chase up registration, then validation of the application, to ensure that it is properly ‘in the system’ and travelling on its way through the formal application system.

Summary of the planning application process

  • Application submission
  • Planning portal validation (wk 0)
  • Council registration (wk 1)
  • Council validation (wk 1-2)
  • Public consultation (wk 2-8/ at least 21 days)
  • Scheme amendment (+ 1-2 wks consult.?)
  • Officer review and reporting (delegated)
  • Committee report (1 wk from meeting)
  • Registration of interest (check time limits)
  • Committee and decision/resolution to grant
  • Section 106/formal PP

The initial administration, through to the start of planning notices going up near the site, normally takes 1-2 weeks, although we are seeing some authorities taking longer and this being stretched out to 3-4 weeks in some cases.

A mix of a rise in development activity and planning applications, coupled with staff shortages (early retirement, cutbacks, maternity/paternity leave, ‘frequent’ holidays) unable to cope with the growing workload, has led to a crisis in planning application handling at the local level. We experience similar problems with the planning appeal system, with some applications taking ‘months’ before an inspector is allocated and the appeal timetable formally starts.

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