CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Internet update From: Property Management, Volume 27, Issue 5
I recently noticed a neighbour having an extension built to their property. Having not seen any notices attached to lampposts I decided to enquire further through the internet to see what was available. It also inspired me to investigate a little further to see what planning information is available on the web. My starting point in this instance was the local authority web site (www.stalbans.gov.uk/) from where I selected the “Environment and Planning” section, and then the “Planning” section. Luckily, for my local authority, there is a good search facility for planning applications. I typed in the road and from the list of recent and historic applications (some dating back to 2003), I selected the correct address and found details of the planning approval, plus plans of the works in pdf format.
The St Albans site provides more than just an applications search facility. There is a guide to planning, covering aspects such as “development control”, “enforcement”, “conservation” and “trees and woodlands”. There is a whole array of planning forms to be used, along with supplementary guidance notes depending on the type of works being undertaken, covering extensions, works in conservation areas, demolition, advertisements etc. There is also a link to the Planning Portal web site (www.planningportal.gov.uk/), where you can make an application online.
The planning portal web site is relatively new. Depending on the user, there are three possible sections to visit from the home page; one form the general public, one for professional users and the other for Government users. I took the link for the general public. In the top left corner of the page there are a number of frequently asked questions covering what is a planning permission? How do I apply? How do I appeal? A more detailed search facility of the database is also available.
I found the “interactive tool” on the site quite interesting. It is set up in the form of a semi-detached house with garden, and as you scroll the mouse pointer over the house different sections are highlighted; by selecting one of the numerous features you can then view a dialogue box providing some basic information. You can view the house from both the front and rear elevation. You can also delve into the inside of the house to learn about any specific planning requirements here, for example changes to the roof space. In each dialogue box you can click the link to get more detailed information from the planning portal site. This includes sample case studies, in some instances, which may help you decide on the course of action required. I selected a section on driveways, where new regulations came into force in October 2008. The planning portal provides some general guidance, with a link to the “Communities and Local Government” web site (www.communities.gov.uk) where more detail information is available. For anyone with limited knowledge of the planning process and wanting to know what they can or cannot do with their home, this tool is a useful starting point.
For those wishing to make an application on-line there are a number of video tutorials to view under the “planning applications” section; these tutorials cover various subjects including making the application, site plans and fees.
Having been directed to some information on the “Communities” site, I decided to go back and investigate what the planning section had. The web site holds a limited amount information on planning and building regulations. The planning section (www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/about/planning) provides various documentation on notes for households and business. It has to be said, the new planning portal is very comprehensive and is the better solution for someone starting to seek information on planning matters.
But what is more specific regulations may apply to your area? Take for example our national parks, such as the Lake District. I took a look at their web site to see what information/guidance on planning was available (www.lake-district.gov.uk/). The planning section was pretty much like any other local authority with general background details to the planning process and links to the planning portal. Unfortunately at the time of reviewing some of the links did not appear to work when I was viewing the site. As an alternative I took a look at the Peak District National Park Authority (www.peakdistrict.org/). I had to look under the A-Z of services to find planning related matters, but when I did there was some useful background information for owners within the Park.
If you want to take a look at other local authority web sites its worth visiting (www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directories/Localcouncils/index.htm) where you will find a list of local authorities by region, including the principal local councils in Wales and unitary councils in Scotland.
For those interested in the planning process and appeals, it is worth taking a look at the Planning Inspectorate site (www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/). There are links on the homepage for England or Wales and from these separate sites you can drill down into more useful information. Here you can view information on issue such as the appeals process and learn about whether you feel an application should be “called-in”. Within this section there is more detail information on specific subject matters such as hedgerows and rights of way. There is also some general information about the role of the Inspectorate, what they do and how to contact them.
We should not forget that much of the above information is relevant to England and Wales. In Scotland, it is worth taking a look at the Scottish Executive site (www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/built-environment/planning) where you can view sections on planning policy, documentation and details of local authorities for information at a local level.
Nigel AlmondAssociate Director, DTZ, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of DTZ.