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Three point plan: Panyun Chow

Planners explain how they would change the English planning system

Panyun ChowPanyun Chow

Senior Planning Officer

Lambeth Council

Planning authorities should have the opportunity to charge for the time taken to determine one application over another. Given that applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, the time taken on applications varies. Small applications can be more time-consuming than big developments. While residents should not have to pay the large sums that developers may, the time taken to process an application should reflect its cost. Time and money are also wasted where developers get stuck in judicial reviews.

Uncertainty in the planning process is a common criticism of the profession. Democratic decision-making should continue, but it should be less easy to needlessly frustrate development. This cannot be the intention behind giving neighbourhoods more say in the process.

If a residential extension matches its neighbours, why consult? Officer time, cable ties and string are decreasing resources. If the government is serious about removing barriers that are arbitrary in the planning process, it needs to attack planners less and use the tools in its hands to aid them to get the job done sooner.

The three point plan

1. Let planning authorities charge their own application fees

2. Amend the judicial process for planning applications. There should be no right to appeal after the first judicial review has been dismissed at the high court

3. No press/site notices on residential applications. With prior approvals for residential, remove neighbour consultation and require ‘tests’ to lead plans to approval/refusal


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