Most of us in the planning industry know that when developers have a development they want to construct, it’s usually only when they are just about to submit the planning application that they consult or engage with the local community (due to the legislation that’s in place). But why is this?
Over the years, a lot of time and effort has been focused on ensuring that legislation is in place to ensure that communities are effectively engaged before a planning application is submitted. We agree with this approach and understand that the principal of engaging early in the development process is to be encouraged. However, why do we only consider consultation before an application is submitted?
I have recently experienced a developer appealing a local authority’s decision to refuse a planning application to build a significant housing development. As this application is in Scotland, a Scottish Government Reporter will now determine whether the initial decision should stand or be over-turned. What has become apparent throughout the appeal process is that there has been little, if no consultation, with the local community by the developer, or the reporter, throughout the appeal process. Surely effective consultation should be part of the appeal process.
Is it Time to Stop Focusing on Pre-Application Consultation?
Perhaps it is time to consider developing legislation to ensure that local communities are engaged throughout the life of a planning application; from the time that a project is publicly announced throughout all development stages such as construction, operation and decommissioning. After all it is the communities that need to live with the developments.
We would like to hear your thoughts and feelings around this subject, we are interested in hearing from all points of view.
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Chris Whitehead, Managing Director at Facilitating Change