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London to Paris cycle ride, the day of reckoning approaches!

Written by Stephen Brooker


It has taken a while, but here I am back on the blog after only a few months this time.

In those short summer months since my last blog the government has proposed once again to reform the planning system with yet more changes which range from the sensible to the rather less sensible.  The planning consultation paper still has a couple of weeks to run and it will be intersting know if any notice is taken of the consultation responses.  There is outrage from Councils that the office to residential permitted development changes may become permanent and that the currently exempted areas may lose their exemptions.  There must be bewilderment about how making it easier to change the use of A1 shops to other uses will save the High Street. But there is the very sensible realisation that the current system for dealing with the burgeoning numbers of conditions to be found on even the simplest planning approvals needs to be reformed.

Discharge of Planning conditions applications being approved by default if there is no decision within the 8 weeks seems sensible.  But this does not address the issue that is obvious to most practitioners and users of the system, that too many Council's impose too many conditions on too many approvals.  The test 'only impose a condition if you would refuse permission without it' seems to be long abandoned in favour of a scatter gun approach. We see conditions asking for irrelevant information, details that have already been submitted and seeking to go well beyond land use planning.  Firm advice reining in the use of conditions is needed in addition to greater discipline in approving submissions once made.

The consultation paper assumes the permanent inclusion of the "prior approval" process as a halfway house between needing planning permission and not needing it, this seems ill judged.

Meanwhile my favourite hobbyhorse of CIL continues to throw up surprises, even if it is now several months since the last changes to rhe Regulations.  It seems that London Mayoral CIL may be raising more than was anticipated, now there is a turn up!  Hopefully, this will soften the Mayor's disappointment that Boris Island may be going the way of its Thames Estuary airport predecessors and out of serious contention.  It is great news if Mayoral CIL is not deterring development, but will that remain the case in less heated market conditions and when all of the Boroughs have added their own CIL?

As part of Walsingham Planning's 30th birthday celebration 6 of us are cycling to Paris and raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support in the process.  You can support us by going to the website page My training is progressing but perhaps not as far as it should have done, only time will tell.  I am hoping it will be alright on the night, but having recently seen a detailed route map which seems to actively seek out every hill in Kent and northern France I am even less confident than I was before. 

If we can make the technology work and have any energy for activities beyond rest and refreshment I hope to be blogging as we complete the ride to Paris, look out cot updates.

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30 Years in business 1984 to 2014

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2014 saw Walsingham Planning celebrate 30 years in business as a town planning consultancy. We would like to thank all of our clients for their continued support and look forward to the next 30 years.