Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Top tips for a tip top planning application

Its been a while, much has happened since the last post - indeed, some have sounded the very death knell of planning over the summer months. I dont wish to get embroiled in the National Piss Poor Planning Framework so thought id take it upon myself to offer a little commentary and advice of my own on how to make a great planning application.

1. Include a covering letter – just in case the reception at the council cant quite compute the obvious in the accompanying documents. We find it useful to make a few bold statements such as "we seek planning permission" and 'your local plan (1989-1999) is wholly silent on the matter of...... "

2. Check LPA validation checklist – A must, but beware it is a highly secretive document known in any great detail only to the very few that occupy the inner sanctum of the validation room. Prone to change without notice (or publication without consultation) it often directly conflicts with the Development Management Procedure Order 2010, and seeks the submission of usually fabricated and fatuous information of nil relevance or proportionality to the proposal in hand. Recommend a quick word search for obscure towns like 'lowestoft' or 'barrow' to catch out the sneaky agent who has regurgitated a report copied off another Councils web-site.

3. Optimise file sizes for online submission – a rarely known fact that some of the more obscure reports sought by LPA's can be reduced to smaller file sizes. Failing that change your print setting to 'duplex or double sided print output' and embed them into the password protected document. Otherwise put on CD and post it... works a treat and her maj loves the work for posties.

4. Preferred file format – the PDF format is preferred to simplify LPAs’ processing of documents. Remember that LPA's are here to serve you so we recommend CAD drawings as they usually tie the portal up a few mins and also require LPA's to have systems capable of reading .dwf/.dwg formats. Mac Users note that Pages and Numbers files aren't supported... so not very smug now are we?.

5. Drawing size – where possible use A3 drawings and avoid multiple images on larger sizes. Where LPAs suggest that 1/75 scale drawings are awkward to measure, remind them that the Procedure Order doesn't prohibit any scale and that Staples sell 1/150 scale rules.

6. Plans and drawings – Once you have figured out the diference between the site/location plan and block plan (ensuring that you use two drawings where one would normally suffice) make sure Jonny DC has the choice of True or Magnetic North on the drawing in case he's using his iPhone to get to site. Popping GPS co-ordinates are a superb way of sending the officer to site - especially in rural area. The comedic value of the diesel Ford in a ford tale is a blinder at the office xmas party.

7. Drawing orientation – We have found typing "This way up" the simplest way of communicating with the orangutans processing your application. 'Pay em nuts' as the saying goes! Useful to put a small text block in the right hand title block saying 'This drawing is as accurate a representation of what we think the client might build as our imaginations can muster. It is however in all probability much closer representation of our pre-application discussions than the Case Officers recollection of same '

8. Document naming – As decision notices now tend to quote drawings numbers as 'approved documents' the use of an a coded document titling system is essential to ensure maximum ambiguity and flexibility in a permission, maximise the use of revision numbers and the old trick of issuing 5 revisions, of which ReV E is the same as Rev B, never fails.

9. Application fee payment – A tricky area of application making, wherein the LPA will always print at 105% to enlarge floor area so as to sneak a couple more grand on the fee. Alway what out for misunderstanding of the term 'more than'. Recommend payment in cash at the cash office away from the planning office.

10. Reduce use of colour – Edge sites in thick bold black line with other land in a thin line and watch out for the return letter.

Early morning submissions wont be treated any quicker as it will probably be 930 am before the technician signs the flexi book, then its a natter, coffee, x factor and aussie masterchef catch-up before switching the PC on.

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