The new Director of Planning in the Peak District National Park has set out his more collaborative, open approach to the area’s planning agents.
John Scott gave a presentation to 23 planning agents – who help people with planning applications – on the latest improvements to the service and an update on policy and planning law.
“We wanted to explain the new three-stage way we deal with pre-application planning advice,” said Mr Scott, who has been a planning agent himself.
“Firstly you can get very general guidance from a customer service adviser, then more detailed advice from a planning adviser, and as you move towards a planning application you will be assigned a planning officer who will give very site-specific advice and usually see the application right through the process.”
This more focused approach replaces a drop-in service when only very broad guidance could be given by an officer who may not deal with the eventual application.
“Our whole aim is to communicate more openly with customers, tell them what to expect and what is expected of them,” said Mr Scott. “Currently a third of applications have to be held back because they contain insufficient information or documentation. We want to ensure people know right from the start what to include, which will save time and money on all our parts.
“We also want to help people overcome any issues that may prevent approval by adjusting their plans at an early stage. It’s a much more collaborative approach that I hope will benefit customers, planners and of course, the national park by achieving better developments.”
Planning policy manager Brian Taylor also updated the agents on the National Park Authority’s Core Strategy and on a forthcoming new policy for energy efficiency and renewables in the national park.
The Authority recently introduced a Planning Bulletin for agents to keep them in the picture on any changes to procedures or to planning law.
Feedback from the presentation was universally positive, with constructive suggestions and comments such as “very good and to the point.”
For information about the improved advice service go to: www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/planning and click on Pre-Application Advice.
The Authority currently approves 88 per cent of planning applications.