The Planning System, 'customer journey'
December 11, 2023
In 2017 Rickett Architects were approached by a private client to offer advice regarding the potential of residential development on their land in Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire.
The site is well defined, on the edge of the settlement and within easy reach of transport and local facilities, early appraisals suggested the site could accommodate approx. 20 residential units, that would contribute 35% to affordable housing stock.
The neighbourhood plan was in an early stage of consultation, the client was keen to work with the local community, so despite opportunity to push for an early application, we worked with our planning consultants to prepare a submission and promote the site to the neighbourhood plan.
This strategy ultimately was successful, the site was included in the made plan (site 10)
Ongoing delays with the process resulted in the Plan being ‘made’ in May 2021
We advised the client to make an early outline planning application because of the ongoing delays with the neighbourhood plan, when it became clear the site was being considered for inclusion. This application was lodged in 2018.
Planning Application 18/07975/OUT was determined at planning committee on 30 March 2020 for residential development of up to 14 units, with a compliant housing mix, open space and sustainability measures. (Note still one year ahead of the Neighbourhood Plan being made)
Following this approval, Rickett Architects managed a selective bid process to hand picked developers to secure a disposal that would respect the interests of the landowners who wished to remain in their home adjacent to the site and retain some control over the progress of the development.
Following the successful conclusion of this process, a subject to planning land contract was signed and Rickett Architects prepared the reserved matters planning application, working with the housing developer to design bespoke house types to contribute positively to the local vernacular.
The reserved matters planning application was lodged in December 2021
We received the reserved matters consent in December 2022.
With our assistance, the land contract was completed in April 2023, scheme is now on site.
Now we could go into all the nuances, political, personal and economic, that have informed this process, but the overriding impression we are left with, is that how can it be sustainable to take 5 years to achieve a deliverable planning consent for 14 units?
Developments of this nature have the capacity to weave into the existing build environment, to be quickly absorbed into the local psyche without placing significant and sudden demand on local services.
There should be a fastrack planning process for developments under 25 units. Prior approval for newbuild housing if you like. Then there will be viable sites for smaller developers to generate a pipeline of development, maintain their supply chain and add to the variety and vibrancy of housing stock . Given that the government is seeking to enforce better design surely this would be a logical step to take as it would be a welcome addition to vast swathes of large housing estates on the edges of urban areas.