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Column 8th November 2017

Planning applications aren't worth the paper they're printed on

There is something in the planning system which doesn’t seem to work.

Developers can either submit an “outline” application followed by an application for the remaining “reserved matters”, or they can submit both together as a full application.

An outline application typically seeks permission for a residential development for up to so many dwellings with associated access.

The details are then in the reserved matters application.

Most landowners apply for outline permission then sell the land to a developer who will apply for the detailed reserved matters based on their standard plans used throughout the country.

We think this can create problems.

The outline application usually requires the applicant to consult the public about the development and to prepare “indicative” plans of what the development will look like and where the houses will be placed. This often includes the details of open spaces and buffer zones - like the 5m buffers proposed on Crab Hill and King Alfred’s East Site.

These allow our councillors to get an impression of what they might be giving permission for.

Unfortunately, these plans don’t seem to be worth the paper they are written on.

There appears to be no requirement to take account of the consultation or indicative plans in the detailed planning stage and plans can change dramatically between the outline and detailed applications.

Take the current “reserved matters” application for King Alfred’s East Site as an example.

The proposed indicative masterplan on which the outline permission was granted included a 5m landscape buffer around the site, a community green and a separate children’s play area.

The current application seems to have forgotten the 5m landscape buffer, combined the community green with the play area and changed the layout.

There are a large number of personal objections objecting to the plans and a petition of 100 residents.

The outline application included a requirement for traffic calming measures and a roundabout at the Springfield Road junction with Charlton Road, which don’t seem to be mentioned in this application. So we have to hope that there will be a further application for these later – but given the recent experience with the access to the development off the Denchworth Road it is something which will have to be monitored carefully.


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