Since the beginning of October 2014, NPN administrators have been added as consultees at the pre application enquiry stage, so that NPN groups can feed in any thoughts to be included in the case officer enquiry response.
Developers are encouraged to submit a pre application enquiry before they have firmed up their design to check what the local planning authorities issues will be. This will allow them to complete their design in a way which will be more likely to gain approval at planning application stage, by designing out elements which may lead to refusal. The planning officer consults a number of other BCC departments and statutory bodies such as English Heritage in order to make the pre application enquiry response as reliable as possible.
The timetable for the planning authority to respond to pre application enquiries is set at 30 days from receipt to response. This means that consultee responses are usually required within 14 days which allows time at the beginning for allocation of a case officer and time at the end to compile the various consultee comments and write the response.
It follows that many groups will struggle to pull together a response within this time limit, but in cases where developers have been in contact with the NPN residents’ planning group before submitting their pre application enquiry to BCC, the group will often be able to feed their thoughts into the case officer in time for inclusion in the BCC pre application planning enquiry response.
If this is not possible, the case officer will caveat the pre application enquiry response by adding a paragraph pointing out that it may be affected by the subsequent community comments, when pre application community involvement between the group and developer has occurred.
Groups who have previously been involved in pre app discussions about the site, for instance if another developer has previously made proposals for the site, may be able to use their earlier experience to identify particular issues or aspirations for the site that could be made known to the case officer to include in his pre application enquiry response.
Groups may also have sufficient experience of development issues in the area to be able to alert the case officer of those issues before looking at the particular pre application enquiry proposals.
NPN administrators will upload the comments from the groups to the consultee response website, as this is not a publicly accessible site. So groups are asked to forward their comments to the NPN administrators by the closing date for pre app enquiry response.
See BCC webpage for more information about the pre application enquiry process