It’s a question I was often asked when working in council planning departments – what’s the easiest way to get planning permission ? For a new house etc. there’s a belief that putting forward an uncontroversial design will be seen under a better light than putting your neck out above the parapet a bit. The planners want less, not more. I believe this view is misconceived – an unimaginative design might not generate as much neighbour response, but that isn’t necessarily the case with the planners themselves, and 95% of the time it’s the planners you need to satisfy, not the general views of the general public. Put yourself in their position – they’re dealing with maybe 150 applications each per year and one after the other seem largely the same. When they can see someone has put a real design effort into a planning proposal in my experience it generally solicits a greater level of support and ‘but-in’ by the planners. It MIGHT still face a slightly rougher ride by the non-professional council members (think jury as opposed to lawyers) but on the whole different and new design need not be feared if that is what you want to do. In the end it is your house and and your investment, you have to live with it, so I always advise start by thinking of what you want from your property and then take reference from the surroundings (form, spacing, heights etc) but you certainly do not have to feel you must present a pastiche of what is around you to gain council support. With our experience and contacts we can guide you through this process and even suggest the right architects for you and your proposal.
Paul – Planning Director
As an example of this, I was once presented with a proposal to build shops and flats when working at Kingston upon Thames. The architect (a fairly experienced firm) had put forward a two storey scheme that was in truth, pretty unimaginative. I asked them directly, ‘what led to this design and scale – everything around here is 3,4, even 5 storeys?’ and they admitted it was because they felt it would please the planners more. They admitted it was rare that a planner asking them to increase the floors was not expected, but they did, and the end result is a building which properly addresses the corner junction it sits aside, as well as doubling the number of flats within it from 3 to 6 (not a bad return when you consider each flat is now worth circa £350k)