The planning system delivers…….at last

2005 seems a long time ago, and was the year I first started out as a Planner at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Fast forward 10 years and in the last days of 2015, the Council finally adopted their Local Plan (or ‘Local Plan Part 2’ – the second bit after the Core Strategy, which has now been re-branded as ‘Part 1’).

You may be finding the terminology slightly confusing and you would not be alone. You see, it is all to do with the ‘simplification’ of the planning system. Successive Government’s have had goes at making the system fast, easier, cheaper…. yes, you get the picture.

Try telling that to one landowner who has been waiting for over a decade. We have been assisting Mr Whitehead whose land appeared to have been inadvertently identified as ‘open space’ in the last Local Plan, due to it being sited next to a larger area of green space. Well, that’s our view – and now one also shared by the Council and the Planning Inspector examining the Local Plan.

So, whilst we start 2016 on a positive note, providing advice to this landowner on obtaining planning permission for apartments on this newly re-designated site, we are left thinking what may have been if we had a ‘simplified’ and responsive planning system.

The end however may be in site. Some commentators point to the Government losing its patience with Council’s who fail to deliver Local Plans,with powers to intervene to be unleashed, if they are not in place by early 2017. We’re not holding our breath just yet but there must be relief for one Local Planning Authority at least!