Planners moving the goalposts

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  • Planners moving the goalposts


    Can anybody help me with some advice about our planning application for a loft conversion. It was submitted on Friday 15 February and was to the letter of the council's (Hackney) planning policy. However since our application was received by the council, they say they have changed their policy and as a result our application, which involves a mansard roof, will be rejected unless we change it to a dormer, which would make it a waste of time and money.

    Are they within their powers to reject our application on this basis? My understanding was that the policy that is applicable in our case is the one that was in force on the date our application was received by the council. There is a legal principle that changes in the law cannot be applied retrospectively and surely it's not reasonable for them to render many of the applications already submitted invalid because they have subsequently changed the policy.

    Or am I hopelessly naive? Any advice/suggestions very gratefully received.

  • #2
    Its not a straight cut as that unfortunatley, if policy changes after recipt of an application, then the council are bound to give due weight to it. The coucil will make a decision on what the development plan is at the time of the decision, and if an element of this has been replaced by new policy this is what they will make their decision on. It would be the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that new policy is unlikley to appear before their application is determined either through looking at the council website or seeking advice of the council duty planning officer.

    Policy also doesnt just "appear" from one day to the next, it takes quite a number of months and is given various periods of public consultation depending on what type of document it is (this still doesnt mean you will be aware of it)! my point is that this new policy guidance that the council is now rejecting your application on, could have been 6 months to a year in the making, so would have been given weight as emerging policy before your application was submitted and so your application could have been rejected even if you had put it in three months earlier.....


    • #3
      Was the policy formally adopted or just in draft?? Did the policy change occur before the committee determination?



      • #4
        Thanks v much for the speedy replies.

        Planner - I can't find anything on the council website to indicate any change of policy, and the pre-planning guidance on the website is identical to what we were sent before the application was submitted. The guidance pdf is dated June 2006.

        The trickiness is that it is our architect who is now telling us that there's been this change in policy. He liaised closely with the planning officer before we agreed the final design and submitted the application. So surely it would have been flagged up at that stage that a mansard roof was a problem. We also submitted a pre-planning drawing towards the end of last year, and the mansard was not raised as an issue then. Our approach has been to play very safe with the design and stick to letter of council's policies because we are expecting twins in the summer and really needed the application to go through first time.

        pdk - the application has not been formally approved/rejected yet. The planning officer told our architect last week that it would be rejected with the mansard so he took it upon himself to amend it to a dormer without consulting us. That new design has been recommended for approval at the committee meeting on Monday. However, we don't believe that the dormer gives us the space we need so we're considering whether to stick to original plan and appeal it if it's rejected. But would it be better to go for the design that has already has been given the nod?

        Sorry for the epic answer. Would be very useful to hear your views...



        • #5
          Could it be this document you have fallen foul of?

          In particular page 44 onwards. I cant be sure because I dont know the type of roof your application relates to. It looks like its just been adopted in Jan/Feb according to the councils website

          The public consultation period ran from 23rd April 2007 to 3rd June 2007 and a revised version of the document is expected to be reported to cabinet in January/February 2008 for adoption.


          • #6
            aha that could be it. Thanks very much for digging that out.

            I've also just been told that the council is trying to get listings for Stoke Newington which they can't do if they have too many mansards.

            Sounds like we're going to have to go with the dormers so that at least we don't come out of the process with nothing at all.

            Thanks again for your advice. Much appreciated.



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