Interview with the owner of this Permitted Development Web site by:- G.
Webb - 1st March 2010.
QUOTE: "The government solution to a problem is usually as bad
as the problem itself."
Q - This web site is very informative and extensive with regard to Permitted Development
issues which must have taken you many hours to compile and update - What was your motivation for consolidating all
this information in the one place?
A - During the transition of the new PD
rules coming into force on or about October 2008, I had a client who required my services for a design of detached
garden building that required Planning Permission (or so we thought) due to the site being within a Conservation
I checked the Planning situation with my own local Council
Planning Dept. who issued an incorrect statement on the revised PD criteria which I relayed to the client so we
proceeded with the design and a formal Planning Application based upon that Council Advice.
It soon after transpired that the advice from the Planning
Dept. was incorrect and for a revised design of building, the client could install a detached ancillary building
without formal Planning Permission and they could have avoided my services and fees combined with a less expensive
(non-conservation style) type of garden building.
I had to return part of a fee as a negotiated settlement to
pacify my client who was obviously upset at spending money where they had no reason to - I was not impressed
I then decided to research the complexities of the new PD
wording in more depth to avoid this situation happening again. It soon became clear that this was a very poorly
worded and confusing piece of Planning Legislation dumped upon myself, the Planners and the general public. This
web site was the result as a kind of 'spleen venting' upon the powers that be who introduced it to begin
- This web site must
eat into your fee earning time as an Architectural Technologist in Private Practice - how do you justify this loss
of time or cost expenditure in forming and maintaining this web site?
It is partly for the challenge of providing this information to a wider audience being the typical home owner where
it would be difficult or near on impossible for them to locate this depth of information, analysis & research.
If I had £1.00 for every home owner that had got into trouble through the Planning system through confusion and
misunderstandings that this type of complicated Planning Legislation can bring I would be a rich man. The general
public should have a right to easily access such information to make it easier for them to assess such
The site is also partly funded by advertising (Google
Adsense) which brings in a small monthly amount to help maintain its presence on the web. It is not a self funding
web site & still requires my dedication. While I continue to receive positive emails from a very supportive
public I shall continue.
Q -How do you see
this Permitted Development criteria / legislation progressing?
- I can't see how the Government can leave it in its
current format for much longer but that means someone in 'White Hall Towers' admitting that they got it wrong!
Previous PD legislation was changed very infrequently as the 'volume based assessment' was a more tangible &
well scribed piece of legislation. I think the Planners & the Building Designers are all hoping for a re-write
of the PD rules to put to bed once and for all the ambiguities and the 'open to interpretation' elements that the
current criteria has. However, with the current economic and pending election situation I wouldn’t hold your
- How is the
Permitted Development allowances for a site mainly used by your own clients?
- Fortunately most of my clients are not initially
constrained by the PD mentality and simply wish to have an extension or building designed to their own
requirements. It is my task to steer them towards a design that will obtain Planning permission yet met all of
their requirements and had value added to the property.
I actually do not complete many schemes for my own clients
under Permitted Development which allows me a degree of design input and influence over what they require which can
be very pleasing and rewarding.
Permitted Development is only normally considered as an
option either by sheer fluke (i.e. - it fits in with PD) or the site has already been constrained by previous bad
Planning History (Green Belt or neighbour issues for example).
I would have to admit that, in the majority of cases,
pursuing the PD route is often as a last resort for the client who desires the extra floor space at any cost and
they are happy to accept the imposed compromise that a PD scheme may bring.
- There is a rumour that a PD scheme (outside of Planning
Control) is more acceptable to the Planners than them giving Planning Permission for a more well designed extension
that falls foul of an element of Planning Policy where permission is withheld - Is that an urban
- The statement is not without some weight but does not
represent the entire picture. You have to understand that the Planning Dept. is very much constrained by Planning
policy and they do try to take a consistent approach. Therefore if they have the power and control to approve a
building then they will want to make sure that the approval does not set a nasty precedent for others to follow and
that the decision to approve or refuse is based upon some sort of consistent approach which is why the written
Planning policy has grown massively over the last 20 years.
Should they be presented with a poorly designed scheme that
meets the PD criteria then they do not have the power to control such development which is why it can often be
viewed that they are happier to approve a poor quality PD scheme with lots of adverse design & neighbour issues
over a more thought out & considered design approach that perhaps only exceeds Green Belt floor area allowances
for example. It's just simply a poor twist of fate that can happen from time to time.
- OK - last question - Do you offer your services to the wider public who may wish to engage your
services to pursue a PD scheme after reading this web site?
-Yes and no. I have already received a couple of commissions from clients via this web site
over the last year purely for this purpose. However, I am not really keen to travel long distances when there is
still work locally for obvious reasons. If the fee is right and I am interested or motivated for the scheme
presented then I may consider travelling outside of my local area.
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