A Plan To Negotiate

A couple of years ago we began the dreaded planning application process. We needed to extend our home to accommodate an ever expanding family. To cut a very long story short we were eventually granted permission for a small agreed compromise kitchen extension after at first being refused for being over ambitious. Given the circumstances it would be unrealistic to assume that once the new build has been completed that one could re-apply for the original plan with any expectation of the council having a change of mind. We’ve had our planning permission, and that is that. However, an anomaly has come to light recently which might mean that our previously denied dreams could, in fact, become reality. Let me explain. A company by the name of Shore Energy were granted planning permission to build a waste recycling plant between Corby and Gretton, though a safeguard was built-in to the grant which meant that any vehicles bringing waste for recycling would travel no more than 30 miles to access the new site. This was mutually accepted by both the company and the council for strong environmental reasons. Job done, everyone agrees, planning granted, ticketyboo!

However, Shore Energy has now applied to have the aforementioned clause removed. Now, with the best will in the world, imagine what the response from the council might be if I asked them to re-assess our planning application which would allow for our original build to take place. The chances are that we would be laughed out of their offices and told to go away. I am therefore baffled as to why Shore Energy should think that they are somehow different to me. What part of final decision don’t they understand? After all, if any authority was ever stupid enough to revoke the 30 mile clause I would feel peeved in the extreme. Why them and not me? Anyway, their agreed clause was to prevent vehicles from dumping their rubbish from anywhere in the UK, indeed, from anywhere in Europe. I should like to congratulate our local authorities for having the foresight to include the 30 mile clause which in my view is an environmental necessity. My advice to Shore Energy would be ‘get real’. The world has changed and so must the attitudes of the business community. This whole episode has a somewhat 70’s feel about it. Perhaps they thought ‘one step at a time’. In other words, get the planning approved, and then we’ll negotiate. Well, trust me, it doesn’t work that way for me and it certainly shouldn’t work that way for any business, no matter what resources they may have at their disposal: no pun intended. Mind you, if they did manage to get the clause removed it would undoubtedly open the floodgates for the negotiation of any past planning consent. If it’s good enough for Shore Energy then it’s certainly good enough for me. One has to ask how our county council would afford the maintenance of the access roads.

There’s more. In 2008 planning was sought to build five new homes on a parcel of land in the middle of Gretton. The planning process duly commenced and following consultation, negotiation, committee discussions ( both parish and borough councils), objections by those residents most likely to be affected by any environmental or increased traffic implications it was agreed that outline planning be given for three bungalows to be built. That seemed fine and dandy: until now.

The land has recently been bought by a developer, Grace Homes who, it was thought, were to begin the building of said three bungalows. You’ve guessed it: they want more, speculating on any previous planning to be relaxed in favour of their new plan to build, in total, six new properties and extend an existing house on the High Street.

It doesn’t take a designer of finely tuned and engineered spacecraft to see what is happening. Yet this assumed re-evaluation of decisions already reached by a local authority is a conceit beyond the pale. It’s almost as if it’s taken for granted that any previous decision is irrelevant. ‘Don’t worry about it. Just bang a letter off to the locals telling them of our ‘in-keeping’ plans, submit the new plan to the council and it’ll all go through’. That kind of thing.

The standard 'lets keep the locals happy' letter

Perhaps I’m being disingenuous. Maybe someone at Grace Homes made a big mistake in buying the land not realising that only three bungalows not six new properties could be built which, lets face it, would be one almighty financial faux pas!

I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Yet, for what its worth, here’s my prediction. Planning consent will be given with all previous decisions deemed irrelevant. And they say there’s a slump in the housing market. Don’t you believe it!

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