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'Monster' planning form to hit system, says expert

The new standard planning application form, due to come into force on 6 April, will turn architects into ‘filing consultants’ and slow the planning process, an expert has warned.

According to sources who have seen the proposed documents, the original form, of around four pages, has ballooned into a 74-page monster, known as 1App, hugely increasing the workload for architects.

Planning expert Brian Waters (pictured), chair of the London Planning and Development Forum, said:
‘It is turning architects into filing consultants – this is a massive bureaucratic make-work and
will not speed up the system.

‘When Arup first carried out its £2 million study into a standard form in 2005 it seemed like a good idea. But when that form is 74 pages, it is beginning to backfire.’

New local supplements in which local authorities will be offered a ‘menu’ of 41 additional planning criteria to cover a range of planning anomalies – such as the need for bat surveys – will, said Waters, add to the burden, not least because it is expected most will adopt a catch-all approach, requesting all 41.

Waters added: ‘Usually you give information as you go through an application, but if you prepare all this stuff before it is submitted, vast amounts are going to be unnecessary.’

Peter Stewart, the spokesman for the RIBA on planning matters, agreed that the formalisation of the current system will not necessarily lead to its streamlining: ‘This sounds like the opposite of standardisation.

‘I’ve seen no evidence that all this will achieve the aims of rationalising the system – in fact, it could achieve the opposite.’

Unfortunately for architects, the new 1App forms are still not available to be seen, and meanwhile, rumours abound that the introduction of the new forms could yet be deferred.

The Department for Communities and Local Government was unavailable for comment.

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