Planners rejected our pre-application. What should we do next?

17 March 2023
by Ash

We have a bungalow that we wish to replace with a contemporary L-shaped house, where one side will be single storey and the other double. We made a planning pre-application, which the planners responded to after nearly eight weeks, rejecting almost everything in our plan. They quoted that it was an area of special interest; that the proposed property is too big; it would be overlooked at the front; the back garden is too small (the principal garden would be the courtyard in front of the L shape); the garage is not attached to the house; the design is too boxy etc. The bungalow is not located in a conservation area nor an area of special interest.

At the meeting on site, the planner liked the contemporary design and suggested we should not go beyond the front boundary at which the current property stands and to have a hedge in the front so the house is not overlooked from the road, however the plans we submitted — which they rejected — were substantially different.

Is this a question of giving up, accepting their suggestions and putting in a planning application for a slightly smaller property on what is a half acre site in South Bucks?

One Answer

  1. Martin Gaine says:

    Hi Ash,

    This is a tricky situation and I sympathise with your plight! It is always difficult to know what to do with a negative pre-application response. If you push ahead and submit the application without revising your plans, the council will likely refuse planning permission, pointing out that they had already indicated to you at pre-application stage that they were not happy with the scheme.

    However, you would still have a right of appeal to the planning inspectorate and, if you are determined that your proposal is a good one and that the council’s assessment is wrong, that may be the way to go. If the appeal fails, you still have the option at that stage of revising your design and submitting a new application.

    In most cases, though, I recommend trying to take on board what the council is telling you in their pre-application. After all, the reason you sought pre-application advice in the first place was to get the council’s opinion.

    Read the response as carefully and objectively as you can. Read through the planning policies that the council refers to. Look up the council’s online planning database to see what else has been approved and refused in the area. If you are not completely clear about what the council is saying in their response, try to get hold of the case officer on the phone. You should also have a frank and honest conversation with your architect – do they think there is any merit in what the council is saying?

    If, on reflection, you think that the council has a point, and the design could be improved or the size of the house reduced, then you should revise your plans before going ahead with your planning application. On the other hand, if you decide that the council has just got this wrong (which happens!), then apply anyway and be ready to appeal any refusal.

    Martin Gaine (Build It’s planning expert)

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