Planning is a complicated subject, but the following is a synopsis. Planning controls are used to arbitrate in cases where those who wish to profit over the aesthetics of our area. Overall the council is governed by planning laws from which they take advice of their professional planners but the final decision is subjective in the council Planning Committee.
However, the council is strongly influenced by the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) which attempts to plan for the development of Croydon in the longer term. The UDP is a substantial volume and was adopted in 1997. It is presently under review and the Government has stated a desire for brown rather than green site development.
If you want to alter or improve your home
If you want to alter or improve your home, put up a building in the garden or build an extension, what is allowed is summarised in “Planning – A Guide for Householders”. This is available from the council One Stop Planning Counter or from their website.
Improvements/developments by others
Croydon Council no longer sends written notification of planning applications to neighbours and other interested parties. Instead the Council will only post site notices in close proximity to the application site. We would ask residents to be vigilant and read any notices appearing on lampposts, gateposts and perimeter fences. All planning applications submitted to the council are listed under the relevant ward and date of receipt and can be accessed on the council website (see above).
There are also links to a Quick Search detailing the previous month’s applications, decisions, appeals plus an Advanced Search, as well as access to general planning information.
If you like the proposed improvement/development
If this is acceptable to you, then you can either write to the council planning department or do nothing.
If you have a problem with the proposals
If you disagree with the proposal, write to the Planning Department expressing your reasons (see below for valid reasons). Please note that there is a time limit on commenting, usually three or four weeks after publication. If it is a significant development, contact your neighbours personally to gauge their support.
Also contact HADRA to discuss how to proceed. HADRA can give you guidance and assist in compiling an objection letter for completing by residents.
There is now a new protocol for Development Control introduced by the council from March 2006 and this includes the following:
To ensure that an application reaches the Planning Committee:
· There now need to be letters of objection from 12 residents (previously 6)
· HADRA are registered with Croydon Council to be able to make referrals to the planning committee.
· All petitions must have at least 20 signatures.
Member’s referrals: Must be on the correct form and be five days before the meeting.
At the meeting:
· All material for the committee must reach the planning officer at least 24 hours before the meeting, and not handed round at the meeting.
· Committee members can now question any residents who speak at the meeting on any of the facts.
Some valid reasons for objecting:
- Bulk and massing. The proposed development would be out of keeping with the character of the area and detrimental to the visual amenity of the street scene by reason of its height and massing.
- Density. The proposals are in excess of the densities reflected in the adjoining properties and would result in a cramped and overcrowded layout.
- Parking facilities on site or on public roads or through traffic. The development may have insufficient consideration for the number of cars that will be parked at the site or on public roads. There are detailed rules as to parking spaces per flat.
- Being overlooked and lack of privacy. If the development is large or has inappropriate windows/balconies/patios, this may be detrimental to the amenities of the adjacent properties by reason of its size, siting and visual intrusion. This also applies to mutual overlooking if a back garden development is proposed.
- Trees. The loss of mature trees is viewed dimly and some trees have preservation orders on them.
- Drainage. The proposal may put an unacceptable extra load on foul water drainage.
- Wildlife. In particular, badger setts are protected and in the past have prevented developments going ahead.
- Adjoining green belt land. Planners have refused permission on occasions where a proposed development adjoins green belt land such as Coulsdon Manor golf course.
As stated above, contact should be made with HADRA who can coordinate any further action if appropriate, but please note that we cannot give advice to third parties with house purchase and associated planning applications. Nor can we become involved in disputes between neighbours.
Lastly, although the council can refuse an application for a communications mast, this will inevitably be reversed on appeal as the government is committed to providing a certain level of coverage.