With the Autumn term drawing to a close, preparations are underway to plan for accommodating next year’s cohort of new young people. In the first article, Kieran Roberts, architectural technologist (and our in-house planning expert) shared his top tips on gaining planning permission for new schools and classrooms. In the second installment of ‘planning permissions – how to get them right’, Kieran shares more on what planners are looking for when it comes to new projects…
What are the planners actually looking for?
Good question! They want to see proposals fitting in with local and national policies, making a positive impact on the community and not compromising things like existing sports pitches or parking. There’s a consultation period where applications go to the public and planning consultants for comment. These often include Highways England, drainage boards, tree officers and experts in conservation, archaeology, ecology, and fire and crime prevention.
With a new school build there might also be a consultation event for local people. On a lot of our projects we often use these to alleviate worries from neighbours, parents and teachers about disruption.
Do pre-designed, offsite builds move through planning faster?
Most planning applications take eight weeks, but some go to the local authority planning committee, which can add a few extra weeks. With pre-designed buildings that are constructed offsite, the time saving comes in compiling the application. We have pre-written product information and specifications, so we can submit sooner. Offsite construction then speeds up the actual build.
How often are applications turned down?
Handled properly, they never have to be. We’ve never had a refusal because we use things like pre-application advice and work closely with planners to resolve issues as the application goes through. If it really looks like an application is problematic, people can also withdraw, rethink and resubmit it, rather than let it get refused.
Every successful application is granted with a couple of standard conditions – it must be built within three years and conform to the plans – but there are other common conditions too. Pre-commencement conditions must be met before you start onsite, while with pre-occupation conditions you have until work is finished. Post-occupation conditions are satisfied once the building opens and are often about making sure it’s meeting certain standards.
What happens once you’ve got planning permission?
Your delivery partner will ask building control or an approved inspector to go through the details. They make sure the designs meet building regulations and work with structural and mechanical engineers as well as the contractor to make sure everything fits together.
One of the benefits of the offsite approach is that while that happens, the contractor can start preparing the site and the building can go into manufacture at the factory. Rather than those three elements running one after the other, each stage can progress concurrently.
What’s your best piece of planning advice?
Start the dialogue early. The sooner you start talking to a delivery partner about your project – whether that’s Lungfish or someone else – the better your chances of getting it through.
Kieran’s top planning tips – Pt.2
Start talking early and be up front about any issues
Consider pre-designed buildings and offsite construction
Use pre-application advice on more complex projects