Cardiff Civic Society launches planning guide to help communities

Cardiff Civic Society (CCS) has produced a planning guide to help communities fight inappropriate development that threatens their quality of life.

Cardiff City Hall throws its shadow over Alexandra Gardens. Credit: Dave Mckenna

Lyn Eynon, drawing on his campaigning experience, has compiled the guide, outlining the relevant points with which to tackle planning applications before they come to planning committee.

“Communities are at a huge disadvantage when presented with a planning application, “ he explains.  “They do not have the financial resources that a developer has access to in presenting their case.  Furthermore, communities have only 21 days from being notified of a planning application to submit responses.  This is a huge ask, as those objecting have a punitively small window in which to drum up local support, and put together their objection.”

Many of the reasons people object to large and unsympathetic developments encroaching on their neighbourhood, are, confusingly, not considered to be valid in relation to planning.  These crucial ’material considerations’ are one of the elements published in the guide.

Material considerations include:

Local Development Plan (LDP)

Cardiff’s LDP is a long document and most sizeable applications will breach one of more of its policies or appear to contravene other policy objectives. That is not enough to reject an application. Decisions are a balancing act of policies for council, against the general presumptions that a landowner has a right to dispose of their property as they see fit, and that a growing city needs developments that will bring jobs and meet social needs such as housing.

Direct impact on neighbouring properties

Planning law and the LDP protect nearby properties against some consequences of a new development or change of use but not others. A loss of privacy or light is a valid objection, but a loss of view is not, nor is any impact on property value.

As always, the validity of such objections does not guarantee rejection, but they can lead to conditions being imposed (e.g. opening times) that may make the proposal more tolerable.

Transport

There are several material considerations for transport issues raised by a planning application, including parking, traffic congestion, highway safety, provision for active travel, or disabled access. These can give grounds to object leading to rejection or modification of a proposal. Council transport improvement or highway safety proposals are not planning applications, although planning permission may sometimes be needed through the usual process. Transport proposals are open to comment and concerns can be raised with councillors.

Environment

Nature conservation and protection of open spaces are material considerations, as is climate change. Council policies other than planning may be relevant, such as the declaration of a climate emergency, even if the impact of any single development may be negligible. The built environment is also a material consideration. This can be about heritage, such as listed buildings or a conservation area, which developments or modifications should respect. It is also about the layout, density and height of buildings, as well as the design, appearance and materials used.

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, chair of Cardiff Civic Society adds,

“The current system is stacked against communities, but Lyn Eynon’s clear and comprehensive guide will help provide them with the best possible chance of winning the fight.  Ultimately, however, we are lobbying for a fairer planning system, where the concerns of communities are given equal consideration to the demands of developers.”

What do you think of our planning guide? Have we missed anything? If we produced another edition in future could it be improved in any way? If you’ve been through the planning process would this knowledge have helped you? Let us know in the comments section below. 🙂

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