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As the local elections approach, what factors developers take into account when casting their vote?

Boyer has drawn up some points for voters to consider on the success or otherwise of their local planning authority, and potential topics for doorstep conversations:

Devolution, council structure and resourcing

  • Devolution redistributes power to a more local level. But is it being used effectively? If your region has devolved powers, does the party in power support housebuilding, extension of infrastructure, and economic development?
  • Is the council considering changing its committee structure (as Bristol is). How will this impact on the planning process?
  • Is the LPA considering introducing a four-day working week? How will this (and other factors) impact on the speed at which planning applications are processed?

Strategic planning

  • Has the council consulted effectively on strategic planning to date?  Does it give a fair share of the voice to both developers and residents?

Energy efficiency

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council has adopted an “energy-based net zero housing policy” as part of an update to its local plan. Others councils may follow - if yours is likely to be one, how will development be impacted?
  • Has the council declared (or does the candidate wish to declare) a climate emergency? If so, does it have plans to do this which avoid compromising the viability of schemes?
  • What is the candidate’s stance on biodiversity net gain – do they support it exceeding 10%?

Mixed tenure and viability

  • Has the LPA developed a Build to Rent policy as part of its Local Plan? Does this open up more opportunities for the development sector?

Planning application track record

  • How has the council responded to controversial development previously? Given past form, how might it respond to your proposals?

Enabling development

  • How is the council affected by nutrient neutrality? What suggestions does the politician / party have for responding to this issue on a local level?
  • Is the council (or candidate) pursuing social rent caps? If successful, will this impact on the desirability of the area for potential buyers?
  • Is the Local Plan up to date and progressing smoothy? Or have politicians bowed to pressure by NIMBYs to delay new housing?
  • Is the LPA in danger of being put into ‘special measures’ as a result of slow decision-making?
  • How has the council’s attitude towards brownfield development and density requirements impacted on development potential?
  • What is the council’s track record on planning consents?
  • What is the LPA’s track record on change of use? Has it issued Section 73 and has this impacted negatively on development?
  • What is the politician / party’s attitude towards the Green Belt? Has it allowed development in the Green Belt or given any indication that Green Belt boundaries can be reviewed?

LPA’s position in the league tables

  • How does the LPA’s effectiveness in assessing planning applications compare to that of its neighbouring authorities?
  • How does the LPA’s track record on social housing compare? What is the impact on both private sector development and the provision of affordable housing in a development scheme?
  • Is the local authority among those that determined the fewest applications?
  • Is the local authority among those that have approved the most (or the least) building upwards PD applications?
  • Is the LPA among those which issue the most (or the least) planning enforcement notices?


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