Agenda item

Planning in Gravesham Key Principles


The Committee were provided with a presentation on the key principles of Planning in Gravesham.


The presentation had been published and could be accessed via the below link:



The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that it was a working document which, at the Chairs request, gave greater clarity and detail on the components of the Planning Service, its strategic aims, and examples of planning application submissions.


The Chair stated that the key principles would become a strategic document that was fair and consistent and treated everyone equally.


The Chair noted that many developers and some households had the expectation of receiving planning advice for free when they should be paying for pre -application advice which was unfair to the taxpayer. Residents with general inquiries should be find the information needed via our website and links,  but if any local specific advice concerning planning applications was required then they would need to pay for the pre-application advice service.


Members praised the themes of fairness and consistency throughout the presentation and felt that those were two principles that should underpin the planning process, but concern was raised that the Planning Inspectorate made too many inconsistent planning decisions on similar projects which affected local residents.


The Chair agreed that the Planning Inspectorate were inconsistent but advised that Members should make it clear to the residents that the Council had no powers over the decision of the Planning Inspectorate. However, the Council would have a consistent approach to its own planning process and decision making.


Following comments concerning clarifying information on conservation areas for residents, the Assistant Director (Planning) explained that there was a big issue with window and door replacement in conservation areas several years ago. Part of the issue was a lack of understanding around the value of the doors/windows and the need for a specific appearance in those areas. Residents living in the area were unaware how the change of appearance of properties affected the area. To combat residents buying the wrong doors,/windows and having to change them to the correct appearance a Conservation Area guide was created which improved residents understanding of what materials they had to use if they wanted to make any changes or replacements. Recently there had been further requests to remove UPVC and composite windows and install windows that were right for the conservation area they lived in; the correct windows did not usually result in a significantly higher cost in most areas. With the additional consideration of climate change, there had been some amendments made to the guidance.


The Assistant Director (Planning) explained that the document would work alongside the Corporate Plan and the monitoring of things, such as responding to a planning application if it is invalid within five working days for minor and house holder applications, would be carried out by the performance indicators that would be reported to Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee through quarterly reports. If the Committee wanted any specific data monitored then it could be requested and added in as a performance indicators. Data was reported to the Government but the Council needed to know what the Government required so that multiple sets of similar data weren’t reported for the service. The Government recently announced that planning application fees would be increasing from April 2024 but in the expectation that planning services would continue to improve


The Chair advised that the annual report for the Committee would include quantitative and qualitative data; a simar Council would need to be found to compare statistics too as neighbouring authorities such as Medway Council were too large to compare accurately too.


The Chair advised that the Strategy would be discussed further at the Committee in November 2023.


Supporting documents: