How to navigate the project approvals slump

If you are facing delays with your planning submission, or feel wary of submitting in fear of stretched-out planning waiting times, you are not alone. The planning process can be long and confusing, and recent years have indeed seen a steep decline in approval decisions and timelines.

What makes planning so arduous?

As you’ve probably guessed, it is not just one thing. The construction industry is one of the key players of the UK economy, and so much revolves around it that it is difficult to pinpoint a single culprit. Factors such as a shortage of builders, a plunge in application numbers during the pandemic, or new statutory costs can unbalance even a giant of the building sector’s weight. These key players shift and shuffle, but the planning process doesn’t. That means organic, often unpredictable factors still need to go through the same old hoop—planning. The avalanche of elements rushes forward, like an overflowed river carrying all sorts of debris on it, towards the dam keeping it all in check: the planning portal. And let’s just say things sometimes get… stuck. It happened, for example, when boroughs closed their offices during the first lockdown, and then had to face armfuls of applications all at once, with reduced staff numbers. Or when new sustainable regulations are implemented and a bunch of applications get rejected. Those applications don’t just go away. They get resubmitted on top of the natural flow that arrives at the gateway that is planning.

Will it get better?

Yes, and no. Not the answer you were hoping for? Don’t lose heart. The truth is that planning will always face new challenges, regulatory surprises that can slow down (or even speed up!) the planning process. Much like that river we talked about, construction (and planning by association) is a living, organic thing.

What can you do about it?

If you’re frowning at your screen by now, don’t! Complexity doesn’t have to be an inconvenience. A fluctuating system also has its advantages: because it is so convoluted, there are people who devote their entire careers to studying and mastering the world of planning. These experts’ very job is to have the latest information at hand, to know the quickest way in and out the planning gateway, coming victorious at the other end. If you are uncertain about your chances of obtaining planning approval (or simply lack the time to tackle weeks of research on planning regulations, processes, and risks) our advice is to book a Planning Appraisal. Why? Because it requires zero commitment, a very moderate investment, and you will walk out with all the answers you need to make an informed decision. Once an expert planner has assessed your project, you will have the confidence to make a call for your project going forward. And if you decide to go ahead, they, too, can help you prepare the planning submission, making sure your project ticks all the boxes.

In a nutshell

The planning landscape is constantly changing and, although it is difficult to predict, there are planning experts trained specifically to anticipate and tackle the latest regulations. Even when planning times drag on (and perhaps especially then), an experienced planning consultant can help you navigate the waters of your local authority—and ensure your journey ends with that glorious word stamped on a letter: APPROVED.

Ready to start your own journey?

If you are thinking of submitting a planning application, but don’t quite know where to start, get in touch with one of our planning experts today. At Studio Charrette, we pride ourselves on being a national planning reference, and our planners are always eager to help. Book a Planning Appraisal today, and get all the answers you need to begin your planning journey with confidence: Get In Touch