The Society’s Approach to Planning

The Society has built its reputation, and effectiveness, in dealing with planning issues by adopting an essentially professional approach, which in many respects mirrors the official “planning system”.

For most people, their only contact with the planning system is in relation to planning applications, either because they want to build something themselves, or because a development is proposed on land near their home. In the latter case, the question is whether they like the proposed development or not, and how it impacts them. It may be that, in the case of large developments, by the time a planning application is made it is actually far too late to stop it, because the land has been allocated for development in the Local Authority’s planning policies.

The Society, as is shown by what has already been stated above of our history as regards planning, involves itself in process of setting the Local Authority’s policy framework in which planning decisions are made by contributing to and commenting on the planning framework. By taking part in this process, we make a positive contribution to getting policies which suit Yateley, to make it a better place to live. Also, we have sometimes succeeded in heading off major developments in unsuitable places by getting the sites excluded from the plan.

As a result of taking part in this underlying process we get to understand constraints and opportunities of the Government’s and Local Authority’s planning policies.

Consequently when the Society comments on particular proposals, using its policy based approach it can take a larger and more consistent view about any proposals. How does this proposed development impact or contribute to the locality as a whole, and how does it fit in with the Local Authority’s planning framework and with the Society’s own planning policies? Hence in responding to a planning application, it is never simply a question of getting a majority view of members by a show of hands and making that the basis of the Society’s response. Instead we assess whether the proposals are consistent with the established policy framework. This can sometimes make the Society unpopular, even with some of its members!

Once the policy framework is in place, the planning system is inherently adversarial. Many people do not understand the implications of this for how the Society has to operate within the system.

The planning applicant wants to develop a piece of land, and it may be that the proposals conflict with the established planning policies. The applicant makes the best case he can for his development, and he obviously does not point out the problems with his application. The decision maker (usually the Local Authority) has to consider that application against the policies, and needs to consider all the issues, including ones the applicant has not mentioned. The purpose of the “planning objection” system is so that the decision maker has all the relevant information he needs to make the right decision, weighing the advantages to the applicant against the drawbacks to neighbours and the general public interest. It is inevitable therefore that the comments the Society makes in such circumstances are “one-sided”, putting the case against the application, to balance the case in favour put forward by the applicant.

Thus The Yateley Society is not the decision maker, but an advocate. This can make the Society appear negative as regards planning in the eyes of some people. What people do not realise is that most of what we do positively for Yateley people takes place through the development of good planning policies, by taking part in discussions behind the scenes, and what we are doing when we respond critically to planning applications is in defence of those policies, for the public good.

What does the Yateley Society consider when it decides whether to comment on Planning Applications?

Many planning applications are for small developments that would only affect their immediate locality, and the Yateley Society does not comment on most of those applications. If the immediate neighbours do not like the application, then they should make representations to Hart District Council for themselves. Yateley Society members who find themselves in that position may seek advice from the Society about the sorts of comments which are likely to be taken account of by the Planning Authority.

When commenting on Planning Applications, the Society considers whether the Development will:

  • Be consistent with high standards of town planning
  • Conform with policies in Local Plans, Conservation Area Statements etc
  • Affect Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, buildings of local importance
  • Affect any historic landscape features or archaeological site
  • Affect Common land or Nature Conservation interests
  • Close or compromise Strategic Gaps between communities
  • Affect the character of Yateley as a place in which to live and work
  • Cause road safety/parking/traffic congestion problems
  • Cause a precedent for further Development
  • Necessitate additional housing for proposed commercial Development
  • Necessitate additional Development for proposed housing