One of our primary objectives is to encourage public participation in the planning process, for better collaboration and constructive consultation. We believe the planning process can do this whilst also encouraging good quality, sustainable design, without prohibiting development.
Below are some of things we are interested in, and some information about the planning process. There is also an excellent guide here about responding to planning applications.
Design Review Panels
In the summer of 2016 Waltham Forest announced that they had established a Design Review Panel. More information about this, and our thoughts about it, can be found here.
Since AE17 were established we campaigned for better design in Walthamstow through the introduction of a WF Design Review Panel. Boroughs across London (see below) have set up their own panels, some many years ago; these precedent panels have been shown to offer constructive and helpful input into development of proposals and achieve a level of coherence and quality across developments, allowing the intent of wider scale planning to be better implemented; a professional and rigorous process that can support developers and architects, including giving them more confidence in how planning applications will fare.
We have members who have first hand experience of review panels in other boroughs.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) supports the role of DRPs as a means of highlighting aspects of proposals that could be improved. It is important for both local authorities and applicants that these are highlighted early on in the planning process rather than at a point when a design has been fully developed. Panels in other boroughs often comment on schemes before a full application has been submitted; clearly this is significantly better than only relying on the statutory consultation that forms part of the assessment of a planning application which is based on a submitted proposal, inevitably developed too far to allow fundamental revision without consequences in time and cost.
The need for local authority panels is even greater since the role of CABE was cut back and folded into the Design Council. Urban Design London (UDL) manage some Design Reviews and have published a document reviewing the effectiveness and responses to them.
Planning In London has this guide to DRPs (dated 2008.)
Other London boroughs that have implemented a panel:
- Hammersmith & Fulham
- Kensington & Chelsea
- Kingston Upon Thames
- Richmond Upon Thames
- Tower Hamlets
As part of their development framework, the council are required to have a series of documents that set out their policies and strategies for the borough. The top level document of these is their Core Strategy document which generally sets out planning strategies. Under this sit several key documents; those that interest us most in Walthamstow are the Area Action Plans (AAP’s) that set out principles of development for local areas that have been identified. Currently these are in various stages of the consultation – approval process but they are the Northern Olympic Fringe AAP, Blackhorse Lane Area AAP, Walthamstow town centre AAP and (a little further behind), Wood Street AAP. (Worth noting however is that part of recent initiatives to regenerate and increase activity in Wood Street has been the launch of an attractive new Website and Twitter feed.
When a planning application is submitted the planning officers will assess that application against policy.
The council have established several guides for developers and householders looking to have building work carried out. Amongst these there is an Urban Design Supplementary Planning Guide and a Shopfront Design Guide and a Residential Extensions guide.
Planning applications submitted to WF can be searched online. Unfortunately this is not best planning website, although current applications can be viewed and drawings and other documents accessed, and historic applications researched.
The Planning Committee
The planning committee addresses applications that are significant, and generally those that tend to have public interest and /or have provoked a significant consultation response. It is made up of seven local councillors and the council publishes on their website the meeting agendas and minutes. The committee are supposed to work to a WF Planning Code of Practice. Members of the public can address the planning committee regarding planning applications being considered at meetings; we would urge anyone to do this; it can be daunting but it is important part of the process. Be aware that agendas can be re-arranged immediately prior to the meeting and planning committee meetings (as in all boroughs) are organised to a strict structure; although there is sometimes some flexibility generally all speakers will only have up to 3 minutes to present their case, and there is no opportunity to enter into a discussion with the committee discuss the application after. Because of this these meetings can be extremely frustrating!
Heritage & protection
Other groups of interest
The Waltham Forest Civic Society follows & comments on planning applications.
A good blog to follow for planning related news is Waltham Forest – Our Community
There is a very interesting guide to the development of Walthamstow and its various areas on the British History Online website.