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Consistency in planning decisions for housing proposals in England

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:36 authored by Robert Wickham
The purpose was to consider whether residential planning decisions for similar schemes are made in a consistent way, and to evolve a model to better predict outcomes. The project had theoretical and practice based purposes. The former included the application of Schön’s epistemology of professional practice. An important purpose was to assess the value of a methodology using ‘Repertoire’ research and better predict outcomes of applications and appeals. Currently of some twenty thousand planning appeals decided every year, the average annual success rate is about one third, with heavy costs in the private and public sectors. Three different types of residential development were investigated: Country Houses, dwellings in the Green Belt, and Parsonage Houses for the Church of England. The subjects were chosen because of the availability of information, the relevance to practice and the contrasting policy background (the last subject having no policy background). The project was investigated through case files from the practice and local authority records. For each subject area conclusions were then reviewed in the context of a larger number of decisions. Replication of the approach was reviewed and the relationship of development control decisions and planning theories examined. Little consistency was found in the decisions on Country House proposals, although key factors were isolated informing the approach to such cases. Outcomes for Parsonage Houses were more predictable. Initially it was considered that Green Belt cases would be consistent, but the application of policy varied. The conclusions for practice endorse the value of Repertoire or case study research leading to a practice model and desirable changes to the drafting of national policy reducing abortive costs. There are legal implications relating to the concept of material considerations and the contrasting paradigms inherent in the search for consistency and the determination of every case on ‘its individual merits’.



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