Neighbour Consultation letters are sent by the council to from 3-unlimited numbers of addresses notifying new application details and inviting responses.
Site notices are posted (and sometimes deliberately removed) close to many, but not all sites for which a planning application has been raised.
Until January 2012 letters told people they could look at plans online at the council website or by visiting City Direct. As of 1st January 2012, plans are not walk-in-available at City Direct in the Town Hall. The freedom to access a paper copy of a live planning application has been withdrawn.
The neighbour consultation letters do not tell you, but Development Control has told saveHOVE that you can – until July – make an appointment to view the case officer’s working case file which contains printed copies of application material.
There was no prior notice, no consultation concerning this move.
Planning responses should not be made based only on the information on a site notice or in a neighbour consultation letter from BHCC. They claim they will assist anyone coming to City Direct to use the computers there to look at material online. But for some people this will be hard to cope with and what they see will be difficult to take in if they have never looked at a computer screen before.
Will counter staff sit there for two hours with someone, ‘helping’ them to view material online? Seems more expensive than just printing the material out. It is after all paid for by applicants!
Some 40% of the public are thought still to be strangers to using computers let alone owning one.
When faced with that long line of ‘documents’ online and wondering where to begin, scroll down to the Design & Access Statement or Planning Statement. If it is a major application there may also be an Environmental Statement. Only after these should you start tackling other things. You need a basic orientation and a minimal amount of information so your response is accurate.
Notice inaccuracies in computer generated views that show what a development will look like. Does it look down (birds eye view)? If so they want you to think it is smaller than it is. They almost NEVER give closeup, pedestrian experience views that show buildings looming or bullying the street-scene.
When the King Alfred application ‘views’ were printed in the papers, being shown about, they were views from somewhere out to sea! Not from the Kingsway where scale could be accurately understood. Developers ‘cheat’ the scale. How many 6 storey high trees have you ever seen? Yet views for the 5-storey Park House block of flats showed tree canopies way above the roofline! Not a physical truth!
Please note: If applications are for Listed Bldgs there are two application reference numbers and two separate responses should go in, one for each. Petitions against are counted as one objection, however many people sign them. Couples should EACH put in a separate response as joint responses are counted as one response.