We are preparing to lodge our planning application in the New Year and have encountered a very new and puzzling element of all this:
The council, in their formal pre-planning advice, detailed what was needed to make a full planning application.
The overall list included the following:
- Renewable Energy Statement
- Sustainable Design and Construction Statement
- Code for Sustainable Home pre-assessment
This would seem a positive move in that all planning applications being submitted must provide these documents, not just those for eco houses!
For us, planning to build our own eco house, this does not seem unreasonable but for developers following their standard route this will be a far more detailed requirement and submission than they are used to.
However, once you start digging deeper into these additions to your planning application, you start to wonder the worth of these documents, the seriousness with which they are treated and whether they do actually ‘mean’ something. Or is this just a bureaucratic form filling exercise?
The reason for saying this is because finding any information on what is required of these documents is nigh on impossible.
The council website is distinctly lacking information and when I asked them to provide me specifics and examples of what they require I received a vague and very ‘high level’ document and a recommendation to go and search of a local assessor to provide this material.
I find this very strange and if the council do not even know what they want or have standard to follow then how can anyone be expected to present the ‘correct’ information?
Further mystery surrounding this ‘black art’ was confirmed when I emailed 6 separate companies purporting to offer these services (finding this number in London was hard enough by itself) only to receive quotations ranging from £300 to £2700! These came in the form of a few lines in an email to a 17 page pdf document detailing what the company was going to do for us.
I was amazed by the whole experience!
We have taken the time and selected the company who seemed to know the most of any, in this area, as the calculations for energy efficiency, final CSH rating etc. are very important to us.
I can’t help but think that the choice for most will have been based on price and ticking the box for the council just to get the planning through!
The other disturbing element, as confirmed to us by one of these companies, is that much of this info and indeed calculations does not then flow through to the actual build process; Different calculations may then be required and these first elements are simply a ‘planning’ requirement, which just seems a very inefficient approach.
We are proceeding with a company who we hope will provide the required details, but only after much searching and bewilderment at the whole process….