In what is widely believed to be a first for local councils in the country, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea will now routinely publish the advice provided by their planning officers and Architectural Appraisal Panel.
The advice is provided under a pre-application advice service, which is not uniformly offered by all councils. Potential planning applicants can pick the brains of planning officers, without the expense and time required to submit a full or outline application.
The Royal Borough was asked to comment:
“The council offers a popular advice service to those who are considering making a planning application. The advice is generally confidential between the council and the customer, but can be published following a request under the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations once a related planning application is made.
“The advice will now be published automatically once a planning application is made without someone having to make a request under that legislation.”
Cllr Tim Coleridge, Kensington & Chelsea’s Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, added:
“The Royal Borough is already streets ahead of many other councils in the way it publishes planning application information on its website and this is another step in our commitment to being transparent.
“Everyone will be able to see the advice our officers have provided, how they have fought to get improvements to development proposals and how they have encouraged applicants to engage with those who might be affected.”
It is a confident step on the part of the council; subjecting much of the advice provided by their planning staff to public scrutiny. Time will tell whether this will be accepted as a commendable move towards transparency or a foolhardy exposure to media critique.
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