EAST RIDING COUNCIL is proposing to make more use of site notices, rather than neighbourhood notification letters, to gain wider publicity for planning applications.
The council currently adopts a practice of writing to all properties within 100 metres of a major planning application site. A “major” planning application is described as one which involves ten or more dwellings. A report being presented to the council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 16th October 2012 is recommending that written letters should only be sent to those neighbours who share a boundary with the application site.
The council has estimated the costs of sending out over 68,000 neighbourhood notification letters in the period 1st July 2011 to 30th June 2012, as almost £38,000. This practice, the council report states, is considered to be very wasteful of council resources, particularly considering that response rates to such letters is very low. The number of neighbour responses received from 68,723 letters sent out was 2,471 – a remarkably low rate of 3.6% on average.
Rather than sending out so many neighbourhood letters, the council report says that site notices posted around a locality are likely to be equally effective in securing wider publicity for an application.
The report also goes on to recommend that press advertising, should only be used where there is a statutory requirement to do so. It cites the high cost of press advertising and limited readership as key considerations.
So what difference will this make to local residents? If a planning application is made on land whose boundary you share, you will receive a letter and be officially informed of your right to comment, complain or respond. If that planning application is in the vicinity of your immediate neighbourhood, then you will be more likely notified by site notices posted to a noticeboard, lamp-post, fence or other street furniture.
HU12 Online asks:
- This system will certainly save the council money, but will it effectively do the job of informing local communities of planning applications that might impact on them?
- Might it lead to a preponderance of similar looking notices that you eventually become so familiar with that you fail to notice?
- Does it rely on an assumption that a ‘word-of-mouth’ dissemination will take place to inform neighbours of an important planning application in the area.