‘My application is likely to be refused. Should I withdraw my application?'
Conservation Architect and Director at Western Design Architects, Phil Easton answers this question...
Occasionally, a planning officer will get in touch and say that they are minded to refuse a particular planning application. They go on to suggest that to avoid a refusal, the applicant should withdraw the application.
Why would they want us to withdraw the application?
A withdrawal is a quick and easy process for a case officer whereas writing a detailed officers report and lengthy decision notice with reasons for refusal takes a great deal of time and energy. This also means that the application outcome is not scrutinised and does not affect a council’s performance targets.
Applicants can be scared into trying to avoid a ‘history of refusal’ on a site and by withdrawing they then have the opportunity to re submit a new application as a free go amended to suit the planner’s requirements. In fact, there is no guarantee that the revised application will be approved.
Our recommendation to clients is always to ask for a decision. This forces the case officer to think carefully about their reasons for refusal. The decision notice will list their reasons for refusal and provides a defined set of parameters around which to formulate a redesign or prepare and submit an appeal. A new application on the same site should also not attract a new planning application fee if it is made within 12 months and is substantially similar.
You may also choose to appeal straight away and also concurrently re-negotiate a different design and submit it as a new ‘free go’ planning application at the same time. If this redesign is refused, the appeal for the original application is still running. This is not something planning officers like nor is it something we would recommend but nevertheless, as even simple planning applications with some authorities can take up to 12 months to determine, an appeal may well be your quickest route to a decision.
Of course every situation is different and we would usually recommend making use of the Pre Application process to minimise the likelihood of a refusal being issued.
It is important that you discuss all options with your Architect before deciding which is the best route for you to take, as each application is unique.