A few friends have asked how we got through the planning process, how long it took and what compromises we had to make, so I thought I would blog about it.
Top tip – If I give one piece of advice regarding the planning, it is don’t panic, don’t stress…take it as it comes and be prepared to compromise. The planners are not the enemy – we all have the same desire, which is keep this area of outstanding natural beauty, beautiful.
Before we did anything, including getting designs drawn up, we invited the county council’s landscape architect to look at our site and causally discuss our thoughts and gain their insight. This is officially called pre-planning. This visit occurred in March 2017 and we kept our fingers crossed to find out if they would support our endeavours once we got to the official planning stage.
A few weeks passed, and the news was in! Would the landscape architect support our hopes and dreams? NO!
Why? Being in an area of outstanding natural beauty was our main nemesis, coupled with the site’s “open nature”. Frustratingly this was all assessed via aerial photos and maps only – we had hoped for a physical visit.
This was a setback, as it could jeopardise the chances of getting planning through with the council. In fact, based on this feedback from the landscape architect the planning officer discouraged us from continuing. But we were determined to make our dream a reality, so we took onboard the concerns and decided to push ahead, which included paying (quite a hefty sum) for an environmental impact report that properly assessed the local environment, how the site was already being used and what impact the plans would have on the area.
Fast forward to September 2017, our plans were drawn up, which answered most of the concerns and we submitted them to Somerset County Council Planning. Then joy upon joy we were granted permission, despite earlier suggestions not to proceed. Hurdle number one, cleared – how many more will we face?