A new planning strategy from Birmingham City Council could trigger a slowdown in the city's property market, a local architects practice has warned.
BBLB architects, designers of a number of significant developments currently under way in and around Birmingham city centre, says it has detected a new "climate of refusals" emerging from the city planning department.
Neil Crowther, chartered town planner at BBLB, claimed: "The council have made significant changes in the way planning applications are being dealt with - and not just city centre developments."
Since January planning applications are no longer being considered by the council for more than the statutory period of 13 weeks.
BBLB says that if all issues are not resolved within this timeframe, the application will be refused.
"This new approach is aimed at improving the council's performance figures for funding purposes, and although normally 13 weeks is more than sufficient time in which to make minor amendments, planning applications are now being refused without discussion," Mr Crowther added.
Although the City Council has made a commitment to provide pre-application advice to ensure that all potential issues have been resolved at the time of submission - so avoiding unnecessary delays and consequent planning refusals - BBLB warns that this offer is often not able to be substantiated, the advice is understandably not binding, and in no way guarantees smooth passage of an application through the shortened planning process.
"As experienced architects with a strong working relationship with the city planning department, BBLB is well aware of the potential unexpected problems that can crop up during the lifespan of a project," Mr Crowther said.
"However, for the less experienced, this new process advocated by the council may only extend the time taken to obtain planning permission, not reduce it."
He added: "The unfortunate likely effect of fewer planning permissions is a potential slowdown of new sites coming forward over the coming months."
Despite the changes, BBLB has won planning permission for more than 850 units in the city centre on sites adjacent to Suffolk Street Queensway and has some nine schemes going through the application or approval process in Birmingham alone. BBLB is designing more than £350 million of developments throughout the Midlands. ..SUPL: