On the agenda was the Harwoods Group’s Land Rover and Bentley motor dealerships and head office relocation from Pulborough town centre to a greenfield area adjacent to the Brinsbury Campus of Chichester College, and a rather different project based on the proposed new Gatwick Airport’s Master Plan.
Ken Watson, director of HNW Architects, spoke about the complex process of gaining planning consent for the multi-million-pound scheme for Harwoods – an intensive 20-month process that took account of the visual impact of the new development, the mitigation of any potential harm to the surrounding area, and the need to demonstrate a tangible trading link between the Harwoods Group and Brinsbury Campus.
The process involved significant liaison with ward councillors, presentations to parish councils, public consultation and detailed planning negotiations and applications before the project plans were eventually approved.
During the Q&A there was a general discussion framed around the difficulty in progressing planning applications in a timely fashion across the south in general. The discussion highlighted the fact that although those in working in the sector, whether they are developers, architects or allied professionals, have some sympathy with the resource constraints suffered by many planning departments, they are frustrated by a lack of a consistency of approach between planners. This problem wasn’t just between planning departments in different districts; it could manifest itself within the same planning department when a job was passed from one planner to another. Delays caused by such inconsistencies sometimes add tens of thousands of pounds to a project’s costs.
Jeremy Taylor then outlined Gatwick Airport’s new draft Master Plan for growth over the next five and 15 years. The Plan sets out three growth scenarios and includes detail on how it will address infrastructure, the economy, the environment and the passenger experience.
A consultation on the draft plan runs through to 10 January 2019 with comments welcomed via an online form.
Event moderator Chris Coopey, from MHA Carpenter Box, said: “Although of contrasting scale, these two schemes illustrate the pivotal role that open dialogue with stakeholders plays in the planning process. We look forward to following the progress of both projects and will also be looking to invite Planners to a 2019 meeting to try to build bridges.”
Photo: L-R Ken Watson (HNW Architects), Jeremy Taylor (Gatwick Diamond Business) and Chris Coopey (MHA Carpenter Box)