Planning decision notices issued by Craven District Council are to include statements of “positive engagement”.

From the end of last year, the council - along with every other planning authority - has had to include a statement on every decision letter stating how it has worked with the applicant in a “positive and pro-active” way, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF).

The council’s planning committee was told recently the advice was that local authorities should approach decision-taking in a positive way to encourage sustainable development.

Councils should also look for solutions, rather than problems, and decision takers at every level should seek to approve applications for sustainable development where possible.

Officers should, in addition, work pro-actively with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area.

Councillors were told that every decision made under delegated powers now included a statement of positive engagement and all recommendations on applications made to the planning committee also included a recommended statement of positive engagement.

In cases where councillors chose not to go along with the recommendation of officers, alternative wording for the statement may be necessary.

Failure of the council to include a statement could result in it being challenged in the High Court.

Councillors were concerned how officers could engage positively with applicants when, from April, the council was introducing charging for some aspects of pre-planning application advice.