Mediation during planning application disputes is often welcomed by participants as a useful way of exploring all the issues in a dispute on a non-confrontational 'without prejudice' basis.
The main beneficiaries of mediation can be the general public who had not previously been involved with pre-application discussions nor had any significant contact with the planning department prior to the submission of a planning application.
The use of Mediators can be attractive to 'householders' because it can achieve a communication link with Town Planners and applicants which is friendlier and less stressful.
Planning disputes centered on design, location and layout issues are found to be best suited for resolution through mediation. Disputes solely based on policy issues are less suitable but not entirely without merit.
The use of mediation in planning disputes is likely to result in a modest reduction in the number of appeals and greatly increases the chances that those involved will be relieved with a satisfactory outcome without loosing face.
The main benefit of mediation is that it can bring about vital and creative communication linkages between applicants, community, neighbours and planners of a local planning authority. Clear communication is key.