Being based on the borders of 5 counties means Dave has developed relationships with at least 5 different local planning authorities. They each work differently, and have varying local planning policies and priorities – but they still have to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework, the over-arching government document that sets out how the Planning System works everywhere in the country.
Few local authorities are lax about Planning. But some are more rigorous or consistent than others, and over time the emphasis in a particular county might change – for example, giving more favourable consideration to housing development rather than industrial buildings (or the other way around).
A chat with Dave can clarify the thinking behind apparently senseless decisions or statements from a Planning Officer, and lead to another approach which will meet with a happier response.