Archive for April, 2011

For many years now we have had a system of controls over the demolition of buildings. In very simple terms, if demolition of a house has been proposed, the Council have had to give a ‘prior approval’ to the demolition although in nearly all other cases we have been able to simply get on with demolition of other building.

This has been quite handy over the last couple of years as business rates have started to bite on empty industrial buildings. Its been quite a boom time for the demolition sector as a result.

There has however just been a new Court of Appeal decision that will seemingly lead to far reaching changes to our current ability to ‘wack and drop’ unused commercial buildings. In a new landmark ruling the Court has said that before undertaking demolitions, it must be determined whether the demolition would have a significant environmental impact and if necessary an Environmental Impact Assessment must be produced and signed off by the Council. This means that demolition contractors and owners of buildings due for demolition will no longer enjoy the freedom to simply ‘get on with the job’ in hand.

The ruling will not only result in some demolitions requiring EIA but will also result in most other demolitions having to go through a formal notification process with the LPA.

A significant amount of red tape and potential delay has just been introduced into what was previously a fairly straightforward and simple process. Admittedly this red tape hasn’t been introduced by the Government –they are the victims of it as much as the demolition contractors and we await their reaction to what will surely be an unwelcome bit of news. However it certainly isn’t going to help the recovery of the property sector which is still lagging way behind the rest of the economic sectors and needs every boost it can possibly get.

To avoid getting into hot water, anyone thinking about demolitions would be well advised to seek specialist advice from a suitable planning consultant –such as Prism!

In early April 2011 we secured planning permission for clients for the erection of replacement 5-bedroomed dwelling with detached double garage on a site at Brearton, a small village within Harrogate Borough.

Harrogate Borough Council are one of the more demanding authorities that we work with but nonetheless through persistence and constructive negotiation we were able to secure permission for the size and form of house that our clients sought.

Indeed, throughout the somewhat lengthy planning process we sought to engage positively with the case officer. We first contacted the Council with a pre-application inquiry in June 2010, the response to which informed the planning application subsequently submitted in October 2010. However, in late November we were advised that the proposals were not considered the be entirely acceptable and that the application was to be recommended for refusal. Rather than becoming embroiled in conflict by allowing the application to be refused and appealing the decision, we withdrew the application and sought further discussions with the case officer. These discussions provided to be helpful, the consequence of which was the design of the house was revised quite radically revised, albeit that it retained the same overall scale, and the revised planning application was submitted in Februrary 2011. The application was reported to the April meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee with a recommendation that planning permission be granted. We attended the meeting and spoke in favour of the application.

The route we took proved to be the right one in this instance as the Committee voted unanimously in favour of granting planning permission and our clients were very satisfied with the outcome. There are instances when the only option is to appeal against the refusal of planning permission. In this instance the alternative of withdrawing an application before it was refused, negotiating with the case officer and re-submitting a revised application proved to be the right course of action.

We have some fantastic news – we have won an appeal with costs awarded for a Joint Service Centre in Whitley Bay!

We worked on behalf of North Tyneside Local Improvement Finance Trust to get the decision, described in the appeal as ‘unreasonable’, overturned. The Council had originally claimed that parking and aesthetics were an issue, but both reasons were discarded in the appeal decision and we are delighted to see this development go ahead.

The service centre will bring much needed public amenities to the disused site next to the Fire Station including; library, tourist information point, public meeting rooms and medical consultation rooms in a contemporary building organised around a central atrium.

Another noteworthy event is the start of the Prism Twitter and Newsletter. Keep an eye out on the website for our newsletter sign up box coming soon and follow us for news and information relating to planning and development, not to mention some tips for those DIY developers among you!