Archive for May, 2012

We are celebrating our biggest success to date after securing outline consent for a major development on Teesside. Acting on behalf of Eaglescliffe LLP Prism Planning managed the development team that has worked for two years on the complex plans for the site known as Allens West in Eaglescliffe. The former Ministry of Defence site will now be transformed into an 845-home development as well as a 60-bed extra care facility, shopping parade, crèche and community facilities over 13-17 years. The approval means that more than £2.5 million will be invested in local schools, bus and rail infrastructure, footpaths and cycleways as well as Yarm’s first long term car park. The application came up against several project threatening issues which needed careful consideration to prevent the derailing of the development project. The most significant of which was the creation of a Great Crested Newt habitat on the adjacent Coatham Woods site to allow for the relocation of thousands of the rare protected species. View the case study and read the BBC News article featuring the development

An appeal for an equestrian workers dwelling which won with full costs against a local Council has taken an interesting and bizarre new twist.

The Planning Inspector, in allowing the appeal, imposed occupancy conditions as is the normal course of events. However the unfortunate Inspector, rather than customising the standard agricultural occupancy condition, simply used the national model without change.  For a farm, this would have been quite acceptable but for an equestrian dwelling gave us and our client a permission that was practically useless! Farming and equestrianism being different legal uses.

Clearly a basic but fundamental error had been made, one that the Planning Inspectorate accepted full responsibility for.  However PINS refused to correct the error and the only route open to the client was to go to the High Court to get the decision set aside.  On behalf of the Government, the Treasury Solicitors have already conceded the case and a new planning inspector is expected to issue a corrected decision notice shortly.

Its not very often that a client has to apply to set aside a judgement that he has won and its a great shame that the Planning Inspectorate felt unable to exert a little common sense to correct what was patently a basic and simple mistake. The case highlights the need for precision in all aspects of planning work and just shows the consequences of even seemingly minor mistakes. The planning system is not renowned for its flexibility but the case illustrates that perhaps we have swung too far in a bureaucratic direction and perhaps lost our sense of balance and perspective.

Over 50 people from a variety of backgrounds came along to Wynyard last week to either partake of the excellent breakfast provided by Tilly Bailey and Irvine or to listen to a seminar Prism offered up on the National Planning Policy Framework.

Whatever your views on the planning process, the NPPF is clearly going to change the way that projects are tackled and assessed. Many members of the audience were clearly surprised to find that even though the NPPF is national guidance and even though it abolishes the old system of Planning Policy Statements, the policies in the document might not affect decision making in some areas for another year.

The RTPI, amongst other contributors, wanted a longer transitional period before the new guidance took effect and presumably the 12 month stay is the Government’s nod in this direction. For a while at least, we will have a two tier system: Those authorities that have been efficient and put their plans in place will be able to avoid applying the guidance for 12 months whilst those who haven’t got local plan coverage adopted before 2004 will find themselves immediately caught by its thrust.

The guidance is clearly radical in a number of key areas – the presumption in favour of sustainable development being the most talked about. Others might think the concept of the problem solving planning department is also quite a novel concept! However those contemplating retail development or wanting to build a house in the Green Belt will find the position is pretty much as it was before the NPPF.

There has been a lot of interest in the possibility that barn conversions might once more be coming back to the table although it remains to see how many LPA’s are going to try to reject the principle because it is inherently unsustainable!

More generally we are finding that many LPA’s are happy to immediately take on those parts of the guidance that they feel most comfortable with but are clearly not so keen on taking up the more challenging aspects; particularly where it involves new housing coming forward to meet identified shortfalls.  We suspect that the full impact of the guidance will not be felt until there have been a few well publicised appeal decisions featured prominently in the bi-weekly ‘Planning Magazine’!

Interpreting the guidance, its intentions and its applicability is clearly not going to be easy. Here at Prism we are more than happy to have an initial no obligation chat with you to see whether we can help.