Prism Planning is celebrating, along with the residents of Hunwick, following a momentous planning decision taken by Durham County Council yesterday. Officers had recommended approval of a proposed change of use of a property in the centre of a village to a children’s home dealing with children with emotional and behavioural issues.
Prism gave a strong speech at the meeting of the Planning Committee, pointing out the substantial body of evidence relating to the impact that this proposal would have on the quality of life of village residents in terms of crime, fear of crime and community cohesion. They were supported in their concerns by the Ward Member, Local MP, Chief Constable and Children’s Social Service Unit within the Council.
It is not very often that planning officers’ views are overturned by their own Members and even rarer when that disagreement is unanimous. Residents of the village were delighted with the advocacy services provided by Prism. However we understand it is unlikely to be the end of the saga as the applicants have indicated that they are likely to appeal the Council’s decision. It will be interesting to see the views of a Planning Inspector on the matter in the light of the specific advice contained within the National Planning Policy Framework on fear of crime and community cohesion.
In the meantime, Darlington residents face a similar challenge to a proposal in their area and attended the meeting to watch the debate.
A Government Planning Inspector has agreed with Prism for the second time regarding a scheme for providing log cabins on a site at Easby, near to Richmond. The Inspector overturned the decision of Richmondshire District Council to allow development on the site for a limited period of time and instead gave a full planning permission for three years to enable the development to progress.
This was the second time that Prism had been forced to go to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decision of the Local Planning Authority on this site. Initially permission was refused by the Council for the development and granted at appeal in 2010. Due to the complexities of the site and the uncertain economic situation in the intervening period, we sought to use new provisions to extend the life of the planning permission for a further three year period. Most applications of this nature are routinely renewed unless there has been a change in circumstances. The Council decided to only grant planning permission for a twelve month period and gave confusing and unclear reasons why this would be appropriate.
At appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council’s reasoning was flawed and fully agreed with all of the points raised by Prism on behalf of our client. In particular, the Inspector noted that the Government intend to give clear support for developments which help to improve the rural economy and that the scheme was and always had been of a particularly high design and well thought out. Because of these points, he had no hesitation in granting permission for a full three year period which will enable the scheme to progress. This is an important decision to have as it underlines the Government’s expectations that permissions will be renewed for a full three year period whenever there has been no change in circumstances and reaffirms the Government’s continued support for the rural economy.
This is the second application that we have had approved this week relating to the rural economy – see next blog for a holiday cottage approval in Aislaby close to Yarm.