Archive for July, 2015

We recently attended Durham County Council’s Planning Committee (South & West) to speak on behalf of clients and their neighbours against an application by the owner of a coffee shop in Gainford, County Durham, seeking an extension of the permitted opening hours until 9.00pm on 35 days per year. The premises, which were converted to a coffee shop in 2005 with opening hours restricted to between 8.30am and 6.00pm, had been the subject of a series of applications seeking to extend the opening hours beyond 6.00pm. Every application had been refused with and one being the subject of a planning appeal, which was dismissed. The application was refused with councillors voting unanimously to support the officer recommendation that the application be refused. Our concern, which was shared by the Council, was that extending opening hours into the evening would lead to an unreasonable level of additional noise and disturbance being suffered by the occupiers of nearby residential properties at a time when they might reasonably expect to be able to enjoy peace and quiet in their homes. In refusing the latest application, councillors made it clear that they saw no reason for departing from their long-held views, supported by The Planning Inspectorate, that later opening of the coffee shop was unacceptable due to the proximity of a number of nearby residential properties. This planning application was refused by Planning Committee and we took the opportunity of attending the meeting to address the Committee and voice our client’s objections to the application. Durham County Council allow objectors to speak for up to 5 minutes, some Councils only allow 3 minutes. Either way it is important to summarise the main issues into a bullet point type format in order to have the greatest impact upon the Planning Committee. Objections letters that are sent to the planning officer can be longer but are best prepared short and to the point. More importantly, issues raised should be ‘material planning issues’, i.e. matters that can be properly considered in the context of deciding planning applications and relevant to the subject of the planning application. If you are notified or become aware of a planning application with which you want to object and would like to discuss being professionally represented in submitting an objection letter to the Council and/or speaking at Planning Committee, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.