Prism would like to thank all attendees and organisers for joining us at the offices of TBI Law Firm for the Housing and Planning Bill seminar. It was a maximum capacity turnout with a mix of professionals from ecologists to developers and estate agents. We introduced planning aspects of the emerging bill, discussing the main provisions and took questions.
The concept of starter homes was discussed. Starter homes will be discounted at 20% of market value, restrictions such as being only for first time buyers under 40 will apply. It is clear that the bill aims to boost the supply of housing in England, however the impacts on established affordable housing types looks far from certain. There will also be a new statutory duty for LPAs to promote delivery of starter homes.
Another of the key parts of the Bill will be new measures to be established under the heading of Planning in England. These give new powers to allow the Secretary of State (SOS) to override EIP planning inspectors and also allow selective focus on parts of the EIP process. Should the SOS be dissatisfied with the progress of a LPA local plan they could intervene, details of which will be introduced in secondary legislation.
The Bill also proposes Permission In Principle (PIP). This is proposed to be an automatic consent which grants permissions on brown field land, these would be listed in a register or local plan. The PIP system could be different to the way that existing outline applications presently work.
Should the bill be passed there will need to be secondary legislation passed for further details on how the bill will be interpreted. We hope to provide a further update when the Bill likely progresses or should any serious revisions take place.
We recently succeeded in winning an appeal against the non-determination of an application that had been submitted to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council for a small residential development within the grounds of a care home at Redmarshall. We had been advised by the case officer that it was likely that the application would be refused on the grounds that the proposed site is in an unsustainable location for additional residential development, in view of the settlement having limited services and provisions, thereby requiring occupants to travel for employment, education, retail and recreational uses. To save time for our client we submitted the appeal ahead of waiting for the Council to refuse planning permission.
Prism Planning had been engaged to project manage the planning application and sought to work constructively with officers of the Council for what was acknowledged to be a proposal that the Council would be unlikely to welcome with open arms. Having worked with planning officers for a considerable period of time, revising plans to accord with officer advice/requests, it was galling to see the application heading towards being refused for an ‘in principle’ reason. Furthermore, we had submitted a comprehensive argument why the proposal should be accepted as constituting sustainable development. We also argued that due to their proximity, Redmarshall and the nearby village of Carlton, should be considered as one settlement when determining planning applications (Stockton regard Carlton as a sustainable settlement). It became clear that the planning officer had a closed mind to our arguments and therefore submitting the appeal was the only sensible option.
It was pleasing to read in the decision from The Planning Inspectorate that the Inspector accepted the strength of our case, to the extent that he agreed with us on every relevant planning issue. In particular, he agreed with us that Redmarshall and Carlton should be considered as a single entity for planning purposes. He also agreed that the Council’s Villages Study (Planning the Future or Rural Villages in Stockton, 2014) should only be afforded very limited weight in his decision as it is not an adopted planning document, having been prepared as part of the evidence base for the Council’s Regeneration & Environment Local Plan, itself not yet adopted.
Another factor in the decision was that the Council cannot demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply, as required by central government, and the proposed development would make an important, albeit limited, contribution towards meeting the deficit.
We might not win every planning appeal, and wouldn’t expect to, but we have a good feel on the prospects of success when clients seek our assistance to contest a refusal of planning permission and can advise accordingly. If you have been refused planning permission recently and would like to discuss how best to proceed, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.