Archive for February, 2017

The last two months have been interesting ones for Prism and their equestrian clients with two interesting cases coming to a head in very different cases but both being horse related.

In the first case, clients had received an enforcement notice requiring them to remove their two horses and stables from their garden. The LPA had decided that ‘Elvis’ and ‘Sparkplug’, two lovely moorland cobs, represented unauthorised development by changing the use of the original garden. In fact the horses occupied less than half the garden and only then over the winter period. During the summer they grazed fields away from the home. The Council argued they caused smells, flies, attracted vermin and caused a loss of privacy to the neighbours, some of whom objected to the horses looking over the boundary fence. Comparisons were made by the LPA to the famous shark emerging from the roof of the house in Oxford, as well as the man who erected a model of a Spitfire in his back garden. We contended that neither of these bizarre examples were remotely comparable with our situation.

Thankfully the inspector agreed and granted permission for the horse to stay, as well as their stable block, leaving two very happy horses owners. The case highlights how matters can escalate when LPA’s get complaints about unauthorised development and show why it is important that good, knowledgeable advice is obtained at the earliest possible opportunity.

The second case, also horse related was equally bizarre but for very different reasons. Our client and his wife are running a successful and well established livery yard, despite being in their 80’s and with one of them being registered disabled! They have decided that at their time of life they want to ease up a little and employ a manager to do the heavy and antisocial work, including chasing after escaped horses at 3am! A planning application was lodged for replacement managers accommodation, something we have done on several occasions for clients. The case was supported by specialist Equine Vets and the BHS.

Many weeks after the statutory determination date and with several promised deadlines from the Council missed, in frustration we appealed against non-determination and asked for a hearing. At the same time we also re-submitted the same planning application back to the LPA to allow them to try to reach a decision on it with more time. This resulted in a speedy approval – something which the LPA cold and should have done first time around. However the LPA imposed a whole series of conditions on their decision, preventing all possible future expansion or improvement to the property. Accordingly the appeal is still progressing albeit now just relating to what conditions should, or should not be imposed in these type of situations.

This second case has also given rise to a claim for costs – clearly the LPA could and should have approved the initial application in a timely manner, as they proved by supporting the second application when the appeal focused their minds!

Sadly, as cuts to services in local government planning departments continue to ‘bite’, we are all probably going to have to get used to poorer levels of service and situations like this might become all too common. It remains to be seen whether LPA’s will find new ways to work in such climates or continue to cling to established and out of date practices.

Anyone with an equine related problem will appreciate from the above examples that we know a thing or two about horses and the planning system – and an initial chat about how we might be able to help is free, wherever you are in the country.
At their meeting of 21st February 2017, Sunderland’s Development Control (Sunderland South) Sub-Committee voted by a significant majority in favour of our client’s development of a part brownfield site within the urban area for a residential development comprising affordable housing, low cost housing and supported housing for people with learning difficulties.

At face value, you may have thought the application would sail through: a development of social housing on a brownfield site within the urban area, a residential area at that, and the brownfield part of the site was Council owned and was to be sold to our clients subject to planning permission being granted. How wrong you would have been.

The application, was recommended for approval at the meeting of 3rd January. However, the application faced stiff opposition from local residents and a Ward Councillor who attended the meeting and spoke against the application. At this point it was looking likely that the application would be refused. Thankfully, our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, also attended the meeting to speak in support of the application and was able to address the issues raised by the objectors. The Committee then decided to defer a decision to allow for the issues raised to be fully explored before the application was reported back to them.

Revisions were subsequently made to the proposals and additional information was provided, which addressed all of the issues that had been raised. When the application was reported back to Committee, again with a recommendation for approval, the objectors spoke again as did our Director, Rod Hepplewhite. He was able to advise that all issues previously raised had now been addressed, as evidenced by the officer report and the recommendation that that the proposed development be approved. In this instance the Planning Committee accepted our argument and by a significant majority voted in favour of granting planning permission. Our clients and the architect for the scheme http://www.bsbaarchitects.com who also attended the meeting were delighted with the outcome.

We have dealt with many applications for residential development of various forms. We have built up a good level of expertise on the subject and recognise that no two developments are the same and have learnt to be prepared for the unexpected. Notably, just because and application is recommended for approval doesn’t necessarily mean that the Planning Committee will grant planning permission. You should be represented at the Planning Committee meeting as we are aware of cases where only objectors speak and in the absence of the applicant being represented Planning Committee refuses planning permission. A subsequent planning appeal may succeed but that adds additional expense to the project as well as a significant time delay, both of which could have been avoided.
Approval was recently granted at planning committee in Hartlepool for a former workers dwelling to have its agricultural occupancy condition removed. This was the last stage of a careful application process which Prism Planning has great experience of.

The property had been marketed to prove there were no suitable occupiers in the area. We had carried out the minimum period required for marketing and written a strong application thoroughly demonstrating the condition was not required. We worked with a surveyor ensuring that the property was marketed correctly, including setting out a price agreed by the LPA. We also scrutinised offers coming forward from interested parties to ensure they were from lawful applicants who would meet the condition.

After submission we discussed the application with the Case Officer and ensured everything was on track. We used our expertise in agricultural conditions and searching appeal precedents to clarify to the LPA the definition of agriculture. Prism Planning attended Planning Committee and spoke in favour of the application advocating for removal of condition to be approved. Care was taken to point out material facts of the case and demonstrate the collaborative nature with the LPA.

The results were that Hartlepool Planning Committee unanimously agreed with the officer recommendation and the application was approved. We worked closely with the Client ensuring the case put forward was an accurate representation of the local history. If you are looking at a removing a condition and seeking expert guidance please feel free to contact us, Prism Planning prides itself on its successes, consequently we only progress cases we believe have a strong chance of success so we will be open and honest about your chances.
Durham planning committee unanimously decided to overturn an officer recommendation to approve a housing scheme in Newton Aycliffe yesterday, having heard from Prism Planning that the scheme was contrary to the emerging Neighbourhood Plan. ‘Livin’, an RSL, had wanted to put housing on land that was partly open space and partly a garage courtyard. The scheme was supported by officers.

Prism argued that the officer recommendation was flawed and flew directly in the face of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan which sought to protect such spaces. It was pointed out that such plans were in the process of being accorded significantly higher status by the government and this particular plan had already passed its inquiry and simply awaited the referendum.  

Prism spoke on behalf of Great Aycliffe Town Council who we had assisted with the preparation of the plan.  

After hearing Steve Barker, Managing Director of Prism Planning speak, the committee agreed unanimously that the scheme should not be allowed to go ahead.  

It’s not an easy task to persuade a Planning Committee to go against their officers and its very rare for it to be supported by all the members. The Town Council are delighted with the result and see it as a victory for Neighbourhood Planning, something we are all going to become very familiar with the coming years following the Neighbourhood Planning Bill passing into law this spring.

Prism were happy to be of assistance.