All posts by Alison

Prism Planning are delighted to announce that the High Tunstall housing development of 1200 homes has at long last been granted outline planning permission, subject to the completion of a S106 Agreement. This represents the largest housing development approved in the Tees Valley in recent years.

The proposals were brought forward in 2014, when Tunstall Homes proposed a detailed masterplan, including a new distributor road, local centre, primary school, amenity open space and structure planting. The scheme was one of the largest in the North East and required an Environmental Impact Assessment under current European legislation.

The original masterplan included provision of 2,000 new homes, but following the two-stage public consultation by Results Communications Ltd, and continual dialogue between the client, Tunstall Homes, and Prism Planning with Hartlepool Borough Council, the planning application was submitted for consideration the same year.

Rod Hepplewhite, one of the directors of Prism Planning, which operates nationwide, said the approved application represents the changes in market conditions, and the benefits of adopting a considered approach through early engagement with stakeholders.

“The application, accompanied by a detailed masterplan, originally sought permission for 2,000 homes on a larger area of land but as the towns housing needs reduced, so did the scheme.

“As might be expected of a development of this size and on a greenfield site on the edge of town, the application raised a number of issues, not least the scale of development proposed and proposed access arrangements. We have been working closely with the client and stakeholders to ensure that what was proposed will be of benefit to Hartlepool, as well as the surrounding area.”

The approved scheme will lead to a variety of much needed improvements to the A19, helping to close off a number of dangerous junctions, as well as leading to the start of Hartlepool’s western by-pass, which will significantly help traffic flows across the town.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning Committee resolved to accept the officer recommendation for approval of the planning application for land south of Elwick Road in High Tunstall.

The scheme represents a new record for Prism Planning, which deals with applications for small, one-off developments as well as large masterplanned, multi-use developments.

The proposal was designed to not only meet the housing demand in Hartlepool but to provide community facilities for residents expected to move into the new homes.

Prism is wrapping up 2017 in style with success in the hotly debated new prior notification procedure just introduced, relating to industrial buildings being converted to residential use.

Our case involved a site where an appeal for conversion of a workshop had been rejected by the Council and Planning Inspectorate earlier in the year, solely on peculiar and bizarre grounds of sustainability. The new right seemed to cut straight across the previous concerns and we just had to try it out for the client!

Having been one of the first practices in the UK to submit this Prior Notification we were aware of the potential challenge ahead and difference in interpretation that the Council might have, particularly having regard to the sites background. However, experience of the Prior Notification procedure and sound interpretation of rules assisted the application. A robust statement was created showing how the site was suitable for conversion.

Prism was initially commissioned to fight an appeal for conversion of the workshop building which was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate for the unusual reason that the business occupying the building could potentially continue at the site, resulting in a net gain in traffic movements. However, no other buildings were available for this to occur and in any event planning permission would be required for this. The lack of rigour in the dismissal seemed to be challengeable.  We were actually in discussions about a possible legal challenge to the appeal decision -but the new right came along in the interim and offered a potentially cheaper and quicker way to get to the same end point.

The final result was a tribute to the clients stamina and our determination. If at first you don’t succeed…..dig in a find another way around the problem!

If you have a building that is in industrial use and may convert to residential use,  please ask for a professional view from the experts at Prism.

Happy Christmas to one and all, from us all at Prism.

 

Prism has been celebrating its latest success with a major planning application for extended business centre approved. The existing business had been established for a number of years and land to the west had been reserved for future development. In the meantime, it was offered to a nearby sports grounds to be used as a football pitch. Stockton Council had then designated the site as an outdoor playing space.

Prism’s expertise meant we were able to meet exception criteria of developing a designated outdoor playing space. The pitch was replaced by an adjacent new pitch of equivalent or better quality to ensure consultees such as Sport England were satisfied. Site visits were carried out to examine the conditions and requests of grass types and soil compositions were responded to. The result was a new pitch that was significantly better in quality than the existing that would serve the needs of the club for years to come.

In the meantime, despite the outline nature of the scheme, a Flood Risk and Drainage Strategy was required by the Council. This was commissioned and submitted by Prism which resulted in a satisfactory planning condition.

Whilst this is a unique set of circumstances Prism was able to successfully navigate the issues and the result was a successful application. If you have a challenging set of issues facing your site and want to discuss your probability of success, please get in touch.

At Prism Planning there has recently been success of another kind as Jonathan Helmn has been elected as a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. The chartered status is the result of a rigorous assessment of professional competence. He has had to demonstrate a range of competencies such as an in-depth knowledge of planning, identification and analysis of issues and implementing courses of action. This ensures graduate planners achieve, and can demonstrate, a professional level of learning and competency.  

This professional recognition is a significant step in the career of a town planner, with the RTPI being UK’s lead body in planning and the largest planning institute in Europe with over 23,000 members.

Prism Planning had recognised Jonathan’s aspirations and supported his career development through training and guidance. This achievement will benefit his continuing professional development and our ability to provide quality planning advice. Whilst career development never stops it is a good reason to watch some fireworks.

Secure dog exercise area approved by Darlington Borough Council

Variety is the spice of life, or so the saying goes.  While housing and housing related projects may be the bread and butter of a planning consultant’s working life, it’s always nice to deal with other subjects.  Yes, we handle quite a few anaerobic digestion, equestrian and agricultural projects but when something entirely different comes along it makes for a pleasant change.  And so it came to pass ….

Earlier this year our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, was approached by a new client who was interested in establishing a secure dog exercise area on a field just outside one of Darlington’s villages.  Through her work with the Dog’s Trust she had become aware of a latent demand and need for a secure place where dog owners whose pets had special needs (such as being anxious when near other dogs or people or running off when let off the leash and not returning) could be exercised in a safe and secure environment.  The nearest such exercise area to Darlington is in Thirsk, which has proved to very popular such that booking a time-slot isn’t always easy.

It was clear that the demand/need for the facility was there but the question was how would the local planning authority view such an unusual proposal.  Rod advised the client that given the proposed location and the unusual nature of the proposal the submission of a pre-application inquiry to the Council would be a good idea.  This proved to be the case as we were able to engage in positive discussions with the case officer, including a very useful site visit, at an early stage.  We addressed issues raised, including providing a new entrance to the field from the country road, and answered all questions and were given a good steer on the preparation of the planning application.  The same planning officer dealt with the planning application such that it proceeded to approval in a smooth manner, helped along by us providing an in-depth explanation of the background to the proposed dog exercise area, what it would entail and how it would be operated.

A combination of tactics and being open and honest helped win the day.  The planning application submission included information above and beyond planning requirements but going that extra mile secured the planning permission for our client that she sought.  That is what Prism Planning is all about, going that extra mile for our clients.

 

 

Prism have just been successful in getting planning permission, at appeal, for a new livery worker’s dwelling at an established livery yard in Maltby, Stockton on Tees.

The appeal followed what was initially a case of non-determination, in which the Council had ‘dithered’ for many weeks over the application deadline.  In exasperation, Prism eventually appealed after the Council had taken more than twice as long to formulate its view.  After the appeal was lodged, the Council then made up its mind and decided it should have supported the case.

However, although the Council approved the revised application submitted by Prism, they imposed so many conditions that were unnecessary that Prism advised the clients that the Council’s conduct was unreasonable. The appeal therefore continued.  The Planning Inspector stated that not only should the council have approved the original application, they should have given a simple approval with minimal conditions when they did eventually do the right thing. That they didn’t was patently unreasonable. The Inspector then went on to take the unusual step of awarding our clients all of their costs back from pursuing the original appeal.

Without lodging the appeal, it is doubtful whether the Council would ever have reached the right decision and the ruling confirmed that Prism’s original assessment of the situation was absolutely correct. It was the 4th such similar decision in this particular Council area and one of many similar wins that Prism has had for this type of case across the north of England.
 
When you need advice on equine planning matters, Prism have the demonstrable experience and proven track record to give sound advice with positive results.

Prism recently succeeded in gaining planning approval for a 3m high fence with a 1m high trellis. In this case, the property backed onto a footpath and the existing 5m high bushes boundary were dying from loss of light. The Client already had privacy issues to the rear of their garden as it was significantly lower in height than the footpath.

National rules (Permitted Development Order) on development allow a fence of up to 2m without permission. Building a 2m fence would result in views into our Clients property and reduced privacy compared with the existing receding hedge. So, a planning application was required.

Discussions were held with Darlington Council to ensure the best possible outcome for our Client and we were able to agree on a height. This meant the Clients garden could be screened and also that the council would approve the application, avoiding a potentially expensive, risky and time consuming appeal.

Whilst a small project for us at Prism, we will work on projects we believe have a high chance of success regardless of scale. We also understand the need for privacy particularly as we come into the summer with people using their gardens.

If you are in a similar position or are having issues with a council at this scale, please contact Prism Planning for advice.   

 

A family with three generations have been granted a Certificate of Lawfulness for Proposed Development to allow them to stay together on the same site and support each other, thanks to the work of Prism Planning.

The project has been a long running one, taking over a year to resolve, from start to finish but the wait was more than justified by the result, according to the family.

The case involved a complicated series of interwoven projects with the starting point being to establish the extent of the family garden by means of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Development, legally defining the historic garden limits. This can be an important point for people living in rural locations where the differences between paddocks and gardens can be crucial.

Having carefully established the garden extent, Prism Planning then sought to convince the LPA of the legal ability to put up a log cabin in the garden which could provide accommodation for the 1st generation of the family whilst the 2nd and third generations lived in the main house. In this way, all the family are together on the same site, providing help and support for each other but with the necessary degree of independence and privacy. It’s a care model that looks increasingly attractive to many, recognising the difficulties of getting onto the housing ladder, the rising cost of residential care as well as the benefits of being able to care for your loved ones in a practical manner.

The project wasn’t straightforward, with the LPA doubting the legality of the approach. Prism had to work hard, citing relevant precedents and legal positions to convince the LPA that the position was one they could eventually support.

We expect this approach to be increasingly popular with families in the coming years but it isn’t to be entered into lightly. It requires a sensitive and careful approach. A badly made application might well be unrecoverable – so talk to us before embarking upon a project of this nature if you want to maximise your chances of success.
A County Durham couple are celebrating success with Prism Planning having just won permission at appeal for an extension to their house.

The couple had bought an established terraced property in one of Durham’s many conservation areas. They wanted to extend and improve the property with a single story rear extension that allowed the house to be completely remodelled and brought up to 21c standards, with a new kitchen and dining area.

The scheme was refused by the Council because of concerns over the impact on the neighbours. As the extension was on the north side of the building, its impacts were much more limited, in Prism’s view, than the Council’s concerns warranted. We took the unusual step of commissioning a full assessment of the impacts of the scheme, using a BRE special assessment tool which allowed for the impacts to be objectively measured.

Having visited the site and looked at the assessment, the Inspector agreed with Prism’s approach and granted permission for the extension.

BRE daylight assessments are not routinely used in all cases but this appeal shows that they can give rise to significant positive results when properly used by specialists.
Prism Planning had a good day at Hambleton Planning Committee yesterday, having gained planning permission for 3 new bungalows on a parcel of land at Tanton, just outside Stokesley. The site was outside the limits to development but officers accepted that the site had good access to the nearby market town of Stokelsey, was on a frequent bus route and was therefore in a sustainable location. The scheme proposed 3 new bungalows, in keeping with the surrounding development and members welcomed this type of housing which is much needed in the district.

Prism Planning had worked with the Council prior to the submission of the application to get the principle agreed with officers, smoothing the passage of the eventual application. Although this proposal was contrary to the Local Plan, being outside the defined limits to development, the Council have very pragmatically introduced flexible approaches to the delivery of housing in sustainable areas. In this respect, Hambleton are leading the way and responding positively to the current hosing crisis in this respect at least.

Our client will now look to dispose of the site so any interested parties looking to acquire a small site in the area should contact Prism Planning.