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Our client had converted a former stable building into a house, without having first got the benefit of planning permission, through a misunderstanding in how to draw down permitted development rights. This hadn’t gone down well with the planning authority, for understandable reasons, with an appeal against their initial refusal of planning permission being unsuccessful.

In looking at the reasons why the Inspector initially agreed with the Council, Prism considered that there was scope to mitigate the harm that the Inspector had cited. We brought in a professional Landscape Architect, Guy Rawlinson and with his help, devised a new landscape mitigation plan. We then went further a crafted a unique legal agreement, or Unilateral Undertaking, relating to the way in which the landscape could be managed if consent were granted. A second, revised application was submitted.

Unfortunately, the Council maintained its initial stance and went on to refuse the second application, escalating matters by also serving our client with an enforcement notice. The Council had seemingly ignored both our landscape plan and our legal agreement.

At the second appeal, the new Inspector commended the landscape assessment and plan and criticised the Council for ignoring the Unilateral Undertaking that Prism had carefully prepared, finding it robust and fit for purpose. He was critical of the Council’s opposition to the development and granted our client consent to remain in occupation with his family, subject to complying with the legal agreement and undertaking additional planting.

Our client can look forward to spending Christmas in his own home, not hunting for a new one!

Whilst it is never a good idea to carry out development without planning permission, if you do find yourself in a tricky situation, come and talk to us as soon as possible. As this case makes clear, if there is a solution to be found, we specialise in finding it! Don’t give up until you’ve talked to Prism.

 

Prism Planning has continued its unbroken record of success with equestrian projects by winning another appeal for an equestrian workers dwelling.

Our clients had set up Stotfold Crest Rising Centre near Elwick, several years ago, under the expert guidance of Lesley Perry. Following a bad wrist fracture which hasn’t properly healed, Lesley decided she needed to take more of a backseat role and hand over the reins (!) to her daughter, Anne Marie, a top level equestrian in her own right who has competed at international level and is without doubt an Olympic contender for Tokyo.

The proposal submitted to Hartlepool Council involved the construction of new, high quality stables, a horse walker and a new house for Anne Marie and her family, in accordance with currently applicable case law on the subject which was cited at length to the Council.

Despite warm support from the Parish Council, who could see the benefits to the area in having Anne Marie set up her base in the north east, officers from the Council decided to ignore relevant case law and refused permission, arguing it was contrary to the Local Plan.

A hearing was held into the case in August, and the Planning Inspectors decision allowing the scheme was made public last week. In her appeal decision, the independent inspector noted that the humanitarian principles embodied in the High Court cases cited by Prism in support of the application were relevant to the case and should have been taken on board more fully by the Council. She was also critical of the Councils attempts to remove permitted rights from the proposed new dwelling and restored those rights, along with the main permission.

Prism are naturally delighted with the outcome.

Over the 10 years we have been in existence, we have fought several key battles over equestrian development -the most recent case being the promotion of an all weather international show jumping arena in the Green Belt at Gateshead for Philippa Curry, a former UK Show jumping Coach of the Year. Philippa’s proposals were due to be rejected by officers but following a committee speech by Steve Barker of Prism, members of the planning committee voted to approve her application.

Have an equestrian project or issue -we can probably help -and have a track record to prove it.

Over 90% of all planning applications are now submitted online and The Planning Portal is the platform we use to submit them.  At present, applications are submitted by ourselves via the Portal, then transferred automatically to the Local Planning Authority who validate the application and process the fee payments. 

However, this is all about to change.  From 10th September 2018, the Planning Portal will process all fee payments before transferring the applications on to Local Planning Authorities.  In addition to the actual application fee, there will also be a processing fee of £16.67 + VAT (£20 in total) charged per application submission (the service is currently free).  

Details of the proposed changes are summarised below (source: email from The Planning Portal 23/08/18).

 

“We are pleased to announce that the new service will be operational from 9am on Monday 10 September

From this time, the Planning Portal will take all payments for planning applications in England made through our planning application system (1App).

Once the payment is made by either you or your client, the application will be released to the relevant local authority along with the planning application fee. 

A service charge of £16.67+VAT will be added to the planning fee for each application, to cover the cost of providing the service and enable us to invest in improving the 1App system itself. 

The service will simplify the planning application process across England, offering a consistent range of payment options and saving you and local authorities time tracking down payments – an issue which causes so many delays at validation.

You can read our step-by-step guide to find out how it will work. We have also published a comprehensive list of FAQs

The key changes are as follows:

Timing of the release of applications

Applications will be released once payment is received and confirmed by us. The time it takes for us to receive payment and therefore to release an application will vary depending on the payment method chosen. You can find a table of these timescales in our recently communicated FAQs

As now, and in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Development Management) (England) Order 2015, the period for determination by local authorities will start once they receive the application.

Paying us online or by phone

If your planning fee is less than £1,000, you can pay online or nominate your client to pay.

You or your client can also pay over the phone at any time of day or night, 365 days a year.

 

Paying us by bank transfer – Faster Payment, CHAPS and BACS

For planning fees over £1,000, Faster Payment will usually be the best option. “

 

Prism Planning secured planning permission for the same client, ENER-G Bio Solutions, in respect of two separate anaerobic digestion plants, one near to the Thinford roundabout, County Durham and the other at Riverside Park West, Middlesbrough in a single week.  That can’t be bad going and is indicative of Prism Planning’s growing expertise in this area of renewable energy production.  Indeed, we have built up a good level of expertise on the subject and recognise that although no two developments are alike and all require a comprehensive raft of technical documentation to support the planning application.  Through our own expertise on the subject and the connections we have with environmental and transport consultants we can address all issues that are likely to be raised by local planning authorities.

At their meeting of 1st May 2018, Durham County Council’s County Planning Committee supported the officer recommendation that planning permission should be granted for the construction and operation of an anaerobic digestion plant on land at Mount Huley Farm, Croxdale, Durham. 

On Friday 4th May 2018, Middlesbrough’s Planning & Development Committee voted unanimously to support the officer recommendation that planning permission should be granted for the construction and operation of an anaerobic digestion plant on land at Riverside Side Park West, Middlesbrough.

Both plants will process food wastes that would otherwise go to landfill together with farmyard manures and silage to produce bio-gas.  The bio-gas will then be both purified and compressed for injection into the Gas Grid, there being a connection point to a gas pipeline near to both sites.  The resultant bi-product from the process known as digestate, which are odourless, will be spread on the farm fields as a fertiliser and soil improver instead of farmyard manure and imported nitrate fertiliser which are used at present.

Our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, attended both meetings and spoke in support of the applications, setting out the case for approval of the development and reinforcing the planning officer’s recommendation that the application be approved.  All material planning considerations had been addressed; neither plant will result in a significant impact upon the landscape or visual amenity nor cause noise or odour nuisance or give rise to traffic issues of any significance, harm to the local ecology or adversely impact any features of archaeological importance.

We had worked in a positive manner with the respective case officers throughout the course of the applications to address issues raised and respond promptly to requests for additional information.  Both AD plants represent an appropriate form of sustainable development at the site, which accords with national and local planning policy together with the ‘National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan and The Waste Management Plan for England.  

Prism Planning are delighted to have successfully defended at client at appeal against an enforcement notice served by Gateshead Council, with the notice being quashed and planning permission being granted.

Wilsons Motor Auctions had inadvertently undertaken works at their premises on the Portobello Industrial Estate, Birtley without first obtaining planning permission.  The motor auctions site had been going from strength to strength, with new offices and auction hall being created and additional storage area for cars was required.  Unfortunately, our clients hadn’t realised that forming an extension to their car park by laying rolled road planings over an untidy area of grass within the curtilage of their premises required planning permission, it does as it constitutes a change of use of the land and represents engineering works also.

Ahead of our involvement, our clients had submitted a retrospective planning application to Gateshead Council immediately following contact from the Council’s planners advising of their oversight and inviting the submission of an application.  Their followed a period of constructive discussions with the planning case officer, with agreement being reached on a number of measures that would address concerns that had been raised by some neighbours.  This culminated in the application being reported to the Council’s Planning Committee with a recommendation that planning permission be granted subject to conditions. 

Unfortunately, the Committee disagreed with the recommendation, refused planning permission and instructed their officer to instigate enforcement proceedings.  We were engaged to appeal against the enforcement notice and against the refusal of planning permission, which we did contemporaneously.

We were pleased to note from the Inspector’s decision letter that in quashing the enforcement notice and granting planning permission he agreed with every single point we had made as to why the development undertaken was acceptable in planning terms.  The appeal decision is subject to planning conditions, all of which had previously been agreed to by our client.

Prism Planning succeeded with the tricky task of replacing a caravan with a bungalow in the open countryside. For background we had previously gained a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) at the site for a caravan. The caravan was now old and would need replacing, with the Client exploring options, we were tasked with submitting an application for a bungalow.

At Prism Planning we aim to limit our Clients costs. Having investigated the possibility of gaining permission and the potential costs of a full application we recommended a pre-application submission to establish the Councils likely response. The Council’s comments were mostly encouraging though there was some confusion of how much an existing LDC would benefit an application.

Having discussed options and recommendations with the Client an application was made which resulted in a refusal partly on car journeys and partly on design. Whilst a redesign can be the fastest resolution to overcome design issues, we could not convince the Council there would be no further traffic impacts on a site which clearly already had a residential use. However, to reduce reasons for appeal we resubmitted the application (there are no planning fees to pay on re submissions) reducing the scale and changing the siting of the proposals. This was also refused.

At appeal we successfully demonstrated that the weight accorded to an LDC should be greater than the Council had given. The traffic impacts would be no greater than was present for the existing caravan, our redesign was suitable for the location and the site already had a domestic appearance.  As a result, replacing the caravan with a dwelling was acceptable and the Inspector allowed our appeal. Whilst each application is judged on its own merits this decision sets a new precedent for replacement dwellings, giving a clear indication that a replacing a caravan with a dwelling is possible where an LDC has allowed the caravan.

If you are in a position where you are seeking a building to replace a caravan or seeking an LDC we may be able to help. Whilst these are complicated in nature we value our high success rate so will tell you simply what your chances of success would be.
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.