News & Blog

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.

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.