All posts in agriculture

Ryedale District Council have granted planning permission for extensions and alterations to outbuildings at the former walled garden of Wiganthorpe Hall, to allow the original gardener’s cottage to be brought back into use. The extensions will allow a local resident to occupy the building as part of the current owner’s long term restoration plans for this historic complex. The original gardener’s cottage was a very modest affair and believed to have been built sometime in the late 17th/early 18th century during the heyday of the original stately home. Unfortunately no copy of the planning permission currently exists! This caused problems in terms of the Council’s desire to impose local occupancy conditions on the property. Working together, Prism and Peter Rayment, of Peter Rayment Design, successfully proved that the cottage had originally been designed and built as a dwelling and its use had not been deliberately and willfully abandoned. Fortunately, with our expert knowledge on this subject, we were able to convince the Planning Authority on all of these points, enabling them to grant an unrestricted permission to allow the cottage to be extended and improved and brought up to modern day standards, allowing a local disabled resident to occupy the property. The owners of Wiganthorpe Hall have embarked upon a long-term strategy to restore as much of the historic fabric as presently remains on site and have already gone to considerable lengths to preserve the fabric of the cottage and the original garden walls. We look forward to assisting them with any future works that they carry out at this most interesting historic asset and wish them every success with their continued sensitive restoration.
A Lawful Development Certificate has been granted by Hambleton District Council relating to a farmhouse that was built more than 40 years ago and was originally subject to an agricultural occupancy condition. The farmer who occupied the property is sadly no longer with us and his executors were seeking the best manner in which to dispose of the property. The original occupancy condition severely restricted the open market value of the property and it was only by a chance remark that it became apparent that the property was never built in the position in which it was originally approved, having been re sited by the farmer without consent from the LPA, to take advantage of better views down the valley. Relying on up to date case law, Prism Planning were able to persuade the Planning Authority that the original consent had not been lawfully implemented and that as a result, the originally intended occupancy condition no longer had any legal “bite”. As the property had been built more than four years ago, the resultant building was free of the occupancy condition leaving the executors to market the property as an ordinary dwelling and obtain the full market price for it. This is a very unusual case and one that we don’t think is likely to feature commonly. However the case outlines that it is important to lawfully implement a planning permission in order for any conditions to practically take effect on a project. Where a development has not been lawfully implemented it may well be worth a discussion with Prism to see whether any practical advantage can be taken of such a situation.
Prism planning were successful in obtaining planning permission for a second agricultural dwelling on a mixed livestock and arable farm in Hambleton District. It was particularly pleasing to obtain planning permission first time around from the Local Planning Authority rather than having to go to appeal which is often the case on this type of development. It is always a challenge getting planning permission for any type of agricultural dwelling on a holding with Councils scrutinising proposals very carefully and generally unwilling to give any benefit of the doubt to an applicant. All too often cases get bogged down in acrimonious debate at appeal. In this instance, Prism were able to present a comprehensive and well argued case about the farm holdings need for two workers on site to provide back up and support for the holding and were able to demonstrate what can and did sometimes happen when just one worker was relied upon in an emergency situation. As a result, we were able to persuade the Council to grant planning permission for a second dwelling. The decision was even ‘sweeter’ being made just a few days after the government altered the rules on Section 106 contributions, with the farmer avoiding having to pay thousands of pounds in tariff costs which would have been due under the previous regime. Whilst we can’t guarantee that we will always be successful in these matters, we have now obtained planning permission for several agricultural and equine worker’s dwellings with a 100% success record to date and clearly know what we are doing with this type of proposal. Anybody facing particular pressures for care of livestock should talk to us before deciding whether a case can be successfully presented.
Prism Planning and a Darlington based farmer are celebrating after obtaining consent for the conversion of a range of his buildings to provide three new dwellings. The case was notable because it involved the use of the Government’s new Permitted Development rights that allow for up to three dwellings to be created through conversion without the need for full planning permission. Prism submitted one of the first new ‘Prior Notifications’ to the Council, using the new rights established by the government earlier this year. The application was very different to the normal form of a planning permission and still requires important information to be put in front of the Council. However if the application is properly submitted, the Council are obliged to accept the principle of the development, regardless of the age or appearance of the original donor building. The new rights are considered very generous by some and have been opposed by a number of pressure groups determined to prevent new development from taking place in the countryside. However at a time when many farmers are despairing over the poor prices of grain, the new rights might provide a much needed lifeline.
Prism Planning and JFS & Associates are celebrating after getting planning permission for a 1.5MW Anaerobic Digester to process food waste from nearby Leeming Bar. The consent was granted by North Yorkshire County Council at their planning meeting on 25th March. The decision marked the end of a long running application which saw the layout and configuration of the site redesigned to prevent interference with the radar emissions from RAF Leeming whose main runway passes close to the site. The plant will process around 50,000 tonnes of food waste produced by nearby food and drink businesses with the material being brought to the site via tankers. This is the 8th anaerobic digestion scheme that Prism have obtained consent for in the last couple of years, making us one of the country’s leading practitioners and acknowledged experts in this field.
A decision this week by Ryedale District Council to approve an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility at Wray House Farm, brings the total number of anaerobic digestion schemes that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, to seven. This is a fascinating renewable energy project with tremendously green credentials. However our experience shows that they are still regarded as a very new and innovative form of development with most Planning Authorities and local communities and a great deal of reassurance is required to persuade people that they are safe and won’t impact on their lives. With this new decision, it shows that Prism have got the skills, knowledge and more importantly, the experience of progressing anaerobic digestion schemes through the planning system, of varying scales and complexities from simple on-farm systems through to major food processing facilities. We have now also built up a formidable range of contacts in the AD technology and financial sector so that anybody thinking of undertaking anaerobic digestion couldn’t hope to meet a more experienced and well-positioned team. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are considering some form of AD project.
Prism had a busy day at a North Yorkshire Planning Committee with two of our applications for new Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants and an intensive livestock building on the agenda in the same afternoon. We had our work cut out with strong local objection to two of the proposals but fortunately members were persuaded by the strength of our arguments and granted planning permission. The success means that we have now successfully obtained permission for no less than 5 AD plants this year which must be something of a record. We aren’t stopping there however and have an application lodged for another scheme due to be considered in December and have two more on the drawing board. We hope that we will be able to continue our run of success with this most sustainable of renewable energy schemes. It’s clear that we still have a great deal of work to do in educating and persuading the public of the benefits of AD and we will continue to work hard on this. It will hopefully be made a little easier by one of our first schemes at Howla Hay, Guisborough nearing completion. It’s always helpful to be able to show a real life example of an operational plant and there haven’t been too many farm scale schemes built locally in North Yorkshire and County Durham.
Prism have just won permission at appeal for a farmhouse to help a well established farming family continue their business through into the third generation. The case involved a mixed use arable and sheep farm with a growing line in breeding heavy horse hunters at Town Farm, Stillington. With around 500 sheep already on the farm and a developing equine business we were confident that there was a robust case to pursue. However the Council weren’t so sure and employed a national firm of experts to help them assess the case. The Council’s advisors seemingly hadn’t read too much of the National Planning Policy Framework and wrongly advised the Council on a range of key matters. At the ensuing appeal, the Inspector found that both the Council and their experts had wrongly applied national tests in their assessment, being unduly pessimistic as to the labour needs of the holding and critically, had tried to disaggregate the various parts of the farming business. This was a fundamentally wrong approach and Prism’s approach was found to have been correct. The case marks our third appeal win in a row for our specialist agricultural work and has established us as one of the regions leading expert practitioners in this field. Coincidentally it was also our third win in a row for equine related work and shows that it’s not always a good idea to take advice from some of the national firms whose specialist knowledge is not quite so robust when it really matters.
A Planning Inspector has agreed with Prism and allowed a log cabin to remain on a Durham Pick Your Own Farm whilst a transition takes place between generations of the family farming the land. Our client had sited a log cabin on his farm, having initially been advised (incorrectly) that he didn’t need planning permission. The cabin was used by our client and his partner whilst they farmed the 13ha of land, growing strawberries, asparagus and other high value crops. The existing bungalow on site was occupied by our clients parents who, in their 80’s and in poor health were no longer able to work on the farm. The Council had issued an enforcement notice within a few days of the cabin being erected on the site and seemingly weren’t prepared to consider the personal circumstances of the family or the needs of the farm. At the ensuing appeal hearing, the Inspector took a different line and accepted that; “Because of these personal family circumstances, the siting of the chalet in the short term, as a transition between the farming generations, is acceptable for a temporary period as an exceptional case.” And he went on to quash the Councils enforcement notice. The case is an interesting one from a number of perspectives. Firstly, despite the demise of Annex A to PPS7 in the bonfire of national planning guidance that accompanied the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework, all parties have freely applied the guidance as if it remained in force. Secondly the case confirms the application of the principles established in Keen, that is a retired farmer and their dependants can remain on their farm as long as they wish, without the fear of having to leave to make way for the next generation of farmers. It is pleasing to see a planning inspector looking outside of the policy framework to the real life challenges that farmers face in running their holdings and making a sensitive and compassionate decision that has allowed our client to concentrate on running his business. Perhaps the most important lesson from this case is to be beware the snake oil salesmen who tell you that planning permission isn’t required for one of their log cabins. Before placing an order for one, or if you’re in doubt, contact a reputable planning consultant to have your position properly checked out.
A Planning Inspector has just overturned a decision by Durham County Council and granted planning permission for a new 500KW anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on a farm at East Hedleyhope, Bishop Auckland. The proposed plant and associated combined heat and power plant would provide electricity and heat out of digesting farmyard manure and other organic wastes. The case establishes Prism as one of the leading planning consultancies with expertise and in depth knowledge of the AD process. Prisms involvement was secured by Paul Palmer of CH4 Sense, a leading provider of AD services ch4sense.co.uk. The application was submitted to Durham County Council in June 2012 and although initially supported by officers, was refused by the planning committee in November 2012 with members disagreeing with officer’s assessment of the case. Members were concerned over the visual impact, odour, noise and the overall sustainability of the project. The decision of the Council was taken to appeal and an Informal Hearing took place in April 2013. In allowing the appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council had not considered the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and considered that the Council’s policy base carried very little weight, being written well before the publication of the National Strategy in 2011. The Inspector considered that the tanks, although large in scale, would present itself as components of an existing farm and would have been properly screened by the landscape belt proposed in the application. In looking at the noise nuisance, he noted that the scheme did not breach World Health Organisation guidelines for night time noise and in looking at the odour decided this was something which would be properly regulated by the Environment Agency in due course. He considered that the Planning Authority were wrong in trying to adopt a precautionary stance in assuming that matters might go wrong. He went on to consider that this was a highly sustainable location for this type of development and was consistent with the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy published by the government. He criticised the Council for seeking to locate such developments in existing industrial areas noting that certain types of AD facility would require large amounts of land to operate and they could not be expected to locate in general industrial areas to apply the presumption on favour of sustainable development established in the National Policy Framework for Planning and granted consent. Unusually, he went on to allow a full claim for costs against the Council noting that the members had departed from the professional advice of their officers without proper grounds. He was very critical of the Council applying a precautionary principle when advice clearly states that it is not their role in the planning system to do so. He concluded that the Council’s reasons for refusal were not justified or supported by any written or visual evidence and that the Council had put the appellant to the unnecessary cost of preparing evidence for and attending the appeal. Prism, and their client were delighted with the outcome of the appeal, noting that it was a complete vindication of the case they had argued and presented to the Council throughout the planning application process. In particular, Prism had supplied the Council with information covering all the points of concern and had sought to allay fears in these important areas. That this presentation of information was ignored by members is regrettable. However the AD process in the UK is still at a relatively young stage and it is perhaps understandable that fear of the unknown creeps into the decision making process. Hopefully this decision will show clearly that AD is here to stay and are properly considered proposals with well argued evidence should not be refused except on very specific and clear grounds. Prism look forward to working with the Council to get the scheme up and running in the very near future.