All posts in Conservation

Durham Planning Committee voted unanimously today to support the demolition of St Anne’s School, next to the cricket ground in Bishop Auckland. The scheme involves 18 new houses on the site. Prism Planning led the team that were behind the scheme which was described as a bitter-sweet moment by a member of the committee. Bitter because the town was losing an old building which had been part of the town heritage for many years but sweet because it was going to be replaced by a new set of quality buildings made from materials salvaged from the old structure. The owner had bought the buildings after they were severely damaged by an arson attack. He wanted to convert the existing structure but this proved to be financially un-viable. The scheme approved had been carefully worked up by Prism and the design team over many months of close partnership working with the Council. It was supported by the local councillors, the Town Council and the local Cricket Club who abut the site. It’s not very often that a planning committee commend you for a scheme that involves losing an old building in a Conservation Area but the fact that they did is testament to all of the hard work we put into the proving it was the only way forward, as well as having an excellent scheme to go back on the site. Work can now start on relocating bats from the site, subject to the separate go-ahead from Natural England.
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.
Permission has been granted by Darlington Borough Council for the creation of a new children’s nursery and crèche in the town – one which is close to the Memorial Hospital and can, if necessary, provide childcare for 24 hours with its unique facilities on-site. The proposal, submitted by Prism Planning, sought to convert an old Edwardian villa in the town known as Upperthorpe. The site of Upperthorpe was once the town’s secretarial college and was more latterly used by the NHS and Social Services, before being bought by Mike Odysseas. The proposals provide for a range of day care options and unusually incorporate overnight sleepover facilities and also barrier nursing facilities for those occasional circumstances when a child may need to be kept in isolation for common childhood illnesses. Most childcare facilities can’t cope with a child with common D&V type illnesses but these proposals can. The conversion of the existing building is now nearing completion and work will start shortly on extensions to the facility to improve the range of accommodation. A new application has also been submitted to the Council for a wonderful log play cabin to be sited in the front of the property to provide children with a unique opportunity for imaginary play. We hope that this application will be supported by the Council and further enhance the facilities at this most unusual site. Anyone wanting to register for places should contact www.upperthorpenursery.co.uk

Even in these difficult times when town and district centres are seeing their trade contracting and an increased number of shop premises stand empty securing planning permission to bring an empty property back into commercial use is not always straight forward.

This was the challenge facing a client who had taken a lease on a vacant ground floor premises on Yarm High Street and converted it to an ice cream parlour, under the ‘Archers’ franchise, producing and selling delicious artisan ice cream.  Our client had been unaware that planning permission would be required to use a former gents’ tailors shop as an ice cream parlour and had opened for business having spent a considerable sum of money in fitting out the ground floor premises and installing ice cream manufacturing equipment.  He was shocked and concerned when informed by a planning officer that planning permission was required but was unlikely to be granted due to local planning policies seeking to retain shop premises and discouraging conversion to other uses, including an ice cream parlour.

Prism Planning were engaged to try and rescue the situation.  It was noted that the premises had been vacant for a considerable period of times; that the ice cream parlour was operating as an ancillary use to the main retail business of Yarm High Street; that within a matter of months of opening the ice cream parlour had built up a loyal customer following; and that there was no other ice cream parlour with the High Street.  Prism Planning suggested to the client that he should start a petition, asking customers for their support in calling on the Council to grant planning permission.  The planning application was subsequently accompanied by a 910 name petition supporting the application.  Support was also sought from Yarm Chamber of Trade, who subsequently wrote to the Council advising of their backing for the ice cream parlour.

Following submission of the planning application and following further discussions with the planners, Prism Planning were able to convince the Council that there were good grounds for granting planning permission notwithstanding the prevailing local planning policies that frowned upon the change of use of the former shop to an ice cream parlour.  Our client is understandably delighted that planning permission has now been granted and that he can continue developing his business, which is showing every sign of going from strength to strength.

Its not very often that a client comes to us in receipt of a listed building enforcement notice requiring him to take down a flue to a log burning stove -but this is just what happened to one of our clients recently.  Thanks to Prism efforts, a Planning Inspector has just decided that he can keep the stove and the LPA have been found to be heavy handed in their actions.

Living in a converted barn, our client had installed a very efficient log burning stove. Following the best practice guidance of English Heritage (EH), he had installed a modern flue that ran  up inside the barn and which just ‘peeped’ out of the gable below the ridge. As recommended by EH he had gone to the additional trouble and cost of having the flue coloured matt black to minimise its visual impact. The LPA thought this was wrong and took the unusual step of issuing a listed building enforcement notice requiring the removal of the flue.

The success rate of appeals against these types of actions isn’t high, with the benefit of the doubt often going to the Council. Prism recommended an informal hearing to try to get across to the Inspector the full facts of the case and to more effectively challenge the arguments of the Council. Normally the Inspectorate take 6-8 weeks to make their findings known but in this case just a week after the hearing the Inspector found for our client and allowed the flue to remain. 

The Inspectorate fully supported the use of logs as a renewable fuel and accepted  that our clients proposals hadn’t had the damaging impact upon the building that the Council claimed. He also noted that the neighbours, who had complained about the flue, had an even bigger and more obtrusive flue on their own property!

Its very unusual for Listed Building Enforcement Notices to be served and still more unusual for the Councils actions to be overturned at appeal. Prism are delighted to have been able to win the case for the client.