All posts in Development Control

Prism Planning are celebrating two important new wins at appeal, following an Inspector’s ruling that converting two separate outbuildings, one a garage and one a barn to provide two new dwellings is sustainable development. The buildings in question were a former barn and a new garage associated with a large farmhouse in Cowpen Bewley. The scheme required full planning permission rather than prior notification, in part because the main house on the site is listed. Despite being refused, both sites were within the limits to development. Although the Council were in housing shortfall, they had previously refused consent for the two conversions because they decided the village was not a sustainable location for new housing. At an informal hearing in June, Prism, assisted by David Hardy of Squire Patton Boggs, had argued before an Inspector that the Council’s approach to sustainability was too narrow and failed to look at the range of services and employment opportunities around the village, both in Billingham and the nearby Industrial Estate. The Inspector agreed, finding both schemes to be of good design, sympathetic to the character of the area and in sustainable locations. The Inspector accepted that people in such locations were likely to have a degree of reliance upon private cars but clearly felt that sustainability was a wider concept than just about how people get their weekly shopping back from the supermarket! It’s a very good win for the applicant and Prism Planning and a vindication of our approach and hard work. Our satisfaction at the positive outcome is however tinged with a note of regret that we had to have the matter considered at appeal in the first place when the case for approval was so overwhelmingly positive, as the Inspector recognised.
An exciting leisure-based regeneration project that will benefit Middlesbrough and the wider Tees Valley has taken its first step through the submission of a planning application to Middlesbrough Council. Prism Planning has submitted a planning application on behalf of Cool Runnings (NE) Ltd for the development of 2.87 hectares of land at Middlehaven Dock to provide a snow and leisure centre. Although the application is submitted is outline, seeking only the Council’s agreement to the development in principle at this stage, the application submission includes indicative and illustrative plans and drawings showing what the development is expected to look like. The key elements of the proposed development will comprise two ski slopes, a nursery slope for beginners and tuition and a main slope for more accomplished skiers. A range of complimentary leisure uses are also proposed including an ice-climbing wall, a ‘skydive’ arena, climbing wall, soft play area and trampolines together with café and restaurant facilities and related of retail facilities. The size and shape of the building is such that it can only sit along the northern edge of the dock. The presence of the listed clock tower to the north-west corner led to the decision that the low point of the building should be at the west end of the site. The high point of the building (corresponding to the top of the ski slope) is at the east end of the site, such that the building will appear to rise to meet the scale of the adjacent Temenos art installation. The sloping form generates a dynamic space which will allow the creation of a variety of dynamic single and double height interior spaces with natural light into and views out of the building. Prism Planning acted as planning consultant and project manager in the preparation and submission of the planning application, working hand-in-hand with our clients to ensure that all other consultants who assisted in the preparation of the planning application met client requirements and timescales. We liaised with officers of Middlesbrough Council during the preparation of the planning application and their constructive advice was much appreciated. It is hoped that the application will be approved within the 3-month target time frame, i.e. by mid-October.
Some readers may recall that we reported back in March of this year our success at appeal in having the decision by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council to refuse outline planning permission for a development of 4 houses within the grounds of a care home in Redmarshall over-turned and permission granted. We have now secured outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the care home itself to provide up to 6 houses. Although the application was submitted in outline with all matters reserved, the indicative layout showed the development being integrated with the previous permission for 4 houses. The Council had previously resisted any further residential development within Redmarshall on the basis that they believed Redmarshall to be an unsustainable village. We had successfully argued at appeal, the Inspector accepting our arguments entirely, that their reasoning was flawed and that for a host of reasons the village should be regarded as a sustainable settlement where new housing development could be accommodated. We were delighted that Stockton’s planners dealt with the second application much more favourably, granting permission under delegated powers in a timely fashion. Our client will now advertise the entire site as a development opportunity for up to 10 houses. If you have a housing development in mind and would like some professional planning consultancy assistance, whether or not sustainability might be an issue, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.
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.
Hot food takeaway applications can be contentious and applications to extend open hours more so. Applications become more difficult when the planning history of the premises is one of the original application being refused by the Council but allowed on appeal and then subsequent applications to allow opening on Sundays and Bank Holidays (prohibited by the condition imposed by the planning appeal decision) being refused and the refusal upheld at appeal. That was the scenario we faced but with a carefully presented case we were able to convince the planning officer to recommend that the permitted opening hours be extended to allow opening on Sundays and Bank Holidays. First hurdle successfully negotiated but due to the number of objections received the application was reported to Stockton’s Planning Committee yesterday afternoon (15th June). Rod Hepplewhite of Prism Planning attended the meeting and spoke in support of the application, advising the Committee that national planning policy, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework of 2012, had shifted significantly with the government advising that greater emphasis should be placed on economic considerations. He further advised that since the previous decisions pre-dated the NPPF, they could and should be set aside and there was good reason to approve the application. Members of the Planning Committee clearly listened carefully to the case put forward by Prism Planning and the Council’s planning officer as to why extended opening hours should be allowed in this instance and approved the application unanimously apart from one abstention. Another success achieved for a client by Prism Planning through a carefully prepared and present case. Indeed, we at Prism Planning see ourselves as the North East’s planning problem solvers. A successful outcome is not always possible but when presented with a proposal we will give an honest summation of the prospects of success we foresee. If you think we could assist you with a planning issue, we’re only a phone call or an e-mail away.
Members of Stockton Planning Committee voted almost unanimously to approve proposals for a new leisure country club with swimming pool to be built on the outskirts of Yarm. The scheme was promoted by Prism Planning and had been with the Council as an outline application for nearly a year. Protracted debates and negotiations had taken place over how the site would be accessed. Stamina and perseverance have been key skills honed during the prolonged consideration of this scheme. Clearly it all paid off as members supported the scheme, subject to a S106 agreement addressing the means of access. The key challenges for the team involved integrating access arrangements with other nearby commercial proposals that might, or might not, get developed and which laid outside of the control of the applicant. The planning system does not address such uncertainties very effectively as the year long debate testifies but the positive result for the client was well worth it in the end. The new club will provide a full size 25m swimming pool, a fitness suite and spar, as well as a series of exercise rooms for dance classes. The facility will also incorporate a café and a restaurant, to be operated by the same winning team that have delivered the Hudson Quay Brasserie in Middlehaven Docks at Middlesbrough. Outside a new vineyard and market garden will supply the restaurant with much of its fruit, vegetables and importantly, its wine! The vineyard will be the most northerly vineyard in the Country, to the best of our knowledge. The next stage of the proposals will see a reserved matter application worked up, based upon the concepts set out in the outline submission. Prism would like to particularly thank Fore Consulting (www.foreconsulting.co.uk) for all their in depth highway support during the consideration of the proposals, as well as the eye catching designs from Summerhouse Architects (www.summerhouse.uk.net) which helped sell the scheme most convincingly at planning committee. And that wasn’t the only success for Prism Planning at Stockton’s Planning Committee yesterday – see the next blog for further updates on our prowess with hot food takeaways!
Not content with having just seen the Housing & Planning Bill being passed into law (Royal Assent gained on 12th May), the Government announced more changes to world of town and country planning. The Queen’s speech this morning has announced legislation “to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow”, a key element of which will be a Neighbourhood Planning & Infrastructure Bill. The Government hopes that the Bill will curtail councils’ ability to attach planning conditions which delay development. The Government has previously expressed concerns that some councils misuse conditions in an attempt to halt or delay developments from proceeding. The Bill will prevent councils from attaching pre-commencement conditions to planning permissions other than when absolutely necessary. The same Bill will aim to provide a fillip to the neighbourhood planning system, making the neighbourhood plans more easy to review and update and requiring planning authorities to support neighbourhood forums. It is also intended to reform the compulsory purchase regime. Planning, a world of constant change at present!
The latest standing on the matter of the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government wanting to reduce affordable housing contributions on small scale housing developments in the face of opposition from some Local Planning Authorities sees the Secretary of State one step ahead following the recent decision of the Court of Appeal. Some may remember that following the publication of a written ministerial statement in November 2014, which set out revised policy on affordable housing provision, the Government’s online Planning Practice Guidance on the subject was amended. The new policy proposed that: (1) Developments of no more than 10 homes (with a gross floorspace not exceeding 1,000m²) would be exempted from levies for affordable housing and tariff-based contributions; (2) In designated rural areas, National Parks and AONBs, however, the exemptions would apply only to developments not exceeding 5 new homes but developments of 6 – 10 homes could pay a commuted sum, either at or after completion of the development; and (3) Redevelopment of a vacant building, or its demolition for redevelopment, would give rise to a credit (calculated in terms of floorspace) that could be off-set against any affordable housing contribution. The Government’s hope was that this would improve the commercial viability of small housing schemes and assist in the aim of boosting the numbers of new houses being built. However, two Local Planning Authorities (West Berkshire DC and Reading BC), were so concerned that this new policy would reduce the amount of new affordable housing being provided within their areas that they challenged it in the High Court. In July 2015 the High Court ruled in favour of the two Councils and quashed the new policy. Subsequently, the Secretary of State sought to appeal through the Court of Appeal. The Court’s decision was issued on 11th May 2016. The Court allowed the Secretary of State’s appeal against the quashing order, the result of which is that the policy introduced in November 2014 is extant once again. Whether the decision of the Court of Appeal is subject to further challenge is a moot point and we will have to wait and see. Until such a time however, many small scale housing developments will no longer be required to provide affordable housing. If you are considering a small scale housing development talk to Prism planning, we just might be able to help.
Stockton Council have just decided to grant consent for a scheme submitted by Prism Planning which sought consent for 40 one and two bedroom apartments on a site in the centre of Ingleby Barwick. Consent had previously been granted at appeal for a scheme on the same site that was restricted by a planning condition to only be occupied by the over 55’s. Because of the conditions imposed, the scheme was not attractive to the market and lending institutions during these challenging times. Prism Planning presented an alternative scheme to the Council which provided for a mix of one and two bedroomed apartments for sale, based upon a different financial model and argued against the imposition of any restrictive occupancy condition. Accurate information on scheme build cost and viability was also submitted, to demonstrate to the authority that the scheme could not afford to contribute towards all the off-site affordable housing that the Council sought. The scheme was passed by a majority vote on the planning committee, subject to a legal agreement relating to the transfer of land for public open space and a reduced commuted sum towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. It is increasingly the case that viability assessments are becoming a key component of any planning application of significance and this scheme showed the value in presenting a clear business case to the planning authority. Without this, the scheme would have been subject to punitive costs that would have held the scheme back. If you have a scheme where viability is an issue, talk to Prism to see whether we might be able to help.
Planning permission has just been granted by a local planning authority for a new house in the open countryside – without any form of occupancy condition. Normally such permissions would be viewed as being contrary to established national and local planning policies for the protection of the countryside. However in this instance our client already lived on the site in a caravan that had been on site for more than 10 years. Prism had already established the legality of this by obtaining a Certificate of Lawful Development or CLEUD. This certificate became a material consideration in the determination of a recent planning application for a new dwelling on the site. Prism Planning presented a comprehensive planning statement with the submission, supported by appeal precedents relating to how CLEUDs had been taken on board in similar situations around the country. As a result, the LPA were convinced the case was robust and granted planning permission for a permanent dwelling. A very nice outcome for the client and a successful win for Prism!