All posts in Enforcement

Eight and a half months after it was first submitted, the Planning Inspectorate have just allowed permission for a hot food take away to extend its opening hours which has made a nice, if somewhat belated Christmas present for our client. The appeal referred to a hot foot takeaway located within a local shopping parade in Redcar comprising a mix of units, including another hot food takeaway, a number of which open later into the evenings. Planning permission was originally granted for the change of use of the property to a hot food takeaway with opening hours restricted to 9.00 am to 7.00 pm hours Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays. Subsequently, temporary planning permission was granted on three separate occasions since 2009 allowing the premises to open until 10.00 pm every day. The temporary nature of the permissions was in order to allow continued monitoring by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council of the impact of the later opening of the premises. As far as we are aware no issues arose and in January 2013 our client applied for a permanent permission that would allow the takeaway to open until 11.00 pm each day. However, the application was refused by the Council’s Planning Committee and we were engaged to submit an appeal to The Planning Inspectorate contesting the Council’s decision. During the appeal process we were asked to consider a condition the Inspector was considering whereby the takeaway would close at 10.00 pm on Sundays, bringing the closing times of our client’s takeaway in line with that of the other takeaway within the shopping parade. We advised our client to accept the compromise suggested by the Planning Inspector and we believe that this helped in the successful outcome of the appeal. Our client is over the moon with the decision, which has arrived just in time for the busy festive season. As a side note, the appeal highlights the generally appalling situation in the Planning Inspectorate with speed of decision making lagging way behind where it should be for such an important institution. We hope that Father Christmas brings them some additional resources in the New Year to improve the current situation!
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.

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.