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.
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.