All posts in Planning Policy

Since the new General Permitted Development Order was published in April 2015 there has been a number of areas that have been open to interpretation by councils, leading to appeals and new guidance published by the Planning Guidance Suite as clarification. Such occurrences increase costs and timeframes for clients.

One such issue is the matter of repairs and internal alterations made to a barn and if they would be considered to be new structural elements of the building. The barn in question had a recent new internal wall (part of room used for lambing) which would become external once existing parts of the barn were demolished. We expertly navigated this complex issue gaining permission for our Client for the conversion of a barn to a dwelling.

We argued that this wall should not fall outside of permitted development as the works had already been carried out under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act as part of maintenance, improvement or other alteration. Our argument was successful resulting in an early approval ahead of the usual 56 day window.

Prism Planning has considerable experience with Prior Notifications with a strong success rate under the Class Q conversions. If you are planning a barn conversion and think that you might have an issue or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact use for an initial informal discussion on the subject.

The Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy is entering its final stage before submission to the Secretary of State and the ‘Examination’ of the document before an appointed Planning Inspector. The County Council has just published the Core Strategy Pre-Submission Draft for consultation, which starts today (Wednesday 14 October) and runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 November 2015. This will be your final opportunity to comment on the document and if you haven’t made comments by the 25th November you will not be able to appear before the Planning Inspector and speak at the Examination hearings. The Core Strategy is the County Council’s main strategic plan for Northumberland, covering the period to 2031. The document: • Sets out the spatial vision, objectives and outcomes for Northumberland; • Describes the overall strategic approach to growth across Northumberland; and • Proposes policy approaches for the economy, housing, the environment, climate change, infrastructure, minerals, waste and renewable energy. This final opportunity for comments to be made on the Core Strategy before it is submitted for independent examination is a formal, statutory stage in the preparation of the Core Strategy. It is different to previous consultations in that the key purpose of the consultation is to obtain views on the ‘soundness’ of the plan; whether the plan is ‘positively prepared’, ‘justified’, ‘effective’ and ‘consistent with national policy’. The submission of comments is a more technical exercise than the submission of representations to earlier drafts of the Core Strategy and is quite different to making objections to a planning application for example. Prism Planning would be happy to assist you in making comments/representations against the Pre-Submission draft of the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy.
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
A Government Planning Inspector has agreed with Prism for the second time regarding a scheme for providing log cabins on a site at Easby, near to Richmond. The Inspector overturned the decision of Richmondshire District Council to allow development on the site for a limited period of time and instead gave a full planning permission for three years to enable the development to progress. This was the second time that Prism had been forced to go to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decision of the Local Planning Authority on this site. Initially permission was refused by the Council for the development and granted at appeal in 2010. Due to the complexities of the site and the uncertain economic situation in the intervening period, we sought to use new provisions to extend the life of the planning permission for a further three year period. Most applications of this nature are routinely renewed unless there has been a change in circumstances. The Council decided to only grant planning permission for a twelve month period and gave confusing and unclear reasons why this would be appropriate. At appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council’s reasoning was flawed and fully agreed with all of the points raised by Prism on behalf of our client. In particular, the Inspector noted that the Government intend to give clear support for developments which help to improve the rural economy and that the scheme was and always had been of a particularly high design and well thought out. Because of these points, he had no hesitation in granting permission for a full three year period which will enable the scheme to progress. This is an important decision to have as it underlines the Government’s expectations that permissions will be renewed for a full three year period whenever there has been no change in circumstances and reaffirms the Government’s continued support for the rural economy. This is the second application that we have had approved this week relating to the rural economy – see next blog for a holiday cottage approval in Aislaby close to Yarm.
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.
Planning consent has been granted, subject to the completion of a S106 Agreement, for the residential development of a 2 hectare area of land at Low Cragg Hall Farm, Carlin How. The decision was made by members of Redcar & Cleveland Planning Committee on 6th June. The approved scheme comprises a residential development providing 46 family homes in a mix of two, three and four bedroomed dwellings of up to two storeys in height. The development also includes 8 two-bedroomed affordable houses, meeting the Council’s 15% requirement on developments of more than 15 dwellings. The application was submitted in outline form with only the means of access to and from the site and the scale of the development to be determined at this time. The architectural layout for the site was provided by BSBA Tees and this was a big help in getting the permission through the system. Prism Planning co-ordinated the preparation and submission of the application and subsequently negotiated with planning officers. The proposal was not without it’s hurdles since the site lies outside of development limits, Carlin How has suffered periods of flooding in the past and the existing access arrangements were not suitable for the development. However, we were able to argue why the development should be allowed and engaged a flooding and drainage specialist who provided a scheme to overcome the flood risk issue. We also engaged a highways consultant who negotiated a new form of access to the site with the Council’s highways engineers. Councillors welcomed the development as providing a welcome boost to Carlin How and were pleased that the development will include some bungalows. The final vote was unanimous which is most welcome for a site that lay outside the framework for new development. Our client is now looking for a purchaser of the site so please feel free to contact us if you are looking for any opportunities in the area.
Nifco Phase 2, Durham Lane, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees In February 2011 we obtained planning permission for Nifco UK Ltd to relocate from their out-moded premises at Yarm Lane to a purpose 117,945sq.ft. (10,957m²) built ultra modern building at Durham Lane, Eaglescliffe providing production and assembly, storage and office accommodation. Just a year of so of the new factory opening, Nifco’s order book is full and they urgently need more manufacturing capacity. Nifco specialise in the manufacture and supply of parts to the automotive industries as well as offering an injection moulding service. They have a truly international presence, supplying products to Japanese electronics companies and eight automobile manufacturers, including Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Ford. The company relocated to the Durham Lane premises in phases during late 2011 and the new building was officially opened by HRH the Duke of York in February 2012. The move helped secure 228 existing jobs and subsequently led to the recruitment of an additional 107 staff. Such was the success of the relocation that Nifco very quickly found themselves needing to either extend their existing building or build a second building adjacent to the first. Nifco opted for a second building and we submitted a planning application in late January 2013 for another ultra modern building behind (to the east of) the first providing a further 69,007sq.ft (6,411m²) production and assembly, storage and office accommodation. Following successful negotiations with Stockton Borough Council we obtained planning permission for Nifco in late April 2013. The new building will bring with it new job opportunities and will employ another 168 staff with the potential for additional jobs in the future.

B802 – A(PL) – 11A Proposed Site Finishes Plan

A housing scheme for 77 dwellings on the outskirts of Middlesbrough has just cleared its final hurdle, getting reserved matters approval following a meeting of Middlesbrough Councils Planning meeting on 5th April.

Outline consent for the mixed scheme of 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed family homes was originally granted in November 2012 after a prolonged debate with the Highways Agency over the means of access to the site.  Middlesbrough Council consistently took a positive attitude towards the development of the site, noting that they had an absence of a deliverable 5 year land supply and accepting that this overrode the Greenfield status of the site.

The granting of the final reserved matters will enable Miller Homes to start construction on the site later in 2013. Prism Planning have advised throughout the scheme, successfully obtaining both the original outline and the reserved matter consents.

New Rules come into force on 31st January 2013 that are intended to reduce the amount of information that applicants are asked provide with planning applications in England

 The new rules will have an impact on ‘outline’ planning applications in particular.  Applicants will no longer be required to provide information on layout and scale of the proposed development with ‘outline’ applications where these details are reserved for determination at a later date through a separate ‘reserved matters’ application.

 This should make ‘outline’ applications easier and therefore cheaper to prepare.  Current rules require applications in which the layout is a reserved matter to state the approximate location of buildings, routes and open spaces.  Where the scale is a reserved matter, the application must state the upper and lower limit for the height, width and length of each building.  Whilst such requirements are now set aside, there will undoubtedly be a ‘bedding-in’ period where local planning authorities seek supporting information that is no longer strictly required.  It will be for us as your planning consultant to argue the case with the local planning authority as to why you need not provide them with such additional information that they may otherwise require you to submit.

 Associated with the relaxation of information requirements for ‘outline’ applications, the Government have made clear that they expect local planning authorities to keep their ‘local list’ of information requirements for planning applications under regular review and that they should seek to reduce rather than increase such requirements.  With this in mind, the new rules state that for any planning application submitted after 30th June 2013, the ‘local list’ only apply to a specific application if the list has been published within two years prior to the date of the planning application.


If you would like to discuss what information and level of detail you should be submitting for your planning application we offer free consultations and will always let you know what we think your prospects of success are, good or bad.



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.