All posts in Prism News

A family with three generations have been granted a Certificate of Lawfulness for Proposed Development to allow them to stay together on the same site and support each other, thanks to the work of Prism Planning.

The project has been a long running one, taking over a year to resolve, from start to finish but the wait was more than justified by the result, according to the family.

The case involved a complicated series of interwoven projects with the starting point being to establish the extent of the family garden by means of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Development, legally defining the historic garden limits. This can be an important point for people living in rural locations where the differences between paddocks and gardens can be crucial.

Having carefully established the garden extent, Prism Planning then sought to convince the LPA of the legal ability to put up a log cabin in the garden which could provide accommodation for the 1st generation of the family whilst the 2nd and third generations lived in the main house. In this way, all the family are together on the same site, providing help and support for each other but with the necessary degree of independence and privacy. It’s a care model that looks increasingly attractive to many, recognising the difficulties of getting onto the housing ladder, the rising cost of residential care as well as the benefits of being able to care for your loved ones in a practical manner.

The project wasn’t straightforward, with the LPA doubting the legality of the approach. Prism had to work hard, citing relevant precedents and legal positions to convince the LPA that the position was one they could eventually support.

We expect this approach to be increasingly popular with families in the coming years but it isn’t to be entered into lightly. It requires a sensitive and careful approach. A badly made application might well be unrecoverable – so talk to us before embarking upon a project of this nature if you want to maximise your chances of success.
A County Durham couple are celebrating success with Prism Planning having just won permission at appeal for an extension to their house.

The couple had bought an established terraced property in one of Durham’s many conservation areas. They wanted to extend and improve the property with a single story rear extension that allowed the house to be completely remodelled and brought up to 21c standards, with a new kitchen and dining area.

The scheme was refused by the Council because of concerns over the impact on the neighbours. As the extension was on the north side of the building, its impacts were much more limited, in Prism’s view, than the Council’s concerns warranted. We took the unusual step of commissioning a full assessment of the impacts of the scheme, using a BRE special assessment tool which allowed for the impacts to be objectively measured.

Having visited the site and looked at the assessment, the Inspector agreed with Prism’s approach and granted permission for the extension.

BRE daylight assessments are not routinely used in all cases but this appeal shows that they can give rise to significant positive results when properly used by specialists.
The last two months have been interesting ones for Prism and their equestrian clients with two interesting cases coming to a head in very different cases but both being horse related.

In the first case, clients had received an enforcement notice requiring them to remove their two horses and stables from their garden. The LPA had decided that ‘Elvis’ and ‘Sparkplug’, two lovely moorland cobs, represented unauthorised development by changing the use of the original garden. In fact the horses occupied less than half the garden and only then over the winter period. During the summer they grazed fields away from the home. The Council argued they caused smells, flies, attracted vermin and caused a loss of privacy to the neighbours, some of whom objected to the horses looking over the boundary fence. Comparisons were made by the LPA to the famous shark emerging from the roof of the house in Oxford, as well as the man who erected a model of a Spitfire in his back garden. We contended that neither of these bizarre examples were remotely comparable with our situation.

Thankfully the inspector agreed and granted permission for the horse to stay, as well as their stable block, leaving two very happy horses owners. The case highlights how matters can escalate when LPA’s get complaints about unauthorised development and show why it is important that good, knowledgeable advice is obtained at the earliest possible opportunity.

The second case, also horse related was equally bizarre but for very different reasons. Our client and his wife are running a successful and well established livery yard, despite being in their 80’s and with one of them being registered disabled! They have decided that at their time of life they want to ease up a little and employ a manager to do the heavy and antisocial work, including chasing after escaped horses at 3am! A planning application was lodged for replacement managers accommodation, something we have done on several occasions for clients. The case was supported by specialist Equine Vets and the BHS.

Many weeks after the statutory determination date and with several promised deadlines from the Council missed, in frustration we appealed against non-determination and asked for a hearing. At the same time we also re-submitted the same planning application back to the LPA to allow them to try to reach a decision on it with more time. This resulted in a speedy approval – something which the LPA cold and should have done first time around. However the LPA imposed a whole series of conditions on their decision, preventing all possible future expansion or improvement to the property. Accordingly the appeal is still progressing albeit now just relating to what conditions should, or should not be imposed in these type of situations.

This second case has also given rise to a claim for costs – clearly the LPA could and should have approved the initial application in a timely manner, as they proved by supporting the second application when the appeal focused their minds!

Sadly, as cuts to services in local government planning departments continue to ‘bite’, we are all probably going to have to get used to poorer levels of service and situations like this might become all too common. It remains to be seen whether LPA’s will find new ways to work in such climates or continue to cling to established and out of date practices.

Anyone with an equine related problem will appreciate from the above examples that we know a thing or two about horses and the planning system – and an initial chat about how we might be able to help is free, wherever you are in the country.
At their meeting of 21st February 2017, Sunderland’s Development Control (Sunderland South) Sub-Committee voted by a significant majority in favour of our client’s development of a part brownfield site within the urban area for a residential development comprising affordable housing, low cost housing and supported housing for people with learning difficulties.

At face value, you may have thought the application would sail through: a development of social housing on a brownfield site within the urban area, a residential area at that, and the brownfield part of the site was Council owned and was to be sold to our clients subject to planning permission being granted. How wrong you would have been.

The application, was recommended for approval at the meeting of 3rd January. However, the application faced stiff opposition from local residents and a Ward Councillor who attended the meeting and spoke against the application. At this point it was looking likely that the application would be refused. Thankfully, our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, also attended the meeting to speak in support of the application and was able to address the issues raised by the objectors. The Committee then decided to defer a decision to allow for the issues raised to be fully explored before the application was reported back to them.

Revisions were subsequently made to the proposals and additional information was provided, which addressed all of the issues that had been raised. When the application was reported back to Committee, again with a recommendation for approval, the objectors spoke again as did our Director, Rod Hepplewhite. He was able to advise that all issues previously raised had now been addressed, as evidenced by the officer report and the recommendation that that the proposed development be approved. In this instance the Planning Committee accepted our argument and by a significant majority voted in favour of granting planning permission. Our clients and the architect for the scheme http://www.bsbaarchitects.com who also attended the meeting were delighted with the outcome.

We have dealt with many applications for residential development of various forms. We have built up a good level of expertise on the subject and recognise that no two developments are the same and have learnt to be prepared for the unexpected. Notably, just because and application is recommended for approval doesn’t necessarily mean that the Planning Committee will grant planning permission. You should be represented at the Planning Committee meeting as we are aware of cases where only objectors speak and in the absence of the applicant being represented Planning Committee refuses planning permission. A subsequent planning appeal may succeed but that adds additional expense to the project as well as a significant time delay, both of which could have been avoided.
A long running saga relating to housebuilding in Ingleby Barwick has been brought to an end today with a government appointed planning Inspector allowing the development of 200 homes on farm land at Ingleby Barwick, close to the controversial new Free School.

Darlington based Prism Planning represented the landowner and farmer of the land, Ian Snowdon at a public inquiry in March of this year and it has taken the Planning Inspector nearly 9 months to decide that the scheme was acceptable. The inspector found for the appellant on all counts, noting “The social and economic benefits of the new housing would be very significant indeed and would make an important contribution to the Borough’s housing supply. The scheme would include a useful and much needed contribution to the stock of affordable housing in Stockton-on-Tees.”

He went on to note that “The site forms part of a wide area south of Ingleby Barwick as far as Low Lane that is being comprehensively redeveloped to provide much needed housing and other facilities. The appeal result comes at a time when there is a significant national focus on the need for new houses to be built with significant concerns that not enough housing is being built. A new Housing white paper is promised by the government just next month.

Responding to the decision, Steve Barker of Prism Planning, who gave evidence at the inquiry said; “Stockton have recognised that they haven’t been able to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply for some time now and the debates over development in this corner of Ingleby have used up a lot of time and resources for landowners and the Council alike. I hope that now this final decision has been made all parties can start to move forward positively and work in partnership to make things happen on the ground. A lot of time has been spent arguing when we could have been focusing on improving the area and meeting our housing and leisure needs.” It is likely that a detailed application for reserved matters will now be submitted to the Council in 2017.
Obtaining planning permission for an equestrian worker’s dwelling on a site outside of development limits and in the open countryside is often fraught with difficulties and the consideration of the application by the local planning authority can be a lengthy process.

It therefore gave our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, great delight in advising his clients that their application for their dwelling on land next to their stables on a site just to the west of Easingwold in Hambleton District had been approved with little difficulty and, more importantly form their point of view, within the 8 week target period.

Due to a marital break-up our client had had to relocate his business, based on the schooling and training of horses together with breeding of ponies, to a temporary site elsewhere in the district while he found a permanent site. We first obtained permission for the stables on the 9¼ acres (3.75 hectares) site as this was the most pressing need before tackling the more challenging application for the dwelling for our client and his new partner (both employed in the equestrian business).

Under normal circumstances, when an equestrian business is first established on a site, local planning authorities will only allow residential accommodation in the form of a static caravan or mobile home and for a limited period of three years. They normally also require a lot of supporting information regarding the operation of the equestrian business.

In this instance the local planning authority accepted our argument that they were looking at the relocation of an existing business rather than the establishment of an entirely new business and granted permission for our clients’ dwelling without the need for the usual supporting information. The dwelling was proposed in the form of a ‘Country Home’ bungalow, a type of mobile home, which may have assisted in us obtaining planning permission for our clients but it was still the end result our clients were hoping for and we were delighted with the swift positive outcome for them.

We have now dealt with numerous applications for equestrian and agricultural worker’s dwellings together with associated applications for stables and farm buildings and have built up a good level of expertise on the subjects. We are always happy to help clients with such proposals.
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.
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council recently published their new Draft Local Plan, which sets out the proposed long-term strategy for the Borough. Public consultation began on 27th June and the Council is inviting comments on the document until Monday 8th August, when the consultation period ends. The Draft Local Plan sets out a vision for how Redcar and Cleveland will be developed up to the year 2032. It explores proposals around housing, employment, retail and town centres, natural and built environment, and transport. The Council hopes that the new Local Plan will provide a blueprint for successful and thoroughly planned growth that will boost the economy in Redcar and Cleveland, create new training opportunities, skills and jobs, and deliver the new homes and employment land needed to support economic growth. Following the conclusion of the public consultation exercise, the Council will review comments received and make modifications to the document that it considers are warranted and necessary before publishing the ‘Publication Draft’ of the Local Plan (anticipated date November 2016) for further consultation and comment before submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for examination by a government appointed independent Planning Inspector. Presently, the final adoption of the examination Local Plan is programmed for sometime March-August 2017 with adoption following later in the year, presuming that the Inspector’s report concludes favourably. Prism Planning would be happy to assist you in making representations on your behalf to Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. As always, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.
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.