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A special meeting of Ryedale Planning Committee last night approved a planning application Prism Planning submitted to improve the efficiency of the Anaerobic Digestion plant under construction at Sand Hutton to enable it to inject additional biogas into the local network. There was strong local interest in the application, following the recent successful appeal submitted by Prism and this resulted in a special meeting being convened, solely to consider this proposal. Following the initial appeal, technical work carried out with the network operator established a greater capacity in the local gas network than previously established. The approved plant would be able to bridge the gap with only a modest increase in the feedstock going in. By a majority vote, the committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to support the scheme, despite concerns being expressed by some local residents. The application we presented clearly put forward the argument that our client was entitled to grow the extra crop on the farm and that there would be no increase in smell or noises as a result of the proposal. The crop would not need to go onto the local highway network so there were no traffic implications. It’s slightly bizarre that some local residents remained implacably opposed to the idea of generating renewable energy on their doorstep and some very misleading allegations about the possible impacts of the development were put forward in an effort to try to mislead the planning committee. Fortunately, the submission we had put forward clearly highlighted the proper planning considerations and the planning committee, after due deliberation, gave consent for the amendment.
A farmer is celebrating success by working with Prism following a successful application for converting a barn which had a strange twist at the end. Earlier this year the government introduced new rights to convert barns to dwellings without needing planning permission, subject to certain constraints and limitations. One of these concerned the need to formally undertake a consultation process with the LPA. In theory this allowed the Authority to say no in very exceptional circumstances, but only if they did so within a prescribed time limit. These rights have not been welcomed by many planning authorities, causing the Government to have to issue new guidance encouraging authorities to stop blocking acceptable proposals so frequently. In our client’s case, the LPA tried to block the proposals simply because they considered the proposed garden area too large but failed to issue their notice within the prescribed period. Following further representations by Prism the LPA concerned now accept their ‘refusal’ was ill founded and more importantly was issued out of time in any event, meaning the farmer is able to proceed with his scheme as he wished. The name of the unfortunate Planning Authority will not be published to save embarrassed faces! Anyone considering the conversion of an agricultural building should consider the benefit of specialist advice from companies such as Prism who have a clear track record of success in this specialist area.
After a long drawn out process, which took over 18 months and involved the submission of two applications, planning permission being refused against officer recommendation and the submission of a planning appeal contesting the refusal of planning permission by Durham County Council, we were delighted to secure planning permission for a small-scale, Architect-designed housing development at Cotherstone in Teesdale for clients. Prism Planning had been engaged to project manage the planning applications and sought to work constructively with officers of the Council for what was acknowledged to be a slightly controversial proposal on a sensitive site within Cotherstone Conservation Area. Having worked with planning officers for a considerable period of time, withdrawing one application and then revising plans for the second application to accord with officer advice/requests, it was galling to see the application refused by majority vote at Planning Committee for reasons that flew in the face of the advice and recommendation set out in the officer report. However, it was pleasing to read in the decision from The Planning Inspectorate that “every cloud has a silver lining”, as the saying goes. We were we able to convince the Inspector of the strength of our case, to the extent that he agreed with us on every relevant planning issue, which is always pleasing. Not only that, however, he also agreed with us that owing to changes to national planning policy earlier this year, whereby there is no requirement for residential developments of 10 units or less to provide affordable housing, the granting of planning permission would not require the payment of a financial contribution towards off-site affordable housing, as had been offered in good faith by our clients through a S106 planning obligation that was included within the appeal submission. Such a financial contribution would have been paid to Durham County Council had they approved the application in September 2014, as different rules applied at that time. In short, by refusing to grant planning permission the County Council has lost out to the tune of just under £49,000 and our clients have saved themselves a tidy sum of money. We might not win every planning appeal, and wouldn’t expect to, but we have a good feel on the prospects of success when clients seek our assistance to contest a refusal of planning permission and can advise accordingly. If you have been refused planning permission recently and would like to discuss how best to proceed, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.
The Government have just issued new guidance on the conversion of redundant agricultural buildings that have made the process of getting consent a whole lot easier. In theory the conversion of barns has been something that the government has been supporting, having introduced new permitted development rights to allow it in April 2014. Although the rules appear to be straightforward, practical experience of their implementation has been mixed with a number of Councils trying to evade implementing the rules as the government has intended. A number of cases have also fallen at appeal with Inspectors taking an extreme interpretation of the rules and refusing to allow conversions for isolated buildings. The problems have been highlighted recently by the Country Landowners Association who drew the government’s attention to the way that the rules have been blatantly misinterpreted by resistant Councils. Today the government have responded issuing a swathe of guidance that should make exercising the new rules an easier and more straightforward task. Cynics may view it as blatant electioneering. This may well be the case but if it makes the task of getting barns converted, then we at Prism will welcome the changes. We have managed to obtain permission to convert a number of barns to dwellings and not all of the buildings have been old historic structures. It is an area of planning law we know quite well so if you have a potential project why not get in touch?
Durham Planning Committee agreed to grant permission for another Anaerobic Digestion plant at the site of a dairy farm outside Sedgefield. The scheme will deliver 500kw of electricity into the national grid, processing the waste manure from the 600+ dairy herd on the site. The scheme was supported by officers who, at our instigation, had visited other AD schemes promoted by Prism already in operation. These visits had proved that the feared noise and odour, cited by residents as reasons to refuse the scheme, was simply not in evidence. Interestingly, during the debate in the Council Chamber, reference was made to the AD scheme at High Hedley, also submitted to the Council by Prism some years before and initially opposed by the Council. The Council’s decision was overturned at appeal and Prism got a full award of costs against the Council. The member who led the opposition to that scheme had recently passed by the site and advised the committee that it was a good scheme and he was wrong to have initially opposed it! This scheme is the 12thAD scheme that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, establishing ourselves as the market leaders in promoting this type of specialist renewable energy. We have several applications running with various local authorities across the country and hope to continue our success record of partnering with JFS and Associates to deliver green electricity and gas.
Ryedale District Council have granted planning permission for extensions and alterations to outbuildings at the former walled garden of Wiganthorpe Hall, to allow the original gardener’s cottage to be brought back into use. The extensions will allow a local resident to occupy the building as part of the current owner’s long term restoration plans for this historic complex. The original gardener’s cottage was a very modest affair and believed to have been built sometime in the late 17th/early 18th century during the heyday of the original stately home. Unfortunately no copy of the planning permission currently exists! This caused problems in terms of the Council’s desire to impose local occupancy conditions on the property. Working together, Prism and Peter Rayment, of Peter Rayment Design, successfully proved that the cottage had originally been designed and built as a dwelling and its use had not been deliberately and willfully abandoned. Fortunately, with our expert knowledge on this subject, we were able to convince the Planning Authority on all of these points, enabling them to grant an unrestricted permission to allow the cottage to be extended and improved and brought up to modern day standards, allowing a local disabled resident to occupy the property. The owners of Wiganthorpe Hall have embarked upon a long-term strategy to restore as much of the historic fabric as presently remains on site and have already gone to considerable lengths to preserve the fabric of the cottage and the original garden walls. We look forward to assisting them with any future works that they carry out at this most interesting historic asset and wish them every success with their continued sensitive restoration.
A Lawful Development Certificate has been granted by Hambleton District Council relating to a farmhouse that was built more than 40 years ago and was originally subject to an agricultural occupancy condition. The farmer who occupied the property is sadly no longer with us and his executors were seeking the best manner in which to dispose of the property. The original occupancy condition severely restricted the open market value of the property and it was only by a chance remark that it became apparent that the property was never built in the position in which it was originally approved, having been re sited by the farmer without consent from the LPA, to take advantage of better views down the valley. Relying on up to date case law, Prism Planning were able to persuade the Planning Authority that the original consent had not been lawfully implemented and that as a result, the originally intended occupancy condition no longer had any legal “bite”. As the property had been built more than four years ago, the resultant building was free of the occupancy condition leaving the executors to market the property as an ordinary dwelling and obtain the full market price for it. This is a very unusual case and one that we don’t think is likely to feature commonly. However the case outlines that it is important to lawfully implement a planning permission in order for any conditions to practically take effect on a project. Where a development has not been lawfully implemented it may well be worth a discussion with Prism to see whether any practical advantage can be taken of such a situation.
Prism planning were successful in obtaining planning permission for a second agricultural dwelling on a mixed livestock and arable farm in Hambleton District. It was particularly pleasing to obtain planning permission first time around from the Local Planning Authority rather than having to go to appeal which is often the case on this type of development. It is always a challenge getting planning permission for any type of agricultural dwelling on a holding with Councils scrutinising proposals very carefully and generally unwilling to give any benefit of the doubt to an applicant. All too often cases get bogged down in acrimonious debate at appeal. In this instance, Prism were able to present a comprehensive and well argued case about the farm holdings need for two workers on site to provide back up and support for the holding and were able to demonstrate what can and did sometimes happen when just one worker was relied upon in an emergency situation. As a result, we were able to persuade the Council to grant planning permission for a second dwelling. The decision was even ‘sweeter’ being made just a few days after the government altered the rules on Section 106 contributions, with the farmer avoiding having to pay thousands of pounds in tariff costs which would have been due under the previous regime. Whilst we can’t guarantee that we will always be successful in these matters, we have now obtained planning permission for several agricultural and equine worker’s dwellings with a 100% success record to date and clearly know what we are doing with this type of proposal. Anybody facing particular pressures for care of livestock should talk to us before deciding whether a case can be successfully presented.

At Prism we are celebrating our latest anaerobic digestion success after planning consent was granted by Hambleton District Council, who approved an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility at New Mill Farm.

This is a renewable energy project primarily using fertiliser to produce both green energy and a nutrient rich, odourless fertiliser.  Our experience continues to show that the industry is regarded as a new, innovative form of development met with some trepidation from Planning Authorities and local communities.  As a result a great deal of reassurance is required to persuade people that they are safe and won’t impact on their lives.  That said, it is worthwhile noting that in our experience Hambleton District Council is probably the local planning authority most open to considering on farm anaerobic digestion schemes.

With this new decision, Prism have shown skills, knowledge and more importantly, experience of progressing a variety of anaerobic digestion schemes through the planning system, of varying scales and complexities from simple on-farm systems through to major food processing facilities. We have now also built up a formidable range of contacts in the AD technology and financial sector so that anybody thinking of undertaking anaerobic digestion couldn’t hope to meet a more experienced and well-positioned team.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are considering some form of AD project.

Prism Planning and a Darlington based farmer are celebrating after obtaining consent for the conversion of a range of his buildings to provide three new dwellings. The case was notable because it involved the use of the Government’s new Permitted Development rights that allow for up to three dwellings to be created through conversion without the need for full planning permission. Prism submitted one of the first new ‘Prior Notifications’ to the Council, using the new rights established by the government earlier this year. The application was very different to the normal form of a planning permission and still requires important information to be put in front of the Council. However if the application is properly submitted, the Council are obliged to accept the principle of the development, regardless of the age or appearance of the original donor building. The new rights are considered very generous by some and have been opposed by a number of pressure groups determined to prevent new development from taking place in the countryside. However at a time when many farmers are despairing over the poor prices of grain, the new rights might provide a much needed lifeline.