It pays to speak at Planning Committee, even when approval is recommended
Prism Planning were engaged to co-ordinate the preparation and submission of a planning application to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council for the conversion of a vacant pub, The Layfield Arms in Yarm, to a Co-op convenience shop.
Planning permission is not required for the change of use of a pub to a shop and so the application only referred to minor cosmetic changes to the exterior of the building and to alterations to the access road and the car park. Nonetheless, the application proved to be quite controversial, generating 110 letters of objection together with a petition, an objection from Yarm Town Council and a Parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming general election!
Thankfully, the Council’s planning officers recommended that planning permission be granted. However, knowing that officer recommendations can be over-turned, our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, attended the Committee meeting and spoke in support of the application and the officer recommendation. This proved to be the correct approach since an objector spoke against the proposal and made a number of points that were then picked up by Councillors. Whilst some were answered by the planning officer, Rod was asked to answer others more pertinent to our client’s future intentions. With carefully chosen words, he was able to assuage Councillors’ concerns and they went on to vote in favour of the officer recommendation and planning permission was granted.
Another success for Prism Planning and suffice to say our clients were delighted with the outcome. Would the application have been approved if we had not spoken at the Committee meeting? We’ll never know but it’s better safe than sorry.