All posts tagged news

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.
We recently succeeded in winning an appeal against the non-determination of an application that had been submitted to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council for a small residential development within the grounds of a care home at Redmarshall. We had been advised by the case officer that it was likely that the application would be refused on the grounds that the proposed site is in an unsustainable location for additional residential development, in view of the settlement having limited services and provisions, thereby requiring occupants to travel for employment, education, retail and recreational uses. To save time for our client we submitted the appeal ahead of waiting for the Council to refuse planning permission. Prism Planning had been engaged to project manage the planning application and sought to work constructively with officers of the Council for what was acknowledged to be a proposal that the Council would be unlikely to welcome with open arms. Having worked with planning officers for a considerable period of time, revising plans to accord with officer advice/requests, it was galling to see the application heading towards being refused for an ‘in principle’ reason. Furthermore, we had submitted a comprehensive argument why the proposal should be accepted as constituting sustainable development. We also argued that due to their proximity, Redmarshall and the nearby village of Carlton, should be considered as one settlement when determining planning applications (Stockton regard Carlton as a sustainable settlement). It became clear that the planning officer had a closed mind to our arguments and therefore submitting the appeal was the only sensible option. It was pleasing to read in the decision from The Planning Inspectorate that the Inspector accepted the strength of our case, to the extent that he agreed with us on every relevant planning issue. In particular, he agreed with us that Redmarshall and Carlton should be considered as a single entity for planning purposes. He also agreed that the Council’s Villages Study (Planning the Future or Rural Villages in Stockton, 2014) should only be afforded very limited weight in his decision as it is not an adopted planning document, having been prepared as part of the evidence base for the Council’s Regeneration & Environment Local Plan, itself not yet adopted. Another factor in the decision was that the Council cannot demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply, as required by central government, and the proposed development would make an important, albeit limited, contribution towards meeting the deficit. 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.
On 26th November we were successful is securing a new outline planning permission for housing development of 46 houses on the edge of a village within Redcar & Cleveland, but not without a fight. We had been successful in obtaining the original permission in September 2013, granted for a shorted two year period, on the basis that the Council did not have a 5 year housing land supply and that on every other account the proposed development was acceptable. Unfortunately, our client had been unable to sell the site and instructed us to submit a second application shortly before the original expired. In the meantime circumstances changed insofar as the Council now consider that they can demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply and that housing policies could now be taken into account when considering the second application. We were advised that on the basis that the site lies outside of the village development limits the application was likely to be refused. This came as rather disappointing but not totally unexpected news. All was not lost, however. As it stood, the application was a delegated matter and could have been refused by officers without reference to Planning Committee. We believed that we would have a reasonable chance of securing planning permission if the application was considered by the Council’s Planning Committee but we needed to have it referred there first. There were two opportunities: our client could speak with his local Councillors and ask if one of them would exercise their right to have the application referred to Committee; and/or speak with those residents who had supported the original application and ask them to write in again to express their support for the new application. These tactics worked on both accounts, a local councillor who had supported the original application asked that the application be decided by the Planning Committee and registered to speak in support of the application and a sufficient number of letters of support were subsequently submitted to the Council that would have triggered referral to Committee in any case. So far, so good. We now faced the task of convincing Members of the Planning Committee to over-turn the officer recommendation for refusal and approve the application. We were helped by the local councillor speaking in support of the application. Our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, then addressed the meeting arguing that the benefits of the proposed housing far outweighed the single issue that the site lies outside the village limits and that the application should be refused on this basis given that the Council can now demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply. Thankfully, our case was listened to and one by one Committee Members voiced their support for the development, saying that it had been acknowledged that there were no technical grounds for refusal and that no convincing argument had been put forward by officers why the application should be refused. The application was approved unanimously, which came as a massive relief to our client and was very pleasing for Prism Planning. We at Prism Planning like to see ourselves as the North East’s planning problem solvers. If you think we could assist you with a planning issue, we’re only a phone call or an e-mail away.
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.
The long awaited National Planing Policy Framework has been published. You can view the document here, or check back soon for detailed analysis.

With less than three weeks to go until the consultation period ends on the draft changes to the NPPF the debate is heating up. The major player for the opposition seems to be the National Trust, digging its heels in on matters concerning “sustainable development” and “greenbelt” — here we take a look at the latest developments in this ongoing conflict of interests with links to articles which state the facts and have generated much interest here in the Prism offices.

You may have seen in our newsletter that last Thursday (22.9.11) Planning minister Greg Clark faced the National Trust’s firing squad and stated his intent to listen to their concerns and take action. He also reassured those in attendance that he is determined to go ahead with the proposed changes but does not intend them to change the purpose of the planning system. You can read the article from the Guardian on this here.

You could be forgiven for being confused as to why the National Trust, owner of castles and similar rural heritage sites, is such a formidable enemy to make. Well let’s not forget their immense impact in the forestry debate which saw the government backtrack on policy in the face of outcry. This piece from the Economist explains why Mr Cameron might do well to get the charity on-side for this one, and why he might already be taking the steps by calling for dialogue.

Not only have the National Trust created a public backlash— inviting those opposing the plans to contact MPs-and lobbied party conferences, but now they have a list of demands rather resembling a list of ten planning commandments. You can see their demands here.

What’s next? Well there is sure to be a torrent of comment and debate around the demands, such as the comments here from Liz Peace stating that she believes the National Trust may have misread the NPPF. There will also be mounting support for the charity’s campaign with new petitions to sign appearing ever day and spreading like wildfire via Twitter and other powerful social media platforms. It’s certainly one to watch and an issue which will continue to dominate the planning world until the consultation closes on October 17th and we all wait with baited breath.

In early April 2011 we secured planning permission for clients for the erection of replacement 5-bedroomed dwelling with detached double garage on a site at Brearton, a small village within Harrogate Borough.

Harrogate Borough Council are one of the more demanding authorities that we work with but nonetheless through persistence and constructive negotiation we were able to secure permission for the size and form of house that our clients sought.

Indeed, throughout the somewhat lengthy planning process we sought to engage positively with the case officer. We first contacted the Council with a pre-application inquiry in June 2010, the response to which informed the planning application subsequently submitted in October 2010. However, in late November we were advised that the proposals were not considered the be entirely acceptable and that the application was to be recommended for refusal. Rather than becoming embroiled in conflict by allowing the application to be refused and appealing the decision, we withdrew the application and sought further discussions with the case officer. These discussions provided to be helpful, the consequence of which was the design of the house was revised quite radically revised, albeit that it retained the same overall scale, and the revised planning application was submitted in Februrary 2011. The application was reported to the April meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee with a recommendation that planning permission be granted. We attended the meeting and spoke in favour of the application.

The route we took proved to be the right one in this instance as the Committee voted unanimously in favour of granting planning permission and our clients were very satisfied with the outcome. There are instances when the only option is to appeal against the refusal of planning permission. In this instance the alternative of withdrawing an application before it was refused, negotiating with the case officer and re-submitting a revised application proved to be the right course of action.

We have some fantastic news – we have won an appeal with costs awarded for a Joint Service Centre in Whitley Bay!

We worked on behalf of North Tyneside Local Improvement Finance Trust to get the decision, described in the appeal as ‘unreasonable’, overturned. The Council had originally claimed that parking and aesthetics were an issue, but both reasons were discarded in the appeal decision and we are delighted to see this development go ahead.

The service centre will bring much needed public amenities to the disused site next to the Fire Station including; library, tourist information point, public meeting rooms and medical consultation rooms in a contemporary building organised around a central atrium.

Another noteworthy event is the start of the Prism Twitter and Newsletter. Keep an eye out on the website for our newsletter sign up box coming soon and follow us for news and information relating to planning and development, not to mention some tips for those DIY developers among you!