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.
Hot food takeaway applications can be contentious and applications to extend open hours more so. Applications become more difficult when the planning history of the premises is one of the original application being refused by the Council but allowed on appeal and then subsequent applications to allow opening on Sundays and Bank Holidays (prohibited by the condition imposed by the planning appeal decision) being refused and the refusal upheld at appeal.
That was the scenario we faced but with a carefully presented case we were able to convince the planning officer to recommend that the permitted opening hours be extended to allow opening on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
First hurdle successfully negotiated but due to the number of objections received the application was reported to Stockton’s Planning Committee yesterday afternoon (15th June). Rod Hepplewhite of Prism Planning attended the meeting and spoke in support of the application, advising the Committee that national planning policy, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework of 2012, had shifted significantly with the government advising that greater emphasis should be placed on economic considerations. He further advised that since the previous decisions pre-dated the NPPF, they could and should be set aside and there was good reason to approve the application.
Members of the Planning Committee clearly listened carefully to the case put forward by Prism Planning and the Council’s planning officer as to why extended opening hours should be allowed in this instance and approved the application unanimously apart from one abstention.
Another success achieved for a client by Prism Planning through a carefully prepared and present case. Indeed, we at Prism Planning see ourselves as the North East’s planning problem solvers. A successful outcome is not always possible but when presented with a proposal we will give an honest summation of the prospects of success we foresee. If you think we could assist you with a planning issue, we’re only a phone call or an e-mail away.
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.
Looking through my latest ‘Planning’ magazine, after checking the jobs out, I went through the appeal section, anxious to see whats got permission and who has had costs awarded against them. I’ve yet to come across a planner who doesn’t read it in this way!
I was struck by two decisions showing diametrically opposed interpretations of the new NPPF and the old guidance that it replaced. In one case, an inspector dealing with a proposal for an agricultural workers dwelling had referred to the now superseded Annex A to PPS7. He had decided that it was still a material document and the advice it contained was capable of being a material consideration. By way of contrast, and at the same time, another inspector, dealing with a proposed quad bike track in the Green Belt has noted that whilst it would have been permissible pre NPPF, it was no longer permissible because the detailed wording contained in the old PPG 2 has not been rolled forward into the NPPF. This is perhaps not surprising considering that the NPPF is a considerably slimmed down volume of material. In the absence of the NPPF repeating the wording of the old PPG, it previous advice was no longer applicable and the scheme had to be refused opined the Inspector.
We expect our planning inspectors to be consistent in their application of policy and material considerations. Faith and confidence in them starts to be eroded when they appear to operate on individual whims.
This all the more worrying when they have been highlighted as having a new role as an alternate planning authority for those situations where the LPA simply can’t get decisions made within the required timescales. This prospect, whilst a somewhat draconian step, will appeal to many developers as a fastrack route to approval. It does seem as if the PI need to undertake some in house staff training in the interim!! I am sure Mr Pickles will have this firmly in hand.
The NPPF starts to bite … Local Plan Housing Allocations
Two northern councils have run into problems with their core strategies relating to housing land supply and whether they should include an extra 20 per cent buffer of land for homes.
The Inspector examining Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council’s Local Plan has suspended proceedings for six months as he said he had “significant doubts” about its attempt to demonstrate an adequate supply of deliverable housing land.
Meanwhile, Hull City Council has asked for a six-month suspension of its Core Strategy examination as it has also been challenged by the Inspector over housing land supply.
The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that councils should maintain a five-year land supply with an extra five per cent buffer, although this should be 20 per cent where there is “a record of persistent under-delivery”.
In both cases the Inspector has said that a buffer of 20 per cent is required due to past under-performance.
It is understood that the Inspectors are basing their assessments on housing completions. This has led some to argue that this is an unfair basis on which to assess Council performance as it takes no account of the current economic climate under which house-builders and not building anywhere near to the number of houses they were before the financial crash. They argue that whilst there may be an undersupply of housing, proper account should be take of permissions that have not been implemented. However form a purely practical perspective, people can only live in completed houses and an unbuilt permission is useless to someone in need.
The Home Builders Federation has said that most councils should consider using a 20 per cent buffer as few have delivered on housing and they must be realistic about the types of sites the market can bring forward.
The Royal Town Planning Institute has said that the suspension of Wigan Council’s examination was an example of the NPPF biting and showed that councils have to take the buffers very seriously.
The thrust of these two decisions leaves developers in an interesting position. Potentially, shortfalls in delivery might open the door to arguments for new permissions being obtained. The arguments to support such positions will usually require specialist help and are not likely to be straightforward. In particular, council annual monitoring reports are not likely to give all the answers and specialist Freedom of Information requests may have to be made to get the evidence needed.
As you would probably expect us to say, if you think you might need help with this, contact the team at Prism!
At the end of March the widely debated National Planning Policy Framework was released taking immediate effect as national planning policy.
Since the beginning of the ‘Localism Agenda’ and the ‘Big Society’, Prism Planning has been advising clients large and small on the likely effect of the document. This concluding seminar will discuss what has changed since the draft was released in 2011, and what the transitional arrangements mean for development viability and approval of permissions.
Clients will be automatically invited to the event on the 10th of May, but if you want to come along, please drop us a line via the contact us form
, and we will get in touch with further information.
The consultation for the draft National Planning Policy Framework has ended today and here at Prism we think this provides a window of opportunity for those of you with development projects. While the draft stands, and it is as yet unclear how quickly changes may be made, some marginal projects which may have previously been refused, or not been viable could now have a good chance.
This is by no means because it is, as it has been dubbed by doubters, a ‘developer’s charter’. It is because of the positive move towards a presumption in favour of sustainable development, along with changes to policy pushing the threshold for the Council’s housing supply past the 20% mark already approved.
At Prism we are already working on an application which may not have been approved previously but which has a good chance of succeeding in the present climate and we have plenty of advice and expertise to share. If you think your planning application might benefit from this window of opportunity and want to find out if it meets the criteria of the draft NPPF please contact us. We are great at problem solving and always find a solution that suits our clients, so why not take this opportunity to move forward with your development plans and get advice from the Prism team?
You can call us on: 01325 345 960 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org