All posts tagged planning inspectorate

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.
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.
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.
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.
A Government Planning Inspector has agreed with Prism for the second time regarding a scheme for providing log cabins on a site at Easby, near to Richmond. The Inspector overturned the decision of Richmondshire District Council to allow development on the site for a limited period of time and instead gave a full planning permission for three years to enable the development to progress. This was the second time that Prism had been forced to go to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decision of the Local Planning Authority on this site. Initially permission was refused by the Council for the development and granted at appeal in 2010. Due to the complexities of the site and the uncertain economic situation in the intervening period, we sought to use new provisions to extend the life of the planning permission for a further three year period. Most applications of this nature are routinely renewed unless there has been a change in circumstances. The Council decided to only grant planning permission for a twelve month period and gave confusing and unclear reasons why this would be appropriate. At appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council’s reasoning was flawed and fully agreed with all of the points raised by Prism on behalf of our client. In particular, the Inspector noted that the Government intend to give clear support for developments which help to improve the rural economy and that the scheme was and always had been of a particularly high design and well thought out. Because of these points, he had no hesitation in granting permission for a full three year period which will enable the scheme to progress. This is an important decision to have as it underlines the Government’s expectations that permissions will be renewed for a full three year period whenever there has been no change in circumstances and reaffirms the Government’s continued support for the rural economy. This is the second application that we have had approved this week relating to the rural economy – see next blog for a holiday cottage approval in Aislaby close to Yarm.
A Planning Inspector has agreed with Prism and allowed a log cabin to remain on a Durham Pick Your Own Farm whilst a transition takes place between generations of the family farming the land. Our client had sited a log cabin on his farm, having initially been advised (incorrectly) that he didn’t need planning permission. The cabin was used by our client and his partner whilst they farmed the 13ha of land, growing strawberries, asparagus and other high value crops. The existing bungalow on site was occupied by our clients parents who, in their 80’s and in poor health were no longer able to work on the farm. The Council had issued an enforcement notice within a few days of the cabin being erected on the site and seemingly weren’t prepared to consider the personal circumstances of the family or the needs of the farm. At the ensuing appeal hearing, the Inspector took a different line and accepted that; “Because of these personal family circumstances, the siting of the chalet in the short term, as a transition between the farming generations, is acceptable for a temporary period as an exceptional case.” And he went on to quash the Councils enforcement notice. The case is an interesting one from a number of perspectives. Firstly, despite the demise of Annex A to PPS7 in the bonfire of national planning guidance that accompanied the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework, all parties have freely applied the guidance as if it remained in force. Secondly the case confirms the application of the principles established in Keen, that is a retired farmer and their dependants can remain on their farm as long as they wish, without the fear of having to leave to make way for the next generation of farmers. It is pleasing to see a planning inspector looking outside of the policy framework to the real life challenges that farmers face in running their holdings and making a sensitive and compassionate decision that has allowed our client to concentrate on running his business. Perhaps the most important lesson from this case is to be beware the snake oil salesmen who tell you that planning permission isn’t required for one of their log cabins. Before placing an order for one, or if you’re in doubt, contact a reputable planning consultant to have your position properly checked out.
A Planning Inspector has just overturned a decision by Durham County Council and granted planning permission for a new 500KW anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on a farm at East Hedleyhope, Bishop Auckland. The proposed plant and associated combined heat and power plant would provide electricity and heat out of digesting farmyard manure and other organic wastes. The case establishes Prism as one of the leading planning consultancies with expertise and in depth knowledge of the AD process. Prisms involvement was secured by Paul Palmer of CH4 Sense, a leading provider of AD services ch4sense.co.uk. The application was submitted to Durham County Council in June 2012 and although initially supported by officers, was refused by the planning committee in November 2012 with members disagreeing with officer’s assessment of the case. Members were concerned over the visual impact, odour, noise and the overall sustainability of the project. The decision of the Council was taken to appeal and an Informal Hearing took place in April 2013. In allowing the appeal, the Planning Inspector noted that the Council had not considered the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and considered that the Council’s policy base carried very little weight, being written well before the publication of the National Strategy in 2011. The Inspector considered that the tanks, although large in scale, would present itself as components of an existing farm and would have been properly screened by the landscape belt proposed in the application. In looking at the noise nuisance, he noted that the scheme did not breach World Health Organisation guidelines for night time noise and in looking at the odour decided this was something which would be properly regulated by the Environment Agency in due course. He considered that the Planning Authority were wrong in trying to adopt a precautionary stance in assuming that matters might go wrong. He went on to consider that this was a highly sustainable location for this type of development and was consistent with the National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy published by the government. He criticised the Council for seeking to locate such developments in existing industrial areas noting that certain types of AD facility would require large amounts of land to operate and they could not be expected to locate in general industrial areas to apply the presumption on favour of sustainable development established in the National Policy Framework for Planning and granted consent. Unusually, he went on to allow a full claim for costs against the Council noting that the members had departed from the professional advice of their officers without proper grounds. He was very critical of the Council applying a precautionary principle when advice clearly states that it is not their role in the planning system to do so. He concluded that the Council’s reasons for refusal were not justified or supported by any written or visual evidence and that the Council had put the appellant to the unnecessary cost of preparing evidence for and attending the appeal. Prism, and their client were delighted with the outcome of the appeal, noting that it was a complete vindication of the case they had argued and presented to the Council throughout the planning application process. In particular, Prism had supplied the Council with information covering all the points of concern and had sought to allay fears in these important areas. That this presentation of information was ignored by members is regrettable. However the AD process in the UK is still at a relatively young stage and it is perhaps understandable that fear of the unknown creeps into the decision making process. Hopefully this decision will show clearly that AD is here to stay and are properly considered proposals with well argued evidence should not be refused except on very specific and clear grounds. Prism look forward to working with the Council to get the scheme up and running in the very near future.
Its not very often that a client comes to us in receipt of a listed building enforcement notice requiring him to take down a flue to a log burning stove -but this is just what happened to one of our clients recently.  Thanks to Prism efforts, a Planning Inspector has just decided that he can keep the stove and the LPA have been found to be heavy handed in their actions.

Living in a converted barn, our client had installed a very efficient log burning stove. Following the best practice guidance of English Heritage (EH), he had installed a modern flue that ran  up inside the barn and which just ‘peeped’ out of the gable below the ridge. As recommended by EH he had gone to the additional trouble and cost of having the flue coloured matt black to minimise its visual impact. The LPA thought this was wrong and took the unusual step of issuing a listed building enforcement notice requiring the removal of the flue.

The success rate of appeals against these types of actions isn’t high, with the benefit of the doubt often going to the Council. Prism recommended an informal hearing to try to get across to the Inspector the full facts of the case and to more effectively challenge the arguments of the Council. Normally the Inspectorate take 6-8 weeks to make their findings known but in this case just a week after the hearing the Inspector found for our client and allowed the flue to remain. 

The Inspectorate fully supported the use of logs as a renewable fuel and accepted  that our clients proposals hadn’t had the damaging impact upon the building that the Council claimed. He also noted that the neighbours, who had complained about the flue, had an even bigger and more obtrusive flue on their own property!

Its very unusual for Listed Building Enforcement Notices to be served and still more unusual for the Councils actions to be overturned at appeal. Prism are delighted to have been able to win the case for the client.
120327NPPF
The long awaited National Planing Policy Framework has been published. You can view the document here, or check back soon for detailed analysis.
120126PlanningSpeed

If you are looking to make a ‘minor’ application, for a small scale development it really does pay to make sure that the application is as complete and throrough as possible before submitting it.

Many Planning Authorities in the North East of England are imposing strict time limits to allow them to meet their Government imposed targets, particularly for applications with an 8-week determination target that are delegated to the Planning Officer for decision – these are applications where a decision can be reached without going before the Council’s Planning Committee.

These time limits can mean that applications need to be withdrawn, or worse are refused by the Council, where information is incomplete or when issues arise requiring further attention and resolution would take the application beyond the 8-week target.

This can seem unfair given the huge amount of work which needs to be undertaken and often doesn’t even guarantee a successful outcome.  Indeed, withdrawing an application to avoid refusal (refusal is nearly always better avoided if possible), preparing the additional information and then re-submitting can mean that an application that should take 8 weeks to approve can take 18-20 weeks!

It really does pay to get advice before you start and to make sure that you are providing the planning authority will all of the information that they might reasonably require to properly consider your application.  We offer free consultations and will always let you know what we think of your chances, good or bad.