All posts tagged planning

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.
Some readers may recall that we reported back in March of this year our success at appeal in having the decision by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council to refuse outline planning permission for a development of 4 houses within the grounds of a care home in Redmarshall over-turned and permission granted. We have now secured outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the care home itself to provide up to 6 houses. Although the application was submitted in outline with all matters reserved, the indicative layout showed the development being integrated with the previous permission for 4 houses. The Council had previously resisted any further residential development within Redmarshall on the basis that they believed Redmarshall to be an unsustainable village. We had successfully argued at appeal, the Inspector accepting our arguments entirely, that their reasoning was flawed and that for a host of reasons the village should be regarded as a sustainable settlement where new housing development could be accommodated. We were delighted that Stockton’s planners dealt with the second application much more favourably, granting permission under delegated powers in a timely fashion. Our client will now advertise the entire site as a development opportunity for up to 10 houses. If you have a housing development in mind and would like some professional planning consultancy assistance, whether or not sustainability might be an issue, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away.
Stockton Council have just decided to grant consent for a scheme submitted by Prism Planning which sought consent for 40 one and two bedroom apartments on a site in the centre of Ingleby Barwick. Consent had previously been granted at appeal for a scheme on the same site that was restricted by a planning condition to only be occupied by the over 55’s. Because of the conditions imposed, the scheme was not attractive to the market and lending institutions during these challenging times. Prism Planning presented an alternative scheme to the Council which provided for a mix of one and two bedroomed apartments for sale, based upon a different financial model and argued against the imposition of any restrictive occupancy condition. Accurate information on scheme build cost and viability was also submitted, to demonstrate to the authority that the scheme could not afford to contribute towards all the off-site affordable housing that the Council sought. The scheme was passed by a majority vote on the planning committee, subject to a legal agreement relating to the transfer of land for public open space and a reduced commuted sum towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. It is increasingly the case that viability assessments are becoming a key component of any planning application of significance and this scheme showed the value in presenting a clear business case to the planning authority. Without this, the scheme would have been subject to punitive costs that would have held the scheme back. If you have a scheme where viability is an issue, talk to Prism to see whether we might be able to help.
Prism Planning have just succeeded in getting a Certificate of Lawful Development relating to an occupancy condition attached to what was once a forestry workers house in Richmondshire. The effect of the Certificate allows the occupants to either live in the house without needing to comply with the condition or sell the house without new purchasers having to comply with the condition. It is a little unusual to encounter an occupancy condition which restricts those living in a property to be being ‘foresters’ but that’s just the problem we faced. When the original consent for the house was issued in the 1960’s, it supported an active timber yard where trees were cut into usable timber. The next generation of business owners decided not to cut up timber but instead to import pre-cut timber. This was used to build an array of products from fencing panels through to garden sheds. Somewhere along the way, the business stopped being a forestry enterprise and became a manufacturing business. No one appreciated this subtle but important change. As part of their retirement proposals the owners were looking at the prospect of selling the house but found its value much reduced by the condition. With Prism’s help, they were able to show the Council that as the business had evolved, the condition had been breached for a considerable amount of time and no longer served any purpose. The Council agreed and issued a Certificate of Lawful Development without any debate or concern. The case presented an unusual set of circumstances, not least of which was finding a useable microfiche reader in the area, but we were very pleased to be able to suggest an approach that worked for the client with the minimum outlay of time and expense and a wonderful end result. We wish our clients many happy years of retirement!
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.
Horse owning clients of Prism will be celebrating today after a local planning authority granted permission for a private ménage area on farmland adjacent to their house in North Yorkshire. The Council imposed conditions preventing any commercial use and unusually required an archaeological evaluation of the site before works commenced. This is not a normal requirement of most developments and was imposed because of the possibility of finding remains on the site from a historic settlement long since abandoned. It’s very pleasing to have got the development through without any delay or prolonged debate about the need for the development and confirms Prism’s specialism in successfully undertaking equestrian related projects. Previous projects have involved riding stables, commercial ménage as well as private ménage, domestic stabling and specialist worker’s accommodation.
We recently attended Durham County Council’s Planning Committee (South & West) to speak on behalf of clients and their neighbours against an application by the owner of a coffee shop in Gainford, County Durham, seeking an extension of the permitted opening hours until 9.00pm on 35 days per year. The premises, which were converted to a coffee shop in 2005 with opening hours restricted to between 8.30am and 6.00pm, had been the subject of a series of applications seeking to extend the opening hours beyond 6.00pm. Every application had been refused with and one being the subject of a planning appeal, which was dismissed. The application was refused with councillors voting unanimously to support the officer recommendation that the application be refused. Our concern, which was shared by the Council, was that extending opening hours into the evening would lead to an unreasonable level of additional noise and disturbance being suffered by the occupiers of nearby residential properties at a time when they might reasonably expect to be able to enjoy peace and quiet in their homes. In refusing the latest application, councillors made it clear that they saw no reason for departing from their long-held views, supported by The Planning Inspectorate, that later opening of the coffee shop was unacceptable due to the proximity of a number of nearby residential properties. This planning application was refused by Planning Committee and we took the opportunity of attending the meeting to address the Committee and voice our client’s objections to the application. Durham County Council allow objectors to speak for up to 5 minutes, some Councils only allow 3 minutes. Either way it is important to summarise the main issues into a bullet point type format in order to have the greatest impact upon the Planning Committee. Objections letters that are sent to the planning officer can be longer but are best prepared short and to the point. More importantly, issues raised should be ‘material planning issues’, i.e. matters that can be properly considered in the context of deciding planning applications and relevant to the subject of the planning application. If you are notified or become aware of a planning application with which you want to object and would like to discuss being professionally represented in submitting an objection letter to the Council and/or speaking at Planning Committee, 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.
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.