All posts tagged policy

The first consultation on the new Darlington Local Plan has begun with the publication of a ‘Strategic Issues and Scoping Paper’. Between 15th June and 15 August 2016, the Council is inviting comments on what the scope of the new Local Plan should be, and the planning issues it should address. The ‘Strategic Issues and Scoping Paper’sets out the Council’s starting point for developing new planning policies and developing the framework from which decisions will be made on the draft allocations for the Local Plan. This consultation also includes a ‘call for sites’, to identify sites within the Borough that may have potential for development to meet identified needs over the next 20 years, including land for housing, retail, commercial and community development and infrastructure. Comments and suggestions of site for development must be made no later 15th August 2016. An event for land owners, developers and agents proposing sites for housing is to be held on 20th July 2016, although to be invited to the meeting submissions must be made no later than 12th July 2016. Prism Planning would be happy to assist you in making representations on your behalf to Darlington Borough Council. As always, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away from you.
Northumberland Local Plan – Public Consultations (15th June to 27th July 2016): 1. Core Strategy Pre-Submission Draft – Proposed Major Modifications 2. Renewable Energy SPD – Scoping Document Major modifications to a number of the policies and the supporting text in the emerging Core Strategy have been proposed by the County Council before it is submitted for examination by an independent Planning Inspector. The proposed modifications seek to address a range of issues raised during the consultation on the Pre-Submission Draft that was held in October and November 2015. The proposed major modifications include: a relaxation of the Hexham Green Belt; a change to safeguarded and proposed new employment sites in the Morpeth area; changes to proposed employment allocations near to Newcastle Airport, in Cramlington, in Ashington, in Alnwick and changes to the allocation at the former Alcan plant and the Blyth Estuary Strategic Employment Area allocation; a review of the future development potential of Ponteland; and a revision to the policy for onshore wind energy to ensure it is consistent with the tests set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of June 2015 and the National Planning Policy Framework. These major modifications are subject to consultation from 15th June 2016 to 27th July 2016. Comments must to be received by the County Council’s Planning Policy Team by 4pm on 27th July 2016. Over the same period the County Council are seeking comments on the Renewable Energy SPD Scoping Document. This document has been prepared in advance of the Renewable Energy Supplementary Planning Document that the County Council is going to prepare to provide further detail on the planning policies for renewable energy in the emerging Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy. The Scoping Document sets out the Council’s initial views on the scope and content of the proposed SPD and is seeking feedback prior to preparing a draft SPD for consultation. Prism Planning would be happy to assist you in making representations against either of the documents referred to above. As always, we are only a phone call or an e-mail away from you.
The Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy is entering its final stage before submission to the Secretary of State and the ‘Examination’ of the document before an appointed Planning Inspector. The County Council has just published the Core Strategy Pre-Submission Draft for consultation, which starts today (Wednesday 14 October) and runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 November 2015. This will be your final opportunity to comment on the document and if you haven’t made comments by the 25th November you will not be able to appear before the Planning Inspector and speak at the Examination hearings. The Core Strategy is the County Council’s main strategic plan for Northumberland, covering the period to 2031. The document: • Sets out the spatial vision, objectives and outcomes for Northumberland; • Describes the overall strategic approach to growth across Northumberland; and • Proposes policy approaches for the economy, housing, the environment, climate change, infrastructure, minerals, waste and renewable energy. This final opportunity for comments to be made on the Core Strategy before it is submitted for independent examination is a formal, statutory stage in the preparation of the Core Strategy. It is different to previous consultations in that the key purpose of the consultation is to obtain views on the ‘soundness’ of the plan; whether the plan is ‘positively prepared’, ‘justified’, ‘effective’ and ‘consistent with national policy’. The submission of comments is a more technical exercise than the submission of representations to earlier drafts of the Core Strategy and is quite different to making objections to a planning application for example. Prism Planning would be happy to assist you in making comments/representations against the Pre-Submission draft of the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy.

Even in these difficult times when town and district centres are seeing their trade contracting and an increased number of shop premises stand empty securing planning permission to bring an empty property back into commercial use is not always straight forward.

This was the challenge facing a client who had taken a lease on a vacant ground floor premises on Yarm High Street and converted it to an ice cream parlour, under the ‘Archers’ franchise, producing and selling delicious artisan ice cream.  Our client had been unaware that planning permission would be required to use a former gents’ tailors shop as an ice cream parlour and had opened for business having spent a considerable sum of money in fitting out the ground floor premises and installing ice cream manufacturing equipment.  He was shocked and concerned when informed by a planning officer that planning permission was required but was unlikely to be granted due to local planning policies seeking to retain shop premises and discouraging conversion to other uses, including an ice cream parlour.

Prism Planning were engaged to try and rescue the situation.  It was noted that the premises had been vacant for a considerable period of times; that the ice cream parlour was operating as an ancillary use to the main retail business of Yarm High Street; that within a matter of months of opening the ice cream parlour had built up a loyal customer following; and that there was no other ice cream parlour with the High Street.  Prism Planning suggested to the client that he should start a petition, asking customers for their support in calling on the Council to grant planning permission.  The planning application was subsequently accompanied by a 910 name petition supporting the application.  Support was also sought from Yarm Chamber of Trade, who subsequently wrote to the Council advising of their backing for the ice cream parlour.

Following submission of the planning application and following further discussions with the planners, Prism Planning were able to convince the Council that there were good grounds for granting planning permission notwithstanding the prevailing local planning policies that frowned upon the change of use of the former shop to an ice cream parlour.  Our client is understandably delighted that planning permission has now been granted and that he can continue developing his business, which is showing every sign of going from strength to strength.

In January 2013, just a few months away, a number of planning authorities will seek to ratchet up build standards for new dwellings to deliver more sustainable properties. The standard tool used for assessing sustainability is the Code for Sustainable Homes, a sliding scale of numerical targets where the higher the number the more sustainable the building. Currently our building regulations require us to build at just below Code level 3. Code level 6, the highest standard represents the nirvana of the ‘Carbon Neutral’ House. Government policy is that all new homes will have to achieve level 6 by 2016.

Here in the Tees Valley, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland Councils are both seeking to increase their minimum standard of construction from Code 3 (present) to Code 4. Middlesbrough and Hartlepool have no such commitments at this time.  

Although the cost of achieving higher levels of sustainability have been coming down, there is no getting away from the fact that building to higher levels of sustainability costs more money and the jump from Code 3 to Code 4 is not an easy one to make without careful consideration of renewable energy generation. Simply adding in more insulation into the structure at this level of the Code won’t achieve the transition from Code 3 to Code 4 –more draconian steps are called for.

For anyone thinking about carrying out new development in Stockton or Redcar areas in the coming months, if you want to minimise your build costs, you need to consider the above situation. We can help and advise and have an extensive network of contacts who can tell you the costs of incorporating different parts of the Code in your project. Your choices cover enhancing the ecological value of your project through rainwater harvesting and up to on site generation of renewable technologies. For anyone wanting to try to build to Code 3 rather than Code 4 in the areas affected, you don’t have very much time to secure permission and get started on site. Don’t delay, get in touch with us straightaway .
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!
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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.
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Today has been a quiet day in the office, a time for reflection on the meaning of life and the National Planning Policy Framework that has just appeared yesterday. Yesterday we faced a barrage of phone calls from anxious clients wanting to know how they were affected by the new proposals and whether it really was the developers charter as some wilder parts of the media had suggested.

Mr A, who owns a field in the middle of nowhere in particular was most disappointed that he didn’t have his golden ticket for his new house but for other clients the position seems less clear.

On the one hand we are told that the guidance takes immediate effect and that decision makers should apply its principles straightaway. Yet buried in the back of the document, hidden in the annex is the statement that for 12months from the date of publication, decision makers may continue to give full weight to their old LDF policies, even when they conflict with the new NPPF, provided the ‘old’ policies stem from no later than 2004. 

A number of us who have struggled with the absurdities of ‘One App’ validation requirements will perhaps take heart from the idea that validation lists should be frequently reviewed and that LPA’s should only request information that is relevant, necessary and material to the application. I wonder if that means I don’t have to procure the Air Quality Report sought for a proposed leisure development built just above the high tide mark up the coast from here?

I was pleased to see the continued reference to LPA’s looking for ‘solutions rather than problems’ and the continued emphasis on approval of sustainable developments wherever possible. However from past experience I shudder to think how we are going to get to grips with measuring  and assessing sustainability.

There is interesting and positive clarity on the greater emphasis given to assessing viability and it is interesting to note the reference to mitigation taking into account the need for competitive returns to a willing landowner and willing developer. Now all we need to do is to work out how to use the HCA’s assessment tool and we have got it cracked!

I was also struck by the new definition of Veteran Tree defined because of its great age, size or condition.  This got me thinking to the prospect of a Veteran Planner defined because of its age and circumference…..I certainly think I qualify on both fronts!

I’m sure that as I continue to plough through the guidance there will be more interesting nuggets of new information to delight and frustrate us in equal measure so I’ll keep you all posted with my thoughts.

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The long awaited National Planing Policy Framework has been published. You can view the document here, or check back soon for detailed analysis.
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Hartlepool Borough Council has published the last draft of its Core Strategy which will shape the future of planning in the Borough.

The Core Strategy sets out the main planning framework for the Borough for the next 15 years and has been drawn up following extensive public consultation over the past two years.

Consultation on the draft will run for the last time, from Monday 13th February to Monday 26th March. If you have any comments to make, or want to know more about the impact of the documents on you, get in touch with us today.

The headlines of the documents include:

  1. Allowing up to 5,400 new homes to be built over the next 15 years.
  2. Achieving this growth within the existing urban area as well as through a major new residential development to the south-west of the town and a smaller, limited area of new housing at Upper Warren.
  3. Earmarking Wynyard for further executive housing and prestigious business development and Elwick and Hart for small scale housing schemes.
  4. The creation of green spaces across the borough, including in Golden Flatts and in the new residential development in the south-west and the retention of the green areas which give a strategic gap between the town and Hart and Greatham.
  5. Promoting tourism and leisure developments, particularly at the marina, Seaton Carew and on the Headland.
  6. Policies to protect and enhance the town centre area and to support the creation of an innovation and skills quarter.
  7. Promoting the port, Oakesway Industrial Estate and the Southern Business Zone for business, recognising the town’s three new Enterprise Zones and safeguarding land for a new nuclear power station.

Following the conclusion of consultations, the draft Core Strategy will be examined at a public hearing by a Government Planning Inspector, ensuring that the document is realistic in its aims, the Inspector will also consider any comments made during the final consultation.