Prism Planning are delighted to have successfully defended at client at appeal against an enforcement notice served by Gateshead Council, with the notice being quashed and planning permission being granted.
Wilsons Motor Auctions had inadvertently undertaken works at their premises on the Portobello Industrial Estate, Birtley without first obtaining planning permission. The motor auctions site had been going from strength to strength, with new offices and auction hall being created and additional storage area for cars was required. Unfortunately, our clients hadn’t realised that forming an extension to their car park by laying rolled road planings over an untidy area of grass within the curtilage of their premises required planning permission, it does as it constitutes a change of use of the land and represents engineering works also.
Ahead of our involvement, our clients had submitted a retrospective planning application to Gateshead Council immediately following contact from the Council’s planners advising of their oversight and inviting the submission of an application. Their followed a period of constructive discussions with the planning case officer, with agreement being reached on a number of measures that would address concerns that had been raised by some neighbours. This culminated in the application being reported to the Council’s Planning Committee with a recommendation that planning permission be granted subject to conditions.
Unfortunately, the Committee disagreed with the recommendation, refused planning permission and instructed their officer to instigate enforcement proceedings. We were engaged to appeal against the enforcement notice and against the refusal of planning permission, which we did contemporaneously.
We were pleased to note from the Inspector’s decision letter that in quashing the enforcement notice and granting planning permission he agreed with every single point we had made as to why the development undertaken was acceptable in planning terms. The appeal decision is subject to planning conditions, all of which had previously been agreed to by our client.
Prism Planning are delighted to announce that the High Tunstall housing development of 1200 homes has at long last been granted outline planning permission, subject to the completion of a S106 Agreement. This represents the largest housing development approved in the Tees Valley in recent years.
The proposals were brought forward in 2014, when Tunstall Homes proposed a detailed masterplan, including a new distributor road, local centre, primary school, amenity open space and structure planting. The scheme was one of the largest in the North East and required an Environmental Impact Assessment under current European legislation.
The original masterplan included provision of 2,000 new homes, but following the two-stage public consultation by Results Communications Ltd, and continual dialogue between the client, Tunstall Homes, and Prism Planning with Hartlepool Borough Council, the planning application was submitted for consideration the same year.
Rod Hepplewhite, one of the directors of Prism Planning, which operates nationwide, said the approved application represents the changes in market conditions, and the benefits of adopting a considered approach through early engagement with stakeholders.
“The application, accompanied by a detailed masterplan, originally sought permission for 2,000 homes on a larger area of land but as the towns housing needs reduced, so did the scheme.
“As might be expected of a development of this size and on a greenfield site on the edge of town, the application raised a number of issues, not least the scale of development proposed and proposed access arrangements. We have been working closely with the client and stakeholders to ensure that what was proposed will be of benefit to Hartlepool, as well as the surrounding area.”
The approved scheme will lead to a variety of much needed improvements to the A19, helping to close off a number of dangerous junctions, as well as leading to the start of Hartlepool’s western by-pass, which will significantly help traffic flows across the town.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning Committee resolved to accept the officer recommendation for approval of the planning application for land south of Elwick Road in High Tunstall.
The scheme represents a new record for Prism Planning, which deals with applications for small, one-off developments as well as large masterplanned, multi-use developments.
The proposal was designed to not only meet the housing demand in Hartlepool but to provide community facilities for residents expected to move into the new homes.
Prism Planning had a good day at Hambleton Planning Committee yesterday, having gained planning permission for 3 new bungalows on a parcel of land at Tanton, just outside Stokesley. The site was outside the limits to development but officers accepted that the site had good access to the nearby market town of Stokelsey, was on a frequent bus route and was therefore in a sustainable location. The scheme proposed 3 new bungalows, in keeping with the surrounding development and members welcomed this type of housing which is much needed in the district.
Prism Planning had worked with the Council prior to the submission of the application to get the principle agreed with officers, smoothing the passage of the eventual application. Although this proposal was contrary to the Local Plan, being outside the defined limits to development, the Council have very pragmatically introduced flexible approaches to the delivery of housing in sustainable areas. In this respect, Hambleton are leading the way and responding positively to the current hosing crisis in this respect at least.
Our client will now look to dispose of the site so any interested parties looking to acquire a small site in the area should contact Prism Planning.
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.
Hambleton Planning Committee unanimously voted to grant planning permission for up to 40 dwellings on Land to the Rear of Long Street, Thirsk, bringing to an end a 35 year saga concerning the development history of the site.
The site, which is laid to grass and located adjacent to Thirsk Community Primary School, had once been allocated for recreational development. However the funds for its development never materialised and a Local Plan Inspector required the recreational allocation to be struck out of the Local Plan unless it could be properly funded. Members of the Planning Committee recognised that the long term future of the site now lies with residential development and were happy to grant Prism Planning an outline consent for up to 40 dwellings on the site as a way of bringing the site back into beneficial use. The site is probably one of the most sustainable housing sites ever to come forward in Thirsk in recent years, lying just at the back of Long Street and within convenient walking distance to the town centre.
The permission was granted subject to a Section 106 Agreement being completed relating to the provision of affordable housing and financial contributions towards public open space.
In granting the planning permission, members recognised that Prism Planning and its partner consultants had worked hard at canvassing the views of local residents and responding to the positive criticism that had come forward. Members are looking forward to seeing the reserved matters application in due course so the hunt is now on for a development partner interesting in taking the site forward.
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.
Welcome to Prism’s first attempt at a planning ‘blog’. I know that it’s probably not as exciting as learning what David Cameron has just had for breakfast but there are things happening out there in the planning world which affect the way in which we all do business. We thought we would start off by looking at the new changes to the appeal system, in particular the new abilities to claim costs across the board.
If this might be of interest to you, read on…… If not, either go back to Mr Cameron’s breakfast for the day or tell me what else you would find interesting!
When fighting a planning appeal, both sides are responsible for their own costs, regardless of who wins or loses. The only time this script is departed from is when one party behaves unreasonably. Even then, the aggrieved party can only apply for costs if the appeal is being heard at either a public inquiry or an informal hearing. These formats account for only a very small proportion of appeals –less than 10%. The alternative format of appeal, the written representation, is the cheapest and quickest but couldn’t be used to claim costs back except in specialist enforcement cases.That’s all changed now under new rules that came into effect on 6th April. From now on, any appeal started after that date, regardless of whether its written representations, informal hearing or public inquiry can be used to claim costs where a party has behaved unreasonably.
Usually it’s the appellant aggrieved with the LPA which wants their costs but potential appellants need to understand it works both ways. Lodging any form of frivolous appeal can work against you but in my experience this rarely happens.
The new guidance goes on to give examples of what the government will consider to amount to unreasonable behaviour and it throws up some interesting new areas for you all to be aware of.
I thought I would draw your attention to a few of these in this note –some of them might cause your eyebrows to raise!
1) It is expected that applicants and LPA will have constructive pre-application discussions with each other. Where the LPA refuse or fail to provide reasonably requested information this can be valid grounds for an award.
2) Determining applications in an inconsistent manner!
3) Imposing conditions that fail the key tests set out in Circular 11/95
4) Refusing an application for a reason that could be overcome through the imposition of a condition instead.
5) Requiring the applicant to enter into a S106 agreement, the terms of which exceed current government guidance.
6) Relying on third parties to substantiate reasons for refusal
7) Withdrawal of grounds of refusal.
8) Not providing or agreeing a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ where relevant for an inquiry.
One area I thought I would bring to you specific attention concerns those times when you have a problem and are negotiating on a solution and then the Council decide, for reasons of their own performance that they are going to refuse your proposals. I know we have all faced such frustrating scenarios. The new guidance does not deal with this head on but there is a reference to an oblique situation which may be of interest. Where you are negotiating with the Highways Agency and are close to reaching a solution, the guidance does tell you that if the LPA refuse the proposal without waiting for the solution to emerge, they may be considered unreasonable because their actions have resulted in an unnecessary appeal.
The principles established by this will be interesting to say the least. We need a few ‘test cases’ to emerge and clarify just how far the Inspectorate have been told to go. What is clear is that LPA’s are far more exposed to costs than was previously the case and the scope for what is considered unreasonable has become much wider.
Like everything in the planning world, there is an enormous paper chase surrounding how all of this is to be administered and great deal of bureaucracy. However it’s all familiar to us at Prism so give us a shout if any of this strikes a chord with you.