All posts tagged refusal

Durham planning committee unanimously decided to overturn an officer recommendation to approve a housing scheme in Newton Aycliffe yesterday, having heard from Prism Planning that the scheme was contrary to the emerging Neighbourhood Plan. ‘Livin’, an RSL, had wanted to put housing on land that was partly open space and partly a garage courtyard. The scheme was supported by officers.

Prism argued that the officer recommendation was flawed and flew directly in the face of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan which sought to protect such spaces. It was pointed out that such plans were in the process of being accorded significantly higher status by the government and this particular plan had already passed its inquiry and simply awaited the referendum.  

Prism spoke on behalf of Great Aycliffe Town Council who we had assisted with the preparation of the plan.  

After hearing Steve Barker, Managing Director of Prism Planning speak, the committee agreed unanimously that the scheme should not be allowed to go ahead.  

It’s not an easy task to persuade a Planning Committee to go against their officers and its very rare for it to be supported by all the members. The Town Council are delighted with the result and see it as a victory for Neighbourhood Planning, something we are all going to become very familiar with the coming years following the Neighbourhood Planning Bill passing into law this spring.

Prism were happy to be of assistance.
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These time limits can mean that applications need to be withdrawn, or worse are refused by the Council, where information is incomplete or when issues arise requiring further attention and resolution would take the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.

I’ve been back from planning committee for a few days now and am still reeling from the decision to refuse planning permission. Apparently the fact that no technical objections exist, the site is allocated for housing and the scheme provides for much needed affordable housing doesn’t really count for much when the local community don’t want it on their doorstep.  The quality of the debate wasn’t the greatest I have seen although it was most spirited. However the committee thought it was high time they set aside all of these allocations that keep constraining their decision  making!  So much for the comfort of a plan led system.  It remains to be seen whether the Inspectorate will remedy the situation and overule the local planning authority but you will be unsurprised to know that the appeal is ongoing.

We are running up to the demise of our RDA’s in just a few weeks time and one of the last grants they will issue in the North East has been awarded to a major manufacturer we are representing. The proposals need to be rushed through as quickly as the system allows so that a start can be made on site before the end of the year: No start = no grant and the loss of the inward investment to another part of the European Union.

An SCI event has been undertaken with overwhelming community support and the planning officer has also been broadly supportive, noting that the site is allocated for industry in the Local Plan. Everything seems to be going in the right direction and even the Highways Agency are being supportive -all that is apart from the possibility of newts getting onto the site.

A formal objection has been received from our national ecological team on the basis that we might have newts present and need to survey for their presence. There are newts in the area so there is a kernel of legitimacey to their objection. But the catch 22 to the situation is that we can’t survey for the newts until the weather warms the land in April/May, by which time the opportunity to attract the grant and the business it supports will be gone.  Two impartial sets of ecologist have looked at the site and pointed out that any newt on the site would have had to cross a busy main road to get there and would probably not have the best of genetic material to extend the newt gene pool. However its a classic dilema to the LPA as to whether they go for the certainty of securing inward investment or the possibility, however unlikely, of a protected species being present.

I’ve blogged before about the pre-eminence we give to protected species and I’m in danger of apearing like the dodgy developer on Corrie who persuaded his bats to leave in a manner not approved by Natural England. I’m not really authoring a book with Gordon Ramsey on 101 ways to cook newts but have to admit that it is becoming increasingly challenging getting the balance right between reconciling new forms of development and investment with the ecological issues.  By way of example; we recently had a decision from a planning authority that prevented us from working on the site between November and April because of the possibility of bats being present. Subsequently they then went on to restrict work in the summer between May and September because of the possibility of swallows being present. Not too many weeks of available construction time in that permission yet the planner’s couldn’t see anything wrong with their decision.

Rather than wasting time trying to get Localism to work in a positive manner, I would rather the boffins put some serious effort into sensible guidance on how we can more properly consider the integration of development with the protection of any said species. At the moment we have a very blunt and unwieldy system that gives far greater weight into the possibility of protected species being present than it does job creation and inward investment.

Now,  who is for pickled newts on toast…?