All posts tagged sustainable

At their meeting of 21st February 2017, Sunderland’s Development Control (Sunderland South) Sub-Committee voted by a significant majority in favour of our client’s development of a part brownfield site within the urban area for a residential development comprising affordable housing, low cost housing and supported housing for people with learning difficulties.

At face value, you may have thought the application would sail through: a development of social housing on a brownfield site within the urban area, a residential area at that, and the brownfield part of the site was Council owned and was to be sold to our clients subject to planning permission being granted. How wrong you would have been.

The application, was recommended for approval at the meeting of 3rd January. However, the application faced stiff opposition from local residents and a Ward Councillor who attended the meeting and spoke against the application. At this point it was looking likely that the application would be refused. Thankfully, our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, also attended the meeting to speak in support of the application and was able to address the issues raised by the objectors. The Committee then decided to defer a decision to allow for the issues raised to be fully explored before the application was reported back to them.

Revisions were subsequently made to the proposals and additional information was provided, which addressed all of the issues that had been raised. When the application was reported back to Committee, again with a recommendation for approval, the objectors spoke again as did our Director, Rod Hepplewhite. He was able to advise that all issues previously raised had now been addressed, as evidenced by the officer report and the recommendation that that the proposed development be approved. In this instance the Planning Committee accepted our argument and by a significant majority voted in favour of granting planning permission. Our clients and the architect for the scheme http://www.bsbaarchitects.com who also attended the meeting were delighted with the outcome.

We have dealt with many applications for residential development of various forms. We have built up a good level of expertise on the subject and recognise that no two developments are the same and have learnt to be prepared for the unexpected. Notably, just because and application is recommended for approval doesn’t necessarily mean that the Planning Committee will grant planning permission. You should be represented at the Planning Committee meeting as we are aware of cases where only objectors speak and in the absence of the applicant being represented Planning Committee refuses planning permission. A subsequent planning appeal may succeed but that adds additional expense to the project as well as a significant time delay, both of which could have been avoided.
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.
Durham Planning Committee agreed to grant permission for another Anaerobic Digestion plant at the site of a dairy farm outside Sedgefield. The scheme will deliver 500kw of electricity into the national grid, processing the waste manure from the 600+ dairy herd on the site. The scheme was supported by officers who, at our instigation, had visited other AD schemes promoted by Prism already in operation. These visits had proved that the feared noise and odour, cited by residents as reasons to refuse the scheme, was simply not in evidence. Interestingly, during the debate in the Council Chamber, reference was made to the AD scheme at High Hedley, also submitted to the Council by Prism some years before and initially opposed by the Council. The Council’s decision was overturned at appeal and Prism got a full award of costs against the Council. The member who led the opposition to that scheme had recently passed by the site and advised the committee that it was a good scheme and he was wrong to have initially opposed it! This scheme is the 12thAD scheme that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, establishing ourselves as the market leaders in promoting this type of specialist renewable energy. We have several applications running with various local authorities across the country and hope to continue our success record of partnering with JFS and Associates to deliver green electricity and gas.
Prism Planning and JFS & Associates are celebrating after getting planning permission for a 1.5MW Anaerobic Digester to process food waste from nearby Leeming Bar. The consent was granted by North Yorkshire County Council at their planning meeting on 25th March. The decision marked the end of a long running application which saw the layout and configuration of the site redesigned to prevent interference with the radar emissions from RAF Leeming whose main runway passes close to the site. The plant will process around 50,000 tonnes of food waste produced by nearby food and drink businesses with the material being brought to the site via tankers. This is the 8th anaerobic digestion scheme that Prism have obtained consent for in the last couple of years, making us one of the country’s leading practitioners and acknowledged experts in this field.
A decision this week by Ryedale District Council to approve an on-farm anaerobic digestion facility at Wray House Farm, brings the total number of anaerobic digestion schemes that Prism have successfully obtained planning permission for, to seven. This is a fascinating renewable energy project with tremendously green credentials. However our experience shows that they are still regarded as a very new and innovative form of development with most Planning Authorities and local communities and a great deal of reassurance is required to persuade people that they are safe and won’t impact on their lives. With this new decision, it shows that Prism have got the skills, knowledge and more importantly, the experience of progressing anaerobic digestion schemes through the planning system, of varying scales and complexities from simple on-farm systems through to major food processing facilities. We have now also built up a formidable range of contacts in the AD technology and financial sector so that anybody thinking of undertaking anaerobic digestion couldn’t hope to meet a more experienced and well-positioned team. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are considering some form of AD project.
Well perhaps not just yet but we have certainly taken a major step towards this position this week with a key decision being made by Hambleton Council to grant planning permission for what we think is the first farm based anaerobic digestion facility at Bonnie Hill Farm, Great Broughton.

For those who aren’t quite sure what this involves, farmyard manure along with grass silage and other organic matters is placed in a sealed vessel and allowed to ferment away under controlled conditions. This produces methane which can be used to fuel a generator producing electricity and hot water. After supplying the farms energy needs any spare electricity can be exported back to the Grid and earn the farmer an income. The heat from the generator can usually be used to good advantage –in this case helping to reduce costs in the on-site milk bottling plant. Other uses include warming stock buildings or heating glasshouses to produce cash crops. Once fermented the resultant product, known as ‘digestate’ can be spread upon the land. Its more useful for plant growth and a lot safer than ordinary slurry and has hardly any smell! AD isn’t a new concept and has been used on the continent for many years and the technology is proven. What is different about this project is that it is based upon the farm and uses manure and other crops produced on the farm. This means that there are no transport costs or off site implications for the local road network. From many peoples perspectives it is a lot more attractive than more wind turbines going up in the countryside.

We are delighted to have provided the planning support to such a great idea proposal. The new NPPF places a great deal of emphasis upon such sustainable forms of renewable energy generation.

Because the country isn’t yet very familiar with AD as a general concept, there is a steep learning curve with the detailed issues involved. Our clients, newly established , JFS based at Stokesley have however provided all of the answers and look set to make their mark upon the future of farming. Already there are two other similar projects at the pipeline that JFS have worked upon and farm based AD looks to have major potential for farmers who have livestock units. If it brings and end to the distinctive smells of slurry spreading, it will also get widespread support from the general public as well! If you’re interested in the potential of AD or want to know more about the issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The team here at Prism have successfully secured planning permission for a new development of sustainable retirement care at Middleton Hall, County Durham.

This decision came yesterday and paves the way for an innovative 26 bedroom Dementia care unit and 35, two bedroom independent living bungalows to be built on the existing site. Not only are the new facilities believed to be the first of their kind, the 35 independent living bungalows will be built to Code Level 6 of The Code for Sustainable Homes. This means they’ve reached the ultimate goal of being carbon neutral!

The Dementia Care Facility will comprise of offices, a therapy room, activity kitchen, shop, library, bakery and central café. This will be linked to the residential wings via a sheltered Winter garden with a glass roof, so that the residents can enjoy the outdoors in all seasons. The caretakers lodge will be replaced and modernised and the main Hall will gain a new entrance with the entire development being aesthetically in keeping with the original Georgian manor house.

We were delighted to get this decision and very happy to work with Middleton Hall, who have an excellent record for retirement care in the North East. The new sustainable Dementia care unit is a vital addition to the existing facilities considering the Department of Health’s warning back in 2006, that Dementia figures are set to increase by a quarter of a million between 2008 and 2025.

With sustainability a key focus in all future development, our planning team worked closely with the Architects to reach the Holy Grail that is the carbon neutral target. All aspects of the new care facility will utilise solar power and recycled ‘grey’ water for appliances such as washing machines. Residents will be encouraged to monitor energy usage and recycle at all opportunities and triple glazing will ensure energy is not wasted through loss of heat. During the construction process local materials will be sourced and the construction teams will reduce their use of landfill sites and waste.

To get this decision means a great boost for sustainable developments and proves that you can achieve the ultimate standard in energy efficiency and create carbon neutral homes. It also means 60 new jobs will be brought to the care industry in the North East, 30 Full Time and 30 Part Time, giving the economy a boost.

All round a pretty good day in the Prism office!

In allowing two planning appeals a Planning Inspector has placed significant importance upon the Ministerial Statement of March 2011, ‘Planning for Growth’, which says that the planning system has a key role in ensuring that the sustainable development needed to support economic growth is able to proceed as easily as possible and that the promotion of sustainable economic growth and jobs has to be a top priority. Councils have been urged to have full regard of this statement in their consideration of planning applications.

We recently (20th June 2011) won appeals against two decisions by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to refuse planning permission for the change of use of a vacant former shop premises within Redcar town centre to either a betting shop or a café restaurant. The Council was concerned that the loss of a shop premises within the “prime shopping area” of the town centre to a non-retail use would harm the vitality and viability of the town centre.

We successfully argued against the Council’s concerns, the Planning Inspector fully endorsing our arguments that neither of the proposed uses of the premises would materially erode the vitality or the retail character of the prime shopping area or the town centre as a whole.

More significantly, however, the Planning Inspector took full note of the Ministerial statement, ‘Planning for Growth’, and the Government’s clear expectation that the answer to development and growth should wherever possible be ‘yes’, except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in national planning policy. The Inspector accepted our argument that the Ministerial Statement provided significant “in principle” support to the appeals and that they will meet the aim of promoting sustainable economic growth and jobs.