Members of Stockton Planning Committee voted almost unanimously to approve proposals for a new leisure country club with swimming pool to be built on the outskirts of Yarm. The scheme was promoted by Prism Planning and had been with the Council as an outline application for nearly a year. Protracted debates and negotiations had taken place over how the site would be accessed. Stamina and perseverance have been key skills honed during the prolonged consideration of this scheme.
Clearly it all paid off as members supported the scheme, subject to a S106 agreement addressing the means of access.
The key challenges for the team involved integrating access arrangements with other nearby commercial proposals that might, or might not, get developed and which laid outside of the control of the applicant. The planning system does not address such uncertainties very effectively as the year long debate testifies but the positive result for the client was well worth it in the end.
The new club will provide a full size 25m swimming pool, a fitness suite and spar, as well as a series of exercise rooms for dance classes. The facility will also incorporate a café and a restaurant, to be operated by the same winning team that have delivered the Hudson Quay Brasserie in Middlehaven Docks at Middlesbrough. Outside a new vineyard and market garden will supply the restaurant with much of its fruit, vegetables and importantly, its wine! The vineyard will be the most northerly vineyard in the Country, to the best of our knowledge.
The next stage of the proposals will see a reserved matter application worked up, based upon the concepts set out in the outline submission.
Prism would like to particularly thank Fore Consulting (www.foreconsulting.co.uk
) for all their in depth highway support during the consideration of the proposals, as well as the eye catching designs from Summerhouse Architects (www.summerhouse.uk.net
) which helped sell the scheme most convincingly at planning committee.
And that wasn’t the only success for Prism Planning at Stockton’s Planning Committee yesterday – see the next blog for further updates on our prowess with hot food takeaways!
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.
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.