A Planning Inspector has allowed the change of use of a former public house in a North Yorkshire village to allow the premises to be occupied as a single dwelling house. Prism Planning represented the owner of The Royal Oak, Nunnington at an informal hearing, held in December 2019. In February 2020, the Inspector, in his decision notice, not only allowed the change of use of the premises, but concluded that the decision of the Planning Committee not to grant consent in the first instance was manifestly unreasonable and took the very unusual step of awarding a full award of costs against the Council.
In most planning appeals, an appellant is expected to bear their own costs, regardless of the outcome of an appeal. Only in exceptional cases will an Inspector make an award of costs. This unusual case involved a number of unusual circumstances. Planning officers at the Council tried on three separate occasions to persuade members of the Planning Committee that they should support the application and allow the former business owner to remain in the premises, allowing them to be used as a private dwelling house. Officers had received advice from several independent sources that the pub wasn’t viable and that alternative premises were available. Notwithstanding that advice, members consistently chose to depart from officers’ recommendations. This, in the eyes of the Inspector, was ultimately unreasonable behaviour. The full costs of the appeal will now be picked up by Ryedale tax payers and our client has both the end result that she clearly deserves without bearing the costs of having to pursue her case through a complicated and time-consuming appeal process.
Nationally, pub closures are still very much an increasing trend as we all drink less – but the closure of a village pub is never an easy subject in a village and there is often opposition to the loss of what are often regarded as important community facilities. Sometimes pubs can be rescued with new ventures – but in many instances, the harsh economics of village life mean that we need fewer pubs than are currently trading.
Prism Planning understands the issues involved in these tricky situations and would be pleased to offer preliminary advice to anybody contemplating the closure of an unviable business. It is certainly not a subject to go into without a great deal of careful preparation and with expert advice on hand.
Prism succeeded in a planning appeal to convert two structures within the curtilage of a dwelling into houses. A key factor were that the building was listed and with this the curtilage by extension. The second key factor was that the site was in a village close to a town and whilst the village was not sustainable the town was within a short commute by foot with lit foot ways.
In response we discussed design with the architect and the resultant design was heritage led. We also submitted a Heritage Impact Assessment resulting in no issues from the council.
The sustainability was tackled by carrying out an assessment of distances to services based on guidance of walking distances. This was seen by the Inspector as robust evidence in proving that the site was a sustainable location. As a consequence the proposals were found acceptable at appeal and the appeal was allowed.
Another housing application but one where the appeal was the key area of work for Prism. We had worked on the outline application which was outside of development limits and close to a Council designated green wedge.
A key factor of the application and a reason for refusal was the alleged impact on the green wedge which was not clearly defined by the Council.
Given the scale of the development and issues we organised a Public Inquiry where we had commissioned a planning solicitor on behalf of the Client.
At the inquiry Prism were successful proving that the green wedge was not significantly impacted by the proposals. It was also recognised that the housing would bring a useful increase to the housing supply. As a consequence Prism won the appeal.
Our client had already carried out a development of 5 dormer bungalows on the edge of Dalton, and wanted to site 4 more on land immediately adjacent to his recent development. The road had already been laid out to accommodate this.
The site was on the edge of the village and had previously been the subject of an unsuccessful appeal by others, which unfortunately made the job twice as hard.
Other challenges included nearby flooding and potential noise from the re-use of disused farm buildings.
The Council ultimately failed to determine the application and it was a challenge to engage officers in a debate about how the site could positively be brought forward. The Councils Interim Housing Policy was core to the dispute between the two sides.
Prism submitted an appeal against non-determination of the application and set out its case in a comprehensive written statement. The Inspector accepted each of the points made by the Prism team and went on to grant consent, finding that although the site lay outside current settlement limits, it was in accordance with the Councils interim housing policy, was not obtrusive in visual terms and provided useful bungalow accommodation recognised as being in short supply across the District. Naturally our client was delighted!