1st April 2020 - 8 Dwellings outside of development limits in Stockton approved at appeal


During the last banking crisis in 2007/8, local farmer and businessman Martin Herring, set his workers on the repair and refurbishment of old farm buildings on his farm at Aislaby West. The building project avoided the need to lay off some of his work force, and left him with a set of restored traditional buildings which had no real farming use for. In 2019 Prism Planning applied on his behalf to have the restored buildings converted into dwellings. Stockton Council refused, citing the repairs as being unauthorised and the location as being unsustainable, despite the passage of a lot of time. Their decision seemingly ignoring the fact that the central government were now encouraging the residential conversion of such buildings.

This week a government Planning Inspector has overruled the Councils decision, allowing the buildings to be converted to provide 8 new dwellings. The Inspectors decision followed an informal hearing in February where Mr Herring was again represented by Darlington based Prism Planning.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Herring, Steve Barker, Managing Director of Prism Planning accepted that the case was an unusual one- “Its not very often that a farmer seeks to restore and repair old buildings that he doesn’t have a particular use for -but in this case Mr Herring presented us with what we thought was the perfect opportunity to carry out a sensitive conversion scheme that met all government directives and requirements. The fact that he did the initial work during the last recession, and that we get the new decision in what is now undoubtedly a new recession has added poignancy and shows us that with everything going on, sometimes good news stories do emerge. It was a shame that we couldn’t convince the officers in the Council earlier in the process, but the conversion of outbuildings often challenges planning officers and this isn’t the first appeal of this nature that we have had to fight for our clients. 


30th March - Coming Soon: A Major Leisure Asset for Middlesbrough * Updated

Middlesbrough Council have approved the planning application for a snow & leisure centre development on land at Middlehaven, Middlesbrough, next to Middlesbrough Dock and near to Middlesbrough Football Stadium, that Prism Planning submitted on behalf of our client Subzero (Middlehaven) Ltd in December 2019.

Our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, co-ordinated the preparation and submission of the planning application and led on subsequent positive discussions with officers of the Council. He is delighted that this exciting leisure development has been given the go-ahead as it represents another step forward in the regeneration of the Middlehaven area of Middlesbrough. It should prove to be a major asset not only for Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley but also for the wider North East and North Yorkshire.

The development will provide a commercially successful, high quality, regional leisure attraction providing indoor skiing facilities (two indoor ski slopes, a nursery slope for beginners and tuition and a main slope for more accomplished skiers and snowboarders) supported by sports retail, food and beverage outlets (cafes, bars, restaurants & hot food takeaways) and other complimentary leisure uses (such as ten pin bowling, indoor karting, soft play area, family entertainment centre, high ropes, crazy golf etc).  The development will provide new sport, recreation and leisure opportunities for local people and attract visitors and business to Middlehaven/Middlesbrough from across the region.

Projects of this scale and complexity take time to develop, during which time the site increased in size and the form and orientation of the building on site altered as the detailed design of the building evolved to accommodate the range and layout of the facilities proposed. We at Prism Planning are delighted to have assisted in this development successfully progressing through the planning stages.

An article on the application is in the Northern echo click for more.


10th March - Replacing a caravan with a dwelling, success at appeal in Stockton Borough

Prism has won an appeal to replace a caravan with a bungalow. After the application was made, we quickly met resistance. Firstly, the Council considered that the dwelling would result in domestication of the location and have a negative visual impact. Despite the location being isolated from footpaths and the site already being domestic in part. Secondly, it determined the application as if it were a new dwelling despite the land being in use for domestic purposes and as a location for the existing caravan which would be removed.

Sometimes when met with such strong resistance it is more time and cost efficient to seek an independent view and an appeal should be made. As no forward process could be made with the Council Prism Planning prepared the case. We also worked with third parties on legal documentation aimed at controlling the use of the site, proposing to remove existing wooden structures at the location to work with the Council. Ultimately, we were successful, winning against the Council and the reasons of refusal.

This is the second appeal we have won relating to this specific type of application and we even have had interest from other Planning Consultancies on our approach.


21st February - Chemical Site Expansion Given the Go Ahead in Stockton Borough


An established Teesside based Chemical Site is all set to undergo a multi-million pound expansion, creating around 80 jobs, following the successful grant of planning permission following an application submitted by Prism Planning.

Fine Organics have been established in Teesside since the 1970’s, moving to the present site in Seal Sands in 1984. The plant became part of the Chinese based Lianhetech Group in 2017 and the present site has been manufacturing specialist chemical for the pharmaceutical, agricultural and performance chemicals sectors.

Bucking the national trend, Lianhetech have a very positive view of the chemicals sector and have sought to extend the present site, adding new productions lines and new storage facilities at its Seal Sands base.

Prism Planning co-ordinated and submitted the planning application, and today Stockton Borough Council granted planning permission for its expansion, paving the way for work to start on site immediately.

Naturally the large scale expansion of a chemical site brings with it s host of challenges, from chemical storage, ecology, foul drainage, through to issues of flood management, and the application involved complex negotiations to get todays result.

Prism were proud to have been selected to support Lianhetech and to have played a small, but important art in the continued growth of the Tees Valley Economy. Todays result, coming hot on the heels of Teesside Mayors acquisition of SSI land, paints a promising view for our industrial and chemical sectors.


31st January - Four dwellings approved Dalton, Thirsk


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!


28th November - Snow & Leisure Centre planning application submitted to Middlesbrough Council

Prism Planning have today (28th November 2019) submitted to Middlesbrough Council, on behalf of our client Subzero (Middlehaven) Ltd, a planning application for a 20,588m² snow & leisure centre development on land south of Priestman Road, Middlehaven, Middlesbrough, near to Middlesbrough Football Stadium.

Our client’s aim for the Subzero project is to provide a commercially successful, high quality, regional leisure attraction providing indoor skiing facilities (two indoor ski slopes, a nursery slope for beginners and tuition and a main slope for more accomplished skiers and snowboarders) supported by sports retail, food and beverage outlets (cafes, bars, restaurants & hot food takeaways, some probably in-combination) and other complimentary leisure uses (a climbing/ice-climbing wall, soft play area, trampolines and ten pin bowling are envisaged).  The development will provide new sport, recreation and leisure opportunities for local people and attract visitors and business to Middlehaven/Middlesbrough from across the region.

Our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, led on project managing the preparation and submission of the planning application and has been involved with the project from day one, including the preparation and submission of the previous outline planning application that was approved by Middlesbrough Council in April 2017.  Projects of this scale and complexity take time to develop, during which time the site increased in size and the form and orientation of the building on site altered as the detailed design of the building evolved to accommodate the range and layout of the facilities proposed.

Officers of Middlesbrough Council were kept advised of progress in preparation of the planning application and we are hopeful that planning application will be granted early in the New Year.

9th October 2019 - Specialist Chemical Site Expansion Moves a Step Closer


Prism Planning are delighted to have been selected by Addison Project and Lianhetech to submit their planning application for the refurbishment and extension of the Lianhetech plant at Seal Sands. 

Formerly known as Fine Organics, the company have been one of the leading manufacturers of specialist chemicals in Teesside and currently employ around 260 staff on their site which was set up in the 1970s.

The current planning application that has just been submitted to Stockton Borough Council will see a multi-million pound investment in the existing plant, including the establishment of new car parks, new production lines and various ancillary outbuildings. The application represents a substantial investment in the firm following its acquisition by Lianhetech. 

The application is expected to be considered by Stockton Borough Council in the future weeks.

If approved, the application will not only consolidate the existing jobs and presence of the company but will lead to a further 80 staff being employed on the site. 

It is recognised that this good news will be most welcome, following the recent announcement over the uncertainty of Ineos plant at Seal Sands.

A CGI Image of the Proposed Development

20th September 2019, Replacement dwelling allowed in Conservation Area


Planning permission was sought for the demolition and replacement of a single detached house in a North Yorkshire Conservation Area. The house was not listed and had a significant array of structural issues associated with it and restricted ceiling heights at ground and first floor level. It was also subject to damp and flooding problems. The consulting engineers, having considered all the issues recommended demolition and re-build, despite the fact that parts of the house dated back to the 18th century.

Prism were called in to assist and produced a detailed Heritage Impact Assessment, for the project. Opponents to the scheme had tried to secure the listing of the building and had put forward a great deal of confused arguments claiming the building was of significant historic interest. Their case had got the ears of Historic England who took the listing case forward.

Untangling the claims took a substantial amount of time, but Prism managed to defeat the listing attempt, only to have planning officers then try to declare the building to be a locally designated asset and faced a committee report that recommended refusal of the replacement dwelling.

Steve Barker, Prism MD, spoke at the planning meeting, pointing out a series of errors in the report and incorrect interpretations of planning law in the advice given to members. Despite the same objectors also speaking at the meeting, we managed to secure the unanimous overturning of the officer recommendation with members supporting the recommendation. It’s a challenge to overturn any officer recommendation, even under the best of circumstances and to do so unanimously was unprecedented.

Dealing with a heritage matter is a tricky issue and a great deal of care is required. This case demonstrates that the team at Prism have the capability and knowledge to tackle some of the most sensitive and challenging heritage cases and we would be very pleased to talk to potential new clients about how we might be able to assist.


20th May 2019, Offshore Marine Energy Park Proposed on Land at South Bank, Redcar

Prism Planning today submitted a Scoping request under the Environmental Impact Regulations for the development of an offshore marine energy park to service the burgeoning offshore wind turbine industry. The site at South Bank on the Tees involves part of the former steelworks. The project would provide a new base for the offshore sector, allowing for the import and assembly of the components used to deliver the offshore wind programme that the UK desperately needs. 

The proposal would see the development of a new 950 metre long quay along the South Bank wharf, replacing the present derelict structure. On the site, components would be stored, assembled and shipped on to new purpose-built vessels designed to deliver the new offshore programme. In order to do this, new cranes would be built, including the most powerful conventional crawler crane in the world and a new rail crane, which would be more than twice as tall as the Transporter Bridge. It has been estimated that nearly 250 jobs would be created during the construction period and thereafter 600 permanent jobs for workers and management associated with the proposal. A CGI image of how the site might look is attached below. 

Prism were very pleased to be selected to manage this project and look forward to working with Able and the Local Planning Authority to deliver this much-needed redevelopment project. Further enquiries on this matter should be directed to Steve Barker, Managing Director of Prism Planning Ltd, or Neil Etherington, Business Development Director at Able UK.   


Successful Removal of Agricultural Occupancy Condition - by an unusual route.

Prism have just been successful in removing an agricultural occupancy condition attached to a client’s property - and achieved it via a most unusual route. The conventional approach usually requires the property being advertised for sale for a 1 or sometimes 2-year period, at a price that reflects the lowered value of the property. The field is often fraught with disputes over valuations and challenges to the marketing process - stamina is normally required and a number of cases simply get abandoned.

Our clients had lived at the property for a number of years and assumed that they met the occupancy criteria - indeed they had correspondence on file from the Council confirming this point.

Prism had reviewed the history of their site and formed a different view - which in due course was supported by an independent review by barristers at No 5 Chambers - the acknowledged set for planning advice in the country.

Prism then proceeded to submit an application for lawful development - based upon more than 10 years of non-compliance with the condition - a position the team were very sure about.

Fresh minds at the LPA, reviewing the back files of the case came to another unusual view - that the original occupancy condition, because of its non-standard wording was so badly drafted that it could not actually be complied with by anyone and was, in their minds completely unenforceable going forward. They invited Prism and our client to present an application to remove the condition as a consequence and then went on to grant that consent.

Naturally our client was delighted by the outcome and by the removal of the occupancy condition! The case highlights that the removal of occupancy conditions is rarely straightforward, but that it can be done, if circumstances have changed radically since the property was first built. Anyone in this position should seek expert advice from Prism Planning who have a track record of success in this very specialist field of planning. 


14.03.19 - Sometimes you're in for the long haul ….

At long last, some 5 years since our first involvement in the project and 4½ years since the planning application was submitted, Prism Planning secured outline planning permission, backed by a S106 Legal Agreement, on 14th March 2019 in respect of a housing-led development of some 83.5 hectares (206 acres) of land at High Tunstall, Hartlepool. The development will provide up to 1,200 homes, a neighbourhood centre including a primary school, a new distributor road and amenity open space including structure planting.

We recognised from the outset that a scheme of such magnitude was never going to be straight forward and so it turned out. Through a combination of the scale of the proposed development, the site’s location and the local environment, the planning application required an Environmental Impact Assessment, a Habitats Regulation Assessment, a Transport Assessment and detailed archaeological investigation.

Prism Planning project managed the preparation of the planning application submission, preparing the supporting Planning Statement and leading on the preparation of the Environmental Statement, including over-seeing the work undertaken by a host of environmental consultancies and the architects who prepared the many iterations of the masterplan drawings and the associated Design & Access Statement. 

The application was submitted at the time that Hartlepool Borough Council were preparing of a new Local Plan (adopted May 2018). To accord with the then emerging Local Plan, the scale and land-take of the proposed development was reduced from the original 2,000 homes and 118 hectare site proposed. Rod Hepplewhite, our Director, attended the Local Plan Examination Hearings in September/October 2017 and successfully supported the Council’s proposed allocation of the High Tunstall application site as a ‘Strategic Housing Site’, a significant step forward in the ultimate approval of the planning application.

The scale of the proposed development and the proximity of the site to the A19(T) necessitated extensive negotiations with Highways England and highways engineers from Hartlepool Borough Council. Consequently, associated with the development and part financed by it, significant highway works will be undertaken, including a northern by-pass to Elwick village linking to the A19, the provision of a new grade separated junction north west of Elwick, gap closures on the A19, and improvements to aa number of junctions with Hartlepool. 

The site lies within relative proximity to the coast, which is protected under a number of ecological designations (including the Durham Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SPA and Ramsar.  As a consequence, given the scale and nature of the proposed development, there was a requirement to consider and address the potential impacts on these European sites under the Habitat Regulations. This resulted in the development being provided with larger areas of amenity and recreational open space than had been originally been proposed. 

We have dealt with many applications for residential development of various forms over the years, although it is fair to say that the High Tunstall development is our largest and most complex residential development. 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, which held us in good stead for the High Tunstall project. 


12.03.19 - 22 Apartments and shops Approved in Darlington

Today Prism celebrates its latest approval in Darlington. Two large three storey buildings containing apartments and retail units were granted permission subject to a Section 106. At present Darlington is claiming in excess of 80 years of housing supply which gives it more power to refuse applications.

The application site is brownfield and located within Darlington, a number of buildings are presently located at the site. It is adjacent to a mixture of industrial and residential uses.

The application was a resubmission with a revised noise report which targeted potential impacts from the nearest industrial use, should the vacant building become occupied.  Our Planning Statement was able to make the differences between the submission and resubmission clear. During the application we also managed issues such as surface water flooding by directing them to the right specialists. The result was that the resubmission was successful and permission has been granted subject to a legal agreement.

If you are looking at developing a site and seeking advice please get in touch.


Residential subdivision success at committee

Prism celebrates its latest success at committee today in Stockton. In its first planning committee since adopting its Local Plan, Stockton Planning Committee voted to grant the application for the subdivision of a dwelling into two units. 

Prism was brought in for a resubmission as the original application had been refused for being a cramped over development of the plot. Following analysis of the application and a redesign The Planning Statement focused on proving the site was within the Councils sustainable Design Guide SPD for garden space and also that the local character would not be impacted by the proposals.   

The Planning Statement submitted with the application showed how the application was suitable for the proposed development and it went into Committee with the Case Officer recommending approval.This is the result of an application which tackled the issues of visual impact, suitable garden sizes and impacts on neighbour amenity from potential additional noise.

If you are looking at subdividing your property and are seeking advise please get in touch for advice.

New website, new offices same Prism Planning

As the new year gets underway and Prism Planning has settled into its new offices on Woodland Road, we have reviewed the old website and decided to replace it. Below is a highlight of the more than ten years of news that have been made. 


If at first you don’t succeed………come to Prism!

Our client had converted a former stable building into a house, without having first got the benefit of planning permission, through a misunderstanding in how to draw down permitted development rights. This hadn’t gone down well with the planning authority, for understandable reasons, with an appeal against their initial refusal of planning permission being unsuccessful.

In looking at the reasons why the Inspector initially agreed with the Council, Prism considered that there was scope to mitigate the harm that the Inspector had cited. We brought in a professional Landscape Architect, Guy Rawlinson and with his help, devised a new landscape mitigation plan. We then went further a crafted a unique legal agreement, or Unilateral Undertaking, relating to the way in which the landscape could be managed if consent were granted. A second, revised application was submitted.

Unfortunately, the Council maintained its initial stance and went on to refuse the second application, escalating matters by also serving our client with an enforcement notice. The Council had seemingly ignored both our landscape plan and our legal agreement.

At the second appeal, the new Inspector commended the landscape assessment and plan and criticised the Council for ignoring the Unilateral Undertaking that Prism had carefully prepared, finding it robust and fit for purpose. He was critical of the Council’s opposition to the development and granted our client consent to remain in occupation with his family, subject to complying with the legal agreement and undertaking additional planting.

Our client can look forward to spending Christmas in his own home, not hunting for a new one!

Whilst it is never a good idea to carry out development without planning permission, if you do find yourself in a tricky situation, come and talk to us as soon as possible. As this case makes clear, if there is a solution to be found, we specialise in finding it! Don’t give up until you’ve talked to Prism.

Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.

None of our equestrian projects are tales of whoa…

Prism Planning has continued its unbroken record of success with equestrian projects by winning another appeal for an equestrian workers dwelling.

Our clients had set up Stotfold Crest Rising Centre near Elwick, several years ago, under the expert guidance of Lesley Perry. Following a bad wrist fracture which hasn’t properly healed, Lesley decided she needed to take more of a backseat role and hand over the reins (!) to her daughter, Anne Marie, a top level equestrian in her own right who has competed at international level and is without doubt an Olympic contender for Tokyo.

The proposal submitted to Hartlepool Council involved the construction of new, high quality stables, a horse walker and a new house for Anne Marie and her family, in accordance with currently applicable case law on the subject which was cited at length to the Council.

Despite warm support from the Parish Council, who could see the benefits to the area in having Anne Marie set up her base in the north east, officers from the Council decided to ignore relevant case law and refused permission, arguing it was contrary to the Local Plan.

A hearing was held into the case in August, and the Planning Inspectors decision allowing the scheme was made public last week. In her appeal decision, the independent inspector noted that the humanitarian principles embodied in the High Court cases cited by Prism in support of the application were relevant to the case and should have been taken on board more fully by the Council. She was also critical of the Councils attempts to remove permitted rights from the proposed new dwelling and restored those rights, along with the main permission.

Prism are naturally delighted with the outcome.

Over the 10 years we have been in existence, we have fought several key battles over equestrian development -the most recent case being the promotion of an all weather international show jumping arena in the Green Belt at Gateshead for Philippa Curry, a former UK Show jumping Coach of the Year. Philippa’s proposals were due to be rejected by officers but following a committee speech by Steve Barker of Prism, members of the planning committee voted to approve her application.

Have an equestrian project or issue -we can probably help -and have a track record to prove it. 

Planning Portal Financial Transaction Service


Over 90% of all planning applications are now submitted online and The Planning Portal is the platform we use to submit them.  At present, applications are submitted by ourselves via the Portal, then transferred automatically to the Local Planning Authority who validate the application and process the fee payments. 

However, this is all about to change.  From 10th September 2018, the Planning Portal will process all fee payments before transferring the applications on to Local Planning Authorities.  In addition to the actual application fee, there will also be a processing fee of £16.67 + VAT (£20 in total) charged per application submission (the service is currently free).  

Details of the proposed changes are summarised below (source: email from The Planning Portal 23/08/18).

“We are pleased to announce that the new service will be operational from 9am on Monday 10 September

From this time, the Planning Portal will take all payments for planning applications in England made through our planning application system (1App).

Once the payment is made by either you or your client, the application will be released to the relevant local authority along with the planning application fee. 

A service charge of £16.67+VAT will be added to the planning fee for each application, to cover the cost of providing the service and enable us to invest in improving the 1App system itself. 

The service will simplify the planning application process across England, offering a consistent range of payment options and saving you and local authorities time tracking down payments – an issue which causes so many delays at validation.

You can read our step-by-step guide to find out how it will work. We have also published a comprehensive list of FAQs

The key changes are as follows:

Timing of the release of applications

Applications will be released once payment is received and confirmed by us. The time it takes for us to receive payment and therefore to release an application will vary depending on the payment method chosen. You can find a table of these timescales in our recently communicated FAQs

As now, and in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Development Management) (England) Order 2015, the period for determination by local authorities will start once they receive the application.

Paying us online or by phone

If your planning fee is less than £1,000, you can pay online or nominate your client to pay.

You or your client can also pay over the phone at any time of day or night, 365 days a year.

Paying us by bank transfer – Faster Payment, CHAPS and BACS

For planning fees over £1,000, Faster Payment will usually be the best option.“

Double Success for Prism Planning re: Two Separate Anaerobic Digestion Plants

 Prism Planning secured planning permission for the same client, ENER-G Bio Solutions, in respect of two separate anaerobic digestion plants, one near to the Thinford roundabout, County Durham and the other at Riverside Park West, Middlesbrough in a single week.  That can’t be bad going and is indicative of Prism Planning’s growing expertise in this area of renewable energy production.  Indeed, we have built up a good level of expertise on the subject and recognise that although no two developments are alike and all require a comprehensive raft of technical documentation to support the planning application.  Through our own expertise on the subject and the connections we have with environmental and transport consultants we can address all issues that are likely to be raised by local planning authorities.

At their meeting of 1st May 2018, Durham County Council’s County Planning Committee supported the officer recommendation that planning permission should be granted for the construction and operation of an anaerobic digestion plant on land at Mount Huley Farm, Croxdale, Durham. 

On Friday 4th May 2018, Middlesbrough’s Planning & Development Committee voted unanimously to support the officer recommendation that planning permission should be granted for the construction and operation of an anaerobic digestion plant on land at Riverside Side Park West, Middlesbrough.

Both plants will process food wastes that would otherwise go to landfill together with farmyard manures and silage to produce bio-gas.  The bio-gas will then be both purified and compressed for injection into the Gas Grid, there being a connection point to a gas pipeline near to both sites.  The resultant bi-product from the process known as digestate, which are odourless, will be spread on the farm fields as a fertiliser and soil improver instead of farmyard manure and imported nitrate fertiliser which are used at present.

Our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, attended both meetings and spoke in support of the applications, setting out the case for approval of the development and reinforcing the planning officer’s recommendation that the application be approved.  All material planning considerations had been addressed; neither plant will result in a significant impact upon the landscape or visual amenity nor cause noise or odour nuisance or give rise to traffic issues of any significance, harm to the local ecology or adversely impact any features of archaeological importance.

We had worked in a positive manner with the respective case officers throughout the course of the applications to address issues raised and respond promptly to requests for additional information.  Both AD plants represent an appropriate form of sustainable development at the site, which accords with national and local planning policy together with the ‘National Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan and The Waste Management Plan for England. 


Prism Planning Succeed at Appeal – Enforcement Notice Quashed, Planning Permission Granted


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.

Replacing a caravan with a bungalow – Prism setting a precedent

Prism Planning succeeded with the tricky task of replacing a caravan with a bungalow in the open countryside. For background we had previously gained a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) at the site for a caravan. The caravan was now old and would need replacing, with the Client exploring options, we were tasked with submitting an application for a bungalow.

At Prism Planning we aim to limit our Clients costs. Having investigated the possibility of gaining permission and the potential costs of a full application we recommended a pre-application submission to establish the Councils likely response. The Council’s comments were mostly encouraging though there was some confusion of how much an existing LDC would benefit an application.

Having discussed options and recommendations with the Client an application was made which resulted in a refusal partly on car journeys and partly on design. Whilst a redesign can be the fastest resolution to overcome design issues, we could not convince the Council there would be no further traffic impacts on a site which clearly already had a residential use. However, to reduce reasons for appeal we resubmitted the application (there are no planning fees to pay on re submissions) reducing the scale and changing the siting of the proposals. This was also refused.

At appeal we successfully demonstrated that the weight accorded to an LDC should be greater than the Council had given. The traffic impacts would be no greater than was present for the existing caravan, our redesign was suitable for the location and the site already had a domestic appearance.  As a result, replacing the caravan with a dwelling was acceptable and the Inspector allowed our appeal. Whilst each application is judged on its own merits this decision sets a new precedent for replacement dwellings, giving a clear indication that a replacing a caravan with a dwelling is possible where an LDC has allowed the caravan.

If you are in a position where you are seeking a building to replace a caravan or seeking an LDC we may be able to help. Whilst these are complicated in nature we value our high success rate so will tell you simply what your chances of success would be. 

Prism Planning Secures Planning Permission for a 1200 Home Development in Hartlepool

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.


If at first you don’t succeed then…….!

 Prism is wrapping up 2017 in style with success in the hotly debated new prior notification procedure just introduced, relating to industrial buildings being converted to residential use.

Our case involved a site where an appeal for conversion of a workshop had been rejected by the Council and Planning Inspectorate earlier in the year, solely on peculiar and bizarre grounds of sustainability. The new right seemed to cut straight across the previous concerns and we just had to try it out for the client!

Having been one of the first practices in the UK to submit this Prior Notification we were aware of the potential challenge ahead and difference in interpretation that the Council might have, particularly having regard to the sites background. However, experience of the Prior Notification procedure and sound interpretation of rules assisted the application. A robust statement was created showing how the site was suitable for conversion.

Prism was initially commissioned to fight an appeal for conversion of the workshop building which was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate for the unusual reason that the business occupying the building could potentially continue at the site, resulting in a net gain in traffic movements. However, no other buildings were available for this to occur and in any event planning permission would be required for this. The lack of rigour in the dismissal seemed to be challengeable.  We were actually in discussions about a possible legal challenge to the appeal decision -but the new right came along in the interim and offered a potentially cheaper and quicker way to get to the same end point.

The final result was a tribute to the clients stamina and our determination. If at first you don’t succeed…..dig in a find another way around the problem!

If you have a building that is in industrial use and may convert to residential use,  please ask for a professional view from the experts at Prism.

Happy Christmas to one and all, from us all at Prism.

Extending a business centre onto sports grounds: A game of two halves and nobody lost!

Prism has been celebrating its latest success with a major planning application for extended business centre approved. The existing business had been established for a number of years and land to the west had been reserved for future development. In the meantime, it was offered to a nearby sports grounds to be used as a football pitch. Stockton Council had then designated the site as an outdoor playing space.

Prism’s expertise meant we were able to meet exception criteria of developing a designated outdoor playing space. The pitch was replaced by an adjacent new pitch of equivalent or better quality to ensure consultees such as Sport England were satisfied. Site visits were carried out to examine the conditions and requests of grass types and soil compositions were responded to. The result was a new pitch that was significantly better in quality than the existing that would serve the needs of the club for years to come.

In the meantime, despite the outline nature of the scheme, a Flood Risk and Drainage Strategy was required by the Council. This was commissioned and submitted by Prism which resulted in a satisfactory planning condition.

Whilst this is a unique set of circumstances Prism was able to successfully navigate the issues and the result was a successful application. If you have a challenging set of issues facing your site and want to discuss your probability of success, please get in touch. 

Secure dog exercise area approved by Darlington Borough Council

Variety is the spice of life, or so the saying goes.  While housing and housing related projects may be the bread and butter of a planning consultant’s working life, it’s always nice to deal with other subjects.  Yes, we handle quite a few anaerobic digestion, equestrian and agricultural projects but when something entirely different comes along it makes for a pleasant change.  And so it came to pass ….

Earlier this year our Director, Rod Hepplewhite, was approached by a new client who was interested in establishing a secure dog exercise area on a field just outside one of Darlington’s villages.  Through her work with the Dog’s Trust she had become aware of a latent demand and need for a secure place where dog owners whose pets had special needs (such as being anxious when near other dogs or people or running off when let off the leash and not returning) could be exercised in a safe and secure environment.  The nearest such exercise area to Darlington is in Thirsk, which has proved to very popular such that booking a time-slot isn’t always easy.

It was clear that the demand/need for the facility was there but the question was how would the local planning authority view such an unusual proposal.  Rod advised the client that given the proposed location and the unusual nature of the proposal the submission of a pre-application inquiry to the Council would be a good idea.  This proved to be the case as we were able to engage in positive discussions with the case officer, including a very useful site visit, at an early stage.  We addressed issues raised, including providing a new entrance to the field from the country road, and answered all questions and were given a good steer on the preparation of the planning application.  The same planning officer dealt with the planning application such that it proceeded to approval in a smooth manner, helped along by us providing an in-depth explanation of the background to the proposed dog exercise area, what it would entail and how it would be operated.

A combination of tactics and being open and honest helped win the day.  The planning application submission included information above and beyond planning requirements but going that extra mile secured the planning permission for our client that she sought.  That is what Prism Planning is all about, going that extra mile for our clients.