Monthly Archives: April 2018

 

Urbanissta’s Legal Beagle is on the Case – April 18

 

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case work reviews – we’re still tracking decisions to see what useful precedents have been set in judgements and decisions that might be useful to you, day to day.

Our summary of recent decisions is below and via the links you can download more details of the full decision letters should you wish.

As you may be aware, Mid Sussex District Council have now adopted their new Local Plan (28th March 2018) and interestingly, prior to adoption, 5 appeals were decided by the Secretary of State; 4 of which were granted permission.  We provide a summary of these in this month’s edition so it’s a bit of a Mid Sussex special edition, but we have lots of other interesting cases for you to review too, so we hope the following is informative!

Furthermore, our guest barrister, Giles Atkinson of 6 Pump Court provides commentaries on three recent decisions; Dover DC v CPRE (Kent); Braintree DC v SoS for CLG; and Samuel Smith v North Yorkshire CC.

 

 

 

 

Here are 10 recent planning appeals, giving you insights into the latest precedents:

1. Reasons for Planning Approvals

Ref: [2017] UKSC 79
Appeal Decision Date: 06 December 2017
Appellant: Dover DC
Respondent: CPRE Kent

Readers will remember that I have previously summarised the case of Oakley v South Cambs DC[1] in which the circumstances under which an LPA may be expected to give reasons for granting permission were examined.  The matter has now been definitively determined by the Supreme Court, in Dover DC v CPRE (Kent)[2].

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, endorsed the Court of Appeal’s approach in Oakley establishing a common law duty to give reasons in certain circumstances.

The application in the Dover case was for a major development including over 500 houses, a conference centre, hotel and museum, partly on AONB.  The officer recommendation was for approval for an amended, reduced, development of 365 houses, the reduction intended to protect a particularly vulnerable part of the site from landscape harm.  The applicants objected to the reduction essentially arguing that it would render the scheme unviable but the officer recommendation remained to approve the lesser number.

The committee members however, voted to approve the scheme as applied for with over 500 houses.

In due course, following negotiations about the section 106 agreement, the decision notice was issued without any statement of the reasons for grant.

The question of reasons was raised in challenges to the grant of permission, eventually finding its way to the Supreme Court which indicated that it wished to consider generally the sources, nature and extent of an LPA’s duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission.

The SC considers first the statutory sources of a duty to give reasons, noting that LPAs are no longer required to give reasons for grants of permission as they were for a period under the GPDO[3], although there is still a general duty on local authority officers making a decision involving the ‘grant of a permission or licence’, which includes the grant of planning permission[4] and for EIA development (which the development in the Dover case was) and under the Aarhus Convention.

The standard of reasons was then considered by the SC, finding essentially that what is needed is an adequate explanation of the ultimate decision, the essence of the duty being whether the information provided by the LPA leaves room for genuine doubt as to what it has decided and why.

Importantly the SC found that the remedy for a breach of the duty to give reasons, which in the Dover case it was accepted had occurred there being a breach of the duty imposed by the proposals being EIA development, was the quashing of the decision rather than just, as had been argued, the retrospective provision of reasons.

Although it didn’t need to be determined in the Dover case because it was accepted that reasons should have been provided under the EIA legislation, the SC went on to consider the common law duty to give reasons and this is probably the part of the decision of widest application and therefore of greatest interest.

The SC endorsed the finding of the CA in Oakley, where particular circumstances gave rise to a common law duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission based, essentially, on fairness, itself a common law principle.

Without wishing to be over-prescriptive the SC helpfully set out the circumstances in which the common law duty to give reasons arises:

 “However, it should not be difficult for councils and their officers to identify cases which call for a formulated statement of reasons, beyond the statutory requirements.  Typically they will be cases where, as in Oakley and the present case, permission has been granted in the face of substantial public opposition and against the advice of officers, for projects which involve major departures from the development plan, or from other policies of recognised importance (such as the ‘specific policies identified in the NPPF…).  Such decision call for public explanation, not just because of their immediate impact, but also because…they are likely to have lasting relevance for the application of policy in future cases.”

 So, for cases where there is a great deal of public opposition and a member overturn, development is a major departure from the DP or contrary to polices of recognised importance, including those specified at FN 9 of NPPF14[5], LPAs may now be expected to provide reasons for the grant of planning permission.  If they are found to have failed in this duty, the remedy is to quash the decision.

This decision amounts to an important new requirement placed upon LPAs which might be expected to arise not infrequently.

[1] [2017] EWCA Civ 71

[2] Dover Dc v CPRE (Kent) CPRE (Kent) v China Gateway International Limited [2017] UKSC 79

[3] Between 2003 and 2013.  GPDO now replaced with the DMPO.

[4] This under the little known Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, SI 2014/2095

[5] FN 9 of NPPF14 is now (in the March 2018 consultation draft of the replacement NPPF) FN 7 of paragraph 11.

Download the decision here.

2. New Isolated Homes in Countryside

Case No: CO/1207/2017
Appeal Decision Date: 15 November 2017
Appellant: Braintree DC
Respondent: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The interpretation of this phrase, from NPPF 55, was considered by the CA recently in Braintree DC v SoS for CLG[1].  Paragraph 55 is as follows:

“55. To promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. For example, where there are groups of smaller settlements, development in one village may support services in a village nearby. Local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as:

  • the essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside; or
  • where such development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets; or
  • where the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting; or
  • the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling. Such a design should: be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; reflect the highest standards in architecture; – significantly enhance its immediate setting; and – be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

An inspector, in combined section 78 and section 174 appeals on the same site, had granted permission for 2 single storey dwellings and quashed an EN alleging, amongst other things, the partial erection of a single storey building (one of the dwellings).  The site lay close to but outside the settlement boundary of the village of Blackmore End.

The Inspector had noted in respect of the development:

 “It would not accord with the development plan’s approach of concentrating development in towns and in village envelopes.  On the other hand there are a number of dwellings nearby and the development would not result in new isolated homes in the countryside to which Framework paragraph 55 refers.”

The Inspector went on to observe that there was a very limited range of facilities in the village of Blackmore End and that the occupiers of the dwellings were likely to rely heavily on the private car to access facilities further afield.

The Council challenged the Inspector’s decision and argued unsuccessfully in the High Court that paragraph 55 NPPF was concerned not literally with the proximity of a proposed dwelling to other residential dwellings, but rather with proximity to services and facilities so as to maintain or enhance the vitality of the rural community.

In the CA the Council adopted a slightly different argument, that in order to comply with NPPF 55 a development must be neither physically isolated relative to settlements and other developments, nor functionally isolated relative to services and facilities.

This argument was rejected in the CA; ‘isolated’ meant physically isolated from a settlement, not isolated from services and facilities.

Lindblom LJ found that the requirement for LPAs to avoid ‘new isolated homes in the countryside’ was a geographical distinction between places.  In the context of the preceding two sentences of NPPF 55, this meant a distinction between development of housing within a settlement or village, and new dwellings which would be ‘isolated’ in the sense of being separate or remote from a settlement.

In short, it was said by Lindblom LJ, settlements are the preferred location for new housing development in rural areas.  That, in effect, is what the policy says.

He went on to endorse the High Court’s finding that the word ‘isolated’ should be given its ordinary dictionary definition, so that in the context of NPPF 55 it connotes a dwelling that is physically separate or remote from a settlement.  In any particular case, this will be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker.

Similarly, what is a ‘settlement’ or ‘village’ as referred to by NPPF 55 will also be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker.  Lindblom LJ found that to qualify as a settlement or village, in the absence of any definition of these phrases, there is no specified minimum number of dwellings or population required; a settlement boundary does not have to have been fixed in the local plan; nor does there have to be any specified services, or indeed any services.

The Judgment of Lindblom concludes that this ‘common sense’, ‘literal and natural construction’ of NPPF 55 is in accordance with the broader context of policies for sustainable development in the Framework as a whole.  By seeking to maintain and enhance the ‘vitality’ of rural communities through the location of housing, as para 55 does, is a policy which embraces the social dimension of sustainable development, and to restrict the concept of ‘isolated homes’ to meaning isolated from services (as was argued by the Council) would be to deny this policy’s support for dwellings which did contribute to social sustainability.

It should be noted finally, that paragraph 55 of the NPPF is currently (in the consultation draft March 2018) proposed to be replaced with paragraphs 80 and 81 which are in substantially, but not exactly, the same terms.

[1] [2018] EWCA Civ 610

Download the decision here.

3. Visual Impact and Openness of the Greenbelt

Case No: C1/2017/0829
Appeal Decision Date: 16 March 2018
Appellant: Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Respondent: North Yorkshire County Council

In Samuel Smith v North Yorkshire CC[1] the CA have confirmed Turner[2], itself quite a recent CA decision, to the effect that visual impact is potentially relevant to the consideration of the effect of a development on the openness of the Green Belt.

The development at issue in Samuel Smith was an extension of a limestone quarry over approximately 6 hectares in the West Yorkshire Green Belt south west of Tadcaster. The LPA (North Yorks) granted permission and a JR challenge was unsuccessful but permission to appeal to the CA was granted.

In her report to committee the officer determined that the proposed development preserves the openness of the GB and did not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. She noted that openness is not defined but is commonly taken to be the absence of built development, and that because the application site immediately abuts the existing quarry, it would not introduce development into the area so as to conflict with the aims of preserving the openness of the Green Belt.

Overall, she recommended approval of the proposals which she found did not materially harm the character and openness of the GB.

The claimants’ challenge was based on a misdirection about para 90 NPPF.  Paragraphs 87-90 are as follows:

“87. As with previous Green Belt policy, inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

 When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. ‘Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

  1. A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:
  • buildings for agriculture and forestry;
  • provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
  • the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
  • the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
  • limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; or
  • limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.
  1. Certain other forms of development are also not inappropriate in Green Belt provided they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt. These are:
  • mineral extraction;
  • engineering operations;
  • local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
  • the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction; and
  • development brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order.”

Inappropriate development may only be approved if there are VSCs (NPPF 87).  A quarry is capable of not being inappropriate development provided it preserves the openness of the GB (NPPF 90).

It was said by way of challenge, essentially, that by failing to refer specifically to the visual impact of the proposed development on openness, the officer had misdirected the committee so that it approached its decision, wrongly, on the basis that the proposal was not for inappropriate development in the GB and did not have to be justified by VSCs.

Members, guided by the officer advice, assumed that the effect of the development on the visual openness of the GB was not and could not be a relevant consideration in establishing whether the proposal was for inappropriate development; plainly relevant, it was said, in the context of a 6 hectare extension of a quarry.  Had the visual impacts been considered the only conclusion of the committee would have been that the development would not preserve the openness of the GB, would therefore be inappropriate and would therefore have had to be justified by VSCs.

The CA accepted these arguments.  Lindblom LJ giving the leading judgment, notes that NPPF 90 sets out 5 forms of categories, all subject to the proviso that they preserve the openness of the GB and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it.  Whilst openness is not defined he agreed with the finding of Turner that the word must take its meaning from the specific context in which it falls to be applied and that different factors are capable of being relevant to the concept when applied to the particular facts of a case; visual impact as well as spatial impact is implicitly a part of openness.

He went on:
“38 As a general proposition, however, it seems to me that the policy in paragraph 90 makes it necessary to consider whether the effect of a particular development on the openness of the Green Belt can properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question – the very fact of its being there – without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer. To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the openness of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. The policy in paragraph 90 does not do that. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on openness, if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the openness of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy.”

This paragraph provides a useful resume of the distinction between the spatial impact (the simple presence of something on land) and its visual impact, and the reality that the two are often closely related.

In the Samuel Smiths case the Court found that the Council had fallen into error by not considering whether it was likely the development proposed would have a visual impact nor how those visual impacts would bear on the question of whether the development would ‘preserve the openness of the GB’.  The officer’s observation that openness is ‘commonly taken to be the absence of built development’ appeared to lead the assessment away from visual impact and narrow it down to consideration of spatial impact alone.

This decision confirms the CA’s finding in Turner which was itself notable for disproving the decision in a case called Timmins[3] which had stated a clear conceptual distinction between openness and visual impact, such that it was wrong in principle to reach a conclusion on openness by reference to visual impact.  As should be clear now that distinction is incorrect and visual impact is potentially relevant and potentially significant in reaching decisions about openness of the GB.

[1] Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) and Oxton Farm v North Yorkshire CC and Darrington Quarries Led [2018] EWCA Civ 489

[2] Turner v SoS for CLG [2017] 2 P.&C.R.1

[3] Timmins and Another v Gedling BC [2014] EWHC 654 (Admin)

Download the decision here

4Under supply of housing leads to two applications being allowed by SoS – Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/16/3149579 & APP/D3830/W/16//3145499
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Wates Development Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

Application A (ref: DM/15/3979) was dealt with in pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Direction). The appeal (DM/15/3614) was recovered by the Secretary of State (SoS) in pursuance of Section 79 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Wates Development Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for:

Application A: Outline consent for 30 dwellings, of which 30% will be affordable, with only access to be determined at this stage, with landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application ref: DM/15/3979, dated 5 October 2015; and

Appeal: Outline consent for 44 dwellings, of which 30% will be affordable, with only access to be determined at this stage, landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application DM/15/3614, dated 7 September 2015

In allowing the appeal and granting permission for both applications the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Five-year land supply
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the areas of ancient woodland
  • Potential coalescence with nearby settlements
  • Housing mix
  • Safety and convenience of users to adjacent highway network

Five-year Land Supply
Limited weight was given to Mid Sussex Local Plan 2004 (MSLP 2004) Policies C1 and C2 as the Council was unable to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. It was considered that the relevant housing policies conflicted with the aims and objectives of the Framework were therefore not up-to-date. The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan (CDNP) Policy CDNP05 and CDNP08 were also not considered up to date, as such, they were given moderate weight. The emerging MSDP was only be given limited weight.

Effect on the Character and Appearance of the Area
Both applications lie immediately west of existing residential development on Turners Hill Road with the eastern part of the northern boundary adjoining the new Wychwood residential area. It was considered that although the development would result in adverse changes to the character and appearance of the application site itself, the impacts on the character of the wider landscape would not be significant. There are no public viewpoints from the north and views from the eastern side of Bushy Wood would not harmfully impact on the proposed development especially once the proposed buffer planting on the western boundary has matured.

Effect on the Areas of Ancient Woodland
Both application sites adjoin areas of ancient woodland, with Pescotts Wood to the north and Kiln Wood to the south. A 15m wide buffer zone was proposed. With the proposed buffers and appropriate planning conditions, the Council were satisfied with the proposals. The Parish Council argued that the buffers should be increased to 30m wide, however, provided no evidence to justify this request. It was considered that there would be no conflict with development plan policies and the Framework guidance in terms of impact on the areas of ancient woodland.

Potential Coalescence with Nearby Settlements
It was considered that neither of the schemes under consideration would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement. Policy CDNP08 of the CDNP seeks to prevent coalescence by not permitting development outside of the village boundary unless 3 criteria are met. The first being that the development should not detract from the openness and character of the landscape – neither applications were seen to conflict with this criterion. In respect of criterion b, the applications were not seen to contribute to “ribbon development. In terms of criterion c, the Parish Council argued that the proposals would reduce gaps neighbouring settlements. It was concluded that, none of the application proposals would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement.

 Housing Mix
The affordable housing mix proposed for each scheme is set out within the S106 agreements and fall short of the 80% figure for 2-3 bedroom units, however the Inspector considered it to be acceptably close and the mix was acceptable to the Councils Housing Officer.  It was concluded thatthe mix would perform satisfactorily when assessed against the requirements of paragraph 50 of the Framework, and all would be capable of delivering an appropriate and acceptable mix of market and affordable housing”.

Highways
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that, “subject to the imposition of his proposed conditions and the provisions of the S106 Agreements, neither of the two schemes under consideration would have any unacceptable impacts on the safety or convenience of the user of the adjacent highway network and thus no material conflict with MSLP Policy T4 or CDNP Policy CDNP10”

Conclusion
In the absence of a 5-year supply, Paragraph 14 of the NNPF indicates that where relevant policies are out of date permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken. It was concluded that on balance, the adverse impacts identified did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

Based on the above, the both the appeal and called in application were granted permission.

Download Decision here.

5. Under Supply of Housing leads to Two Applications Allowed by SoS – Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/16/3149575 & APP/D3830/V/16/3161086
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Gleeson Development Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 In pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 application B (ref: DM/15/4094) and application C (ref DM/16/233) were referred to the SoS.

Background
An appeal was made by Gleeson Development Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for:

Application B: outline consent for up to 60 dwellings, of which up to 30% will be affordable, with only the principle means of access to be determined at this stage, along with associated landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application ref: DM/15/4094, dated 9 October 2015; and

Application C: outline consent for up to 30 dwellings, of which up to 30% will be affordable, with only the principle means of access to be determined at this stage, along with associated landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application DM/16/2330, dated 27 May 2016.

In granting permission for both applications the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Five-year land supply
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the areas of ancient woodland
  • Potential coalescence with nearby settlements
  • Housing mix
  • Safety and convenience of users to adjacent highway network

Five-year Land Supply
Limited weight was given to Mid Sussex Local Plan 2004 (MSLP 2004) Policies C1 and C2 as the Council was unable to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. It was considered that the relevant housing policies conflicted with the aims and objectives of the Framework were therefore not up-to-date. The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan (CDNP) Policy CDNP05 and CDNP08 were also not considered up to date, as such, they were given moderate weight. The emerging MSDP was only be given limited weight at this stage.

Effect on the Character and Appearance of the Area
In the Council’s SHLAA the Site was assessed as unsuitable for residential development. The Site was seen to have a distinct rural character with a lack of defensible boundary to the east and south. When assessed against CDNP Policy CDN05, the development was seen to harm the character of the area and would detract from the openness and character of the landscape. It was acknowledged that this was an inevitable consequence of developing any greenfield site and not always unacceptable in the overall planning balance. It was concluded the proposed densities would be acceptable. No firm, specific evidence was put before the Inspector to demonstrate what harm would arise from the Gleeson 60 scheme. In light of this, there was no unacceptable conflict with criteria (a) or (b) of CDNP Policy CDNP05 or the first criterion of CDNP05.

Effect on the areas of Ancient Woodland
Both application sites adjoin areas of ancient woodland, with Burleigh Wood to the west and Rushetts Wood to the east. A 15m wide buffer zone was proposed. With the proposed buffers and appropriate planning conditions, the Council were satisfied with the proposals. The submitted ecology statement confirmed that the proposals would not result in the loss of any ancient woodland habitats, nor the loss of any trees or woodland. It was considered that there would be no conflict with development plan policies and the Framework guidance in terms of impact on the areas of ancient woodland.

Potential Coalescence with Nearby Settlements
It was considered that neither of the schemes under consideration would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement. The broad extent of Rushetts Wood lies generally between the Gleeson site and East Grinstead.  In these circumstances, the Inspector was not persuaded that any of the proposed developments would result in any lessening of the separate identity and amenity of Crawley Down, nor lead to any significant perception of coalescence with nearby built-up areas.  As such, found no conflict with policy C2.

 Housing Mix
The affordable housing mix proposed for each scheme is set out within the S106 agreements and fall short of the 80% figure for 2-3 bedroom units, however the Inspector considered it to be acceptably close and the mix was acceptable to the Councils Housing Officer.

Highways
The Parish Council raised concerns regarding the use of Hazel Close and Hazel Way to serve a major development. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that, subject to the imposition of his proposed conditions and the provisions of the S106 Agreements, the schemes would not have any unacceptable impacts on the safety or convenience of the user of the adjacent highway network and thus no material conflict with MSLP Policy T4 or CDNP Policy CDNP10.

Conclusion
In the absence of a 5-year supply, Paragraph 14 of the NNPF indicates that where relevant policies are out of date permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken. It was concluded that on balance, the adverse impacts identified did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

Based on the above, both applications were granted permission.
Download Decision here.

6. Site Located within 4.3km from Ashdown Forest granted Permission for up to 200 dwellings – East Grinstead, Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/W/16/3142487
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Linden Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 This appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Linden Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for “for outline planning permission for up to 200 dwellings, provision of new internal access roads and footpaths, landscaping, open space, sustainable drainage system, earthworks and associated infrastructure and for full permission for the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS) in, accordance with application ref: DM/15/0429 dated 2 February 2015”.

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Supply and delivery of housing
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • Effect on transport
  • Effect of biodiversity
  • Effect on historic environment

Supply and Delivery of Housing
The proposals would bring forward 140 market houses with 60 units of affordable housing. The material contribution of the provision of housing in the district was given significant weight. The scheme would also bring substantial economic and environmental benefits.

Effect on the character and appearance of the area
The Site is divided into two parcels. Parcel A lies to the south east of the railway and to the southern western edge of the built-up area of East Grinstead. Parcel B lies north west of Parcel A and is entirely in SANGS land. The Site adjoins the AONB. It was considered that Parcel A has very limited inter-visibility with the AONB and did not pass the threshold of ‘valued’ as used in the NPPF. However, Parcel B was more representative of Landscape of High Weald due to its extensive views of the ancient woodland. The Inspector concluded that the visual impacts would be localised, with the most significant visual impacts experienced by the occupiers of those houses closest to the site. Moderate impacts would be views from Turners Hill Road, Garden Wood Road and the public footpath to the south of the site. Other visual impacts were described as relatively minor.

Effect on Transport
The Council’s refusal based on highways matters was withdrawn before the enquiry. Rule 6 party however maintained their objection on highways grounds and criticised the Council for accepting a Transport Assessment (TA) which did not include an assessment on A22 junctions. The Inspector disagreed and stated that there has been a robust assessment of transport impacts. Furthermore, the appeal Site enhances opportunities for sustainable transport modes and the proposal and highways contributions would enable two key junctions to be improved. He also noted that the traffic generated by the appeal scheme would be minimal in relation to traffic passing through the junction. As such, the appeal scheme accords with paragraph 32 of the Framework.

Effect on Biodiversity
The Site is located approximately 4.3km from Ashdown Forest. The HRA concluded that the appeal scheme is not likely to have a significant effect on the Ashdown Forest SPA/SAC. The Inspector therefore considered that the proposals were unlikely to have a significant effect on Ashdown Forest SPA, SAC or SSSI and there would be no harmful effects on biodiversity in general.

 Effect on Historic Environment
The Inspector considered that there would be no direct impact on either of the Grade II listed buildings; Hill Place Farm House and Imberhorne Viaduct. The setting of Hill Place Farmhouse was seen to make very little contribution to its significance as a designated heritage asset. As the Site has already been diminished by modern agricultural buildings, the appeal scheme would not pose any harm. Furthermore, the harm to Bluebell Railways would be negligible. With respect to Inborne Viaduct, although the impact on views was considered as less than substantial, the inspector felt that the new public footpath passing close to the foot of the viaduct would be an important public benefit as it would provide excellent views – this benefit outweighed the harm.

Conclusion
The appeal scheme was seen to make a meaningful contribution to housing without significant harm to the transport network and biodiversity. Although the appeal scheme would fail to preserve the listed viaduct, the harm would be minor. In light of these material considerations, the Inspector expressed that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the impacts and recommended that the appeal is allowed which the SoS agreed.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed
Download Decision here.

7. SoS goes against Inspector’s Recommendation to Refuse Planning Permission and Grants Permission for 200- Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/W/16/3152641
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Wates Development Ltd
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 This appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Wates Development Ltd against the decision of Mid Sussex District Council to refuse “outline planning permission for 200 dwellings, a 9.54ha Country Park and land for a ½ Form Entry Primary School, together with associated access road, car parking, landscaping and open space at land south of Scamps Hill/Scaynes Hill Road, Lindfield, West Sussex, in accordance with application ref:  DM/15/4457, dated 4 November 2015.”.

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Character and Appearance
  • Sustainable Development
  • Development Plan

Character and Appearance
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that although there would be harm to the landscape due to residential development, this should be overcome at reserved matters stage. Furthermore, the effect of the proposals on the character and appearance of Walstead should not be a bar to development, and as such this was given limited weight.

Sustainable Development
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s conclusion that the proposed scheme would recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, secure high quality and inclusive design and would not harm any valued landscape. The Secretary of State therefore gave moderate weight to these benefits.

Development Plan
As the Council holds less than a 5-year housing land supply, limited weight was given to MSLP Policy C1 and NP Policy 1. Full weight was given to LP Policy B1(a) which supports the scheme.

Conclusion
The SoS concluded that the scheme conflicted with MSLP Policies C1 and NP Policy 1 – however, the policies were seen to be inconsistent with the Framework and therefore considered as out of date. In the absence of a 5-year land supply, para 14 of the Framework indicates that permissions should be granted unless there are adverse impacts that significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The housing benefits were seen to carry substantial weight and the economic, social and environmental benefits each carry moderate weight. Due to these reasons, the SoS allowed the appeal.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download Decision here.

8. Application of up to 130 Dwellings Refused due to Unacceptable Risk to Safety of Future Occupiers from Unmanned Railway Crossing- Hassocks, Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/17/3166992
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Roydon Homes Ltd
Respondent: Mid Sussex District Council

 Pursuant to Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the application was referred to SoS instead of being dealt with by the local planning authority.

Background
The application was made by Roydon Homes Ltd for residential development of up to “130 dwellings, consisting of 12 No. 1 bed apartments, 27 No. 2 bed houses, 47 No. 3 bed houses, and associated access, together with full permission for change of use of part of the land to form country open space in accordance with application ref:  DM/15/0626, dated 13 February 2015”

In refusing the application, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • The supply and delivery of housing in Mid Sussex
  • Effects on flood risk
  • Effects on air quality
  • Safety of future occupiers in relation to the railway crossing

Supply and Delivery
The Inspector stated that “Hassocks is the most sustainable of the District’s Category 2 settlements, and is therefore a natural location for a large part of the extra houses that will be needed.” As such, the proposed development was seen to boost the local housing supply.

Flood Risk
Part of the Site is located within flood zone 2 and 3. It was contended by the applicant that residential development will only be located in zone 1 and open space will be located in zones 2 and 3. This type of disaggregation is accepted by NPPG.

Air Quality
The proposed development was seen to not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on air quality and therefore conformed with MSLP Policy CS22, which seeks to avoid unacceptable pollution in any form.

Future Occupiers
The Inspector identified potential implications for public safety.  In the absence of any measures to improve the safety of the unmanned railway crossing, permitting the proposed development in such close proximity, it was considered as an unacceptable risk to the safety of future occupiers, contrary to the aims of NPPF paragraph 32. The SoS agreed with the Inspector’s view.

Conclusion
The SoS concluded that, “despite the benefits that would flow from the proposal, the unacceptable risk to the safety of future occupiers from the unmanned railway crossing represents a sufficiently substantial material consideration to outweigh the benefits, so that the application should be refused”.

Based on the above, the application was refused.
Download Decision here.

9. Sainsburys Development Approved for 683 Homes Allowed with 4% Affordable Housing Ilford, Redbridge

 Appeal Ref: APP/W5780/W/16/3164036
Appeal Decision Date: 14 March 2018
Appellant: Sainsburys Supermarket Ltd
Council: London Borough of Redbridge

 The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
The appeal was made by Sainsburys Supermarket Ltd against the decision of the Council of the London Borough of Redbridge (“Council”) to refuse planning permission for “demolition of existing buildings and structures and development of a replacement Sainsbury’s store (Use Class A1) of 4,745 sqm (net sales area), 951 sqm (GIA) of flexible commercial floorspace (Use Class A1/A2/A3/B1/D1) and 683 residential units (Use Class C3) arranged in 9 blocks including 2 terraces of mews and town houses.  An energy centre and plant is provided at basement and lower ground level, along with 410 retail car parking spaces and 42 residential car parking spaces. Associated highways and landscaping works, in accordance with application ref: 4499/15, dated 13 November 2015.”

In allowing the appeal, the SoS gave consideration to the following main issues:

  • Housing need
  • Density
  • Design
  • Impact on local infrastructure
  • Impact on neighbouring residents
  • Impact on future residents
  • Impact on traffic
  • Effect on the retail function
  • Effect on heritage assets
  • Affordable Housing

Conclusion
“The SoS considered that the public benefits arising from the proposals would significantly outweigh the low level of ‘less than substantial’ harm to the significance of the Grade II* listed Hospital Chapel and its associated buildings. Furthermore the adverse impacts of the proposals do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. Overall he considered that there are therefore material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan”

Based on the above, the application was allowed.
Download Decision here

 

10.Benefits Outweighed harm to the Green Belt by Reason of Inappropriateness and any Other Harm– Effingham, Guildford

Appeal Ref: APP/Y3615/W/16/3151098
Appeal Decision Date: 21 March 2018
Appellant: Berkley Homes
Council: Guildford Borough Council

The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
The appeal was made by Berkley Homes against the decision of Guildford Borough Council (“Council”) to refuse planning permission for “hybrid planning application for outline permission (only access to be considered) for the erection of a replacement secondary school for Howard of Effingham and up to 258 residential dwellings with means of access to Howard of Effingham School and Lodge Farm, Lower Road following demolition of all existing buildings; and full permission for the erection of 37 dwellings, with access, parking and landscape works on land at Brown’s Field, Brown’s Lane, Effingham, in accordance with application ref:  14/P/02109, dated 17 October 2014.”

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Green Belt
  • Character and appearance of conservation area
  • Heritage assets
  • Ecology
  • Playing pitch
  • Housing supply

Green Belt
The Inspector and SoS agreed that the proposal would represent inappropriate development in the Green Belt as such substantial weight was attached to the harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

Character and appearance of conservation area
It was concluded that the scheme proposes limited extent of erosion of local character and the mitigating effects of the development, the harm is limited in extent, and carried medium weight

Ecology
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that sufficient mitigation can be secured by condition to overcome concerns over ecological matters in relation to the local Site of Nature Conservation Importance and protected species. He further agreed that the legitimate concerns over the efficacy of the wildlife corridor can in good measure be addressed, and that these matters are neutral in terms of weight.

Playing pitch
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that the proposed replacement school’s facilities would result in a change to the functions of the club, the benefits on offer outweigh the loss.

Housing supply
The Council falls significantly below the 5-year housing land supply (2.1years). The Inspector attached substantial weight to the delivery of 295 dwellings with 20% affordable housing.

Conclusion
The SoS considered that the benefits outweighed harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness and any other harm, and so very special circumstances exist. The SoS concluded that there are no specific policies in the Framework that indicate that this development should be restricted and that there are material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.

Based on the above, the application was allowed./
Download Decision here

 

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Latest GDPO amendments to Agricultural Permitted Development Rights

 

On Monday 5th March 2018, the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab announced changes to Permitted Development Rights which enable flexibility for rural sites to be converted from three to up to five family homes (Class Use C3) to better meet local housing need without the need to apply for Planning Permission.  You can read his statement here.

Amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) were approved by Parliament on 12th March 2018 and have come into force today, 6th April 2018.

The amendments allow buildings which currently are/were in ‘active agricultural use’ on or before 20th March 2013 to be redeveloped for up to 5 dwellings. This will allow for the following:

  • Up to 3 larger homes within a maximum of 465 sq. m. (5005.2sqf)
  • Up to 5 smaller homes, each no larger than 100 sq. m. (1076.4sqf)
  • Combination of both above options – no more than 5 homes (no more than 3 being larger homes).

The permitted floor area has marginally increased from 450 sqm (4,843 sqft) to 465sqm (5005.2sqf). As set out above, the provisions can be combined to provide up to 5 dwellings per agricultural unit subject to the floor space limitations, with no more than 3 dwellings as larger dwellings.

Permitted Development Rights are subject to obtaining approval from the LPA first. This means that you must notify the relevant LPA and submit a prior approval application before starting any work. If the Council do not issue a decision within the time frame of 56 days, then development can begin.

Restrictions
It must be noted that permitted development rights are generally more restricted in the following designated areas:

  • Conservation Area
  • National Park
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

Criteria
The following criteria will need to be met before a development can be considered as permitted development:

  • Buildings must have been used solely for agricultural use on or before 20 March 2013.
  • The new rights are not afforded to those who have used PD rights to build or extend buildings since 20 March 2013.

Please note that once the new PD rights have been exercised, there will be no opportunity to construct or extend an agricultural building for a period of 10 years.

Urbanissta welcome these amendments to the legislation, though its not a silver bullet, are hopeful that these changes will boost the number of homes created through the conversions of agricultural buildings which will assist in meeting local housing needs across the country.

The explanatory memorandum can be read here.

The amendments to the Legislation can be read here.

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The London Plan- In case you Missed it

 

The London Plan is the strategic planning policy document for all London Boroughs and forms part of the statutory development plan for each authority. It sets the strategic housing requirement for the whole of the metropolitan area and how this will be delivered as well as setting the strategic approach to other matters such as economy, design, heritage open space and landscaping and technical details such as renewable energy and drainage.

The current version of the London Plan was first adopted in 2011 with changes made during the course of 2015 and 2016.

The new London Plan or ‘Replacement Plan’ as it is also known was published for consultation in December 2017. This revised plan sees a step change in approach to planning decisions as it goes much further than being an overarching strategic planning document. Upon its anticipated adoption in 2019, it will come into effect straight away and the way in which it written means that authorities would not need to prepare a Part 1 Local Plan.

Whilst the Mayor is seeking to take some of the control of the function of the Boroughs, it doesn’t look to take all of them including the duty to co-operate. As the HBF wrote in their representations, the Mayor cannot pick and chose which functions they want to perform. The Mayor also proposes to set a metropolitan wide level for affordable housing at 50%
The Replacement Plan will run from 2019 to 2041 and sets a requirement of 64,935 dwellings over the first 10-year period. The capacity is made up of 400,470 homes from large sites and 245,730 homes over the 10 year period from small sites of less than 0.25 ha.

There is also reliance on increasing the number of units on those opportunity areas identified in the current London Plan and identifies approximately 9 new Opportunity Areas.

Development at Kings Cross Opportunity Area

Current and emerging Opportunity Areas. London Plan SHLAA 2017

There is a heavy reliance on brownfield land and optimising potential on:

  • Sites of PTAL 3-6
  • Mixed use redevelopment of car parks and low density retail parks
  • Intensification of residential on commercial leisure and infrastructure sites
  • Redevelopment of surplus sites
  • Small sites
  • Industrial sites
  • Sites that are allocated for residential and mixed-use development

There is also a general presumption against single use low-density retail and leisure parks.

Green Belt
The plan identifies that all the dwellings proposed can be provided within the City without extending out into the Green Belt. Policy G2 London’s Green Belt states that:
A The Green Belt should be protected from inappropriate development:
1) development proposals that would harm the Green Belt should be refused
2) the enhancement of the Green Belt to provide appropriate multifunctional uses for Londoners should be supported.
B The extension of the Green Belt will be supported, where appropriate. It’ s de-designation will not.

Given that 800,000 people commute between the City and the wider South East on a daily basis, it is questionable as to whether 65,000 dwellings can be delivered within the boundary of London. Nevertheless, the approach to Green Belt reviews should be undertaken by local authorities within their Part 1 Plans.

Commuting Patterns across London and wider region. London Plan 2017

The Plan Identifies 12 infrastructure priorities that the mayor will support within the Wider South East as they are of importance to the city. These include:

  1. East West Rail and new Expressway road link (Oxford – Cambridge)
  2. North Down Rail Link (Gatwick – Reading) including extension to Oxford
  3. A27 / M27 / A259 and rail corridor (Dover – Southampton)
  4. West Anglia Mainline, Crossrail 2 North (London – Stansted – Cambridge -Peterborough) and M11
  5. Great Eastern Mainline (London – Ipswich – Norwich) and A12
  6. Essex Thameside, A217 and A13 corridor
  7. Thames Gateway Kent : Elizabeth Line Extension and HS1 (London – North Kent -Channel Tunnel)
  8.  Lower Thames Crossing
  9. Brighton Mainline (London – Gatwick – Brighton)
  10. South West Mainline, Crossrail 2 South West (London – Surrey / Southern Rail Access to Heathrow) and A3
  11. Great Western Mainline (London – Reading / Western Rail Access to Heathrow)
  12. Midlands and West Coast Mainline (London – Luton – Bedford / Milton Keynes)
  13. Felixstowe – Nuneaton / Midlands and A14


Density
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the removal of the density matrix within Policy DM6 of the Replacement Plan in favour of higher densities across all sites. Policy DM6 requires the submission of a Management Plan where density is exceeded in the following cases:

  1. 110 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 0 to 1
  2. 240 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 2 to 3;
  3. 405 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 4 to 6

All of these units per hectare standards are those applied to central locations suggesting that a higher density approach to new developments will be the normal approach. A high-density scheme in a suburban location may not be appropriate.

The Policy also requires that
“measures of density should be provided for all planning applications that include new residential units:

  1. Number of units per hectare
  2. Number of habitable rooms per hectare
  3. Number or bedrooms per hectare
  4. Number of bedspaces per hectare.”

So, the density matrix whilst not there will still clearly play a part in the decision-making process for authorities.

Tall Buildings

Policy D8 states that the definition of a Tall building can be made by each local authority, again suggesting the approach to higher density development wherever possible. A tall building is still referable to the GLA if it exceeds 30m.

Design
Policy D2 requires design reviews to be undertaken at least once in addition to pre-application advice if they are:
– Above the density indicated in Policy D6
– Propose a building defined as tall building or that is more than 30m in height where there is no local tall building definition.

The approach to design should be taken by each authority within their Part 1 Plans. The approach to tall building design reviews is not helpful when read with Policy DM8.
Within Policy D3 inclusive design is promoted but no clarification is provided as to the threshold for inclusive design.

Regeneration
The Replacement Plan states that Boroughs should identify Strategic Areas for Regeneration in Local Plans based on a thorough understanding of the demographics of communities and their needs.

Affordable Workspace
The Replacement Plan emphasises the need to provide affordable workspace and low cost business space through Policy E3 Affordable Workspace

Basement Development
A Policy is now included on the need to assess large scale basement development along with a Policy also stating that any applications for fracking should be refused.

Public Houses
More protection for pubs is now included along with a policy requiring the provision of public toilets in proposals that involve people standing for long periods of time.

Overheating
There is now clear guidance on how to deal with managing heat risks, requiring an assessment of overheating through CIBSE TM59 for domestic developments and TM 52 for non-domestic developments. In addition, TM 49 guidance and datasets should also be used to ensure that all new development is designed for the climate it will experience over its design life. The

Air Quality
Whilst air quality is addressed in reference to other policies in the current London Plan, air quality requirements are addressed as a standalone policy in the Replacement Plan, requiring development to not lead to further deterioration of existing poor air quality, or create areas that exceed air quality limits.

Drainage
The Replacement Plan sets a Policy aim for development to achieve greenfield run off rates as the starting point. Development proposals for impermeable paving should be refused where appropriate, including on small surfaces such as front gardens and driveways.

Car Parking
Car-free development should be the starting point for all development proposals in places that are (or are planned to be) well-connected by public transport, with developments elsewhere designed to provide the minimum necessary parking (‘car-lite’) with maximum standards.

Those proposals with parking included need to include electric vehicle charging points.

Strategic Approach to Transport

The Replacement Plan sets out a significant list of transport infrastructure projects proposed to deliver the strategic target of 80% of all trips in London to be made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041 and authorities in preparing development plans would need to support these projects. Such projects include the Silvertown Tunnel, Crossrail 2 and the provision of a new bridge linking south to east at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

Next Steps
The Examination in Public will take place in the Autumn of 2019 with the adoption of the final London Plan in the Autumn of 2019.

 

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