Posts By: dcplatest

Picking up the community engagement theme

A 45m high wind turbine was allowed in the east Riding of Yorkshire (DCS Number 400-009-878) after an inspector decided that the proposal had community backing. Following the site visit in June 2015 the secretary of state issued a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) in relation to wind turbines. This indicated that when determining planning applications for wind energy development local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if the site was in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a local or neighbourhood plan and it could be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities had been fully addressed and the proposal had their backing. Following consultation, the council received eight letters of objection relating to matters including landscape harm, cumulative impact, noise and shadow flicker. The inspector decided that any landscape harm would be very limited in extent, there was very little potential for other turbines to be seen in conjunction with the appeal proposal, conditions would ensure that noise levels were below recommended limits, and hedgerows and trees would mitigate against any limited potential for shadow flicker. On this basis the inspector decided that whilst the site was not within any area identified as suitable for wind turbine development the planning concerns expressed in the submissions from eight local addresses had been fully addressed. He reasoned that since the WMS stated that whether or not a proposal had the backing of the affected local community was a planning judgement for the local planning authority, by inference that judgement must also be for the inspector on appeal. He concluded that the concerns of a small proportion of the local community had been addressed and the scheme could be seen to have the backing of the local community as a whole in the context of the WMS.

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Inspectors are human too

An inspector took a pragmatic view in respect of an enforcement notice requiring the removal of two caravans on the Norfolk coast which had been sited there following the destruction of the appellant’s bungalow (DCS Number 400-009-887). The bungalow had been destroyed by a tidal surge in December 2013 and the case appears to have an intriguing backstory: “I do not propose to refer in detail to the criticisms made by each side of the other. For example, whether or not the appellant could have foreseen the events that left her homeless when she purchased the property, and whether or not the actions of the council contributed to the coastal erosion that led to the loss of that property, does not alter the position in which she finds herself.” says the inspector.

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A bird in the hand?

“In reaching my conclusion against the main issue I have taken into account that the proposal would create jobs, provide income and support a business.”

In a Manchester case (DCS Number 400-009-861) an inspector denied permission for a car showroom on a principal route into the city because it would harm the character and appearance of the area and prejudice the objectives of a regeneration masterplan. The site comprised two parcels of land adjacent to a hand car wash occupying a former petrol filling station. In the vicinity there was a mix of commercial uses, railway infrastructure and advertisement hoardings. Permission was sought for two years. Even in the context of a varied urban environment, the inspector decided, the layout of the site would lead to a poor quality form of development that would detract from the route to and from the city centre. Moreover, the site was bounded by a masterplan area which sought to deliver a programme of new housing, community facilities, highway improvements, landscaping, open space and infrastructure.

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Outside play at nursery – whether condition enforceable

Day nurseries are often located within the residential areas which they serve and concerns raised by neighbours commonly relate to traffic generation and noise from children playing. In a Manchester case (DCS Number 400-009-857) the appellants wished to increase the number of children from seven to twelve and to extend the opening hours. Whilst the inspector was satisfied that noise transfer to the adjoining property could be addressed by means of acoustic boards along the party wall he was not convinced about the arrangements for outdoor play and the impact on the enjoyment of the adjoining garden. The appellant maintained that play times were staggered so that only small groups of up to four children would be outside at any one time – no different from children playing at a family home. A search of the Compass database reveals that a condition along these lines is frequently used in practice. In this case, however, the inspector came to the following conclusion; “Although a planning condition could be imposed, I am not persuaded that it would be enforceable due to the practicalities of detecting a contravention or remedying a breach”.

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This continues the theme of the duplication of controls raised in an earlier post

An inspector permitted the construction of a basement extension at a mid terrace house in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea subject to a condition that the works should be overseen throughout their duration by a chartered structural or civil engineer (DCS Number 400-009-842). Neighbours raised concern about structural damage to their properties and the inspector, in allowing the appeal, attached the condition “to protect the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers”.

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Here is a case which raises a novel development management practice point

The owner of a semi-detached locally listed cottage in east London who built a three-storey rear extension in non-matching materials failed to convince an inspector that the development would comply with a condition requiring matching materials once he had cleaned up the bricks on the original house (DCS Number 400-009-655). Aside from the fact that the design of the extension did not comply with that granted planning permission, it had been constructed in new yellow stock bricks. The old bricks on the main building were yellow stock bricks but were now well weathered and significantly darker than when they were originally laid, probably well over 100 years ago. The inspector reasoned that if the appellant did manage to clean the old bricks successfully then the materials might match. However, no sample panel of cleaned bricks had been prepared and he simply did not know for sure if it would be an acceptable way forward. He could not, therefore, grant planning permission on this basis, he decided.

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