Over the last few decades we have been quietly nursing the opinion that the civil servants charged with drafting planning legislation, before they even consider putting pen to paper or digit to keyboard, should be compelled to serve a period in a local authority planning department. Then, they might gain some insight into the difficulties that can arise for the poor souls who have to put their output into practice.
Monthly Archives: May 2017
In It’s not fair the Blog criticised the lack of consistency between two appeal decisions (DCS Numbers 400-010-764 and 400-012-610), involving the imposition of conditions requiring planning obligations. The first inspector had decided that it was acceptable to attach a condition requiring a planning obligation in order to ensure that the development was car-free, the second inspector decided that it was not, due to conflict with the PPG.
To an extent, the role of the planning system is to provide certainty to the development industry. Accordingly, it is always rather lovely to see consistency in decision-making, and it appears that inspectors are currently singing from the same hymn sheet with regard to the interpretation of planning conditions.
Or, you can find big stuff in little stuff. Not a very scholarly translation, admittedly, but multum in parvo neatly sums up the significance of punctuation in planning policy and decision making.
Readers working in holiday areas might be interested in an appeal by a holiday caravan site on the Kent coast, in which they sought the reduction of their closed period from two months to two weeks (DCS Number 400-015-300). Planning authorities will often resist such proposals on the grounds that the use becomes tantamount to residential occupation. Whilst the inspector in this case rejected that argument he nevertheless dismissed the appeal on the novel grounds that permanent local residents ought to be allowed some peace and quiet during the winter months.
An inspector dealing with an appeal against the refusal of a lawful development certificate for a detached swimming pool and store at a house in west Yorkshire (DCS Number 400-015-315) has helpfully set out the case law on the definition of curtilage, which readers might find it useful to cut out and keep.
Paragraph 112 of the NPPF states:
“Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.”
This doesn’t come up very often so we thought we’d share.
A condition requiring rooftop extensions at three adjacent properties in north London to be constructed concurrently has been upheld at appeal (DCS Number 400-015-207). The locally listed buildings formed part of a Georgian terrace and the council was concerned to protect the overall unity and character of the terrace. The owners of two of the properties were keen to proceed as soon as possible, whilst the third owner could not commit to the same time frame as the others. The inspector understood that, as the properties were in individual ownership, the condition was frustrating the ambition of others, particularly that of the appellant who was keen to progress a wider scheme of restoration for his property.
We all know that we should avoid the deification of money but every now and then we might need a reminder. So was it due to divine intervention that a halo illuminated sign on a commercial building opposite Bristol cathedral was recently turned down at appeal (DCS Number 400-014-940)? God only knows, but the inspector considered that the overall size, height and illumination of the sign was such that it would detract from the imposing presence of the medieval cathedral. The appellant referred to commercial reasons for seeking the signage, which would comprise bronze coloured anodised aluminium letters with halo lighting designed to create a glow effect. The inspector countered that this was not a matter which she was able to take into account (heaven forfend!) as it did not relate to amenity or public safety.
An allowed appeal for the residential conversion of a Derbyshire pub (DCS Number 200-006-392) reminds us that the supporting text attached to a planning policy ought not to be relied on too heavily.