Posts Categorized: Opinion

This case further illustrates the need for plain English






Outline permission for up to 90 dwellings on the edge of a town in Staffordshire was rejected, the inspector finding that it would have a significant adverse effect on the setting of a conservation area and that this would materially harm the conservation area’s significance (DCS Number 200-004-537). He agreed with both main parties that the resulting effect would amount to less than substantial harm in the terms of the Framework. However, a finding of less than substantial harm, he explained, should not be equated with a less than substantial planning objection.

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A plea for plain English






What does ‘less than substantial harm’ mean to the ordinary man in the street? Not significant harm, maybe. What is indicated if ‘less than substantial harm’ is found to the setting of a heritage asset? That the proposed development is likely to be found acceptable, maybe. No and no.

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A dash of colour






Retrospective listed building consent has been refused for the painting of the exterior of a ground floor Glasgow bar in a burgundy colour (DCS Number 400-009-896). The appellant explained that since taking on the lease in 2012 the business had attracted core regulars but had struggled to attract passing trade, customers having indicated that a common problem was identifying the bar as a separate entity from the hotel above (…and that was before they’d had a drink?! Anyway…). Since the burgundy paint was applied business in the bar had increased by about 30 per cent. The reporter took particular exception to the clash between the burgundy colour and the cream colour of the hotel.

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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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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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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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