‘Shape of Pond’

And now for a non-Yorkshire-based item ….

It isn’t just ordinary folk that have planning problems. For the last 2 years or so, popstar Ed Sheeran has been having issues with his local council, South Suffolk Coastal District Council, culminating in recent enforcement investigations that have been picked up by the national media.

The issues are associated with a pond that Ed developed on arable farmland he owns near Denninington in East Anglia without first seeking planning permission. Consequently, Mr Sheeran submitted a retrospective application for the pond, which gained planning permission in January 2017 for ‘wildlife’ purposes.

However, local people have apparently been claiming that the singer has been using the pond for swimming, leading to the Council having to carry out its own enquiries.

The upshot is that the planning authority have concluded that it does not appear to them at least that the pond is being used for anything other than its authorised use despite its kidney-shaped ‘swimming’ pool layout, the diving board -looking ‘jetty’ and the two sets of convenient ‘maintenance’ access stepping stone steps! The nearby bathing-hut style ‘equipment’ sheds have similarly caused them no worries. We will leave it to you to make your own mind up as to whether this pool lends itself to swimming or not and whether its design should or shouldn’t have been approved.

We contacted the Council and they said:

As a result of the concerns raised, Suffolk Coastal’s Planning Enforcement Team visited the premises. There was no evidence that it is not a wildlife
pond, as plants are growing in and around it, or that the planning condi ons had been broken. We will con nue to monitor the situa on. If anyone has any evidence that these ponds have been used for another purpose, they should provide this informa on to the Suffolk Coastal District
Council Planning Enforcement Team via email at: d.c.enforcement@eastsuffolk.gov.uk or the informa on can be reported online at: h p://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/planning-enforcement/

If, like Ed, you have fallen foul of the planning rules, don’t panic – just get in touch with us as soon as you can. In these types of case, our advice is aimed at giving you peace of mind.  Northern Planners often help clients who have inadvertently undertaken works that require planning permission. In no small part, this scenario is the result of the complicated system of planning rules that we all now face.  Guiding you through that maze and extricating people out of planning difficulties is part of our expertise.

We wish Ed all the best with his wildlife pond going forward, especially on hot Summer days 😉

Halving the Affordable Housing Requirement








Each month we take a look at a recent significant local appeal decision to see what can be learnt and potentially applied to other cases. This time it is the turn of a 103-home scheme at Moorview Way in Skipton.

Inspector Anne Jordon thought that a developer’s profit level of between 18% and 19% would be sustainable in this case and that in relation to viability the development would be capable of sustaining the delivery of 40% affordable housing on site. However, she concluded that the Council’s demands for a 40% element of affordable housing could not be supported because there was no Local Plan policy to back it up. It didn’t help the Council either that their Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPD) document “Negotiating Affordable Housing Contributions August 2016”, had been the subject of a legal challenge and had been quashed by the High Court. Inspector Jordon accepted the developer’s unilateral offer of 20% affordable housing instead.

Neighbourhood Planning Bill will give more power to local communities

In news that will please many communities, the Government’s recently released Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 aims to support more housebuilding, provide more local say over developments and speed up the neighbourhood planning process.
The biggest change in the Bill requires Councils to take account of emerging neighbourhood development plans while determining planning applications, not just those that have been formally adopted following a referendum.
The new Bill will also introduce a variety of other changes to the neighbourhood planning system, including a more flexible process for altering neighbourhood plans. The technical consultation document explains that local planning authorities should be able to introduce minor adjustments to neighbourhood plans or orders “at any time without the need for public consultation, examination or referendum”, and proposes a new procedure for minor changes, as long as they are “not so significant or substantial as to change the nature of the plan”.
Another change proposed by the Government would put more pressure on local councils to involve local community while preparing local development plans.
Since introduction of neighbourhood planning around 2,000 communities have taken the decision to produce a neighbourhood development plan.
Get in touch with our friendly team if you would like to know more!

A chance to influence the future of Harrogate


Potential masterplan proposals for Montpellier Parade and Prospect Gardens in Harrogate (Source: Harrogate Borough Council)

Potential masterplan proposals for Montpellier Parade and Prospect Gardens in Harrogate (Source: Harrogate Borough Council)

Harrogate Borough Council are seeking views on the future of Harrogate Town centre during a six week consultation running until 16 October 2015. This consultation allows local residents, businesses and community groups to share their views on how Harrogate should develop.

Local planners and urban designers are in the process of producing a Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan. The main objective of the strategy and masterplan is to provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the town centre and to develop a vision and design for the future, which will ensure Harrogate’s continuing economic prosperity.

The Draft Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan features:

  • a summary of the findings of a comprehensive assessment of the current situation in the town centre
  • a vision of what the town centre could be like in 2025 along with a number of strategic objectives that would be necessary to achieve that vision
  • a masterplan for the centre of the town and an outline of the projects and proposals relating to the plan
  • policy recommendations for how to manage the town centre and
  • a plan for implementing the changes proposed in the draft masterplan

Throughout the six-week consultation process there will be a number of ways that the public can find out more about the scheme and give their views including:

  • From now until 16 October the consultation document and supporting baseline report will be available on the council’s website.
  • Public exhibitions on
    • Thursday 10 September, 9am-4pm – Harrogate Farmers Market, Cambridge Street Harrogate
    • Saturday 26 September, 10am-3pm – St Peter’s Church, Cambridge Road, Harrogate
  • An unmanned public exhibition in the glazed foyer at St Peter’s Church on Cambridge Road in Harrogate from Tuesday 22 September to Sunday 4 October.

These consultations will provide an opportunity for people to see the draft vision and objectives for the town centre, along with information on a number of the proposed projects.

Once the public consultation closes, responses will be considered and taken into account within the strategy and masterplan. They will then be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document forming part of the development plan for the district and holding weight when making decisions on future planning applications in the town centre.

So take a look and let the council know what you want the future of Harrogate to be!

Planning freedoms and more houses to buy!

(Picture: DBOX for Henderson Global Investors and MAKE)

(Picture: DBOX for Henderson Global Investors and MAKE)

This month the government have announced planning reforms to help satisfy the ever growing demand for houses and help create a more dynamic economy.

The UK has struggled to keep up with the increasing demand for new homes. This harms productivity and it frustrates the ambitions of thousands of people who would like to own their own home. The new reforms aim to change this and enable people to buy homes that they can afford.

The new reforms include the following key changes:

  • Introduction of a new zonal system for brownfield land

In the current system many brownfield sites have to go through a lengthy and detailed process in order to gain planning permission. The new reforms aim to remove these often unnecessary planning obstacles by creating statutory registers for brownfield land suitable for housing in England, as well as legislating to grant automatic planning permission in principle on brownfields sites identified on those registers (subject to the approval of some technical details).

  • Taking tougher action to ensure local authorities are using their powers to get Local Plans in place and make homes available for local people

This includes the publishing of league tables, setting out local authorities’ progress on providing a Local Plan for the jobs and homes needed locally as well as streamlining the length and preparation process of Local Plans.

  • Bringing forward proposals for stronger, fairer compulsory purchase powers, and devolution of major new planning powers to the Mayors of London and Manchester

The proposals include allowing the Mayor of London to call in planning applications of 50 homes or more, as well as allowing the Mayor of Greater Manchester to produce Development Corporations and promote Compulsory Purchase Orders.

  • Extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, and deliver 200,000 Starter Homes for first time buyers.

The Government maintains its commitment to deliver 200,000 Starter Homes by 2020, at a 20% discount for young first time buyers. In order to deliver this commitment the new reforms propose to extend the current exception site policy and strengthen the presumption in favour of Starter Homes developments as well as require local authorities to plan proactively for the delivery of Starter Homes. The government will also extend the Right to Buy opportunity to tenants of housing associations through the Housing Bill.

  • Restricting tax relief to ensure all individual landlords get the same level of tax relief for their finance costs

The current tax system supports landlords over and above ordinary homeowners. Landlords can deduct costs they incur when calculating the tax they pay on their rental income. The new reforms will restrict the relief on finance costs that landlords of residential property can get to the basic rate of tax. This restriction will be phased in over 4 years and will reduce the distorting effect the tax treatment of property has on investment.

Northern Planners celebrate another successful application!

Scotton map

Northern Planners were appointed last year to submit an outline planning application for a small scale residential development in the village of Scotton. After months of deliberation, the scheme was finally approved at Committee level yesterday.

Click here for a detailed press release about the application!

Barn conversions – What you need to know!



Agricultural buildings can be converted to dwellings under Permitted Development (PD) Part 3, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.

These regulations allow agricultural buildings to be converted into dwellings without the need for full planning permission. This is subject to going through a prior notification procedure where details of the proposal are submitted to the Council.

Proposals will need to satisfy a number of criteria before prior approval is confirmed. Such criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The building(s) have to have been used for agriculture on 20th March 2013, or last used for agriculture if currently unused, or used for agriculture in the preceding 10 years prior to a development under Class Q beginning.
  • The building(s) cannot be located within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Parks, The Broads, a Conservation Area or a World Heritage Site.
  • The site cannot be or form part of a listed building, a scheduled monument, A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a safety hazard area or a military explosives storage area.
  • The maximum floor space that may be converted can be no more than 450m2.
  • The total number of new homes which may be developed is 3.
  • The building(s) cannot be extended under the right. Only works ‘to the extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwellinghouse; and partial demolition to the extent reasonably necessary to carry out these building operations’ are permitted under the PD regulations.
  • Consent is required from both the landlord and the tenant if the site is under an agricultural tenancy agreement.
  • No works of conversion must have been carried out before the application.

It is important to note that the permitted development right does not apply a test in relation to sustainability of location. This is deliberate as the right recognises that many agricultural buildings will not be in village settlements and may not be able to rely on public transport for their daily needs. Instead, the local planning authority can consider whether the location and siting of the building would make it impractical or undesirable to change use to a house.

Impractical or undesirable are not defined in the regulations, and the local planning authority should apply a reasonable ordinary dictionary meaning in making any judgment. Impractical reflects that the location and siting would “not be sensible or realistic”, and undesirable reflects that it would be “harmful or objectionable”.

The regulations have caused quite a stir in the planning profession with government figures highlighting over half (52%) of the conversion applications are being refused!

Get in touch with the team if you would like to know more!

General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) – it’s all changing!


In the past month the Department for Communities and Local Government have replaced the much altered 1995 GPDO with a consolidated version – the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (SI2015 No. 596). This new order came into force on 15th April 2015 and consolidates the previous alterations that have been made. It also introduces further changes that the government have been promising for the best part of a year!

But what does this mean for you?

The main changes made by the new GDPO include:

  • The date for the expiry of permitted development right for larger home extensions has been extended and will now expire on 30 May 2019.
  • The previous time-limit for extensions to non-domestic premises (offices, shops, industrial buildings and schools etc) have been made permanent.
  • A number of new permitted development rights which involve:
  • the conversion of retail premises to restaurants / cafes;
  • the existing permitted development to convert a shop to a deposit-taker is replaced by a wider right to convert a shop (or a betting office) to a premises providing financial and professional services;
  • the conversion of retail premises to assembly and leisure
  • The conversion of casinos or amusement arcades to dwellinghouses;
  • The conversion of premises used from storage or distribution centre uses to dwellinghouses;
  • A new permitted development right for temporary use of building and land for commercial film-making;
  • A new permitted development right has been included for the provision of click and collection facilities within the curtilage of a shop and for increasing the size of loading bays for shops and permitted development for the extension etc of buildings used for waste facilities; and
  • A new permitted development right for the installation of solar PV panels, with a generating capacity of up to 1 MW on the roofs of non-domestic buildings.

Keep an eye out for further changes and get in touch if you want to know more!

You should have asked permission…

Hobbit Home, Pembrokeshire


This sweet little hobbit house was built by a couple in the back garden of their parents’ home in Wales, using locally sourced materials, and with plenty of support from locals.

However, according to BBC news, after applying for retrospective planning permission, councillors have refused to save the property, saying that that it was “an unjustified development in open countryside contrary to planning policies” and that it does not follow the guidance in the Welsh government’s One Planet Development (OPD) policy.

Apparently the couple are going to appeal the decision on the grounds that the house has been built with a low impact on the environment.

As a fan of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, and a general love and support of everything green, I personally hope that this home survives ‘The Battle of the [Five] Councils’, putting an end to their  ‘Desolation’ and this very ‘Unexpected Journey’.


Shed of the Year, Cornwall


Mr. Meville-Smith’s little pixie house, made of recycled wood, has, according to reports, come under threat of demolition after he started using it as a holiday let without planning permission in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The finalist of the Channel 4’s ‘Shed of the Year’ competition claims he had no idea he would require planning permission for a shed.





In other ‘shed’ related news…

A hut in Georgeham, Devon, used by ‘Tarka the Otter’ author Henry Williamson has supposedly been granted Grade II listed status by English Heritage. Tarka the Otter, published 87 years ago, brought the Devon countryside to life through the eyes of an otter. English Heritage said the hut, which was used by Williamson while writing, had been listed because of its “historical interest”.


otter shed






Seminar Announcement – Planning Growth for the Future

Our Planner, Mick Mcloughlin will be speakinmorning delegates confirmationg next week at a seminar in Leeds all about ‘Planning Growth for the Future’. He will be sharing the platform with Kate Barker OBE, the author of the famous Housing Supply Report. In particular, Mick will be talking about planning skills and the changing requirements of employers. His talk will be based on research he carried out for the Higher Education Academy and Leeds Metropolitan University in 2012.