Mind The Hedge

Here at Northern Planners, we are always on the look-out to ensure our clients don’t get into hot water whilst progressing their developments, even when they have a valid planning permission.

Sometimes this is due to issues around discharging planning conditions but sometimes it can result from the requirements of other planning-related legislation.

One such area of law is dealing with the protection of hedgerows. Under special regulations removal of certain hedgerows is prohibited with specific separate approval. Also, removal of hedgerows generally may conflict with nature conservation legislation at particular times of the year.

Last year, Persimmon Homes PLC ran into trouble for removing a hedgerow on Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate next to their housing development. They were fined £34,000 and also ordered to pay £9,468 in costs after Harrogate Borough Council took them to the Leeds Magistrates Court.

Now it is the turn of developers of the new housing site at Manse Farm, Knaresborough (see plan). They recently started work on the site by removing hedgerows, leading to nearby residents contacting Harrogate Borough Council with concerns that the hedge removal was potentially destroying nesting bird sites.

Northern Planners have recently had to advise clients in Bickerton about the implications of mature hedges on their development site. In this case, any potential issues have been avoided.

If you need any help with hedges in relation to your planning matters, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

‘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 😉

West Yorkshire Doughnut House fails to meet Inspector’s Tastes

Here at Northern Planners we are often asked by clients how they can gain planning permission for a new build  house in the countryside when they don’t have an agricultural or other rural business need to be located in an isolated location.

In these types of case, we explain about the so-called ‘Gummer Clause’ in national policy, that allows for house designs of ‘exceptional quality’ (now enshrined in paragraph 79 of the latest February 2019 National Planning Policy Framework). We have had success ourselves using this clause last year on a scheme near Malton.

However, it is not a straight forward route and is paved with many pitfalls/difficulties for the uninitiated, especially when the local countryside has special value/planning attributes.

One recent project that sadly fell foul of planning requirements on Appeal was for a doughnut shaped in Hipperholme near Norwood Green in Calderdale.

Government Inspector Wayne Johnson found that despite the project recycling brownfield land, the site being sustainable in transport terms, the Council lacking a 5 year housing land supply and the design demonstrating a high standard of architecture supported by positive observations by the independent design review body (Integreat Plus), other factors weighed against a grant of permission mainly associated with harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

If you have an ambition to develop a new build house in the open countryside of North, West or East Yorkshire, Northern Planners are here to help.

Images copyright of One 17, Huddersfield available publicly at https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/environment-planning-and-building/planning/search-and-comment-planning-applications

Testing Times Ahead for Harrogate’s New Planning Blueprint

The end of last month saw Harrogate Borough Council formally submit its new Local Plan offering to central government for scrutiny.

The Plan will be subject to an Examination by an independent Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Inspector will be looking at the Plan’s policies and proposals to assess whether they are sound against a set of nationally-set tests.

The Plan contains ideas for the future development and growth of the District.

If it survives the Examination, the adopted version will supersede the collection of various existing documents that form the Borough’s legal Development Plan, some of which date back to the early 2000s and which were originally formulated in the mid-1990s!

So an up to date, overdue planning vision for Harrogate might be in prospect, not immediately but at least within the next 12 months.

The Council’s official submission documents will be available for inspection at most local libraries from Friday 7th September or online www.harrogate.gov.uk/localplansubmission.

If you need advice on these or how a proposal you have might be affected by this latest stage of the Local Plan process, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Northern Planners.



We start this Month’s blog with some good news for one of Northern Planners’ clients. We have just received news that our appeal for Mr Gary Baines has been allowed by the Inspectorate. Mr Baines was wanting permission to develop a self-build property for his retirement in Rathmell, near Settle. His application, however, was turned down by Craven District Council on highway grounds. Despite a technical objection and statement of evidence by North Yorkshire County Council, Northern Planners managed to convince the Inspector that the existing access and access route is safe and suitable for the likely traffic that will be generated. Our Graduate Planner, Sophie said:

‘This is a victory for common sense and the principles set out in Manual for Streets regarding sensitive access design in rural areas. The County Council’s demands would have resulted in an over-engineered approach inappropriate to the local setting.’

We wish Gary all the best for the future. If you are struggling with any issue regarding the successful development of your site/project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

More Planning Success at Moor Monkton

Northern Planners have done it again. We have just won planning permission for the conversion and extension of a large outbuilding to residential use at Wheatsheaf Farm, Church Lane, Moor Monkton. This has been a challenge as Council Officers initially resisted the proposals alleging overshadowing, overbearing and overlooking effects and stability issues. Senior Planner, Amy Naylor explains:

‘We had to withdraw the original Application in order to undertake assessments to prove to the Council that their concerns were unfounded. Whilst time consuming, this approach has yielded the right result.’

One of the assessments was a Daylight and Sunlight Assessment to gauge the pre and post development levels of light, undertaken in-house by the Northern Planners Team. We are able to secure a whole range of reports of this type to provide the evidence necessary to refute the spurious claims of Councils and objectively show that development is acceptable. The Moor Monkton consent is particularly satisfying as the village is not one earmarked for housing.


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!

Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovation show 2015

Northern Planners will be at the ‘Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovation Show 2015’ next weekend, Friday 6th – Sunday 8th at Harrogate International Centre. Come and visit our stand (Hall A – Stand A516) to see what products and services we have to offer. We will be happy to discuss your project requirements, offer advice and guidance as well as provide you with competitive quotes.

Our Senior Planner Mick will be presenting a masterclass between 3:30 – 3:50pm on Saturday 7th…

‘5 Top Yorkshire Planning Tips – the planning process from a North Yorkshire perspective’


Head to our home page and click on the banner for free tickets to the show (worth £24)


Harrogate Borough Council – A Change to Planning Obligations for Open Space and Village Halls.

Source: Alamy

Source: Alamy

In November 2014 the Government issued a ministerial statement setting out proposed changes to national policy in relation to Section 106 planning obligations, along with corresponding National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG). These changes mean that Councils have not been requiring Planning Applications to pay commuted sums in relation to open spaces and village halls.

However, following a successful legal challenge by two local authorities, the government has now withdrawn the relevant text NPPG which means that Harrogate Borough Council will once again be seeking commuted sums in accordance with adopted Core Strategy Policy C1 ‘Inclusive Communities’ and associated Supplementary Planning Documents.

As from 1st October 2015 all applications received for new residential development will be subject to requirements set out in the policy. The only exception to this approach will be new housing developments of four or less dwellings within the settlements of Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough.

Let us know your thoughts or get in touch if you would like to know more!