Thursday, April 09, 2009

I spent a large part of Tuesday in a Planning Appeal Hearing, defending the council's decision to refuse planning permission for extensions to a bungalow in Maltby. I, along with other members of the planning committee had disagreed with the officer's recommendation at the meeting back in February. We felt that the increase in the bulk of the building was so significant as to be unacceptable in the village. The inspector appointed by the Secretary of State had decided to hear 3 appeals in one hearing so it wasn't easy to keep track of which particular one she was discussing at any one point and to make sure that we were all talking about the same application. After 3 hours of discussion we then had a site visit, including viewing the site from a number of gardens and houses. The local residents were very well prepared and made their cases very clearly. Now we just wait for the result. This is the 2nd hearing in which I've been involved and I haven't found either of them easy or possible to predict.
On Wednesday the planning committee were faced by an interesting and potentially exciting development at Mandale Triangle in Thornaby which unfortunately had a large element of student accommodation included. As the council adopted a policy on student housing some months ago which insists that developers have to prove the need for such flats this one was recommended for refusal on the grounds that need had not been demonstrated. The developer tried to say that there was flexibility to change the interior design if other accommodation were needed but then the car parking requirements would be higher and of course it would need to be a different design to accommodate it. A shame, and a real test of the new policy. We shall see what happens if it goes to appeal. The policy hasn't yet been tested in that way.
The same planning meeting made a final decison on a site which has been the subject of several applications over the last few years, while having buildings erected on it which are very different to the permissions that have been granted. Now enforcement proceedings start, but of course the applicant may decide to appeal in which case he can carry on as he is at present with completing his unapproved buildings. The system is really stacked in favour of the developer it always seems to me.

No comments: