June 24th, 2022
Retrospective Listed Building Consent for a Grade II Listed Building in the Cotswolds
Things always seem to go wrong when you can't do anything about them... Two days into the first lockdown back in March 2020 I got toothache... Couldn't see a dentist for 99 days. Nearly drove me mad... Whilst on holiday recently I had to take our boat from its mooring, across a bay of roughly three miles, to a fuel pump located at a marina... "It'll be fine" I thought... Naturally I ran out of fuel almost equidistant between the two points...
In between Christmas and New Year, Mr and Mrs S's boiler gave up the ghost, necessitating its urgent replacement. The old boiler was located within the Grade II listed dwelling, which itself is located within a Conservation Area within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The location of the old boiler had long caused trouble, and so a decision was made to situate the new boiler to the exterior of the dwelling. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, however Listed Buildings are a different beast... Works must preserve and enhance their appearance. Where they cause harm, this must be considered to be within the public interest. Therefore even fairly innocuous changes to Listed Buildings can invoke the Planning Officer's displeasure...
A retrospective planning application of Listed Building Consent was made by WRP to regularise the matter, which contained a heritage report which demonstrated that the proposal would result in minimal harm to the heritage significance of the property, which was then weighed against the benefits of the proposal.
The Local Authority accepted our heritage arguments. Accordingly the new boiler was allowed to stay.
May 13th, 2022
Planning Success in the London Borough of Hillingdon... For a Rural Worker's Dwelling...
Permission was received this week on a farm within the Metropolitan Green Belt for second dwelling which will facilitate generational succession within an existing farm enterprise.
Rural Worker's Dwellings - dwellings for farm workers set within the open countryside - are always a challenge and require clear and reasoned justification. There needs to be both an essential need for the dwelling together with a functional need. Paragraph 80(a) of the NPPF states that "Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless... [inter alia] there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside."
Demonstration of this requires a comprehensive and detailed understanding of both planning AND agriculture...
Luckily yours truly is a master of both... (Literally... I've got a Masters degree and everything!)
Once we'd informed our rather urban Planning Officer what a Rural Worker's Dwelling was, pointed them to the relevant policy within the NPPF (strangely Hillingdon's Local Development Plan is eerily silent when it came to agricultural development), shown him a few cows, some gross margins, accounts, a full report on why the farm enterprise warranted a secondary dwelling, some more cows, and how to tell the difference between cows which are small and those which are far away, the game was ours...
April 25th, 2022
More agricultural buildings!
Extremely pleased to have secured full planning permission for a substantial agricultural building within the Gloucester Green Belt for a local company engaged in the breeding and sale of bee nuclei.
The applicant's previous consultant had informed them that as they were seeking to erect an agricultural building they could simply erect the building under Permitted Development Rights... Job done.
While it may be that Sch2 Pt 6 of GPDO permits buildings for agriculture in principle, there's often a little bit more to agricultural planning than that, and unfortunately in this instance the previous consultant failed out of the gate when they didn't notice a commercial airport over the hedge (which knocked out PD).
Working closely with the applicant, Wreyland submitted an application which first justified that Honey Bees are 'creatures kept for the production of food' and therefore constitute livestock. They are quantifiable, they have value, their environments and welfare are carefully managed by their keepers to produce a commodity for sale. These principles are exactly the same as say a farmer keeping dairy cattle for the sale of their milk, or breeding beef cattle from suckler cows or lamb from breeding ewes.
Next we justified the use and scale of the building (being for the sale of nuclei, the packaging and preparation for sale of bee products, the maintenance of hives, the extraction of honey for bulk-sale etc) in the context particularly of The Late Mr Millington (a personal hero of mine) and his sterling work back in the 90's at Wroxeter and that while certain uses may be considered non-agricultural in isolation, when undertaken for purposes ancillary to a normal farming activity, they too can be considered reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture.
Supporting the case further with PINS evidence, Tewkesbury allowed the building without too much further interrogation under delegated powers.
Plans and design were provided by the ever reliable Charles Board, with ecology provided by Anton Kattan at Pure Ecology and arboricultural input to mitigate against risk to a belt of attractive TPO covered trees was provided by Phil Dye and Wotton Tree Consultancy.
Consequently the applicants now have a new, dedicated premises in which to expand their growing business and to give it a permanent base into the future.
Followers of Wreyland Rural Planning will by now be bored to tears by my growing obsession with rural economic development, but it is quite important, and something that I feel is often still not clearly understood or even taken seriously by Local Authorities, so it was positive to see in this instance the LPA taking the time to understand the applicant's proposals and for the correct result to be delivered.
I wish the applicants well and every success as they take their business to the next level.
March 09th, 2022
Wreyland wins its first action...
We were very pleased last week to win at Appeal permission for an extension to a modern dwelling in the South Hams.
The Local Authority had refused the initial application on the grounds that the proposal would interrupt the dwelling's 'barn-like' appearance, and would emit un-acceptable natural light.
The Inspector agreed with Wreyland that continual roof lines and flat gable ends were not a-typical of traditional barns, and that given that the proposal was located under a street-light in a residential area, any increase in light emission would be immaterial.
Really this was an application which should never have been refused, however given that only 30% or so of applications are successful at Appeal, it warranted a comprehensive planning argument.
This was Wreyland's first Planning Appeal as an independent consultancy. We're exceptionally pleased that sense won the day... (That, an a five-and-a-half thousand word Justification Statement, with some guts behind it)...
February 04th, 2022
February 04th, 2022
Class Q success near Cheltenham...
Wreyland went toe-to-toe with the LPA recently for a Class Q, finally emerging bloody yet victorious...
Round 1 - The LPA thought the nearby highway would be too noisy despite it being a relatively minor road some 200m away.
Wreyland came back swinging with a supportive acoustic survey...
Round 2 - The LPA hit low suggesting that, notwithstanding its concrete floor, steel portal frame and the fact that the building was only just over ten years old, the building wasn't structurally sound...
Wreyland and the applicant grabbed a shovel one sunny Thursday evening, dug down to the foundations and came back with a structural survey...
Round 3 - The LPA get back in the fight with a haymaker.... The building isn't agricultural, bee-keeping isn't an agricultural business, the use of the building is for food-processing and isn't part of an 'established agricultural unit.'...
Wreyland decides to finish things and comes back with 4,000 words on agriculture and planning.
The LPA concedes...
January 08th, 2022
The best Planning Consultant... In the world....
Clarkson’s at it again! Diddly Squat Farm Shop has had a planning contravention notice served on it as allegedly products sold in the shop didn’t come from the farm. Now the 2020 lambing shed is to become a 60 seater restaurant… Cue spittle flecked objections - “Thin end of the wedge!” “Planning by the back door!” “Stealth planning!” “I moved next to a farm for peace and quiet yet all I can smell is shit and I can see people wondering about covered in it too! What is this, 1886 Casterbridge? - it’s outrageous!”
I have total sympathy with Clarkson and what he’s doing. Clarkson told Jeremy Vine “There is more traffic yes, but there is more business – the village shop is doing better, the café is doing better, the pub in the village – they are all doing better.”
I grew up in a small yet achingly pretty village on Dartmoor. Middle of nowhere – closer to an MOD firing range than it is a latte, yet it has a village shop with post office in which you can get all the ingredients for a top-notch curry, a damn good pub, a mechanic’s premises who will lend you a car when yours is being repaired, a really interesting gallery and a tea-room which’ll knock you up a quality wedding cake.
The point is that the village is absolutely buzzing – all the time. People who work from home and need to pop up to the shop for a pint of milk have to factor in at least 45 minutes chatting-time to all the people they bump into while in the village. The community is thriving, local people are able to make a living and enjoy living in a cohesive community and it’s all because the enterprises in that village both satisfy a need and provide a reason for people to be there.
The first paragraph of the forward to the 2008 Taylor Review is absolutely on the money when it says “The English Countryside is a wonderful place to live and work – if you can afford a home, if you can find a reasonably paid job.”
This is why I am so exceptionally pleased this week to have received permission for a project in Worcestershire just west of Tewkesbury. Wreyland Rural Planning have secured permission for the reorganisation of uses together with operational development of a dilapidating rural petrol station which had ceased operations in 2017 and has been hanging around since awaiting an entrepreneurial type to show it some love.
The applicants – a local company with a strong track record of returning dilapidated buildings to commercial uses and whom provide employment for over 40 people in the immediate area, will re-commence fuel sales from the site, however the principal focus will be on the shop, which moves from a standard petrol station kiosk to providing a full village shop for the residents of Bushley and Forthampton and which will also provide for a post-office. Products sold by the shop will be principally sourced from established relationships with multiple local producers – the furthest being from Bristol.
This development will also provide 5 additional FTE jobs to the area.
The application required a bit of grey matter, involving the demolition and re-building of the site’s structures, a reorganisation of the site’s layout its buildings and its parking areas, ecological works, and culminated with S247 negotiations with Highways.
I am really looking forward to seeing the applicant’s take this one further.
December 25th, 2021
Living in sin...
Success this week for the mighty Wreyland Rural Planning, this time in East Devon under S191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 with confirmation from the Local Planning Authority that a breach of condition could no longer be subject to enforcement proceedings.
Mr and Mrs X purchased their dwelling in 1996 subject to an Agricultural Occupancy Condition, which required that the occupiers work wholly or mainly in agriculture within the locality. Neither Mr or Mrs X had ever worked in farming, despite having occupied the property continuously for over 25 years.
Under S191 of the T&CPA '90 where a planning condition has been breached for a period of greater than 10 years, that breach becomes unenforceable. This position can be confirmed through the acquisition of a Certificate of Lawfulness from the Local Authority.
This has obvious advantages to the occupier. Most notably that dwellings which are subject to an agricultural tie generally command lower market values which can be depressed by circa 30%. Furthermore banks can be dis-inclined to offer mortgages on such properties. Acquisition of a Certificate also removes the risk of the Local Authority finding out about the unlawful occupancy and subsequently commencing enforcement proceedings.
WRP investigated the nature of the condition together with the facts of the applicant's occupation of the property and compiled a comprehensive argument based upon establish legal precedent, statutory declarations, council tax records which showed a continuous occupation and financial accounts which demonstrated the occupier's continuous non-agricultural employment. As a result, the Local Authority accepted Wreyland's application without further question and granted the certificate.
There are significant risks associated with applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness. Fundamentally it involves an admission to the Local Authority that one has been occupying their property unlawfully. Should the application fail, the consequences can be serious. As a result, such applications require a clear understanding of the breach and a forensic approach to the compilation of a very comprehensive body of evidence and robust argument to demonstrate that on the balance of probabilities that breach is now unenforceable. They are not applications to be entered into lightly. Wreyland's approach to these sorts of applications is to ensure that an application is not submitted until its chances of success are virtually guaranteed. An approach which has again been vindicated here.
We are very pleased with another successful result.
November 20th, 2021
It's been quiet on here... Too quiet...
But, ironically, that's because I've been rather busy over the last few months...
Largely because, after three previous attempts due to Covid, we finally managed to squeeze in a Wedding!
Luckily however our anticipated Honeymoon to the sunny shores of Montenegro was cut-short the day before we were due to leave by its inclusion on the Red-List, so a week on the character-building South Devon coast took its place where the new Mrs Barker was delighted to be given the opportunity to tour a couple of up and coming development sites on the outskirts of that well known Honeymoon destination, Newton Abbot... (If you think that's bad, I once persuaded her to join me on a six-month tour of New Zealand dairy farms...)
As life has slowly returned to normal, Autumn has been busy here at Wreyland. Currently working their respective ways through the planning system we are working on:
As we move to a close of our first year in independent practice, sixty-one clients have very kindly instructed Wreyland to assist them with their planning applications.
Not a bad first year...
September 02nd, 2021
Overturning a Planning Officer's recommendation for refusal at Tewkesbury Planning Committee
Wreyland Rural Planning submitted a householder application for an extension to an existing dwelling which sat within both the Greenbelt and AONB. The application was recommended for refusal by the Planning Officer on the basis that the proposal represented 'inappropriate development in the Greenbelt' as it would result in disproportionate extensions to the 'original dwelling' according to TBC's Planning Officer.
Policy precludes inappropriate development in the Green Belt with some exceptions, one of these being proportionate residential extensions, which, as a rule of thumb should not generally be greater in size than 40% - 50% of the 'original dwelling.'
The original dwelling is considered under policy to be the dwelling as it was on 1st July 1949.
Despite a dwelling having been on this particular site for 400 years, the Planning Officer considered the original dwelling here to date from 1965 - the year the LPA's records on the property began. The Planning Officer considered the proposed extension to be 129% greater than the dwelling at that time and therefore 'inappropriate.'
Research undertaken by Wreyland Rural Planning revealed evidence from 1947 which showed a much larger dwelling at the relevant date, upon which the proposed extension represented an increase of just 17.5% - far smaller than that considered by the Planning Officer and well within the parameters of what is considered 'proportionate' under policy
Reporting the findings to the Planning Committee, we are pleased to say that Councillors took a pragmatic view of the evidence before them, and found overwhelmingly in our favour.
Another successful day here at the coalface of rural planning and another happy client...