Number of hearings doubles
The number of hearings used to decide planning appeals doubled between 2016/17 and 2017/18, new figures show. Statistics released by the government in May 2018 revealed that in the past year 1,462 hearings had been held, compared with 670 in 2016/17. Altogether 11% of all appeals in 2017/18 were decided using hearings, almost twice the percentage of the previous financial year.
Since 2010/11 around one in ten appeals have been decided using a hearing led by an inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate. Very few appeals are heard at a public inquiry and during this period the percentage has dropped from 5% in 2010/11 to 3% now. The vast majority of appeals are decided using written representations: the procedure accounts for 85-90% each year.
The success rate does vary according to the procedure used, with around half of all appeals heard at a public inquiry approved, compared with around 31% where written representations are used. But this does not necessarily mean that an appellant is more likely to succeed because the inquiry route has been chosen. It could simply be because an appellant does not need to spend a large sum to appeal using the written procedure, so they are willing to take a chance even where they are not confident of success. A hearing represents a ‘halfway house’: more costly than written representations but generally cheaper than an inquiry, with a success rate not far removed from the latter’s. In 2017/18 some 44% of appeals decided after hearings were successful, compared with 46% decided after public inquiries.
The decision on choice of procedure does not rest with the appellant. If they want a hearing or inquiry it is incumbent on them to explain why; the Planning Inspectorate makes the final decision.
National Planning Policy Framework consultation closes
The government’s consultation on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework has closed, with a final document expected before the end of July 2018. The chief planner, Steve Quartermain, says that his department should be able to complete the exercise despite a large number of representations. He observed that many of the comments were duplicates, submitted as part of campaigns on particular causes.
DCRP prepares for GDPR
David Collier Rural Planning has produced a GDPR Plan setting out the action we have taken to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force across Europe on 25 May 2018. As part of the Plan we have written a new Privacy Notice (elsewhere on this website) confirming our commitment to safeguarding client information. We will hold personal information only as long as it is needed, and share it only in line with our contractual and legal requirements.
Permitted Development rules relaxed
Permitted Development rules have been relaxed in England allowing farmers to erect larger buildings without the need for express planning permission and enabling the conversion of up to five farm buildings to dwellings.
The maximum size of new agricultural buildings that can be erected as permitted development has risen from 465 square metres to 1,000 square metres. Meanwhile, the maximum number of dwellings that can be created using ‘Class Q’ rights has gone up from three to five. There can be a mixture of ‘large dwellings’ and smaller ones. Both changes took effect on 6 April 2018.
David Collier Rural Planning offers a fixed-price service whereby we check whether a building (or buildings) will qualify for Class Q rights.
New Plan supports rural diversification
The new Telford & Wrekin Local Plan adopted in January 2018 makes clear the Council’s support for diversification of the rural economy. Among its policies is one favouring new employment development in the rural area where it involves building conversion provided there are no unacceptable traffic problems and the proposal is supported by a business case. Where there is no suitable building capable of conversion/re-use, new development will be supported in well-designed new buildings.
The Telford approach appears more generous than that evident in the Derbyshire Dales Local Plan adopted just a month earlier. This promises that proposals for the diversification of farm businesses, including the re-use of farm buildings, will be generally supported, provided they do not have an adverse impact upon the character and appearance of the surrounding area, but later the Plan says that conversion proposals must involve a building that “positively contributes to an established local character and sense of place”. New buildings will be permitted in the countryside for community purposes and employment development including home working (which commonly does not require planning permission anyway), commercial enterprises and live-work units, though the tone of the Plan is cautious.
Information on the role of local plans, how they are produced and how they are examined in public can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-plans–2
National Award welcomed
David Collier Rural Planning has been named ‘Best Rural Development Planning Consultancy – UK’ in the Real Estate and Property Awards 2016. The awards “celebrate the people and firms whose responsibility it is to steer the industry in what is traditionally a highly volatile and occasionally unpredictable sphere”, and naturally we’re delighted to be honoured in this way. We celebrated with a cup of particularly fine coffee and slice of coffee & walnut cake, and then it was back to work on behalf of clients across the West Midlands and further afield.
A few months earlier we were named ‘Best Rural Planning Consultancy – Midlands’ in the 2016 Architecture Awards. For more information see: http://www.build-news.com/the-2016-architecture-awards