Our recent planning approval for the conversion of redundant agricultural buildings to create a single residential dwelling, highlighted the importance of having a fall-back position and negotiating positively.
The application had been previously refused by the Forest of Dean District Council due to concerns over the size and height of the proposed dwelling, its impact on a rural setting, and the ongoing deterioration of the barn and its suitability for conversion.
The amended scheme and the revised application sought to address these issues in full.
Principle of development and the importance of a fall-back position:
The site in question had a complex history; which included a former permission for a live/work unit. This suggested that the principle of a residential use and conversion at the site had been accepted by the council in 2008.
In their refusal, the case officer had argued that the previous permission for the live/work unit had not been implemented.
We disagreed and sourced evidence to prove that the commencement of drainage works indicated that the permission had been implemented. Notes from the pre-application discussions and correspondence from the original surveyor further substantiated that the previous 2008 permission had commenced before the expiration date.
As we could prove that the previous permission was extant, it not only set a precedent and strong material consideration for the proposed development, but we were able to give our client a fall-back position so that they could implement the historic planning approval if the council continued to view their proposed conversion in an unfavourable light.
In the refusal, concerns had been raised about the scale of the proposed scheme.
In response, after extensive discussions and negotiations, a further exemplary design was prepared by the architects Millar + Howard Workshop. Their design ethos sought to represent the history and changes the site had accumulated, utilising and consolidating the original structures and enhancing their immediate setting.
Furthermore the proposed design was far more sympathetic and of higher quality than the 2008 approval.
As the scheme would make use of a group of redundant buildings, the proposed conversion was in line with local and national policy.
Furthermore, its high quality and innovative design bore all the hallmarks of a Paragraph 55 dwelling. National planning policy supports good design as being a key aspect of sustainable development. The Forest of Dean adopted Core Strategy also supports high quality design.
The final issue to overcome was the planning officer’s assertion that the existing buildings were not structurally sound, therefore conversion would not be possible.
We commissioned a structural survey, which identified that the barns were structurally sound and could be successfully converted. In addition, the surveyor reviewed the previous survey undertaken for the approval in 2008, and concluded that both reports were directly comparable.
Negotiation is key:
Even in light of our strong evidence base and extensive discussions on design, the case officer was still minded to refuse the application. We called a meeting with the case officer and the planning department’s team leader. Further amendments were agreed by both parties and after extensive and positive engagement with the council, planning permission was granted for the conversion of barns to a single dwelling.
Plainview Planning is an independent town and country planning consultancy and we specialise in obtaining new and self-build planning permissions. You can see some further examples of our work in this area here. Alternatively, feel free to contact the team via email@example.com.
IMAGE SOURCE: Millar + Howard Workshop 2016