Turning a planning refusal into an approval – when it pays to get a second opinion

residential curtilage extensions and games room in green belt

After waiting 2 months for your planning application to be decided it is understandably challenging when the decision notice arrives, and your application has been refused. But does a refusal at the planning application stage have to mean an end to your development aspirations?

A good example of how a planning consultant can add value in this sort of situation can be seen in a recent approval we secured at planning committee for a green belt development near Rochford.

Planning refusal – does it really have to mean no?

If your application has been refused, then it can be worth using the services of a planning consultant to review the decision notice and associated scheme to see if there might be a way forward. Examples may include negotiating with the case officer, pursuing a revised scheme or, if there is an in-principle objection and all avenues have been exhausted, then appealing the decision.

In this case, planning had been refused for the redevelopment of a dilapidated stable block into a family games room. The site had several complex designations which needed careful planning management – not least that the stable block fell outside the residential curtilage and that the site was within the Green Belt.

Following a careful review of the project and decision notice, we felt that the reasons for refusal were at odds with our analysis of local and national policy considerations. Our analysis had identified clear discrepancies in the determining of the application and we felt that it did not reflect local and national policy requirements, which suggested some level of support for this type of development in this location. We advised our client to re-submit the application.

Making the case for development in a restricted area

The green belt is a heavily protected area and new development is generally resisted. However, there are exceptions and in this instance, we presented robust evidence in favour of the proposed development and identified how the proposals met the necessary exception tests. This included:

+ evidence to show that the proposed games room would replace an existing, dilapidated and disused building;
+ the proposed development would make use of an existing built footprint and reuse previously developed land with a smaller structure than was currently present;
+ we suggested means of controlling the use via condition;
+ the proposals represented a reduction in built form which sought to help protect the openness of the green belt rather than impinge upon it.

As part of our strategy we also engaged with local councillors to give the application an opportunity to be decided at planning committee.

Speaking effectively at Planning Committee

Planning applications can get determined by planning committee, especially if they are of large scale, complex or a controversial case. Although each local council will have their own process for planning committee, in general terms the case officer will present the project and their recommendation for a decision. Then objectors will be able to speak, followed by the applicant who will have an opportunity to speak for 3 minutes in support of their application and may then be required to respond to any questions raised by committee members.

We often speak at planning committee on behalf of our clients and you can read more about how we make sure those 3 minutes count here. In this instance our client wanted to deliver the speech and so we worked with them, advising and supporting them in their preparation and delivery to ensure that the key facts of the case would be succinctly and effectively presented.

We were delighted when the committee agreed that the proposal complied with policy requirements and that the development would not be in detriment to the character or appearance of the green belt. The scheme received 10 votes to 3 in favour and our client secured a much-needed leisure space for their family.

About Us

Our planning consultants bring an informed yet fresh approach to planning and we work hard to secure high-quality developments in the right places. If you have a planning project which could benefit from professional input, then contact our team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.