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The Planning Saga

Posted by lecerveau , 21 January 2016 · 850 views

Our planning application took just over 3 months, however there was a lot of work done before this. As I said previously over an extended period the plans bounced back and forth between the Architectural Technologist (AT) and myself, with the occasional face to face when I was up at the existing house.
The initial submission consisted of the topographic survey and photographs I posted last time, a OS map (very out of date, but required), Application form and Design and access statement and the following:

Attached File  GF-Plan.pdf (1.77MB)
downloads: 37
Attached File  FF-Plan.pdf (1.8MB)
downloads: 42
Attached File  Elevations.pdf (1.9MB)
downloads: 48
Attached File  Site-Plan.pdf (2.12MB)
downloads: 34

During our discussions with my AT we made the following, considered obscured glazing on the SW 1st floor windows overlooking the neighbour, but didn’t put them in the submission.
I was considering PV in roof and Solar Thermal in roof but put on the submission PV panels on the roof and Evacuated Tubes on the roof. The reason being they are the most obtrusive and if we fit what we want it is less obtrusive or if they tell us it looks wrong we can change to something more sympathetic.
The reason for all this is to have something to offer the planners when they object and be seen to compromise.

We got various comments from immediate neighbours and some who are not immediate but still commented anyway. To summarise they said it was overbearing, overlooking, shading, out of character, would decrease the value of their properties, create dust and noise during construction.

The decrease value of their property is nonsense and nothing to do with planning as is the dust and noise during demolition/construction so easily discounted.
Out of character, no two houses on the street are the same, bungalows and houses, detached and semi, rendered, brick, stone (slips I suspect) and timber clad and roofs the same, slate, tile, concrete panels you name it (no thatch). We deliberately kept the house in line with the others both sides and it is a 2 storey up slope of us and a bungalow down slope. Our front aspect was designed to go from 2 storey down to single storey over the garage (cat slide roof the AT called it). That left overbearing, overlooking and overshadowing. We were informed by the planning authority that the application would likely be rejected on these 3 points and they also talked about the 2 storey/1-storey elements. That would completely negate the design so we opted for a delay and re-submission of amended plans, also giving us time to rebuff some arguments.

Overlooking: The house to the SW, we installed obscured glazed windows in the first floor to solve that problem (was in the original thoughts but left out to enable the compromise). As for the bungalow we deliberately put the first floor bathrooms on that side to prevent this problem and the high level window in the built in wardrobe was only put in to break up what would have been a large blank wall.

Overshadowing (right to light): This was an issue for the bungalow who wanted to sit in their garden and we would be denying them light, however I suspected that it was not a major issue so I did some quick calculations, and utilising some useful web applications, the most useful being www.findmyshadow.com (others are available) plotted out some rough shading diagrams for the existing house and the new house against the bungalow (dimensions from my topographical survey) and summarised my findings on the file below (which was submitted to planning)

Attached File  Shading-diagrams.pdf (723.89K)
downloads: 45

The basic crux being:
March we would bring them into shade 1 hour earlier.
April 1600 we would start to introduce shade but the existing house did so from 1700 ish.
May Old and new introduce Shading from 1800 but the cottage produces it’s own shade from 1900.
June-Aug Sun too high to impact
Sep similar to April
October similar to March
Nov – Feb Sun so low no change over current house.
So some quick work and effectively we negated the shading argument.

That left the overbearing argument. The issue here is that there is no central government guideline on what is and isn’t overbearing! Many local authorities use the right to light 450 rule as their guideline on acceptable development, mine has none, so we utilised this as a frame of reference. We altered the design, lowering the roof line by 750mm and trimming the eaves, we also put a Hip roof on the SE and SW ends, reducing the roofline further, and re-submitted:

Attached File  Elevations-2.pdf (1.76MB)
downloads: 31
This was still nocked back so we arranged a site visit with the planning officer. At the time I was (still am) living in the Netherlands and with my mother away on holiday the house was empty so I arranged to mome over for the meeting. This was disappoint as it was not the planning officer (the one that matters) but an assistant and an assistant to the assistant! After explaining our thoughts (I held my tongue for a lot of this) the basic problem was that the planning officer didn’t like it! After a discussion with my AT we decided that, there being no reasonable objections, we would stay on track, give them a diagram explaining what may be overbearing and if necessary go to appeal.

We submitted the following:
Attached File  Elevations-Final.pdf (1.77MB)
downloads: 32
Attached File  Site-Plan-Final.pdf (1.98MB)
downloads: 31

And my AT sent a long, comprehensive e-mail to the Planning Officer detailing how we could counter all of their arguments. This e-mail is not included on the planning site (I suspect because it sets a president) but to summarise:
The existing house (extension) was already inside the 450 line from the bungalow window by 1280mm and the new house only 710mm longer (thick walls) is at 410 so we had an argument that it was not significant. We also quoted other planning authority guidelines on acceptable development. Another site visit was conducted, only 1 week after the previous (I did not attend this time), this time with the planning officer (decision maker) and we were granted permission less than a week later.

The full public story is available here:

The moral of the story is You need full details and facts before you start (the topographical survey negated many arguments), be prepared to compromise so plan for it, but be prepared to stand your ground, many objections are baseless and irrelevant and just because an official “doesn’t like it” doesn’t matter it is what is in the rules and guidance that matters.

Good post, a lot of effort put in but it goes to show with the right information you can achieve a lot.
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