Really struggling to understand how Planners (council) decide/justify decisions, any insights welcome...(11 Posts)
Not a dig at town planners/councillors as they must get fed up of everyone thinking their planning application should be agreed, but I am genuinely struggling to understand the logic. If anyone can shed light it might be really useful.
Basically Dp and I are going to put an offer in for a property. The property is a very small one bed converted barn in a semi rural location (about one mile out of our current area which is a small market town). It is in a group of about 20/30 houses along a stretch of road with fields/ farmland behind and on opposite side of road. It sits within a half acre plot so plenty of room in theory for extension.
The neighbouring properties are all of different styles, ie a few 'typical' 1970's ish council properties, a row of Victorian terraces, a few bungalows, a few farm building etc, a few quite large single storey barn conversions, basically a very diverse grop of properties. It is not an area of ONB or conservation, and property itself is not listed.
The current owner has now tried twice to get planning to extend the property from one to four beds, but keeping it single storey and with the extension being completely invisible from the road, there is currently no views into or out of the property from the neighbouring sides and this would not be changed.
Council have now refused it twice saying the maximum they an add on is one bedroom which only takes the place to 1000 sq feet and this seems utterly ridiculous given what others have done to their houses nearby and also the size of the plot....it would make sense if house was listed, or on an area of oNB or similar but none of these factors apply.
Also no fewer than twelve of the near neighbours have lodged objections, seems really odd as there would appear to be no significant effect on them of the proposed works, apart from some associated with the building period I suppose.
Current barn conversion appears to have been badly done and house is not attractive or well maintained so surely it makes sense to put something better there, it makes you wonder if it would be better to let it falll down and start again!!
We are going to meet the planning officer next week to discuss but I would be interested in any viewpoints.
Must have to do with increase in population density.
I think it would have gained approval but for the many neighbours objecting (12 is a lot).
I thought that some of this had to be public record, not who made the complains but what the nature of the objections were.
Where I used to work we had strict rules about what works can be done to barns, in terms if their character and retaining their rural appearance. This was the case for protected buildings or non-listed etc barns. Also, given that it's a barn, I'm guessing that it's in the middle of the countryside as a collection of isolated dwellings rather than within a formal settlement? Again some authorities are strict on this because of sustainability etc- we used to get a lot of people buying small rural cottages and wanting to turn them into huge mansions. If everyone did that, we wouldn't have much countryside left! I've successfully fought appeals with a poorly converted barn where owners want a huge extension and that was on grounds of character and impact on the countryside.
If they had let it fall down pre-conversion, no permission would have been given for a new house- again due to sustainability issues and preserving the open countryside. I've dealt with cases where there was literally a tumbled down outbuilding and owners wanted to demolish and build a huge house, refused on sustainability grounds.
Imo going from a 1 bed to 4bed sounds like a huge extension and as a planner that would have my alarm bells ringing. If consent has been refused twice I would think carefully about why you want to buy and your expectations for what you would like to do with it. If you want it only if you can extend then I would walk away.
It's worth having a look on the councils website at their development plan for their policies and also sound councils have specific guidance on barn conversions and what will and won't be permitted.
Hope thus makes sense- I'm in a bit if a rush!
Agree with sausagedog. It sounds like the barn is a rural vernacular building in a semi-rural area where thanks to lax planning policy in the 60s/70s the character of the area has been ruined. The planning officials want to conserve the barn, in order to preserve what is left of the rural identity. I think you are probably being penalised by the sins of the forefather!
Definitely take a look at what the objections from neighbours were, and the comments from the parish council or similar. What did the refusal notice actually give as the reason?
Have you checked your permitted development rights (pd). If its not an area of outstanding natural beauty, conservation area, listed, or pd's removed. You can extend out the rear to the same height, 4m, soon to be 8m under Tory proposal, single storey half width of house to side and a mahoosive annex detached so long as its 6m from the house. This can contain non sleeping/living accommodation like a gym, home office, utility, swimming pool etc. Search www.planningportal.org.uk for permitted development rights, and have a quick chat with a planning consultant / decent architect if you want comfort. Good luck and fingers crossed it meets the criteria.
Have a look at the decision notice. This will give reasons for refusal, hopefully with reference to the planning policy that the proposal was not in line with. You mention the planners said the max they could extend to would be 1000m square, so it sounds like there may be a policy which aims to retain a variety of house sizes within the area, so they restrict the amount each house can be extended, so that, for example, not all the houses in a nice expensive rural area are bought by people with lots of money and made into massive houses, resulting in no small or affordable houses in that area.
captainaffray - if it's a converted barn, it is highly likely that permitted development rights would have been removed when it was first converted. It sounds to me as if it is either in the green belt or in a rural location where there are restrictions on how much you can extend a property AND/OR it is in an area where you can't build new houses, but you can convert existing buildings. In those circumstances, it wouldn't be unusual for the Council's policy to restrict the subsequent extension of the building. The reasons will have to do with what MikeOxard... said - because otherwise everything gets bigger and bigger and bigger and nothing comes in at the bottom of the market.
But really, the answer is to go and ask the planning officer. And listen to what they say, because one of the most frustrating situations for a planning officer is having to deal with the emotional fall-out when a person goes ahead and buys a house, having been advised that they won't be able to extend it, and then gets highly stressed with the planners because it turns out that they were right.
Just out of interest why are you intent on buying a property you know has planning problems?
Pendeen - totally agree!
Speaking as a former planning officer, I wish I had £1000 for every time I've felt the need to say that to prospective purchasers of properties that don't meet their needs. If pp has been refused twice, that should be a pretty good clue that there is a reason ... even if you disagree with the reason, the reason probably won't go away!
have you looked through the documentation from the planning decisions?
these are often available online.
i think the 12 objections from the neighbours are the problem here!
planning that is as tight as a ducks bottom in my area (which is a national park) actually causes rural depopulation, as fewer occupants per house (as is the general trend) necessitates building new stock in order to maintain population, and that new stock isn't happening.
nonetheless, as pubs, shops, schools close from lack of people......it is still maintained that new houses would 'spoil the area'
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