Derby Street, Bolton

Enforcement relating to a change of use from shop to cafe/takeaway

Property/Background – Commercial – Change of use from shop to cafe/takeaway.The proprietor had previously obtained a two-year temporary consent for the change of use of a vacant shop to a café and he was seeking permanent consent.

Location – Derby Street, Bolton

Council – Bolton Council

Date – June 2017

Reason for refusal – Bolton Council refused to grant consent as in their opinion, the presence of our client’s business had a harmful effect on the living conditions of the occupiers of nearby residential properties.

What we did – In our appeal statement, we successfully questioned the quality of the evidence put forward by the Council, and were able to demonstrate that our client’s business was in fact suitably located, had operated for two years without any complaints and brought about significant benefits including job creation and promoting consumer choice!

Result – The Inspector in granting planning permission concluded: “The appeal premises are located within a district center and adjacent to a busy main road. I saw when I visited the site that Derby Street carries a large volume of traffic and that the background noise level in the area is higher than would be the case in a residential area. Although I am mindful that this only represents a snapshot of the traffic volumes and noise levels, due to the main road nature of Derby Street traffic is likely to be present at most times of the day and in the evenings. The short term parking spaces outside number 388 Derby Street can also be used at any time of day. Similarly, I saw that within the wider area that there are a number of other uses that operate in the evening and, as a result, pedestrian movements through the area will be higher than in a purely residential area.”

The appeal decision can be read here.

Malcolm House, Windsor Road, Manchester

Change of use from a Guest House to Supported Living Accommodation

Property/Background – Specialist Housing – Change of use from a Guest House to Supported Living Accommodation on a 1.2 acre site. The appellant had been considering how to make effective use of a group of vacant buildings and had identified a need within the local area for this type of accommodation. The proposed use would cater for adults (male and female) with learning disabilities / complex care needs.

Location – Windsor Road, Manchester

Council – Manchester City Council

Date – December 2016

Reason for refusal – The Council said the proposal would have led to an “over-concentration” of Special Needs Housing in the area, to the detriment of the character of the area and the balance of uses present

What we did – After a skillful and persuasive presentation at appeal, we were able to convince the Inspector that there was in fact an identified need for such accommodation and that the Council were relying too much on outdated policy documents within their assessment. We successfully demonstrated that the proposal would bring about numerous benefits including job creation and supply-chain advantages.

Result – In supporting the assessment put forward by Inspire Planning Solutions and granting planning permission, the Inspector concluded: “I am satisfied that the appeal scheme would not create an imbalance in the local community, nor would it undermine the existing residential character of the area, or result in disproportionate stress on local services. As a result I consider the proposal would not be detrimental to the overall mix of housing in this part of Manchester.”

The appeal decision can be read here.

Walton-le-dale, Preston, Lancashire

Enforcement relating to a residential first floor and single storey rear extension

Property Type – Residential – First floor extension and single storey rear extension

Location – Walton-le-dale, Preston, Lancashire

Council – South Ribble Council

Date – July 2017

Reason for refusal – Council alleged the extensions would have a potential detrimental impact on the residential amenity of a neighbouring occupier

What we did – During written representations appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, we were able to demonstrate that the proposed modifications represented high quality additions to the host property and would not have a detrimental visual impact or appear overbearing

Result – Following a site visit, the Inspectorate supported the case IPS put forward and consent was granted in June 2017

The appeal decision can be read here.


Enforcement relating to a change of use (Pharmacy) – Bolton

The rules around change’s of use and permitted development are often fraught with difficulties. This is particularly so where similar uses are involved and it is often a ‘grey’ area to ascertain whether planning permission is required or not.

In this case in Bolton, we were approached by a Pharmacy following the receipt of a letter from the Council alleging that they changed from a Dispensing Pharmacy to a Retail Pharmacy without planning permission. As the two uses fell in different categories (Classes), if a change in the operation of the Pharmacy had occurred, this would have required a planning application to be submitted or the risk of enforcement action.

Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd,analysed the business operation, the balance between retail and dispensing element,and the linkages with an adjacent Doctor’s surgery we were not convinced that a material change had occurred. By showing that the retail element was ancillary to the dispensing function, we demonstrated that the use was operating lawfully.No further action was taken and the business was saved from a costly and protracted planning application.

R & I Tyres, Blackburn

Alleged Non-Compliance with Conditions - R & I Tyres, Blackburn

£30,000, two letters, one phone call!

An established car tyre business in Blackburn had installed an expensive piece of innovative German tyre calibration machinery when they received notification from the Council’s Planning Enforcement section that planning permission was required.

The business owner had been advised to remove the equipment as if a planning application was submitted, it would be refused on grounds relating to highway safety. After receiving varying and often contradictory advice, the owner sought the help of Inspire Planning Solutions.

We investigated the planning history of the unit and having reviewed the correspondence that had been received by the Client, we made contact with the Council, setting out our case that planning permission was not needed. We subsequently set out our views in writing, with reference to planning case law. The Council after seeking legal advice, agreed that the business owner had no case to answer and a potentially costly remedial action was avoided.

If you have been subject of an inquiry or allegation of planning breach, early contact and negotiation with the Council can avoid costs and lead to a speedy resolution.


Planning Appraisal for Central Mosque – Reading

As part of the services Inspire Planning Solutions provide, we can help review planning cases to give our professional advice and allow informative decisions to be made.

We were handed one such task after a Client, who had previously gained planning permission in 2001, had subsequently started and completed construction on the site. However, it has transpired that the building that had been constructed, had significant variations to the building proposed in the initial plans. In addition, there were ambiguities around the discharge of conditions relating to the planning approval. Discussions had already taken place with the Council, whichhad brought out a number of procedural difficulties and put the planning status of the now constructed building in doubt.

Inspire Planning Solutions looked to carefully undertake a review of the history of the site, including a timeline of construction activity whilst also looking critically at the Council’s views. We produced a planning appraisal document detailing our professional views on the lawfulness of the existing structure and presented a number of options and recommendation on the next steps in remedying the problems that the Client faced.

St Ives Business Park, Blackburn

Enforcement Notice on Icon Designs - St Ives Business Park, Blackburn

Noise and the effect it has on people’s living conditions is an emotive topic. In a long running case in Hyndburn, the Council has served a number of Enforcement Notices on a manufacturing company, citing amongst other matters, the level of noise emanating from the site to be exceeding acceptable levels.

Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd, working closely with an Acoustic Specialist were able to put together a case which rebutted the Council’s evidence. Two heads were definitely better than one on this case, as the planning and acoustic expertise and knowledge combined to persuade the Inspector to allow the appeal and quash the notice!

We have a range of contacts in other areas, including noise, transport and ecology to name a few. If you have been faced with difficulties following the granting of permission, potentially with conditions then speak to Inspire Planning Solutions for impartial advice.


Appeal against Enforcement Notice - Alleged Unauthorised Development of Land - Colne

Enforcement Notices are not as uncommon as you might think.They are a tool available to Council Planning Departments to seek to rectify a planning breach.Often they are served on individuals who didn’t realise they needed planning permission. In other instances, Council’s get it wrong or use the powers available to them improperly.

We were called to assist on a rural site in Lancashire. The Council had served the owner of this site with an Enforcement Notice, citing a breach of planning control. This notice stated that there had been a change of land use over the last ten years without planning permission. The owner being, unaware of any wrong doing, called upon the services of Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd. After reviewing the notice, an appeal was submitted, highlighting the excessive measures the Council were placing on the owner. We also sought planning permission, demonstrating that the re-use of the existing buildings for mixed equestrian and agricultural use was acceptable and did not cause a detrimental impact on visual amenity. Through the presentation of an effective case, which sought to highlight the local and national policies of relevance, the notice was upheld and planning permission was granted.


Enforcement of a change of use from HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) to Hotel - London

Business’s change over time and the way it operates can have implications for the planning status of a site. Following the granting of planning permission of a property to a large House in Multiple Occupation in London, which was intended to provide affordable accommodation for key workers in a nearby hospital, it transpired that there was greater demand for shorter term occupation by visitors.

As no internal or external amendments were made to the layout or structure, and the property was still being let to residential occupants, it was perceived by the owner that planning permission was not required. Following an enquiry by the Council,Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd were approached, and we advised the client that permission was needed as a material change of use from a Sui Generis use to a Class C1 use (a Hotel) had occurred.

Given the long and protracted history of this site, we undertook pre-application discussions with the Council with a particular focus on the ‘sequential approach’ as a Hotel was deemed a town centre use. The similarities in the occupancy levels between the HMO and Hotel uses, the continuing residential nature of the property and other commonalities were put forward to show that there would be no adverse impacts in terms of parking or noise and disturbance.

The Council agreed on the subsequent planning application, that the Sequential Test report that we provided demonstrated that there were no more preferable properties to locate the hotel use in. Planning permission and no further action was taken on the enforcement enquiry by the Council.

Lake District

Change of use from guest house to dwelling cottage – Lake District

The Lake District National Park is renowned for its quaint cottages, B n B’s and small family run hotels that serve the visitor and tourist industry.

Inspire Planning Solutions was approached by advice from a previous client who had purchased an investment property. It had previously been operating as a Bed and Breakfast, which had been renovated and converted it into a single quality holiday let, reducing the number of bedrooms.

Following an enquiry by the Council on the current use of the property, we provided advice on the lawful use of the property and how it had operated previously, as well as analysing the particular policies of the National Park to understand the likelihood of success, of a future application.

If you are planning a project or have undertaken work inadvertently without having the necessary permissions in place, then it is best to be proactive and take the right steps in good time.