John Helyar

Land to the East of Warley Substation, Clay Tye Road, Upminster, RM14 3PL

DLP obtained full planning permission in November 2021 from Havering BC, on behalf of Clearstone Energy, in relation to land to the east of Warley Substation, Clay Tye Road, Upminster. The scheme was for the construction and operation of a battery storage facility with associated fencing, landscaping, and access road. The site, which is just over an acre, is located within the Metropolitan Green Belt and is covered by the Thames Chase Community Forest Area.

The demand for battery storage technology continues to grow rapidly as the immediacy of climate change, sustainability and environmental considerations become ever more apparent. Transitioning to a renewable energy fuelled world is a concept that has received additional traction since 2019 and the Climate Change Committee, with most recently in 2021, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Significant new legislation in the UK includes the new Environment Bill and Act in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The need for cleaner energy sources is recognised and battery storage facilities form a crucial aspect of this initiative especially if the UK is to shift away from dependence on fossil-fuels and meet the Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

The development at Upminster comprises 334 battery cabinets, alongside 23 inverter/transformers, which are controlled by a relay room. The battery storage will be connected to the existing transmission grid substation, which is owned and operated by National Grid Plc. The purpose is to aid National Grid Plc’s larger UK programme of delivering battery storage at electricity substations across the country in order to ensure that they can maintain the required levels of frequency and also balance national electricity supply and demand.

The location of the Battery storage unit within the overall curtilage of the Sub-Station site was selected on the basis of environmental criteria and following detailed discussions with National Grid. 

As part of this planning application, DLP managed the preparation of the application. This included detailed liaison with the energy company; Clearstone Energy who were the clients, relevant external consultants and key Officers at the Council. The application was supported by a detailed assessment as to how the battery storage proposal would have only minimal impact on the Green Belt and issues of openness. This technical justification included a comprehensive package of application plans, elevations, and technical documents. This supporting documentation explained that the proposed technology would be acceptable in technical terms. In relation to noise issues, a key local issue, it was shown that only low levels of noise would occur and only when the battery was operational. In addition, these noise levels would be emitted primarily by the cooling system, which is required to maintain the temperature, for both charging and discharge phases.

Havering BC initially raised concerns regarding the appearance of the units and the accessibility of servicing in relation to HGVS. However, with small amendments to the Landscape Strategy to better screen the structure, and amendments to the configuration of the access road and turning points, the application was granted an approval in November 2021.

John HelyarLand to the East of Warley Substation, Clay Tye Road, Upminster, RM14 3PL
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CCRC Appeal – Chilterns AONB

DLP Planning Ltd, acting as part of the appeal team representing Inspired Villages, led by Chris Young QC, have gained on appeal planning permission for a 143-unit retirement village in the Chilterns AONB, at Sonning Common, South Oxfordshire.

DLP oversaw the preparation of the initial, hybrid application for the proposal and led discussions with South Oxfordshire Council prior to the determination of the application. Following refusal of the application in 2020, DLP instructed Chris Young QC, and DLP provided evidence in respect of housing land supply, planning policy and the planning balance with Simon James MRTPI and Roland Bolton MRTPI giving evidence at the 9-day Public Local Inquiry.

In his decision letter, Inspector Harold Stephens accepted the evidence given and found, respectively, that there was an established, substantial need for specialist accommodation for the elderly, which was not being met within the Council area, that there was not demonstrated to be a five year supply of housing land in place, that the appeal site had a strong relationship with the built form of the village and that the proposal itself was attractive and contextual in its setting. Inspector Stephens allowed the appeal and dismissed a costs application made by South Oxfordshire and found that the appellants had not acted unreasonably.

Subsequent to the issuing of the decision, South Oxfordshire Council sought to challenge the decision in the High Court but their application for leave to bring a case was dismissed twice, the first time by written application and the second via a hearing, and the Council subsequently withdrew their challenge allowing Inspired Villages to pursue approval of reserved matters and the discharge of conditions prior to delivering the development.

DLP are now instructed to discharge conditions and reserved matters and will continue working on this to provide for commencement of development later this year.

John HelyarCCRC Appeal – Chilterns AONB
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The Mango Tree

The Mango Tree was formerly a two-storey detached building (latterly converted to use as a restaurant with staff accommodation above) occupying a prominent position in the Crowthorne Conservation Area. It benefitted from planning permission to convert to flats but subsequently proved to be structurally unsound. DLP obtained permission to demolish and rebuild in 2017 to provide 5 residential units and the demolition took place. However, it was deemed unviable to implement the permitted scheme and since that time, the applicant has sought to design a proposal that can viably be constructed.

A proposed mixed-use scheme, which comprised the provision of a children’s nursery with residential accommodation on the upper floors, was deemed by Officers to be overdevelopment of site. A subsequent application for 10 flats was also considered to raise design objections and was refused.

A post-determination meeting was held with the Council to seek advice on whether they would accept a scheme for 8 residential units. Whilst the Officers were still hesitant with this, the client and DLP progressed a carefully justified planning application submission.

A number of objections and issues were raised regarding access and turning, traffic impacts, amenity space, a sustainable drainage system (SuDS), waste and recycling facility storage and the impact on trees. DLP worked closely with the Council and the client to provide further information addressing these concerns and, in addition, secured support from the Council’s heritage consultant.

Planning permission was subsequently granted by Committee (in October 2021), and DLP are now working with the Council and the applicant to progress the Section 106 Agreement.

John HelyarThe Mango Tree
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Review: Sustainable housing on a brownfield site

The new Climate Innovation District being built by Citu Group Developments Limited (CITU) on the edge of Leeds city centre offers a model for sustainable design and development. CITU is a Leeds based company whose mission is to tackle climate change. The homes were designed by White Arkitekter; a Scandinavian firm. They also prepared the masterplan for the scheme.

Such developments are crucial in addressing the key aspects of sustainable growth and development in urban areas. Located in the Leeds Dock area, the district is being built on an old industrial site on the south bank of the River Aire. When complete, the development is planned to deliver a mixed-use neighbourhood with 1,000 sustainable homes, a zero carbon workplace, five urban parks, a primary school and a care home. The first phase comprising 315 homes was completed early last year.

CITU homes are different from traditional two storey brick houses. Influenced by Scandinavian design, the appearance is contemporary and bold. The design and layout significantly reduces the carbon footprint of its occupiers. The design of the homes is based on the Leeds model for back-to-back housing, with rooms located around lightwells that provide light down into the kitchens. They are visually attractive and signpost a step change in the delivery of sustainable homes.
The homes have a timber frame with recycled glasswool insulation and triple glazed windows. Heating bills are kept low with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (MVHRs) There are also solar arrays, which are co-owned by all of the residents, to provide renewable energy.

Located on the edge of the city centre, there is a large range of shops, eating and drinking establishments and entertainment venues nearby. Residents do not need to rely on access to a private car. Bus stops are located close to the site along the A61, and Leeds train station is approximately 25 minutes walk away. There are also opportunities to walk and cycle along the riverside into the city centre.

The development is also located on previously developed land, which means that available land is being used efficiently.

In short, the location ticks all of the boxes for planners and sustainability in land use terms.
In the current housing crisis, younger people in particular, are experiencing difficulties in trying to save for a deposit to secure a mortgage and get on the property ladder. Unfortunately, with one bedroom properties currently on sale in the Climate Innovation District for more than £150,000, and the asking price for four bedroom properties being more than £400,000, the cost of purchasing may be too great for some people. However, the longer-term costs will be significantly less than average because of the sustainable design.

In addition, some affordable housing provision has been secured as part of the Section 106 legal agreements associated with the development.

John HelyarReview: Sustainable housing on a brownfield site
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New Ambulance Station at Elton Way, Watford

DLP Planning Ltd, working with our Sustainable Development and Delivery Team (SDD), have secured full planning permission on behalf of our client, for the change of use from an existing commercial yard to an ambulance station at Elton Way, Watford.

The proposal will provide new premises for a private ambulance service working with the NHS and private patients to provide transportation services to transport patients to hospital appointments. The site comprised previously developed land in the Green Belt and comprised a gravelled yard with an existing office building and parking area. DLP worked proactively with the Council to ensure that the proposal would be acceptable and would not have a detrimental impact on the Green Belt.

The Council agreed with the case put forward by DLP that as there would be no additional built form, the proposal would not be harmful to the Green Belt. Furthermore, the Council recognised the economic benefits created by employment, and also the wider community benefits that would be provided by this healthcare service. Overall, it was found that the proposal would not cause harm to visual amenity, residential amenity, car parking, traffic or Land contamination.

The Council considered that the proposed ambulance station would be beneficial to the area as it would provide healthcare services to the wider area, and as such would constitute a key community facility.

This is a great result for our client. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.

John HelyarNew Ambulance Station at Elton Way, Watford
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Schools, Hospitals and Prison Buildings Determination Period Shortened

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 introduces changes in relation to fire safety and ‘public service infrastructure’. In respect of the latter, the consultation period will be reduced from the current 21 calendar day statutory period to 18 calendar days. The determination period is reduced from 13 weeks to 10 weeks.

The changes proposed in the statutory instrument have been billed as a new fast track for public service buildings. The objective of the change is to address what has been perceived as delays and cost increases resulting from the significant amount of time that securing planning permission can take. The intention is to encourage priority to be given to public service infrastructure development applications.

Quite how the reduction in statutory consultation by 3 days will make any meaningful improvement to the efficiency of decision making on public building applications is unclear. Indeed, introducing a range of consultation periods introduces uncertainty which may be unhelpful and result in more administrative confusion over applications.

The opportunity for prioritisation of public buildings may be beneficial of course but it does raise questions over the general resource for decision makers. An appeal against non-determination is not likely to result in an expeditious outcome for such an application for instance. As it stands, the statutory instrument will apply in relation to applications made on or after 1 August 2021.

John HelyarSchools, Hospitals and Prison Buildings Determination Period Shortened
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Oxford-Cambridge Arc Spatial Framework – Consultation commences July 2021

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is a national economic priority area. The Government believe it has the potential to be one of the most sustainable economic areas in the world and can make a major contribution to national economic upturn as we seek to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

To deliver on this ambition, the Government is developing a Spatial Framework which will set national planning policy and transport policy for the areas of the Arc, namely the ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Cambridgeshire.

In February 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a paper to set out how they were intending to develop this Framework to support growth in a more sustainable and strategic way.

As part of this paper, the Government highlighted that, to allow an effective and efficient Spatial Arc to be developed, it should be shaped by those who live, work, and have an interest in the area. As such, three public consultations have been planned to take place, with the first one running from the 20th of July 2021 until the 12th of October 2021.

The Government have now published a new paper titled ‘Creating a Vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc’, which outlines both the purpose and the ambition of this 12-week consultation.

The Purpose of the Consultation

The consultation is being undertaken to inform the Government’s approach to the future of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and to seek views to help create a vision for the Framework, to guide the future growth of the area to 2050. This is in line with the commitment the Government made at the launch of the Spatial Framework in February 2021.

Alongside this consultation and since the purpose of the Spatial Framework is to support the delivery of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc in the most sustainable way, the Government are also undertaking a fully integrated Sustainability Appraisal (SA). This will be informed by other statutory assessments and regimes such as a habitats regulation assessment pursuant to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. As part of the current consultation, the Government are also seeking views on the initial work that they have done to set the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal.

Key Themes of the Spatial Framework

The key “policy pillars” of the Framework, are as follows:

  • To preserve and enhance a ‘green arc’ and to improve access to green space, reduce flood risk, and improve air quality.
  • To provide sustainable economic growth and create more employment and attract businesses.
  • Improve east-west connectivity in the arc – east-west rail project.
  • Provide more homes and affordable homes to support sustainable growth.

Moving Forward

Once the consultation period has come to an end, the Government will consider the responses received which will contribute to the Spatial Framework’s vision for the Arc to 2050 and inform the development of the Sustainability Appraisal. Whilst exact dates are yet to be confirmed, the Government has announced that in Spring 2022, they expect to publish the vision and to carry out further public consultation on options for the policies in the Spatial Framework.

The development of the Spatial Framework will be supported by two further public consultations:

  • Towards a Spatial Framework – the purpose of this consultation will be for the public to have their say on the published options for delivering the Framework’s objectives; and
  • Draft Spatial Framework – the aim of this consultation is for the public to have their say on the draft Spatial Framework along with the Sustainability Appraisal Environmental Report.
John HelyarOxford-Cambridge Arc Spatial Framework – Consultation commences July 2021
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Bespoke planning strategy key to unlocking housing growth

DLP, working on behalf of Woodall Homes, secured outline planning permission for a bespoke development of up to 80 new dwellings in Calow, Derbyshire.  DLP followed a carefully woven planning strategy to secure permission for the site, working closely with Planning Officers at Northeast Derbyshire District Council.

The site comprises agricultural land and is defined as a ‘countryside’ location in both the saved and emerging Local Plans, albeit one that is edge of settlement.

Alongside the planning policy argument supporting the release of the site for housing, DLP worked closely with Officers and consultees on the other key technical issues associated with the scheme. There was a focus on landscape character, highway impact and heritage matters, to ensure that there were no objections from statutory consultees.

The Council accepted that the proposals would represent a logical and sustainable extension to the settlement, with excellent access to local services facilities and amenities, delivering a mixed choice of modern energy efficient homes, including much needed affordable housing.

John HelyarBespoke planning strategy key to unlocking housing growth
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Planning Success at Church Farm, Aldbury

DLP, working with Laxton Properties and Anderson Orr Architects, secured full planning permission, on behalf of clients, for the change of use, conversion, and refurbishments of Units 13, 14, 15 and 19 into flexible use under Class E at Church Farm, Station Road, Aldbury. The proposal also included the demolition of Unit 9 to provide ancillary car parking spaces and associated landscaping.

The site is part of the former racing stables establishment owned by Peter Harris. The historic farm buildings and farmhouse were constructed as part of the new model village of Aldbury in the mid 1840’s replacing earlier structures and altering the village layout. These farm buildings and the farmhouse are locally listed.

DLP worked proactively with the Council, and in particular the Conservation Officer, to ensure that the proposal would be acceptable in the chosen location and would not result in a detrimental impact on the Conservation Area, the AONB and the setting of Listed Buildings. The proposal was subject to a number of amendments following concerns in heritage terms. The Conservation Officer supported the proposal as it would preserve the significance of the existing locally listed buildings and the designated asset of the Conservation Area.

The proposed re-use of the stable buildings for employment purposes was considered to support the rural economy and the maintenance of the wider countryside. The proposal provided an appropriate re-use of otherwise vacant stable buildings that would ensure their sensitive retention, whilst providing local employment opportunities.

 

John HelyarPlanning Success at Church Farm, Aldbury
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New scout headquarters in Holmesfield for 3rd Holmesfield Scout Group

DLP obtained planning permission, via an appeal, for the development of a new scout headquarters in Holmesfield, on Green Belt land in North East Derbyshire.

The permission will allow the 3rd Holmesfield Scout Group to return to their original home of Holmesfield. It will provide additional capacity and up-to-date facilities to accommodate children and young adults who are currently on the waiting list to join the Scouts.

The planning application was refused in July 2020 because the Local Planning Authority considered the development to be inappropriate in the Green Belt, and the public benefits arising from the development would not outweigh the harm to the Conservation Area and the neighbouring Grade II listed Church.

DLP assessed the proposal against the national and local planning policy requirements for development to be approved in the Green Belt and detailed the array of benefits that constitute Very Special Circumstances. Any potential impact of the development on heritage assets was also reviewed.

There was considerable support for the proposal from the local community, and the Inspector gave very substantial weight to the benefit of providing a community facility for children.

The Inspector also found that the character of the Conservation Area and the setting of the neighbouring listed building would be preserved. The Inspector found that these considerations clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt, and therefore Very Special Circumstances exist when considering the case as a whole.

 

John HelyarNew scout headquarters in Holmesfield for 3rd Holmesfield Scout Group
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