John Helyar

The Big Sales phenomenon on the High Streets suggests a radical re-think of how people are attracted to and use our town and city centres.

The High Street is struggling and it is clear that generations of customers are no longer available to those large stores which have been in place for decades and the convenience, on-demand approach of on-line shopping has had a significant impact on the trading patterns across the world.

The failure of companies such as British Homes Stores, coupled with store closures announced by Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and others, demonstrates that larger retailers can no longer be relied on to anchor the traditional High Street. The High Street needs to offer more than shopping opportunities and employment plus residential uses will be essential to underpinning activity in these central areas in the future.

The changing nature of the town centre environment may not ultimately be suitable for all retail. The provision of bars, restaurants and leisure facilities can result in an area which has high footfall but limited spend and there can be an entirely different atmosphere through the day and night. Artisan units, event space and pop up units in empty shops are other ways in which to attract people to the high street. A widening offer for leisure and hospitality needs to be provided and the increase in footfall which arises from a seasonal continental market or Sleigh Bar demonstrates shows that town centres can still be a destination if the right activity is on offer to draw people in. The creation of a vibrant environment for those who live, work and visit these areas is essential to ensure that there is a continued heart to our towns and cities.

Important measures need to be taken to secure alternative, appropriate uses. Policy will need to be in place to encourage leisure and businesses uses but avoid short term lease and high turnover businesses from securing high profile premises. There should be a commitment to vibrancy, rather than payday loan stores or betting shops. If these uses are all the High Street will support then planning policies are failing.

Fundamental changes are required to the way our centres operate and a less retail focussed experience is essential. Only in this way will the decline of the High Street be successfully addressed with activity and vibrancy stimulated.  The shift in focus has the potential to create both jobs and an enhanced living environment which supports activity throughout the day and into the evening.  The creation of a wider sense of community around the High Street will assist in securing the long term future of this key Town Centre asset.

John HelyarThe Big Sales phenomenon on the High Streets suggests a radical re-think of how people are attracted to and use our town and city centres.
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Caddington Retirement Village

“DLP Planning Ltd has secured a resolution to grant Planning Permission, contrary to Officers recommendation and subject to legal agreement, for the construction of a Retirement Village of up to 200 apartment units with ancillary facilities in a ‘Village Core’ (swimming pool, spa, wellness suite, restaurant/bar and lounges, learning/education facilities and administration) on land within the Central Bedfordshire Green Belt, near Caddington, Bedfordshire.

The site comprises an area of around 4.8 hectares and contains Millfield House and the Cotswold Business Park as well as an undeveloped parcel of land. The site lies within the South Bedfordshire Green Belt and adjoins the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), both key considerations that dictated the approach to development and scheme design and which needed to be addressed during the planning process.

Members of the Planning Committee resolved to overturn the decision and resolved to approve the planning application which Members considered demonstrated a number of Very Special Circumstances, sufficient to warrant its approval. These included meeting an identified, significant local need for elderly accommodation within the District; delivery of affordable housing and a range of local community facilities; developing a part previously developed site; and a £100 million gross investment value scheme creating up to 80 jobs.

The village is to be built out and operated by Inspired Villages (L and G), who have contracted to acquire the land from the private owner”.

John HelyarCaddington Retirement Village
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DLP Planning Ltd (DLP) have secured outline planning permission for the erection of 9 new apartments in St George, Bristol. Working with Wotton Donoghue Architects, on behalf of Sampson Developments Limited, the proposal will see the erection of a high quality three storey residential block on underutilised land adjacent to Argyle Morley United Reformed Church.

One of the key considerations that needed to be addressed during the planning process was the location of the vehicular access, due to the site’s proximity to existing road junctions and two pedestrian refuge islands. It was also important that the building was set back in order to preserve the outlook from the neighbouring Church’s north-east facing windows.

The application was decided by the Council under delegated powers. DLP have been retained by the applicant to submit a full planning application for a larger 10 dwelling scheme.


Image credited to Wotton Donoghue Architects


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42-56, Tottenham Road

DLP Planning Limited have successfully secured planning permission from Hackney Council for the proposed change of use from a warehouse (use class B8) to commercial use (use class B1c) at 42-56, Tottenham Road, Hackney.  The existing property was vacant and had previously been used as a trade warehouse. It was considered a change of use to Class B1c use would make the most productive use of the building, which falls within a Priority Employment Area.

The site raised a number of sensitive design considerations, such as how to make efficient use of the building whilst protecting the amenity of neighbouring residents and the De Beauvoir Town Conservation Area in which the site is located. The proposal will see minimal changes to the exterior of the building, therefore resulting in no adverse impact on the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. Class B1 uses are considered to be appropriate in residential areas so the proposed B1c use is considered to be compatible with the residential neighbours in near proximity and also reflects the majority of established employment use in the near vicinity.

No objections were raised by members of the public and the application was decided by the Council under delegated powers. The Owner’s Commercial Agent, Savoy Stewart are confident of an early letting.

John Helyar42-56, Tottenham Road
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Central Bedfordshire Local Plan – Examination Hearings

The Public Hearing Sessions for the Examination in Public (EiP) of the Regulation 22 Central Bedfordshire Council Local Plan are set to begin at 10am on Tuesday 21st May 2019, running until Thursday 25th July.

DLP Planning Ltd will be in attendance for many of the scheduled Hearing Sessions representing a number of clients further to representations made throughout the Local Plan process. The Hearing Sessions will be conducted around 15 key Matters and a range of questions pertaining to each Matter under the guidance of the Inspectors Matthew Birkinshaw and Helen Hockenhull.

DLP has consistently made representations that the housing numbers proposed by Central Beds Council are not meeting the full objectively assessed needs for the area and we will be representing clients with concerns over the spatial strategy and the selection of strategic sites.

The Duty to Co-operate has been a consistent issue within Central Bedfordshire, which saw the previous Development Strategy withdrawn in 2015 and similar concerns have been raised again through this EiP process. Other important areas of discussion are likely to include Green Belt releases, the provision of small and medium site allocations for housing, Important Countryside Gap policies and the identified locations for future growth.

John HelyarCentral Bedfordshire Local Plan – Examination Hearings
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Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030 – Examination Hearing Sessions

The Examination in Public (EiP) Hearing Sessions for the Bedford Borough Local Plan 2030 are due to begin on 29th May at 9:30 with Hearing Sessions running until 26th June. The Hearing Sessions will cover 13 matters ranging from legal compliance, housing requirements and the spatial strategy, through to individual allocations and policies of the plan guided by the Government appointed Inspectors Malcolm Rivett and Anne Jordan.

DLP will be present across these Hearing Sessions having responded to a number of consultations over the course of the Plan’s development, which started back in 2014/15. DLP continues to raise concerns over a range of different aspects of the plan including the level of housing which the Council aims to deliver, which DLP consider both falls short of a full assessment of housing need and relies on a number of sites with question marks over their delivery.

DLP will also be challenging the Council’s late decision to shorten the timespan of the new Plan to 2030 whilst also deferring all site specific allocations outside the urban area to future Neighbourhood Plans for allocation. This approach provides little certainty of sites coming forward and will delay the delivery of much needed market and affordable housing in the short-medium term, particularly in rural areas.

Once adopted, the plan will form be the key policy document against which Planning applications in the future will be determined, so DLP will be seeking to ensure that it has been prepared in the correct manner and in accordance with national policy and guidance.

John HelyarBedford Borough Local Plan 2030 – Examination Hearing Sessions
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Planning and Listed Building Consent for Double Glazed Windows on a Listed Building

DLP Planning Ltd has secured Planning and Listed Building Consent, on behalf of the Sir Malcolm Stewart General Charitable Trust, to replace the existing timber single glazed windows with slim profile timber double glazed windows on a number of Grade II listed buildings within the Stewartby Conservation Area.

The site comprises part of an open plan estate that was designed in the early 1950’s by the renowned architect Sir Albert Richardson and historically provided housing for the retired workers of the London Brick Company and their descendants. The site now also provides housing for a general population over the age of 55 years.

Following pre-application discussions with the Planning and Conservation Officer, DLP Planning Ltd submitted an application and successfully demonstrated that the detailing and design of the proposed windows would match that of the existing windows, and would preserve the significance of the Listed Buildings and the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. The Council agreed that there would be no harm to these heritage assets.

The comprehensive replacement of the existing windows with new double glazed units provides for a step change in energy efficiency by eliminating draughts and retaining heat as well as improving the ease of operation for the elderly residents and cutting future maintenance and repair costs.  The decision has been welcomed by the Trust and by the residents who will benefit from the improvements.

John HelyarPlanning and Listed Building Consent for Double Glazed Windows on a Listed Building
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Planning Permission Secured for Sheffield’s First Major Build to Rent Scheme

On behalf of Platform_, DLP Planning have secured permission for Sheffield’s first build-to-rent (BTR) development of 335 apartments within the Cultural Industries Quarter area of the city centre.

The development includes three blocks of between five and 14 storeys in height, providing studio, one, two and three-bed apartments as well as co-working employment space and a flexible use commercial unit. Communal facilities including a gym, common room, cinema room, dining facilities, amenity space, roof garden and bike maintenance store area will also be provided. The proposals also include the creation of a formal riverside walkway alongside the Porter Brook.

This long-term vacant brownfield site presented a number of challenges relating to its Conservation Area status, site contamination and flood risk. Working alongside Tate Hindle Architects over an 18 month period, DLP promoted a sensitive design approach, which also sought to respond to comments from Historic England, in order to secure officer support for the proposals.

As a result of the substantial costs associated with the development and the limited evidence of comparable market values, it was also necessary to undertake negotiations with the LPA in respect of the viability of providing affordable housing.

As a result of negotiations, officers considered that the proposals provided substantial public benefits that could be considered to outweigh the less than substantial harm caused by the scale of development. The proposals were subsequently unanimously approved by Planning Committee members.

John HelyarPlanning Permission Secured for Sheffield’s First Major Build to Rent Scheme
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Car-free Apartments Secured in Aylesbury

DLP Planning Ltd (DLP) have successfully secured full planning permission for a development of 15 new one bedroom apartments, with associated infrastructure and landscaping adjacent to Aylesbury Town Centre on behalf of our client. The approved development represents a five storey car free scheme with a strong case made for its accessible location in close proximity to bus and train routes. The site, which currently represents a private car park, will be completely re-developed to provide new high quality residential homes, with communal open space and soft landscaping and ample cycle storage.

DLP with the assistance of BE1 Architects overcame a number of key planning challenges including overlooking, massing and day lighting issues. Working in collaboration with Local Planning Authority Officers, the resulting development utilises green walls and modern articulated built form to improve internal and external vistas and enhance the existing street scene, without harming the privacy or amenity of neighbouring properties.

DLP lead the project team and worked in collaboration with a number of consultants to achieve this result, including Energy-Evaluation Services Ltd, who provided advice on the daylight/sunlight issues; critical to the success of the planning application.

Car-free Apartments Secured in Aylesbury

John HelyarCar-free Apartments Secured in Aylesbury
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Planning permission granted for new apartments next to Heathrow Airport

DLP Planning Ltd (DLP) have successfully secured full planning permission for a development of nine new 1 and 2 bedroom apartments at a building next to Heathrow Airport on behalf of our client.  The approved development is for a two storey upwards extension to the roof of an existing office building that has a separate permission to be converted to 24 apartments, and so in total the scheme will deliver 33 much needed high quality dwellings.  The extension takes advantage of the building’s ‘airspace’ and so is an example of the type of development the Government has recently announced their support for.

The site is located within the London Borough of Hillingdon and in November 2017 they enacted an Article 4 Direction to restrict the conversion of office buildings into residential.  DLP successfully argued that this restriction did not apply to this building and so that both the consented conversion scheme and associated new development could take place, and also that the design of the scheme was appropriate and would not be harmful to the character of the area or neighbouring properties.

DLP led the project team and worked in collaboration with a number of consultants to achieve this result, including Matrix Transport and Infrastructure Consultants Ltd and Energy-Evaluation Services Ltd, who provided advice on transport and daylight/sunlight issues respectively, two maters that were critical to the success of the planning application.”

Princess House

John HelyarPlanning permission granted for new apartments next to Heathrow Airport
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