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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Outline Planning Permission Won on Appeal for a Scheme of 30 Dwellings in Bedford (App Ref: APP/K0235/W/19/3237824)

DLP Planning Ltd, working with BE1 Architects, has successfully secured outline planning permission on appeal, with full costs, for a scheme of 30 dwellings on land at Howards Close, Wilstead, Bedfordshire.

The initial planning application, a resubmission of a previous adverse decision, was recommended for approval by the Case Officer on the basis that the Council cannot demonstrate a five year land supply, and so the titled balance was engaged. Contrary to Officers recommendation however, the Council’s Planning Committee refused planning permission on the basis that (i) the application was premature and prejudicial to the plan making process; and (ii) development would be harmful to highway safety.

In allowing the appeal, the Inspector rejected the Council’s case and agreed with DLP that the status of Wilstead as a Key Service Centre, the distribution of development in the emerging Local Plan, and the scale of development sought, the application would not be premature. Moreover, in exercising the tilted balance, the Inspector found that the provision of much needed new housing would boost supply, and the economic benefits of construction and the ongoing support for local facilities and businesses were significant benefits and outweighed any adverse harm.

In relation to highway safety concerns, given the absence of any technical objection, the Inspector found no evidence to substantiate the harm alleged, and overall the Inspector found the Council to have acted unreasonably and made a full costs award.

Kerry TitmusOutline Planning Permission Won on Appeal for a Scheme of 30 Dwellings in Bedford (App Ref: APP/K0235/W/19/3237824)
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Planning Permission Secured for Minor Material Amendments to a 340 Unit Residential Scheme in Luton

DLP Planning Ltd, working with a team of specialist consultants, has successfully secured planning permission for “Section 73” amendments to a scheme to provide 340 apartments at Newlands Road in Luton.

The site was acquired by our client earlier this year with the benefit of a detailed planning permission. Following a review of the scheme an application was submitted for minor material amendments to improve the internal ventilation and fire safety systems, to remove the  underground car parking, and the internal configuration of the apartments.  The changes were achieved without a reduction in the overall number of units, and with no material increase in the level of Section 106 contributions required.

DLP worked closely with Luton Borough Council throughout the application process to secure a recommendation for approval by the case officer at Planning Committee. The application was subsequently approved by Members of the Committee and who endorsed our approach in order to ensure construction can start on site immediately.

The site is an allocated housing site in the Luton Local Plan (2011-2031), and the changes to the scheme secured by this approval will assist in the efficient delivery of the scheme.

dlpPlanning Permission Secured for Minor Material Amendments to a 340 Unit Residential Scheme in Luton
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The Tories are in!

Well who could have planned for this outcome!

The Conservative Party’s Manifesto ‘Get Brexit Done – Unleash Britain’s Potential’ has interesting implications for the planning and development industry. Aside from its commitment to delivering Brexit, the Conservatives propose further devolution and investment in transport and planning and have stated support for the ‘Crossrail for the North’ but did not fully commit to HS2, which they intend to review. They proposed to bring forward a Social Housing White Paper, which will set out measures to empower tenants and support the continued supply of social homes. They also committed to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme to support the delivery of thousands of new affordable homes.

The Manifesto also contained the standard comment around home ownership. The policy of a multi-tenure approach to housebuilding is set to continue. However, the Manifesto advocated little to no change on issues like Green Belt protection and support for specific infrastructure projects.

The Manifesto included two key planning policy pledges, including the “beauty” agenda and the accelerated White Paper. The Conservative Government pledged to ask individual communities to decide on their own design standards for new development, allowing residents a voice on the design of development in their area. How this will fit with extant policy or its status is however not set out. Secondly, the White Paper was trailed as containing proposals to speed up and “simplify” the planning process (again) by relaxing some rules, cutting conditions and improving resources for local authorities. The plans for the White Paper are to be released next year.

The Conservative Party sought to set a strong message on environmental issues and have also committed to reducing carbon to net zero by 2050.

How this will all play out, and the ‘shape of the new team’ will become clearer in the next few months, but the concentration will remain on ‘getting Brexit done’

Kerry TitmusThe Tories are in!
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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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A modern day example of “Doublethink” regarding Central Bedfordshire Local Plan Examination Inspectors Letter

To quote George Orwell…“You are a slow learner, Winston.”

“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”

“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

This is the experience you get reading the inspectors’ letter on the recent CBC LP exam and CBC’s response (which they got in first by publishing on the examination web site and sending out in email before releasing the inspectors letter). Our reading of the inspectors letter is that the plan is not sound and a substantial level of work is required including a new, not an amended, Sustainability Appraisal. This will, in the inspectors’ view, require a reopening of the examination and this is likely to include a re-examination of housing requirement and supply (in the submitted plan the OAN is much lower than the standard method LHN). Our reading of the letter is that the inspectors are suggesting it would be quicker and more appropriate to withdraw the plan and start again.

In terms of Small and Medium allocations inspectors have questioned deliverability and whether exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated to justify the alteration of Green Belt boundaries. At least -259 dwellings, and up to -835 dwellings have been identified for deletion from the proposed allocations.

The Inspectors also criticised of all four strategic housing allocations. The potential impact on the delivery of housing towards the Local Plans requirement is substantial with a maximum potential loss of -9,750 units forecast for delivery in the plan period to 2035.

The CBC web site however summarises the position quite differently as;

“This marks an important step forward in the thorough and comprehensive process of creating and agreeing the Local Plan….

 Whilst many critical areas of policy have been accepted without commentary, there are a number of areas which require some further work.”

We wonder if CBC working on the approach that;

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”

Given CBC’c criticism of the approach taken by the inspectors it will be interesting to see the next round of correspondence. In the meantime the planning system ability to achieve the governments aspirations of securing planned led growth for 300,000 dwellings a year remains a fiction.

Kerry TitmusA modern day example of “Doublethink” regarding Central Bedfordshire Local Plan Examination Inspectors Letter
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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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Planning Permission for UPVC Double Glazed Windows in the Stewartby Conservation Area

DLP Planning Ltd has secured Planning Permission, on behalf of the Sir Malcolm Stewart Bart. General Charitable Trust, to replace the existing timber single glazed windows with slim profile UPVC double glazed windows on a number of properties across the Estate 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.

The Conservation Officer expressed concerns in relation to the use of UPVC and the impact it would have on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. However, with support from the Parish Council and the local Ward Councillor, DLP were able to successfully demonstrate to the Planning Committee that the proposed slim-line heritage style window would replicate the detailing, design and proportions of the original windows and would be almost identical in appearance.

The proposal also provided a number of benefits to the residents of the Estate and which includes eliminating draughts and providing a warmer and more comfortable living environment. In addition, the proposed windows are easier for the residents to operate as they don’t swell and stick like timber windows do.

The decision has been welcomed by the Trust and whose viability was threatened by the cost of continual repairs, maintenance and up-keep of the timber windows. The residents, many of whom have very limited incomes, will benefit greatly from the improved insulation and reduction in their heating costs.

Kerry TitmusPlanning Permission for UPVC Double Glazed Windows in the Stewartby Conservation Area
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Full Planning Permission for Green Belt Conversion and Extension, Alveston, South Gloucestershire

DLP Planning Ltd (DLP) have secured full planning permission for the conversion and extension of a single storage building within the Green Belt. The storage building was originally constructed as part of a recent planning permission to rebuild two separate outbuildings into a single building for the storage of gardening equipment. Following this approval, DLP successfully argued that, due to the subsequent development of other areas of the site for other dwellings, the storage building was now surplus to requirements and could therefore be converted to a dwelling. Furthermore, through positive discussions with the Case Officer, DLP were able to secure a sufficiently sized extension to the side of the property allowing for the creation of an additional bedroom and balcony atop, accessed via the living space.

They key concerns revolved around development within the green belt, discussions with the local authority over what is considered to be within the residential curtilage, avoiding a nearby root protection area and delivering a sizeable extension which accorded with local policy.

The application was decided by the Council under delegated powers having passed through the Council’s circulated schedule process.


Images credited to We Are Not Architects

Kerry TitmusFull Planning Permission for Green Belt Conversion and Extension, Alveston, South Gloucestershire
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Planning Permission For Two Self-Build Dwellings In The Green Belt Won On Appeal

DLP Planning Ltd have successfully secured outline planning permission on appeal for two self-build dwellings in the Green Belt in Frogmore, St Albans.

The Council’s refused an application in October 2018, holding the view that the scheme did not consitute limited infilling as per the Framework, and would be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.

The Inspector rejected the Council’s case and agreed with the arguments put forward by DLP that the appeal site forms part of the village and represents a well defined gap enclosed by built development. The Inspector therefore concluded that the appeal scheme did represent ‘limited infilling’ and as such would not be inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

The Inspector also found that the subdivision of the site into two plots would be consistent with the existing pattern of development, and the number of dwellings proposed would amount to ‘limited development’.

This is an important appeal decision and reinforces the approach to ‘limited infilling’ in the Green Belt as laid down by the Courts.

DLP Planning has a proven track record of achieving planning permission in the Green Belt for our clients.   If you would like to enquire about our services, please get in touch.

Kerry TitmusPlanning Permission For Two Self-Build Dwellings In The Green Belt Won On Appeal
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