Weekend close-down for the Planning Portal so they can charge us £20 to submit planning applications online

We won’t be in the office on Saturday, this weekend, submitting planning applications for clients, as we sometimes do.  The Planning Portal will be unavailable to us from this evening until Monday morning.

The Portal will now send applications and payments to the relevant local authorities together, as soon as they have confirmed successful payment.  Previously, our clients could ring/pop in/send a cheque to the Council to pay their application fee.  Sometimes that fee made it straight to the planning department to be married-up with the pending application we submitted via the Portal; sometimes it didn’t.  But that didn’t happen very often

There will be a per-application charge for the service ( £16.67+VAT for any application which attracts a fee).  Applications where no fee is payable will be sent directly to the local authority with no service charge applied.

C2C Planning Consultants will not be absorbing this Portal fee and will be passing it on to our clients.  So, in addition to the increase in fees in January this year, the cost of submitting planning applications has increased once again!

Prior Notification approved under Class O (offices to residential) in Exeter

C2C Planning Consultants have assisted with the successful submission of a prior notification application to Exeter City Council for the conversion of a small block of offices in a residential part of Exeter to 5 apartments.

As Class O does not allow for external alterations, such as the removal of the garage door in the photo above, a tandem planning application was submitted for the external alterations required to better facilitate the conversion.

Permission was granted for both and we have a happy client!

What a start to 2018!

As a small business in today’s almost 24 hr society it is sometimes impossible to retreat from the technological perks that assist us in the working week.  When we are enjoying time with friends and family over the Christmas period, taking a photo of the “Game of Life” battle at the dining room table, an email notification pops up on the phone.  That little red circle is frustratingly difficult to ignore for the rest of the holiday so, you open your email app and, there it is, an email from the Planning Inspectorate…

You know by the subject line that it is the appeal decision you have been waiting for.  Do you or don’t you – open it, that is.

You open it.

You scan for the magic words.


You open the cost award decision.

You scan for the magic words.


What a start to 2018 for our client, his bank balance and C2C Planning Consultants!


Talk to us about your Game of Life strategy where it involves property development.

(P.S.  I won, but I lost at Game of Life.  I was first to the winning post but not rich enough.  Life imitates art?)

Appeal for retrospective garage won whilst the threat of prosecution hangs over the development.

A new client approached us with a rather urgent situation and needed our help.

A nearly completed garage building had been served an enforcement notice, that notice hadn’t been appealed and prosecution action was being pursued by the Council.  Planning permission was just about to be refused for the retention of the building and things were looking somewhat…complicated.

C2C Planning Consultants sought a stay of execution on the prosecution action while appealing the refusal of planning permission within 4 days of the issue of the refusal notice.   The Council refused to pause the proceedings, despite it not being expedient to pursue action while our client had every right to appeal the refusal of planning permission.

We are delighted to have received planning permission from the Planning Inspectorate.

“…when completed with rendered walls as well as windows and doors as shown …the building will not look out of keeping within this residential area. The appearance of the new structure will be softened substantially with the addition of planting as shown on the submitted plans…

The appeal development is sufficiently well designed such that it respects the special qualities of this part of Torbay. In relation to the main issue, the development does not have a harmful effect upon the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area…

I consider …that the building is acceptable on its own merits in terms of this main issue and is not reliant upon the previous planning permission as a fall-back proposal.”

We will be writing to the Council to ensure that the prosecution action will be dropped as, for some reason, they haven’t contacted us to confirm!

Congratulations all round.

Another successful Certificate

c2c Planning Consultants have just gained a Certificate of Established Use for the continued use of a holiday let as dwelling.

Planning permission had been granted to convert a barn to a holiday let some years ago, but in more recent years the property had been let to tenants.

Having reviewed the evidence before the submission of the application, we were happy that we could present the evidence in a fashion that the Council would agree with us that the use was lawful.  The information supplied in support of the application was sufficiently detailed to prove that it has been occupied in excess of 10 years without compliance with the holidaymaker occupancy condition.

Whilst the property had been vacant, there has never been any intention to relinquish the residential use of the property and these voids were to renovate the property and search from appropriate tenants, all in furtherance of the breach of condition. Such breaks are common when dealing with the routine departure and arrival of different tenants.

It was found by Taunton Deane Borough Council to be lawful. We are very happy to say that a certificate of lawfulness was granted on that basis.


Deja vu on tariff style contributions small housing sites

You may recall in November 2014 the government published a written ministerial statement on affordable housing and other tariff-based contributions from development.

The new policy proposed that:

(1) developments of no more than 10 homes (with a gross floorspace not exceeding 1,000 sq m) would be exempted from levies for affordable housing and tariff-based contributions,

(2) but in designated rural areas, National Parks and AONBs, the exemptions would apply only to developments not exceeding 5 new homes; developments of 6 to 10 homes could pay a commuted sum, either at or after completion of the development;

(3) redevelopment of a vacant building, or its demolition for redevelopment, would give rise to a credit (calculated in terms of floorspace) that could be off-set against any affordable housing contribution.

Two Local Planning Authorities were so concerned about the implications of this policy that they challenged it in the High Court. The two councils won in the High Court in July 2015, and secured the quashing of the new policy. However, the Court of Appeal last week handed down its decision on the appeal by the Secretary of State against the quashing order.

Therefore, the emboldened policy outlined above will be back in play (if there is not an appeal to the Supreme Court)! Good news for c2c Planning Consultants who are working on securing planning permission for smaller sites!

Successful Lawful Development Certificate from Mid Devon

c2c Planning have just received notification that a Certificate has been granted for a property which we have shown to be in breach of an agricultural occupancy condition for the last 10 years.

The application was submitted with the plethora of Statutory Declarations from the property owner and tenants to show that the tie was not complied with.  We think that our timeline graphic assists planning officer’s to pull together the information in those documents and we submit those with out Certificates.  We also think it assists us and our clients in ascertaining where there may be gaps in the evidence before it is submitted.

Our timeline graphic
Our timeline graphic

Of course, the Certificate does not remove the agricultural tie; rather, as long as the condition is not complied with, enforcement action will not be taken.

Handelsbanken in Plymouth

C2C Planning Consultants has assisted the Handelsbanken to locate to the ground floor of Salt Quay House in Plymouth, completing the ‘professional services building’ with our colleagues the Foot Anstey law firm, an accountant and now the bank.

Handelsbanken comes to Salt Quay House in Plymouth
Handelsbanken comes to Salt Quay House in Plymouth

The ground floor unit has been empty since the building was constructed in 2009. Despite the strong and sustained marketing of the premises by companies such as JLL and Vickery Holman there has been no serious interest in the ground floor unit for its designated A1/A3 Use Class (a shop or café/restaurant) .

We submitted an application to remove the condition so that the ground floor unit can be occupied either as a shop, a café/restaurant, a financial institution (A2), or as an office (B1).

Having met initial resistance, we successfully argued that the original restrictive condition and a short temporary grant of planning permission were contrary to the Framework in that they did not encourage a strong, competitive economy, but rather acted as an impediment to sustainable economic growth in this part of Sutton Harbour. The amendments to the GPDO in 2014 allows the change of use of an A1 unit to A2 without requiring the benefit of planning permission.

We still had to fight hard to show the Council that the use of the ground floor by an A2 use was more active and inviting to the Quayside than the empty unit!  Eventually, we were granted the benefit of planning permission and Handelsbanken moved in last week.

With over 10,000 employees, 800 branches and opening over 140 branches in the UK alone in the last 15 years, this Swedish bank has ambitious growth plans.

Please take the opportunity to pop in and say hello if you are passing. The manager is Phillip Harvey. Their official launch will take place later in the summer. May we wish them every success !

Successful change of use of land for new Exeter self-storage company

ittle did we know when we first met the director of Your Store Exeter Ltd that we might be calling upon his services, having secured planning permission of a site just off Marsh Barton.

A redecoration of the office and needing temporary relocation of storage boxes, Your Store Exeter is ideally placed, just behind Lidl on Powlesland Road.  c2c Planning Consultants secured permission in May, changing the use of the site from the storage and distribution of fleet vehicles.

We wish Stuart and his team every success!

C2C Planning win partial award of costs for failure to substantiate the reason for refusal

Circular 03/09 provides guidance on costs applications in planning appeals, and advises that, irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby caused another party to incur or waste expense unnecessarily.

In this case, the decision to refuse permission was taken by the Council contrary to the
recommendation given in the planning officer’s report. Paragraph B20 of the annex to the Circular recognises that planning authorities are not bound to accept the recommendations of their officers. It continues to say, however, that if officers’ professional or technical advice is not followed, authorities will need to show reasonable planning grounds for taking a contrary decision and produce relevant evidence on appeal to support the decision in all respects.

The Council’s appeal statement contained just 14 paragraphs in justification of its decision, where one paragraph related to uncontentious highway matters and only one paragraph directly addressed the single reason for refusal.

The Inspector agreed.  “The Council’s main points regarding character and appearance are confined to paragraph 5.12 of their Appeal Statement which refers to the form of the roof and the pattern of fenestration. However, whilst it is reasonable to make points concisely, very little evidence is put forward to explain why the form of the development would be harmful to a landscape, settlement, building or street scene and thereby conflict with the policy as alleged in the Decision Notice. As such, the Council failed to adequately substantiate their reasons for refusal in terms of character and appearance.”

It is important to read the Council’s Appeal Statement and compare it to every single aspect of the reason for refusal and/or its cited policies.  If something isn’t covered, or glossed over, consider the application for a full or partial award of costs.  c2c Planning can assist in that assessment and make the application for you.