What is a Planning appeal?
Since our planning application was turned down by our district council and we felt it was unfair and wanted to challenge it, then a planning appeal is the process where we
get the case assesed by a planning ispector. The Planning inspectorate, which is part of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister sets up a hearing date and appoints an inspector from another part of the country to come and hear the case argued in detail. The inspector agreed with our arguments and so we won the case. But as part of the appeal we had argued that we were eligable for lawful use, which happens when a dwelling with foundations is occupied for more than 4 years befor an enforcement notice is served. In December Mendip agreed with our evidence and so we had lawful use from then on. Thus the hearing was then to establish permission for our workshops business here and to formalise the building permission. Here is a copy of the inspectors decision.
for more info on the appeals process visit the planning portal.
About our case
The reasons for refusal given by Mendip District Council were:
1. It has not been sufficiently demonstrated to the Local Planning Authority that the proposed dwelling is essential for the proper functioning of the Applicants' enterprise and, as such, it represents a new dwelling outside development limits without any special need or benefit in planning terms. Furthermore, the proposed dwelling fails to benefit economic activity and fosters growth in the need to travel. The proposals therefore fail to comply with Policies STR 1 and STR6 of the Som.erset & Exmoor National Park Joint Structure Plan Review (adopted - April 2000), Policies S1 and E11 of the Mendip
2. It has not been sufficiently demonstrated to the Local Planning Auhtority that the proposed vehicular access arrangements would not create traffic problems problems over the wider transport network or require transport improvements which would harm the character of the locality, as required by Policy Q3 of the Mendip District Local Plan (adopted - December 2002). ) and advice contained in Planning Policy Statements 1 and 7 and Planning Policy Guidance Note 13
We vigorously dispute all of their reasons and to mount a succesful appeal we have ot disprove or casst reasonable doubt over the above reasoning.
Our case will be presented using ourselves and 4 expert witnesses Patrick whirefield, William Bloom and Rebecca Laughton and Colin Jones to present the case along with our solicitor Ceri Stephens.
The rough outline of our case is as follows:
1. We work long hours doing a multiplicity of tasks some of which such as slugging, polytunnell ventilation and looking after the needs of course participants happen late into the evening and early in the morning. Also security - looking after tools and equipment requires a presence through the night. Also when so busy it is not viable to run a home at a seperate location.
There is special need and benefit from our enterprise:
Environmentally- We have created and maintain a rich biodiverse environment, which is a benefit in its own terms. But also:
Educationally - we provide an environmental educational service which uniquely demonstrates actual integration of human needs with environmental sustainability and biodiversity. Also helping people to find effective ways to make real changes and overcome old environmentally destructive habits.
Socially - providing courses and sessions that help individuals and couples,(and other relationships) to grow, heal and transform. All in the context of this special place where humans and nature are united.
It is false to say we don't benefit economic activity. We are a sucessful business with a modest turnover that provides employment to local people and uses local traders as first choice. Also people from a distance often stay in local B7Bs and hotels when attending courses and sessions.
We travel much less by living here than we would if we lived elsewhere. A simple fact that is proved every week by the small number of journeys we personally make. The business itself creates low traffic, since car sharing is encouraged as is using public transport and bicycles. But in the context of a stagnating rural economy that the government's policy of stimulating diversification of business in the countryside is addressing, the logical out come of the council's argument is that no new business should happen since they all will involve some traffic increase. The state of the rural economy actually represents a decrease in traffic movements thet new businesses are replacing. It is modern lifestyle environmentally profligate car use in the countryside that has given rise to busier country lanes.
2: The proposed new access has been proved safe by our road traffic engineers study and there was no local objection to the relocation of a small ammount of hedgerow, which of course we would take care to replant well.