Planning and Building Control plans from different sources

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Yes your correct, looks like a 'senior colleague' helped make the decision, the Council wrote to my architect:

Dear ****,

I’m writing in connection with your application at *********. It concerns the plans you have submitted. Having discussed the application with a senior colleague it is considered that the proposal does not comply with the Council’s Development Management Policies, which states that development proposals should be based on an understanding of local characteristics.

Proposals should preserve or enhance local character and respect the local pattern of development. The surrounding area is predominantly characterised by single family dwellinghouses and the conversion of the existing single family dwellinghouse into self-contained flats would result in the loss of a single family dwelling and introduces a use that does not reflect the prevailing character of the locality. It is noted that No. ******** has been converted into flats. However this was approved in the 1970’s and planning policies have developed significantly since.

...... it is not considered that they form a justifiable reason for more inappropriate development within the area. As such, this application will be recommended for refusal.

My architect subsequently withdrew the application, after receiving the above email.

My architect - when asked for his thoughts, seemed really miffed, but simply commented that decisions on this sort of application at our local council can seem quite arbitrary at the best of times.

I queried the Planning Officer who had then recently approved a near identical application just a few doors up the road, he then replied:


Dear ****,

Thank you for your email.

Having looked at the application reference number you have provided for no. *******, I note that no formal determination by means of recommendation for approval or refusal was officially made by the Local Planning Authority on the application. Our records indicated that the application was withdrawn at the request of *******.

Whilst I appreciate that you may be disappointed with the outcome of the application, I can only advise that the information given to your agent by the case officer will have been offered in good faith in the belief that the advice was accurate. However, notwithstanding this, it was an informal opinion provided by the officer which bears no legal binding on the Local Planning Authority’s final determination. As the application was never determined it cannot formally be advised on whether that proposal would now be considered acceptable.

Whilst I appreciate the concerns raised by yourself, it must be considered that each application must be considered on its own planning merits. Should you wish to either seek pre-application advice, the Local Authority would be happy to entertain that request. Alternatively, you may wish to submit a further planning application and await its final determination.

Kind Regards

Not sure if they are 'happy to entertain that request' - as its a private service !, or they are simply more accommodating to my application.

So I just feel pushed from pillar to post on this, and thought throwing a load of money at it, with an architect who has had success (with what ever magic he posses) would get it done, but £8 grand !
Bear in mind there is a gap of at least 12 months between applications, so as you suggest maybe something has changed.

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It really isn't about money or architects. As Wessex said you need to check the local plan and see if it has been updated. Then if it is still not a cert you would be better speaking to a planning consultant imo than an architect. But you may now be knocking on a door that is already open. To be fair to them it isn't easy balancing all this stuff.

As regards your house I hope you are able to convert if you do get the pp. Just thinking that presumably a loft conversion has been done. It could be a challenge regarding insulation and fire escape, I don't know how it works when you convert a previously converted loft to a flat space is what I'm saying.

The noise transmission between floors can also be a tricky detail to get right.
I'm wondering whether a simple re-application wouldn't be in order, if things have changed, I'd get an answer that way.

Yes I need to get my head around BC requirements for the split, compartmentalising the two properties for sound, fire and noise is the challenge.
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Have a look at application for the one close by which was approved. See what it says about Council’s Development Management Policies DM01 and see if there is another policy that has more importance now than DM01. You could go in and talk to the duty planning officer. At least it's free and you are sticking to policy rather than a specific application. I think you might be able to make progress before making the application.
You could go in and talk to the duty planning officer. At least it's free and you are sticking to policy rather than a specific application. I think you might be able to make progress before making the application.
PMSL those days are well and truly over at most LA's and even if they weren't this is a commercial application and a duty officer won't give you a dickybird of useful information unless it's a domestic app.
The character is the flats. The council don't like flats in that area. No amount of reapplying will alter that unless the local plan/policy has changed.
"The character is the flats. The council don't like flats in that area." very good point, but that needs testing, now we have an approved flat development a few doors away, on an identical property.

I've noticed our council do not always follow there own design guidelines for extensions to properties (and most are that are flat conversions, for example: 2nd floor rear extensions to semi's, on paper not allowed, but in practice - you can see plenty here.

They seem to say one thing but do another.
It would be interesting if you could post up one or two excerpts from the Decision Report on the nearby application which was passed.
I think you need a well thought out design access statement to accompany your plans, what area are you in? Those technician rate seems ok to me, I would know I do the same! Happy to quote too!

I currently have a planning app in Ealing registered to conver a traditional 3bed semi in to 2 flats, I’m getting positive vibes from the local Authority so fingers crossed!
Yes your right thanks, are there any guidelines on what makes a good Access Statement.

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