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Planning application got refused -- need advice

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Jiwen, 16 Apr 2017.

  1. Jiwen

    Jiwen

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    Hello guys,

    We have an end-of-terrace house locates in Lambeth borough of London. There's a 1.8m gap between the exterior wall of the house and the party wall on the side adjoining an unused playground, which we thought could be used for extension. We employed a local design firm called DesignTeam to help with design and planning application, and the architectural designer suggested a two storey side extension during the first onsite consultation. We trusted the firm's local experiences, and decided to proceed with 2 storey design option. In the end we applied for planning application for a project including both two storey side extension and one storey rear extension.

    Last week was the 8th week after our application was submitted, and the designer from DesignTeam informed us that the case officer said she would refuse our application, not allowing any amendment due to her heavy workload, and suggest us withdraw the application within 1 day. The designer strongly recommended us to proceed with refusal and then appeal afterwards, as he thought the case officer behaved unreasonably and lack of due diligence by not allowing amendments and not paid a site visit to our house either (case officer claimed she could view our house from public street, which is not possible for backyard where rear extension was planned). He said he had done many applications with Lambeth council. Most of cases the case officer would either accept his explanation or allow amendments. It's just this particular case officer that was very difficult to work with and even get hold of.

    Being surprised at the case officer's feedback, I did some search work myself, and found an example from the council's local planning guidance (as attached), which I thought can be clearly applied to refusing our application. Therefore I asked the designer again, and he said that the planning guidance is for guide purpose only. He had many cases that didn't fully meet the requirements from the Lambeth guidance but still succeeded in the application. He insisted that it's because the planning officer being difficult to us and unwilling to negotiate.

    Now our application has been officially refused. From the portal, one of the two main reasons is: "The proposed side and rear extensions, by virtue of their design, size, scale, siting and wrap-around nature at ground floor level, would fail to archive subordination with the host building." We were planning to finish the project by the end of the year, which is no longer possible. The designer suggested us to proceed with appeal, and they have a third party inspector experienced in appealing who charges 1,500 pounds upfront. At the same time we can submit another application to Lambeth with a modified design, which can be proceeded at the same time to save time.

    I start to suspect that I may not fully trust what the designer said. My questions are:
    - Do we have to strictly follow council's local guidance? In this particular example, whether the 1m minimum side space on the first floor still applicable for our end of terrace house facing an unused playground?

    - Is it a major mistake for the designer not following the guidance? if so, are we eligible to seek for their compensations? (we have paid over 6k including architectural design, structural, interior, etc)

    - Would it worth an appeal? 1,500 pounds is not a small money, and I think council has a sound argument with the example in the local planning guidance.

    Thanks for your time to read through my story. It's so unfortunate for us that our first application got refused, and your advices are highly appreciated!

    Jay
     

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  2. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    You have been given terrible advice and poor service.

    First and foremost, all extensions should be designed in full accordance with the council's planning policy and any published supplementary guidance.

    Invariably, this requires an extension to be subservient to the main house - ie smaller, set back at the front and with a lower ridge. Roofs tend to need to match too.

    Some council's have a policy requiring a gap to any side boundary too.

    No application should be made that does not accord with the policies, unless there is significant reason to deviate. A standard side extension on a standard house won't have any good reason to deviate.

    Also, your designer should have been in touch with the planner in week five of the application to get some feedback. That is pretty standard stuff. This gives time to sort out any issues.

    You have been robbed.
     
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  3. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    One more thing.

    An appeal tends to be on the council's interpretation of their planning policy, and not just that you don't agree with the decision.

    If your proposal does not conform to the planning policy, and there is no merit in the design or non conformity, then the inspectorate can't allow the appeal.

    So you need to be clear on what basis you have for the appeal - ie how are the council wrong not to grant permission.
     
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  4. cjard

    cjard

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    As a side note, I think you'll come to regard 1500 quid as quite small money by the time you're done with this project..
     
  5. Jiwen

    Jiwen

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    Many thanks Woody for your detailed reply!

    I do feel that the policy example within the council's supplementary guidance is clear enough. If we knew it at the beginning, we would only apply for single storey extension as 0.8m extra width on the first floor isn't worth doing.

    Do you think this refusal will potentially affect the price of our house, or application for single storey extension in future? Is there anything we can do to make things up now?

    Obviously we should seek for compensation from the design company. Is there any other route besides legal action that we could take if the company refuse to compensate?

    Thanks
    Jay


     
  6. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Planning refusals are only relevant to potential buyers if they want to build the exact thing - which is rare. They won't affect house values per se, and most potential buyers won't even check the planning register for refusals. If you are in a situation where a buyer wants to build something similar, then you just tell them that they may need to alter their design - in fact that could be a positive as they will be more aware of how to redesign to get approval. But planning policies can change, and what might not be acceptable today, could be acceptable at some time in the future.

    A refusal won't affect any other planning application.

    Potentially, you have been misled by the design company and that could be negligence. You may well have a strong argument that they did not deal with the application competently, causing you expense which you would not have incurred otherwise.

    If they are members of a professional association, then there is normally a complaints procedure via that.

    The fact that the designer is steering you to appeal is also concerning - especially if there is no chance. Perhaps if you got the designer's opinions on the grounds for appeal, and that too turns out to be bad advice, then it could support your subsequent claim for compensation.
     
  7. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    I can't speak about the specific circumstances described above, but in general I find Woody's advice too simplistic. Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to push the limits of what the local authority think they will accept, and then challenge this at appeal. I can cite several cases where this strategy has succeeded - including in Lambeth (and a few where it's failed - but I don't think that that means it was wrong to try).

    That said, neither this particular organisation, nor its directors appear to be members of any professional organisation, which, if correct, is a little odd.

    Oh, their website mentions 'in house architects', so I guess they must belong to some professional organisation after all.
     
  8. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Architects must be ARB registered, and might often be RIBA members.

    No-one can call themselves Architects if they are not - it's unlawful.

    Regarding pushing limits, the design is a standard side extension on a semi, and the only boundary it will push is the fence next to the neighbouring playground.
     
  9. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    Best not to employ woods if you want anything other than the example you find in the council's local plan!
     
  10. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Yep I specialise in planning policy compliant applications. (y)
     
  11. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    Yes, if in doubt, settle for Woody.
     
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