Planning Permission Refused - Sold to builder who got permis

31 Mar 2009
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United Kingdom
Hi Guys,

I wanted some advice. We owned a house on a large corner plot. We submitted an application to the council to build a detached house on the plot next to the existing house. The application was refused with the officer saying that it would not fit in with the area (all different types of properties around the house) and that they would not allow a detached property to be built there.

We then submitted an application which was almost identical but the new property was attached. They passed this.

We sold the house to a builder without doing any construction who submitted an almost identical application for a detached house and has had it approved by the same planning officer.

We were clearly told that they would not allow a detached property on the plot, yet the builder has managed to get permission for a detached property.

Am I missing something or is it one law for us and another for developers?

When we came to sell the house it was worth a less because the planning permission was for an attached house when compared to permission for a detached house. Do you think we can sue the council for the loss in revenue?
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Am I missing something or is it one law for us and another for developers
Lets just say it certainly can help if you know the right people! Its kinda hard to comment though without knowing all of the ins and outs of both applications. One would like to think so but you'll really need to seek the advice of a specialist Planning Law Solicitor.
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Do you think we can sue the council for the loss in revenue?
Best of luck with that one. Who did the submissions, you or an Architect? Did the detached application go to Committee or did you pull it after the initial response?

Many local Architects/developers/Builders have what you could call an understanding relationship with Planning/LABC & if grounds for refusal are marginal or subjective, they are often able to do just enough to win through on appeal ;) . They will be very persistent which I know as a personal friend of mine is a developer; or perhaps he just bunged a couple of the planning committee members :LOL: .

Either way & for the sake of your sanity, treat it as water under the bridge unless you’re prepared to commit to endless years of stress & have £00,000 you’re prepared to risk loosing.
The L.A. will be able to justify reasons for refusing yours but then approving their application. Even though the planning officer stated a detached house would not be suited there, I wonder if they also received objections from local residents... in which the objections would still be there when this builder applied for planning permission for a detached house.

Also remember, many new flats/houses normally come with planning contributions and if nothing was agreed to be provided previously but the most recent application did agree, then that's another reason why it may have obtained approval. The L.A. will not turn down financial contributions ;)
Do you think we can sue the council for the loss in revenue?

how old was your planning application!!!
was there application identicle [as in foot print floor area and position on site!!]

you have nil chance off compensation in my opinion if you didnt take it to apeal as its all subjective and subject to whims
Well, I can give you a storey around the other way. Developer client of mine developed a farm building to a house with a barn outhouse that was approved for office use associated with the house. The barn had a restriction on it that it could never be converted to domestic or be separated from the main house. After just over 2 years the bloke who bought the house (and the barn) put in an application to convert it to a house - and got it. The planner said circumstances had changed. In fact nothing had changed, things were exactly as they were 2 years before.

Another person I know sold a plot with planning permission for 7 flats. The buyer re-applied for 11 flats and got it. He was able to accommodate the flats by dropping the parking places so the site had none at all. Even though previous applications had been refused on parking grounds.

I could go on, and on, and on.
I'm not quite in the same position, but I can see how I could end up that way!!
In 2008 I saw a barn set in an acre of land for sale close to where I live without planning permission. We arranged a meeting with the local planning officer to discuss the matter. He said "I have visited the property and I'll tell you what I've told everyone who has enquired about the barn. I can see no reason why you would not be granted planning permission". He suggested we come back with a firmer idea. We had plans drawn up and at our next meeting with him he said "this is exactly the sort of environmental and sympathetic conversion we like to see". We bought the barn and the price reflected the fact that others too thought they could convert it. Imagine my surprise when we submitted the plans and they were turned down, the reason being 'the barn is in too poor a condition to convert' (remember the planner had visited the barn BEFORE our meetings/conversations with him). So, we got a structural engineers report which stated 'the barn was structurally sound'. They still turned it down! We went to appeal and lost on the 80% 20% rule! I wonder if 'someone' has an 'interest' in our barn! Why else the sudden change of heart? We still own it (well, us and the bank as we took out a loan!) and we know if we came to sell it now, it would be worth a fraction of what we paid as planning has been refused and we bought it on the strength of the fact planning would be granted.
Today, I found on the internet a barn with planning consent for sale close to ours, but in a much worse condition. Its planning was granted a couple of months before ours was refused! Double standards from NCDC. Any ideas??
I have had almost exactly the same experience as the original poster.

1) Saw piece of land I liked and decided best idea was to knock existing house down and rebuild.
2) Approached planners informally with plans and they said would be OK to replace house with one 50% larger than existing.
3) Put offer in 'subject to planning'
4) Planning application refused as new house 'too large'.
5) Pulled out
6) Property sold to local builder.
7) Twelve months later house knocked down and new one in place larger than the one we had been refused.

It's not what you know, it's who you know, and how much cash you can fit in a brown envelope :)
The whole Planning System is littered with hundreds of double standards etc. There's little you can do about it. Its not always quite as simple as chapeau puts it, I know of loads of sites that have been empty for years that were bought by developers and private individuals who have subsequently failed to get Planning.

Frankly these cases are far too complex to expect useful answers. The only way an opinion can be put forward is if a whole account of every single action taken by all parties is posted.
I know a chap here that bought a plot of land with a copse of Beech trees growing on it. He applied for planning permission to build a house there. Planning threw out the application stating that the trees could not be cut down.
3 weeks later, he cut the trees down in one weekend, council took him to court and he was fined £1000. A few months later planning permission was given because the trees were gone.
Apparently he knew a couple of local councillors who advised him for a backhander. :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
If I'd have known who to give a back hander to I would....believe me. We now own an acre of land with a barn on it that is probably worth about 10% of what we paid for it. Not to mention the cost of drawing up the plans, a structural engineers report and £5,000 spent going to appeal!

If at the initial planning meeting before I bought the barn they'd have even hinted at the fact I may not get planning, I'd never have bought it as I'm very 'risk averse'. It was only that the planners were SO positive at the first meeting and even more so once we'd got the plans drawn up. That's why I then went to the auction and bid as high as I did as I couldn't see how I could possibly lose! All I can imagine is that someone involved in the process either wanted the property themselves or live near by and don't want it developed. Who knows? Sadly they have you by the short and curlies.
Mmmmm.....I wonder if taking a contract out on a planner is cheaper than giving a back hander?? ;)

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