Call for sites
Maidstone Borough Council is requesting information from landowners of potential sites that could be suitable for various uses such as housing, offices, storage, retail, the leisure industry (for example cinemas, hotels), gypsy and traveller accommodation and nursing / care homes. This is due to the Council starting their Local Plan Review.
Submitting a site does not mean it will automatically be included in the Local Plan Review, or that it will definitely obtain planning permission in the future. What it does do is to allow the Council to be aware of the possibility of such sites being available as they make their decisions for the Local Plan.
If you are a landowner and have a site that you feel could be suitable, Bloomfields would be able to guide you through the process of submitting this to the Council for consideration and giving it the best chance of succeeding, as they have a team of professional planners and expert local knowledge.
The Call for Sites recently began on Thursday 28th February 2019 and the deadline for submitting sites is by 5pm Friday 24th May 2019.
Improving the planning system & biodiversity together
DEFRA has recently consulted on the potential for mandatory requirements for developments and planning permission to ensure there is a net gain in biodiversity. The consultation focussed on whether biodiversity should be a necessary requirement, how this could be implemented, and how the biodiversity gains are monitored and measured. The consultation also considered whether a standardised approach should be implemented so that it is simpler and clearer for developers.
The biodiversity net gain principle aspires to apply a biodiversity net gain approach to national issues like house building, to ensure that the homes we need can also contribute to the 25 Year Environment Plan.
The consultation sets out that biodiversity should be used positively to bring together all stakeholders to work collaboratively and provide profitable development, which also provides biodiversity enhancements with the necessary growth, jobs and amenities. As planners, this approach is greatly welcomed. So many different types of developments can improve biodiversity, from a small-scale barn conversion to a larger scale new farm hub. For biodiversity benefits to be quantified and necessitate net gain, this could potentially provide a way to further facilitate development. It also appears that should a site not be feasible for net gain, there may be a way to provide off-site biodiversity improvements through tariffs levied nationally and applied locally. This creates a scenario where potentially biodiversity enhancements to facilitate development could be less expensive, as any development could be argued to have net gain in some form.
Bloomfields will be closely monitoring the results of this consultation to understand and respond to any forthcoming changes.
CONVERSION OF PORTAL-FRAMED BUILDING ON HISTORIC FARMSTEAD APPROVED TOGETHER WITH LANDSCAPE ENHANCEMENTS
Deep in the heart of the Kent countryside nestling in idyllic surroundings, there is a manor house set within a 258 acre estate. The principal house in part dates back hundreds of years to the late medieval period, and is designated a Grade II listing being of Special Architectural Interest and Historic Note.
Within this setting, Bloomfields has obtained full planning permission for the conversion of one of the redundant agricultural storage buildings to a dwelling. Whilst the building was located within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, our professional advice was that the principle of the building conversion should be considered acceptable in accordance with current national planning policy, provided that sufficient enhancement could be demonstrated to the context of the site within the grounds of a 15th century manor house.
As part of the application we were able to demonstrate that the removal of parts of the building, together with the provision of a wildflower meadow and butterfly gardens, would appropriately address landscape and ecological enhancement opportunities that had been identified within character appraisals for the area
CONVERSION OF REDUNDANT BUILDINGS TO TWO RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS WITHIN AONB
Bloomfields has obtained a further full planning permission for the change of use of two redundant agricultural barns to two detached dwellings within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including a new access track. The approval followed significant negotiation with the Local Authority regarding the level of landscaping and ecological mitigation before a suitable scheme was agreed.
Within the application, Bloomfields provided a robust case with supporting information to prove that the new dwellings would see a significant enhancement to the landscape within this rural location.
DE-LISTING OF A HISTORIC FARMHOUSE
Lambert & Foster and Bloomfields successfully de-listed a 1970s farmhouse within Sevenoaks District Council. This process involved applications, site visits and consultation periods with Historic England before a full report was sent to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for their consideration.
The Secretary of State will then decide to remove the property from its Listing Class if it has no special architectural or historic interest.
Successfully de-listing the property has given the current vendor the opportunity to add value in areas where it may not have been able to before and has added to the saleability of the property.
Lambert & Foster and Bloomfields are well placed to handle any applications for de-listing.
DISTRICT LEVEL LICENSING FOR GREAT CRESTED NEWTS
As of 1stMarch 2019, developers in Kent can now apply for a licence under District Level Licensing (DLL) for Great Crested newts (GCN).
As well as being good for GCN, it is estimated that District Level Licensing will reduce delays and costs for developers and regulators across England, estimated by Natural England to save hundreds of millions of pounds.
The current licensing system is focused on management to prevent harm on individual development sites, rather than addressing the wider health of the GCN population. Under the current licensing approach, developers who want to build on land which is home to GCNs need to trap and relocate the species before starting work. Seasonal restrictions, when these are not effectively planned for, can lead to delays and create uncertainty over costs and scheduling of planned development.
Whereas developers no longer need to do this, as part of the new approach it will seek to encourage targeted efforts towards provision of GCN habitat in areas where surveys show it will most effectively connect and expand GCN populations. This requires developers to make a conservation payment which will cover creating or restoring ponds in areas away from the development. These areas, mapped by Natural England, represent the best places for newts to thrive, and habitat created here will be maintained and monitored for 25 years. This new approach is intended to increase GCN populations at a county level and importantly for our clients, should reduce timescales.
We continue to work with our ecological associates to ensure our clients are up to speed with current ecological legislation to achieve the best possible results for their sites, and for the newt population!
CONTROLLED ATMOSPHERE STORAGE FOR OVER 17,000 BINS OF TOP FRUIT AND NEW BIN PAD
Bloomfields was proud to support the top fruit industry and their client in obtaining planning permission for over 3,500 square metres of CA stores and a new bin pad storage area.
This was achieved without the requirement for this application to go to the Planning Committee, even though the facility was large and in the countryside. As part of the application process Bloomfields managed Landscape Architects, Lighting Engineers, Highway Engineers, Acoustic Engineers, Drainage Engineers and Ecologists to ensure the application would be determined without delay. A decision was issued only two days after the Council’s target determination date.
A good result indeed and one which showed that a pre-application presentation by Bloomfields and their client to the Head of Planning and Councillors was worthwhile.
RELOCATION OF HELIPADS AND THE PROVISION OF LANDING PADS
Bloomfields has worked with Rochester Airport to deliver a range of projects at the airport. This has included the relocation of two helipads and the de-commissioning of another within the site.
This was a contentious application, which required the support of Highways England with regard to the site’s proximity to the M2 Motorway and HS2 rail link.
Bloomfields not only assembled the planning application but they also prepared the screening opinion prior to the application’s submission. The application was approved at Committee.
APPROVAL FOR SEMI-DETACHED PAIR OF DWELLING HOUSES
Bloomfields has obtained full planning permission for the erection of a pair of semi-detached houses with associated parking, situated in the Metropolitan Green Belt.
Within the application, Bloomfields provided a robust case with supporting information that the development represented limited infilling within the Green Belt and that a semi-detached pair of dwellings could be readily integrated into the area, without compromising its rural character.
996m2 AGRICULTURAL STORAGE BUILDING
Bloomfields has successfully utilised the extended permitted development rights that are now available to agricultural holdings to provide up to 1000 square metres of development.
Farming practices are evolving fast, with a constant requirement to keep up with technology and improve efficiency, and the allowance of buildings and development area of up to 1000 square metres under a lighter touch prior notification procedure provides farmers with greater scope to modernise and upgrade their facilities on a large scale.
Bloomfields has secured permission for a holding to erect a 996 square metre building to provide a storage, workshop and yard area. This will make more efficient use of the farm area, as well as freeing up less suitable buildings for a wider range of uses.