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Planning in The ‘New Normal’

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

This time last year, we were only a few months into sweeping new changes to the planning system, which opened up the possibility of new permitted development rights and new use classes.  Changes in the law always take time to test and filter down to the reality on the ground, either through planning applications, appeals or later judge-made law through High Court cases.

One such case we have been dealing with over the last 18 months demonstrates the need to adapt and be flexible as new opportunities arise, but also the challenge that this creates for dealing with local planning authority officers, who are themselves often trying to adapt to this change.

This is the first of two articles involving a current planning case, where we explain how we helped take a site from a single storey small community hall to a new 3-storey development comprising 20 new apartments in North London, making use of changes to the Use Classes rules (as well as other planning strategies) along the way.

Opportunity for new development
The development site comprises a former church hall site, no longer used or needed by the church opposite for community use. This substantial site, located next to a primary school and within walking distance of buses, underground stations and local shops, was a great opportunity for a substantial new flatted development.

The site sits in a broadly residential area, in a location on the fringe of greater densities and building heights, and included large expanses of hard surfacing for car parking, creating the opportunity for a more environmentally-sustainable use of the site, returning more soft landscaping and far lower dependency on the car, with the benefit of extra family housing.

Therefore, in August 2020, we embarked on an application for planning permission for the redevelopment of this site into a new build 3-storey apartment block for nine flats and commercial use on the ground floor.

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