The ‘Friends of North Norfolk’ together with ‘North Norfolk Planning Watch’ submitted a legal opinion to the Planning Inspectorate in relation to an appeal made against the issue of an Enforcement Notice by the Local Planning Authority on the new building called Arcady.
In their appeal the Appellants seek retention of the property as built through cosmetic changes but they make no proposals for demolition or reduction in height.
The legal opinion submitted on behalf of FONN and NNPW concluded that cosmetic attempts to keep the property as constructed fails to address the particular visual harm the building has to the surrounding area.
In the course of the appeal a Mediation Agreement has now been reached, in private, between the LPA and the Appellant over a potential design solution to overcome the Council’s concerns lying behind the serving of the Enforcement Notice. This is unlikely to inspire public confidence in the planning system however meritorious mediation in a dispute may be.
Paragraph 2 of the Agreement states that “regardless of the planning merits the human implications of the dispute (the demolition of the dwelling) are significant”. Bearing in mind this dispute resulted from a building erected illegally in a Conservation Area the significance of the human implications are very true for the local people who live there and to the visual harm it brings.
If the main reason for mediation was for both parties not wishing to be involved in further costs or a waste of public funds, as mentioned in paragraph 7 of the Agreement, it should be remembered that it is only the Appellant and his development team who are responsible for incurring these costs, the dwelling was erected in blatant abuse of planning control and it was the Appellant who chose to appeal the resultant LPA Enforcement Notice. Is it a waste of public funds to defend our local planning policy?
We are told that the Agreement reached a potential design solution incorporating “a series of agreed principles including the lowering of rooflines and the stepping back of elements of the elevations of the dwelling so as to provide significantly more articulation to the building overall”.
This forms the basis of this current planning application. The parties also agreed to discuss the detail of the revised plans before the application is formally submitted, to maximise its prospects of success.
In this application there is no suggestion of lowering the overall roof line and the documents supporting it fall far short of the standards that an application of this sort demands. There are no figured dimensions and the essential drawings accompanying the 2012 application are not presented for comparison. The appeal decision of 2014 contained two crucial comments in relation to the building in the Conservation Area and its key to acceptability. Paragraph 7 related to the height relevant to adjoining properties and Paragraph 8 related to bulk and apparent scale and visual appearance.
In this application Paragraph 7 relating to height is ignored and Paragraph 8 is only addressed in the Design and Access statement as “in the spirit of para 8”.
There is still a way forward for this building and that is by reducing its height and bulk to accord with Paragraph 7 but this has been consistently rejected by the Appellant.
Among the reasons given by the LPA for issuing the Enforcement Notice is item (f) “to maintain public confidence in the planning system”. If we are to have that robust planning system where public confidence is maintained, FONN believe that the final outcome of this planning application could mark a turning point between one of respecting our Conservation Areas and AONB or one of leaving the door wide open to allow developers to do just as they want.
We strongly urge rejection of this application.