QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE||(FIRST DEFENDANT)|
|PENWITH DISTRICT COUNCIL||(SECOND DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS J-S DAVIES (instructed by The Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the FIRST DEFENDANT
The SECOND DEFENDANT did not appear and was not represented
Crown Copyright ©
"The Deposit Draft Local Plan is at a relatively advanced stage and I will allow its policies significant weight."
She then went on quite clearly to rely extensively upon the relevant policy in that Emerging Plan and, as she said, to rely upon it to a significant fashion in dismissing the appeal.
"Provision should be made for the re-use, adaptation and conversion of existing buildings where the development would not detract significantly from the character and amenity of the surrounding area and where buildings are cable of re-use, adaptation or conversion without major extension or rebuilding.
"In rural areas, priority should be given to provision for employment needs."
"12.55 A major aim of national policy is to make the best use of existing buildings and encourage their re-use and adaptation to new uses. The County Council fully endorses this principle. Along with maximising the use of previously developed land it can help to reduce the impact of development on 'greenfield' sites and also provides the potential to preserve buildings of architectural or historic merit.
"12.56 In rural areas particularly difficult development issues have arisen over the conversion of existing buildings. This has involved both the extent that a different approach should be taken to new development, the character and quality of the buildings involved and the scale and form of the conversion in relation to the original building. The Plan aims both to maximise the re-use of appropriate buildings to meet development requirements and at the same time help conserve buildings of merit. Government policy in PPG7 emphasises the important role the re-use and adaptation of existing rural buildings can have in meeting the needs of rural areas for commercial and industrial development. This priority is effected in Policy ENV11. Conversion for residential use outside towns and villages should be confined to cases where the benefits that arise from the conversion justify the planning consent in an area where residential development would not usually be acceptable. It may be appropriate for local plans to apply additional tests that any such benefits could not reasonably be achieved by a non-employment use.
"Local planning authorities should cooperate with local bodies to compile and promote registers of rural buildings with unimplemented planning permission for business re-use. The conversion of buildings which are currently in industrial or commercial use to dwellings may have an adverse impact on local economic activity. Residential conversion of buildings which have ceased to be used for industrial or commercial purposes can have a minimal economic impact, whilst business conversion may have a more positive impact on local employment. Residential conversions may however have a part to play in meeting identified needs for new market or affordable housing. Residential conversions are often detrimental to the fabric and character of historical buildings, although in some cases it may be not be possible to find a suitable re-use for a listed or other rural building. Local planning authorities should consider the needs of their areas for business, and residential, conversions. Especially in areas where the creation of local employment is a priority, they may include policies in their development plans which do allow residential re-use unless either
(a) the applicant has made every reasonable attempt to secure suitable business re-use, and the application is supported by a statement of the efforts which have been made; or
(b) residential conversion is a subordinate part of a scheme for business re-use."
"Outside towns and the villages referred to above such development [that is to say conversion to residential use] will not be permitted unless the building is:-
(i) of a form, bulk and general design which is in keeping with its surroundings and
(ii) is part of a scheme for the re-use of a building, or complex of buildings, for employment purposes or
(iii) reasonable and sustained attempts have been made to secure suitable business re-use.
Where a proposal meets the requirements of criterion (ii) of this policy planning permission will not be granted unless occupancy of the dwelling is tied, through the use of conditions or a planning obligation, to completion of the works necessary for the establishment of the enterprise and its subsequent operation."
"In order to assess fully that reasonable and sustained attempts to secure employment re-use have been made, the applicant will be required to show, by submitting a statement of the efforts made, that the building, or its location, are unsuitable or that as a result of marketing the property, normally for a period of at least 12 months, there is no demand in the locality. Employment re-use could include tourism proposals which meet the requirements of Policy TM-12."
"The location of the building must be taken into account in relation to traffic and trip generation. These and other considerations are reflected in national policy guidance, primarily PPG7, and in the Structure Plan Policy ENV11."
"In rural areas PPG7 advises that the re-use and adaptation of existing buildings has an important role in meeting the need for commercial, industrial, tourism and recreational development. The PPG (Annex G) also advises that, while residential conversions have a minimal impact on the rural economy, conversions for holiday use can contribute more and may reduce pressure to use other houses in the area for holiday use."
"After taking into account the advice in PPG7, relevant Structure Plan policies and the objectives of the Local Plan the following approach to the re-use of buildings have been developed. In towns and villages listed in POLICIES H-5, H-6 and H-7 the conversion of buildings for residential use will usually be acceptable in principle and will make a significant contribution to the amount of housing provided on previously developed sites."
"Where a plan is at the consultation stage, with no early prospect of reaching deposit, then refusal on prematurity grounds would seldom be justified because of the lengthy delay which this would impose in determining the future use of the land in question;
"Where a plan has been deposited but no objections have been lodged to relevant policies, then considerable weight may be attached to those policies because of the strong possibility that they will be adopted (or approved) and replace those in the existing plan. The converse may apply if there have been objections to relevant polices. However, much will depend on the nature of those objections and also whether there are representations in support of particular policies."
Then it continues:
"Where an Inspector has recommended in favour of relevant policies to which objection has been raised, refusal on prematurity grounds is unlikely to be justified for an application which is consistent with these policies."
"(6) Structure Plan Policy ENV11 includes a criterion that, in considering the conversion of existing buildings in rural areas, priority should be given to provision for employment needs. Emerging Policy H-11, as amended, expands on this requirement and reflects more closely advice in PPG7. Policy H-11 indicates that in rural areas the conversion of non-residential buildings and dwellings will be permitted subject to criteria. These include that the residential use is a subordinate part of a scheme for the re-use of buildings for employment purposes, or that reasonable and sustained attempts have been made to secure a suitable business re-use. In the proposed development the employment floorspace would be a relatively small proportion of the total floorspace of the proposed scheme. It will thus be subordinate to the residential use and that criterion of Policy H-11 would not be fulfilled.
"(7) The property has not been marketed for employment re-use. The explanatory note to accompany Policy H-11, as further amended by the Council at the Local Plan Inquiry, indicates that if the applicant shows that the buildings or their location are unsuitable for employment use, this may replace the requirement for proof of attempts to market the property. The parties make no claim that the buildings themselves are unsuitable for conversion to wholly employment use. The site is in a somewhat isolated position in open countryside, although only about 3-4Km from Penzance. It is not well served by public transport."
"It was confirmed by the Second Respondent [that is to say the local planning authority] at the informal hearing that a full employment use was not likely to be suitable in this location being remote from any settlement and that the nearest bus route was over 1 km away and which would require employees to walk a narrow unlit country lane to reach the appeal site."
"However PPG7 emphasises the benefits of the re-use of rural buildings for business or tourism in terms of reducing demands for new building in the countryside, and of promoting a healthy local economy. Such stimulus of the local economy could come not only directly from the creation of new jobs, but also indirectly from increasing business to local suppliers, shops, advertisers and so on. The use of the barns as holiday accommodation might not directly generate as much employment as a workshop use, but would be likely to stimulate local businesses such as visitor attractions, shops, pubs and restaurants. It is clear to me that any disadvantages of the site in terms of a relative lack of sustainability would be outweighed by such benefits."
"Paragraph 3.15 of PPG7 points out that it is especially in areas where the creation of local employment is a priority that local planning authorities may wish to include policies which require proof of attempts to secure business re-use, or which allow residential conversions if a subordinate part of a scheme for business re-use. Unemployment is an important issue in the District, which is in receipt of EU Objective 1 funding. I consider therefore that the policies ENV11 and H-11 are soundly based."
"I am aware that there are employment areas in nearby settlements which are well served by public transport, and which may represent more attractive locations for business than the appeal site. However it is for the Appellant to prove that there is no demand for business re-use of the premises through substantial attempts to market the property over a significant period. In the absence of such proof, and for all the other reasons which I have given, I find that the proposed development would not give priority to provision for employment needs, and would thus result in unjustified dwellings in the countryside."