Successful Planning Appeal: Office Conversion in the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames
ET Planning was recently enlisted by a client who faced a refusal for their planning application in the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames. This case study examines how our team meticulously navigated through the refusal reasons and gained a successful outcome for the client.
The Initial Planning Application
The client’s initial proposal involved the conversion of an existing office, falling within Use Class E, into two one-bedroom dwellings. The local council, however, rejected the application on four grounds:
- Lack of sufficient employment space and marketing information;
- Inadequate housing mix, not justifying the site’s unsuitability or unviability for family-sized units;
- Insufficient information regarding refuse/recycling storage
- Potential impacts on highway safety.
A Strategic Approach by ET Planning
Priding ourselves on our comprehensive understanding of planning policy and procedure, we undertook a detailed review of the reasons for refusal to see if they could be addressed. We also identified key material considerations that could potentially tip the balance in our client’s favour.
Addressing Employment Space Concerns
Initially, the council cited inadequate marketing information and an unjustified compromising of employment space as their first reason for refusal. ET Planning, however, reiterated the lack of serious offers for the office space during the marketing period, indicating that the unit was surplus to local demand. We emphasized that the unused office unit, situated within a predominantly residential development, was unsuitable for its original purpose. An argument was also put forward that the lack of offers was corroborated by national changes to the planning system which now allow flexible commercial uses since the construction of the office. This argument was acknowledged by the Inspector, who also noted the lack of offers for alternative uses, thus posing no conflict with local policies.
Establishing a Suitable Housing Mix
For the second issue of appropriate housing mix, the team at ET Planning was able to establish that the provision of one-bedroom dwellings did indeed align with the local policy’s 30% requirement, when considered in the context of the original scheme. We also put forward the fact there would be a poor means of private amenity space for a family sized unit. By demonstrating that the policy required only development to be either unsuitable or unviable – and not both – for smaller units, we earned the Inspector’s agreement. Notably, the Inspector agreed that forcing the provision of substandard family-sized units simply to meet demand would not be justified.
Clearing Other Obstacles
All parties agreed that conditions could adequately address the third issue of refuse storage provision. The final obstacle, relating to highway safety and potential parking issues, was also cleared with a detailed parking survey demonstrating that local streets could absorb additional demand from potential residents, which was then confirmed by an Inspector’s site visit.
Result: Granting of Planning Permission
Aligned with the proposed revisions and compelling counter-arguments put forward by ET Planning, the Inspector found no conflict with the local plan and granted the sought-after planning permission. A collection of supporting local appeal decisions was also prepared as part of a ‘Plan B’, if the Inspector found there was still policy conflict, but was ultimately not needed.
At ET Planning, we expertly navigate through complex planning policies and put forth solid arguments to set the groundwork for a positive outcome. For professional advice and planning guidance, contact ET Planning today.