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Appealing refusal to grant planning permission: A long-awaited win for family-run transport company

Thomson Snell & Passmore acted for one of its many longstanding clients (a local family-run transport business) in their appeal against the Local Planning Authority’s refusal to grant planning permission for an extension of a coach yard, an extension of an existing coach workshop, the provision of a new staff room with offices and the provision of a one 4-bed dwelling for the managing owner.

As a little background, the business is a bus and coach service provider, which, in addition to its regular local and school bus service, offers short notice/emergency call out service 24-hours a day, usually as rail replacement buses. Upon receiving a request for emergency services, our client is contractually obliged to dispatch the first bus from the depot within 45 minutes or quicker. This, our client argued, facilitates the need for the manager/owner to be present at the depot to identify the correct vehicles for the route involved as well as checking the vehicles for any defects prior to them leaving the depot.

Our client challenged the decision of a Planning Inspector to refuse permission. The Inspector had dismissed the appeal relating to the provision of a 4-bed dwelling for the managing owner but allowed the appeal and granted planning permission for the rest of the development. This decision was quashed by the High Court on the basis that the Inspector had erred in law by failing to provide any legally adequate reasons with regard to the assessment of the viability of alternative dwellings. The matter was remitted to the Planning Inspectorate for a redetermination.

A new Inspector was appointed for the redetermination and the new appeal progressed by way of a hearing (the previous appeal had been dealt with by way of written representations). The main issues were whether the proposed dwelling would be in a suitable location, with particular reference to the spatial strategy in the development plan and the accessibility of services and facilities; and the effect of the proposed dwelling on the character and appearance of the area, including whether the proposal would conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The new Inspector found that there were indeed adverse impacts of the proposal, including a conflict with the spatial strategy, limited harm from car dependency and moderate harm to the AONB. However, the harms were outweighed by the cumulative benefits of the scheme, which included having the manager live on site so that the emergency call out service could continue to be effectively operated which, in turn, would safeguard the longevity of the business as well as helping to facilitate greater investment in the business. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and planning permission was granted for the whole development.

Having fought a long battle for this proposal, our client was understandably very relieved to have at last gained permission to expand and improve their long-standing local family business and to preserve its future for generations to come. The Inspector genuinely seemed to appreciate the importance of not only the financial well-being of the business in question but also the personal well-being of those individuals upon whom the business relied on a daily basis and whose ability (both economically and personally) to keep the business going was absolutely essential to the success of the proposal.

A local report of the case can be found here:

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