This client approached us in 2013 and was referred from another client. He was considering whether to purchase a half hectare agricultural plot on the edge of a town in Stockport’s Green Belt. We were able to advise there was a good case to argue for development but at that point, any purchase had to be seen as being speculative – there were many hoops to jump through before a development could be achieved. The site was purchased and we set out to create a planning strategy to achieve his aims for the site. Through thorough research and analysis we were able to build a strong planning case, including a move from creating one house on the plot to two, and justifying this with sound townscape analysis and reasoning. This scheme also involved detailed support from ecologists, tree specialists and highways engineers to head off any adverse arguments, and relied in part on an innovative look at ‘fall back’ positions using recent case law to secure a recommendation for approval. The result will be two, high spec 6 bedroom houses in an exclusive area on previously protected, but severely underused, open space.
We were engaged by the neighbour of a private school in an exclusive part of London to investigate the development of leisure and sporting facilities right next to their house on land that had previously been kept as a screen of woodland. These had been installed without permission, the school attempting to ‘slip in’ the facilities under the cover of another permission nearby. Having investigated the recent history of permissions we are able to find a technicality that proved this equipment did not have consent, and that the local council had incorrectly concluded that no action could be taken. Reluctant to admit this error we were forced to seek scrutiny of the process from local elected ward members, which did produce a new planning application and a chance for the key issues to be aired properly. This was subsequently refused, leading to significant improvement to our client’s amenity and comfort in their own home.
Orbis was approached via a firm of solicitors whose clients were concerned about the impacts of a potential development of holiday homes in the small courtyard development where they lived peacefully. We were able to understand our clients concerns, explain the basics of how the officer at the authority will be considering the case and then develop a strategy based on the areas of weakness in the applicant’s proposal. Having done this, our client’s were pleased when the applicant took out the majority of proposed works that would have impacted upon them in order to allow his proposal to gain consent. A win-win situation in the end.
This was a new vacant site brought forward as part of a long-term client’s investment portfolio. The project involved gaining consent for a mixed use new-build of small shops and flats above on the edge of a site that has seen significant development recently. The key here was in setting a useable brief for the project architects to work with, and then arguing the case for a vastly reduced parking commitment on site utilising an historic over-supply of parking on street. Despite having the national approach to minimising parking provision in order not to encourage travel by car, the council were very reluctant to take the plunge and accept our proposition. Since a buyer was on hand and speed was of the essence here, orbis carried out a further detailed parking and highways analysis that headed off any lingering arguments that council put forward.
Orbis were initially contacted to find an appropriate architect to develop a scheme to redevelop a collection of semi-redundant Victorian buildings in our director’s home town. On providing this, Orbis were then tasked with taking forward the planning application to develop the site for a number of flats and houses and create a new ‘micro pub’ fronting the main street. The site was within a conservation area, opposite a scheduled ancient monument and had the potential for heritage issues within the buildings themselves. There was also an urgency to open up the micro pub to catch the pre-Christmas trading boom, so great care was taken on front-loading the proposal and getting the external details of the proposal right in order to smooth any concerns of heritage and planning officers.
The client here proposed a new children’s nursery on the edge of a local retail parade but within a residential area. The site had been used as a doctor’s clinic with flat above in the past but had since been laid empty for some years. We were able to demonstrate on appeal that the retention of the upper flat was both unfeasible and unsustainable, and that it’s ‘loss’ to provide for another essential local need (childcare) was justified in the circumstances of this site.
We’ll admit that even with our ‘can-do’ attitude our initial view on receiving the enquiry for this case was a little sceptical. The client’s brief was to convert a family home into a children’s nursery in a suburb of Birmingham. Whilst this in itself is not a game changer the house in question was a typical detached house in a 1970s low density estate, surrounded by other family housing and virtually no commercial enterprises. Nonetheless on further consideration it was clear that a case could be made here based on applying Council policy normally intended for more urban fringe Victorian houses to this site. Noise, parking and amenity were the key issues to resolve, and we were able to demonstrate that this site in particular would have such unique characteristics that it would not merit a refusal. It would also represent a very sustainable approach to childcare provision in surroundings that are totally suited to young children. Nonetheless we had to argue the case in front of committee to achieve this, and the nursery itself has operated very successfully now for over two years. On the back of this orbis are tasked with advising our clients on new acquisitions to expand their business across Birmingham and to secure timely permissions on selected sites.
Orbis were approached to assess the feasibility of creating a new exclusive hotel in this north Yorkshire service town to essentially ‘create its own market’. The site is central but in a town where there a few buildings over 3 storeys high and a generally ‘conservative’ approach to new development, clearly a sensitive approach to gaining support was required. Orbis were able to carry out a detailed economic, townscape and historic analysis which enabled us to establish that historically there was precedence and demand for a building of this stature and importance, whilst putting a strategy together to ensure ‘buy-in’ by the enabling and assessing authorities. On top of that there are the detailed planning, heritage and highways that will of course underpin any submission.
Orbis were asked to consider the planning merits of a proposal to relocate this hugely successful business to a new premises where it could control its land more effectively and continue to grow nationally. The site selected was a redundant plant nursery in the open countryside, but visually speaking in a very exposed location. Using our strong relationships with the local planning authority we were able to quickly gauge the ‘direction of thinking’ when it came to new developments in countryside locations. With the right strategy and evidence to prove that locally there were simply no other suitable premises to allow the business to expand, and a little bit of ‘politicking’, we are able to gain support to retain this business within that district’s boundaries.
We were approached in this case following the receipt of an enforcement notice after the client took over the site of a previous office and warehouse, where now his operational HQ and private ambulance fleet were based. The sight of up to 12 new private ambulances in the local vicinity could hardly be missed and initially had caused some alarm with local residents. A concessionary approach with the council failed to realise any results and so an appeal was made against the notice, setting out in detail why, with certain amendments, the use would be acceptable and should therefore be granted planning permission. This involved a detailed research of the history of the site, local appeals as well as a detailed ‘Parking beat’ survey and other highways submissions using our trusted engineer’s contacts. At appeal the inspector accepted all our evidence and arguments and permission was granted retrospectively, safeguarding the business here and up to 35 jobs in the process.