The latest application for variation of conditions has been approved.

Planning is often a tactical game.

The property developer behind a series of applications to build houses on the garden of Linney House has asked the planning inspectorate to decide on his 2019 plans to build eight houses. That means this scheme cannot be determined by the Southern Planning Committee, though the committee will be asked what decision it might have made. At the same time, the developer has applied to start building an existing permission for three houses. James Hepworth has no intention of building this scheme. But he needs to dig some foundations to show that the development has commenced in legal terms, so that planning permission does not expire. If it does expire, he won’t be able to argue that the scheme for eight homes should go ahead because is better than the one that Shropshire Council has already approved.

As I said, planning can be a tactical game.

2012: Application 1. This planning saga began in May 2012 with an application for four homes in the grounds of Linney House. The four houses were reduced to three large suburban homes (12/02275/FUL). That application was approved by officers in May 2014, a period when Shropshire Council lacked the five-year land supply for housing demanded by government. That meant that usual planning rules were often bypassed. The 2014 decision established the principle of building houses in the grounds of Linney House. We have been struggling with this site ever since.

One of the three houses from the currently approved scheme (Application 1)

2017: Application 2. In January 2017, shortly before planning permission was due to expire, a new application was submitted to ‘keep the permission alive’. The developer made it clear that he had no intention of building this scheme: “The intention of the application to secure a consent for a further 3 years to facilitate ongoing negotiations with the Council to secure an alternative scheme for this sensitive site.” That scheme, (17/00230/FUL), was given permission. This permission will expire on 17 May.

2019: Application 3. Last year, a new application was made for eight houses of modern design (19/00826/FUL). It met strong objections from Shropshire Council’s tree and conservation teams. This application was due to be considered by the next planning committee which is expected to be held online in May. However, the developer, James Hepworth has already appealed to the planning inspectorate on grounds of non-determination. Where a development has not been determined by a planning authority within statutory timescales, in this case just four weeks, developers can ask for their scheme to be determined by a planning inspector. The Southern Planning Committee will not now be allowed to determine this scheme but members will be asked to tell the planning inspectorate what decision they would have made if the scheme has come before them in the usual way.

Application 3 for eight homes which is now being appealed

2019: Application 4. Following comments by Shropshire Council officers, the number of houses was reduced from eight to four in yet another application (19/05519/FUL). This has yet to be decided.

2020: Application 5. With time running out on the 2017 application, the developer has put in for a variation of conditions on the approval to allow a limited start on the site (20/01127/VAR). Once a development is started, the planning permission remains in perpetuity. My understanding is the developer only intends to start building a garage. Once the footings are in, that it is enough for the development to be classified as “commenced” preserving the planning permission. The appeal on Application 3 confirms that the developer, James Hepworth, is not interested in building Application 1/2. He doesn’t seem interested in Application 4. What he is doing is protecting a “fallback scheme” ahead of the planning inspectorate decision on Appeal 3. It is not uncommon for a planning inspector to approve a scheme that might not otherwise have been approved because the already approved fallback position is worse.

One thought on “The planning saga at Linney House takes a couple of new twists as developer appeals to planning inspectorate”
  1. The whole panoply of government – national and local – is a tactical game: being that of survival beyond the next election or the next job. Developers and politicians have much in common. We, the electorate, have become tired of their false promises and empty rhetoric.

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