Last month, a successful planning appeal saw Lincoln Enterprise Park’s expansion plan for the next phase of this established scheme finally approved, after the local authority initially rejected the proposals. Shruti Trivedi, partner and planning solicitor at Roythornes Solicitors, explains how policy-driven rather than pragmatic local authority decisions are delaying progress for businesses, communities and the UK economy
The government’s New Deal, announced in June 2020, promised to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure through a “build, build, build” initiative. However, there is often continued resistance from local authorities to approve the planning decisions that will enable this agenda.
From commercial developments, including offices and business parks, to residential projects such as retirement villages and housing estates, we are seeing rejections across the board from committees seemingly keen to put policy over people. Even sustainable energy schemes and town regenerations are subject to the iron fist of local decision making, should they occupy too much space or block certain views, which are usually entirely subjective judgements.
Of course, concerns for the local environment and the wellbeing of the community should always be taken with the utmost seriousness but we are now seeing an overwhelming number of planning applications rejected without a sensible and balanced consideration of the benefits of each scheme. Development, or as it’s often dubbed, “over-development”, is seen as inherently bad, but it’s important to remember that new developments bring progress, growth and jobs, in turn elevating a town or city.
Oversimplified approach to planning decisions
In the case of a recent successful planning appeal for the expansion of Lincoln Enterprise Park, a very welcome decision was made to allow the scheme to go ahead, despite it being initially rejected on the grounds of being in open countryside.
Although the extension will indeed occupy some rural land, the development has been designed with environmental sensitivity, adding native trees, hedgerows and wildflowers to the site. The plans include significant ecological and biodiversity enhancements and will have no concerning landscape or visual impact on a location just off the A46 where there is already an existing development in situ.
In addition to the environmental mitigation, the expansion of the business park will also bring 50 new jobs to the area and offer 15 mixed-use units to local businesses, most of whom are existing customers with a real demand for additional space for growth.
The events of the planning application and appeal for Lincoln Enterprise Park are a prime example of an oversimplified approach to planning decisions. Far from tarring every development with the same brush, committees and local authorities must consider the holistic benefits of each scheme, looking at the details of each project and evaluating its net benefit, rather than finding reasons to arbitrarily reject proposals.
Taking a narrow approach and rejecting a scheme on points of policy alone can halt progress, contradicting the government’s New Deal approach, and prove costly in both time and money. Ultimately, this will harm the local communities that authorities are striving to protect and hinder growth for the local and national economy.
Despite a strong, clear and welcoming approach to development promised by the government, we are seeing resistance from local authorities and planning committees time and time again. The stigma of the “big, bad developer” needs to be quelled and replaced with the understanding that development is indeed what it says on the tin – expansion, growth and improvement – for communities and the people that constitute them.
The Lincoln Enterprise Park appeal involved a comprehensive team of experts instructed by the client, Nicholas Falkinder of LEP Developments, and including Shruti Trivedi of Roythornes as legal adviser, Nick Grace of Grace Machin as planning consultant, Dan Rontree of Heronswood Architectural Design as architect, Sara Boland of Influence as landscape consultant and Sam Elkington of Boothby Property Consultancy as providing financial viability input.
Partner and planning solicitor
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