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Warehouses may be extended by 25% of the building’s cubic content up to a maximum 1,000sq m of floor space, although limitations apply to height, design, proximity to boundaries, parking provision, and special areas. (The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 1995, Schedule 2, Part 8).

Works affecting the interior of the building do not require planning permission. This includes the provision of mezzanine floors. (Section 55 (2) of The Town and Country Planning Act).

A Change of Use from Class B8 “Storage and Distribution” to Class B1 “Business” and a change from Class B1 “Business” and B2 “General Industrial” to Class B8 “Storage and Distribution” can take place without planning permission, limited up to 235sq m of floor space. (The Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 1987).

months, or longer, depending on the nature of the scheme. Planning permission maybe granted subject to conditions or refused.

LPAs may require planning obligations to be made to enhance the quality of the development and enable proposals to go ahead which might otherwise be refused. However, amongst other factors, the Secretary of State’s policy contained within Circular 01/97 ‘Planning Obligations’ requires planning obligations to be sought, only where they meet the following tests:

i) Necessary.

ii) Relevant to planning.

iii) Directly related to the proposed development.

iv) Fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development.

v) Reasonable in all other respects.

Any planning obligations required by a LPA would therefore need to be contained within a S106 legal agreement which must be finalised before the LPA is able to grant planning permission.

There is a right of appeal against the refusal or non-determination of a planning application. Appeals must be logged within three months of the decision date or the agreed statutory decision date (for non-determined applications). One of three appeal procedures may be pursued, including Written Representations, Hearings and Public Inquiries. The latter procedures are for more complicated cases and involve higher costs. The chances of success at appeal depends on the merits of the scheme, its compliance with National and Regional planning policies and whether there are any special circumstances which might outweigh policy considerations.

LPAs can be disparaging about logistics uses as they are perceived to be characterised by low labour densities, large land take and high levels of traffic, all of which are contrary to the principles of sustainable development which is promoted in National, Regional, and Local planning policies. Instead, LPAs tend to prefer and encourage high labour intensive and high knowledge uses, regardless of the market’s requirements.

Not all LPAs appreciate the importance of logistics or recognise that their needs are very different in nature to other employment uses. Logistics projects are therefore generally exposed to common planning issues, relating to planning policies, highways and environmental matters.

The NAI Fuller Peiser survey work identified that whilst many LPAs do not generally differentiate between employment uses (including Class B1 ‘Business’, B2 ‘General Industrial’, and B8 ‘Storage and Distribution’ uses), approximately half of the LPAs surveyed allocated land for Class B1 and B2 uses but not for Class B8 uses. Some LPAs also incorporated restrictive policies to discourage the growth of Class B8 uses.

On a regional basis, it was shown that the North-west, Yorkshire and Humberside and Scotland sought to maintain and encourage Class B8 uses and did not consider that there would be a change in policy direction in the near future.

However, LPAs in London/South-east, the East Midlands and West Midlands, considered that policies would become more restrictive towards Class B8 uses.

This approach is reflected within emerging policies such as Regional Planning Guidance for the East Midlands (RPG8), due out at the end of this year.

This RPG provides limited policy direction for the provision of Class B8 uses and it focuses on the sequential approach which requires employment uses to be located primarily in town centre, then edge of centre and then out of centre sites. Also, this approach is largely at odds with Class B8 uses, which require out of town centre sites with sufficient space and access/highway provisions.

Logistics uses generate significant levels of vehicle movement, which raises concerns over traffic impact, servicing and congestion and is not considered to be a sustainable form of freight movement, in line with national policy guidance PPG13 ‘Transport’ (2001). However, Transport Assessments can be prepared to demonstrate how highways, access and servicing issues may be resolved. In addition, Travel Plans can illustrate how travel patterns by employees will be managed to minimise car borne travel, which is a major concern of LPAs.

“Green” issues are broad ranging and can relate to the proposal’s impact on the open countryside, nature conservation interests and residential amenity.

Logistics facilities tend to locate in marginal areas within the Green Belt or the open countryside (outside the development boundary) where there is a presumption against development.

The visual impact of the scheme upon the openness of the area will therefore be a primary concern. In these circumstances, it is often necessary to demonstrate that there are exceptional circumstances, which should allow the proposed development to be permitted.

In addition, a scheme would need to be sensitively designed to minimise its impact on the surroundings.

Logistic developments may be located within areas with nature conservation interests, where development is also prohibited. Environmental assessments can therefore be produced to appraise technical concerns and provide mitigation proposals for issues that might otherwise justify the refusal of planning permission.

Some developments may also be located near to residential areas where there may be concern over traffic generation and noise.

Relevant surveys can therefore be undertaken to demonstrate that no harm would be caused to residential amenity to address local objections.

NAI Fuller Peiser is currently advising Hutchison Port (UK) in respect of two deep-sea container terminal port facilities with rail terminals and associated buildings, in Harwich and Felixstowe. Although the schemes have raised complex planning and environmental issues, these are being justified within the context of Government Policy on ports and “Sustainable Distribution”. These are typical of the planning policy issues that face many large-scale distribution developments.

The planning system is currently being reviewed. The proposed changes are intended to make the planning system more efficient, transparent and responsive to local community needs. The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament and is due to become enacted in October 2004.

The proposed changes outlined below if approved, will directly affect the planning application process and will have implications for new schemes, including:

l Reducing the life of full planning permission from five to three years will provide less time to implement a scheme.

l The provision of a tariff-based system (based on the proposed floor space with an appropriate ratio of financial contribution) as an alternative to existing lengthy S106 negotiations, is considered to be a stealth tax.

l Reserving the right to introduce Statements of Development Principles as an alternative to Outline applications which raises concerns over the legal weight of the new statements for effectively securing loans for development or sale agreements. n

Emma Andrews is partner in Planning Services at NAI Fuller Peiser.

Tel: 0870 700 2233.

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