Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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Summary of Grounds for Objecting to a Planning Proposal

Maggie Shapland
core strategy

The planning laws keep changing. The National Policy Framework (NPPF) and Guidance (NPPG) is the latest. PPG documents have been superceded but their principles are helpful. PPG15 was replaced by PPS5 which has in turn has been superceded.

Page contents:

Bristol Local Plan – Central Area Plan

The council has now received the Inspector’s report following his examination of the Central Area Plan. The Inspector has concluded that, subject to a number of modifications being made, the plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of central Bristol in the period to 2026. A report proposing the adoption of the plan will be presented to a meeting of Bristol City Council’s Full Council on 17 March 2015. Upon adoption, the council will have a complete, up-to-date Local Plan.

Local List of Planning Application Requirements

This is the list planners use when planning applications are validated and they are looking at what supporting information needs to be submitted with an application. Guidance in the NNPG (para 39) is that “A local planning authority may request supporting information with a planning application. Its requirements should be specified on a formally adopted ‘local list’ which has been published on its website less than two years before an application is submitted. Local information requirements have no bearing on whether a planning application is valid unless they are set out on such a list.”

Site Allocations and Development Management Policies

Ratified in July 2014. CHIS made representations. The Site Allocations and Development Management Policies sets out site allocations for development, policy designations and development management policies.

All the documents can be found on

Boundary Walls

The Clifton and Hotwells Conservation area character appraisal states that turning front gardens into parking is a negative feature.

The latest Bristol Local Plan also aims to protect boundary walls far better than previously. Consider the visual damage to the streetscape. One of the problems of the introduction of residential parking means we have written many more objections than normal (and won) for applications for demolishing front walls. Enforcement is strict.

You may not be aware that in 2013 the General Permitted Development Order to demolish unlisted boundary walls below 1m tall was amended to exclude boundary walls in conservation areas. This now means, in conservation areas, building owners must first seek planning permission before they can demolish the whole or any part of a wall, or even a garden fence regardless of height, even if all the other works are permitted development. This potentially could include boundary trees, hedges and bushes. source Reference

Bristol Development Management Policies

Housing and Economy Policies Health Policies Green Infrastructure Policies Transport Policies Design Policies Pollution Policies Utilities and Minerals Policies

Bristol Core Strategy

Spatial Strategy Approach to Other Areas of Bristol Transport and Access Improvements Development Principles

Bristol Supplementary Council planning documents

Bristol Supplementary planning guidance

Policy Advice Notes (PAN) and other adopted SPG:

Heritage Decisions

In heritage conservation there are two inescapable legal requirements that apply to decisions concerning listed buildings, their settings and conservation areas. To paraphrase crudely, they require special regard to the desirability of conserving them. See ss16, 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 for their full terms. For more detail on how to ensure all the decision-making principles are adhered to, please see English Heritage's online Guide to Heritage Protection (

Goodbye Conservation Area Consent

On 1 October 2013 government switched off the requirement for conservation area consent for demolition and switched on a new requirement for planning permission in the same circumstances. The change was simply to make processing consents more efficient. It should have no impact on the protection of conservation areas. Failure to apply for conservation area consent when it is needed was a criminal offence.This was a necessary deterrent when the effect of demolition is usually impossible to properly reverse. We now have a new offence of failing to apply for planning permission for demolition in a conservation area. Sadly the change did not address the "Shimizu" court case interpretation of what is "demolition". Therefore what does and does not require permis­ sion remains the same.

Summary guide to the amended regulations on Design and Access Statements

Introduced 25 June 2013 by amendments to the Development Management

Procedure Order and Listed Building and Conservation Area Regulations

1) These changes reduce the numbers of planning applications that must be accompanied by a design and access statement, and reduces the level of prescription regarding their content (Including those to accompany Listed Building Consent applications).

2) From 25 June 2013, Design and Access Statements are required for:

3) Specific exclusions from needing a Design and Statement are planning applications;

4) A Design and Access Statement has to explain:

5) The Design and Access Statement shall:

6) For Listed Buildings, the effect is to streamline the content required in all applications for listed building consent, and the Design and Access statement needs to explain: Further Information:

National Planning Policy Framework

One now refers to paragraphs within sections of the framework. The purpose is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development with regard to economic, social and environmental dimensions (which should protect and enhance our natural, built and historic environment. Par 6). Core Planning Principles:
  1. Building a strong, competitive economy (Par 18-22)
  2. Ensuring the vitality of town centres (Par 23-27)
  3. Supporting a prosperous rural economy (Par 28)
  4. Promoting sustainable transport (Par 29-41)
  5. Supporting high quality communications infrastructure (Par 42-46)
  6. Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes (Par 47-55)
  7. Requiring good design (Par 56-68)
  8. Promoting healthy communities (Par 69-78)
  9. Protecting Green Belt land (Par 79-92)
  10. Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change (Par 93-108)
  11. Conserving and enhancing the natural environment (Par 109-125)
  12. Conserving and enhancing the historic environment (Par 126-141)
  13. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals (Par 142-149)

Conserving and enhancing the historic environment (National Framework Policy Paragraphs)

Summary List of most relevent paragraphs (refer to the full document for detail)

Extracts from Planning Guidance Notes from the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

. These have been replaced but principles of criteria for objections to development in the Conservation Area are the same.

Grounds for Opposition by Local Residents

"The members of the local planning authority are elected to represent the interests of the whole community in planning matters. But when determining planning applications they must take into account any relevant views on planning matters expressed by neighbouring occupiers, local residents and any other third parties along with all other material considerations. However, local opposition or support for a proposal is not in itself a ground for refusing or granting planning permission, unless that opposition or support is founded upon valid planning reasons which can be substantiated". (PPG1 / 60).


"The Secretary of State attaches particular importance to early consultation with the local planning authority on development proposals which would affect historic sites and structures, whether listed buildings, conservation areas, parks and gardens, battlefields or the wider historic landscape. There is likely to be much more scope for refinement and revision of proposals if consultation takes place before intentions become firm and timescales inflexible. Local planning authorities should indicate their readiness to discuss proposals with developers before formal planning applications are submitted. They should expect developers to assess the likely impact of their proposals on the special interest of the site or structure in question, and to provide such written information or drawings as may be required to understand the significance of a site or structure before an application is determined. The principle of early consultation should extend to English Heritage and the national amenity societies on cases where a formal planning or listed building consent application would be notifiable to them by direction or under the GDO". (PPG 15 2.11)

"Local planning authorities are urged to ensure that they have appropriately qualified specialist advice on any development which, by its character or location, might be held to have an adverse effect on any sites or structures of the historic environment. Authorities should ensure that the Royal Fine Art Commission is consulted on all planning applications raising conservation issues of more than local importance, and should take the RFAC's views fully into account in reaching their decisions" (PPG 15)

Architectural and Historical Analysis of the Local Conservation Area

"The special architectural features of the surrounding buildings need to be analysed and their details reflected in the new proposals. In particular, the design of new buildings in Conservation Areas should consider the height, scale, proportion, and alignment of the surrounding traditional buildings, and have regard to the existing density and patterns of development". "In order successfully to integrate new development into the environment, it is necessary to have a knowledge and understanding of its local context, ie the visual and functional characteristics of that area".

The Character Appraisals for each area can be found on the Conservation section of the planning section of the Council web site. These help residents and us to understand the history of an area and why it is special. They help shape future developments and planning policies, as well as giving residents an idea of what enhancements could be made. The Council has undertaken a review of Bristol's existing conservation areas. This is through the production of a character appraisal and set of management proposals for each area. The consultation and adoption process for each appraisal will give it enough weight to be a significant consideration in making planning decisions, and at appeal.

CHIS spent 2 years preparatory work for the Clifton and Hotwells Character Appraisal and Management Proposals Document and were extensively involved throughout its drafting before it was published in June 2010. We received special thanks for our work. It is 100 pages long (it could have been twice as long!) with many photographs mostly taken by us to illustrate our points. It was a wonderful project to get involved in and made us look around and enjoy our wonderful conservation area even more. We refer to it in most of our comments about planning applications.

Requirement to preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area

"In the exercise, with respect to any buildings or other land in a conservation area, of any powers under any of the provisions mentioned [Planning Acts and Part I of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953] …. special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area" (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 S72).

"The Courts have recently confirmed that planning decisions in respect of development proposed to be carried out in a conservation area must give a high priority to the objective of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area. If any proposed development would conflict with that objective, there will be a strong presumption against the grant of planning permission, although in exceptional cases the presumption may be overridden in favour of development which is desirable on the ground of some other public interest". (PPG15 4.19)

As to the precise interpretation of "preserve or enhance", the Courts have held (South Lakeland DC v Secretary of State for the Environment, [1992] 2 WLR 204) that there is no requirement in the legislation that conservation areas should be protected from all development which does not enhance or positively preserve. Whilst the character and appearance of conservation areas should always be given full weight in planning decisions, the objective of preservation can be achieved either by development which makes a positive contribution to an area's character or appearance, or by development which leaves character and appearance unharmed. (PPG 15 4.20)

There is a strong presumption against the grant of planning permission for a development which would conflict with these objectives. The guidance states that development which leaves the character and appearance of an area unharmed has been considered by the courts to preserve that character and appearance. The essential test therefore is to consider if any demonstrable harm would be caused to the character and appearance of the Clifton Conservation Area.

English Heritage Advice Notes

Under the heading "enhancement" the conservation area practice document gives guidance on the design of new buildings in historic areas.

"In considering proposals for new buildings in conservation areas the principal concerns should be the appropriateness of the overall mass or volume of the building, its scale (the expression of size indicated by the windows, doors, floor heights, and other identifiable units), and its relationship with its context - whether it sits comfortably. The new building should be in harmony with, or complimentary to, its neighbours, having regard to the adjoining architectural styles. The use of materials generally matching those which are historically dominant in the area is important, as is the need for the development not to have a visually disruptive impact on the existing townscape or street scene. It should also, as far as possible, fit into the grain of an historic area, for example by respecting surviving medieval street patterns. All these aspects can be assessed to a large degree without reference to the architectural style adopted for the design, whether contemporary or historicist. The few exceptions will include new development forming part of or adjoining an important architectural set piece of recognised quality, which must be taken into account.

Whilst the character and appearance of conservation areas should always be given full weight in planning decisions, the objective of preservation can be achieved either by development which makes a positive contribution to an area's character or appearance, or by development which leaves character and appearance unharmed". (PPG15 4.20)

Setting of Listed Buildings

"In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building, the local planning authority or, in the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possess". (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Design Criteria

The Bristol Local Plan aims to ensure that … "new buildings within a historic context are well designed, following common sense rules of scale, alignment, massing and proportion, and that they utilise materials appropriate to the locality. It is essential that these new buildings are sensitive and responsive to the character of their locality". "Local planning authorities should reject poor designs, particularly where their decisions are supported by clear plan policies or supplementary design guidance which has been subjected to public consultation and adopted by the local planning authority. Poor designs may include those inappropriate to their context, for example those clearly out of scale or incompatible with their surroundings". (PPG1 (17). Local planning authorities should not attempt to impose a particular architectural taste or style arbitrarily. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness particularly where this is supported by clear plan policies or supplementary design guidance. Local planning authorities should not concern themselves with matters of detailed design except where such matters have a significant effect on the character or quality of the area, including neighbouring buildings. Particular weight should be given to the impact of development on existing buildings and on the character of areas recognised for their landscape or townscape value, such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas. (PPG1 18)
"Many conservation areas include gap sites or buildings that make no positive contribution to, or indeed detract from, the character or appearance of the area; their replacement should be a stimulus to imagination, high quality design, and seen as an opportunity to enhance the area. What is more important is not that new buildings should directly imitate earlier styles, but that they should be designed with respect for their context, as a part of a larger whole which has a well-established character and appearance of its own." (PPG 4.17)

Design Criteria:

Sustainable Development

"The Government has committed itself to the concept of sustainable development … Yet the historic environment of England is all-pervasive and it cannot in practice be preserved unchanged. We must ensure that the means are available to identify what is special in the historic environment; to define through the development plan system its capacity for change; and when proposals come forward to assess their impact on the historic environment and give full weight alongside other considerations." (PPG 15 1.3)

Conservation Policies

Building Elements

National Planning Policy Statements

As at 2013
Planning Policy Statements (PPS) contain policies on land-use and other planning matters, for example telecommunications or the built heritage, and apply to the whole of Northern Ireland.
They set out the main planning considerations that the Department takes into account in assessing proposals for the various forms of development and are relevant to the preparation of development plans. They are also material to decisions on individual planning appeals.
The guiding principle that the Department observes in making decisions on planning applications is set out in

Bristol Local Plan (December 1997)

List of 1997 Adopted Local Plan Policies still saved following adoption of the Core Strategy (June 2011) Bristol City Council adopted the Core Strategy on 21 June 2011. From adoption, some of the policies of the 1997 Adopted Bristol Local Plan that were previously “saved” for future use have now fallen away. However, 86 Local Plan policies remain saved pending the production further development plan documents.

The Local Plan policies listed in the tables below are still saved and can still be used alongside the adopted Core Strategy to determine planning applications.
Those superceded by the Core Strategy are indicated in red.
Built Environment:

Management of the Environment

Natural Environment Movement Economy Shopping Housing Community Services Leisure City Centre

Keep Bristol Tidy! What is an s215?

BCC"s Planning Enforcement approach to this is informal to start with. The first stage is to write to the owner and enter negotiation to have the property/land tidied. If this is unsuccessful they can issue an s215 notice.

From a community point of view, tidy gardens and land mean an area looks well cared for making people feel safe in that neighbourhood. If untidy sites are left, they become worse and the area starts to feel neglected and unsafe. Untidy sites are rarely dangerous to public health but they will be an eyesore, which means it is detrimental to the local amenity. These are the ones that we want you to draw to our attention.

The council can serve an "amenity" notice on the owner of any land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and it considers has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area. This is done under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). This notice is used to maintain and improve the quality of the environment, to assist in tackling dereliction and retaining land in a productive use as well as contribute to the regeneration of an area and respond positively to public concerns. Many of the problems of untidy land and buildings are relatively easy to put right for example:

A notice can be served on the owner or occupier of any private land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and which the Council consider has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area. The Notice will specify what needs to be done to correct the situation within a given timescale. It is an offence not to comply with the notice within the specified period. If the requirements of the notice are not carried out in the required timescale the landowner could be fined and have a criminal record. There is a right of appeal against a notice issued under this section to the Magistrates Court. Failure to comply with the requirements of the notice constitutes a criminal offence subject on conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000. The Council is also empowered to enter land to carry out the works specified in the notice and reclaim costs from the land owner - usually by means of a land charge on the land or property.

So, what should you do? Council Officers will not necessarily know of every derelict and untidy site, nor of the range of public concern. Do not leave it to someone else. A single report can be ignored as minor. A dozen reports on the same property requires action.

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