Exceptional Permission with extraordinary potential

August, 2015

We are delighted to report that our clients at Heatherton Park Studios have received full planning permission for the change of use of a modern steel framed agricultural barn to form 4 Business Units (Class B1) and a Live-Work Unit (Sui Generis). The Live Work Unit is to provide enhanced and extended accommodation for Everett Fine Arts to support their growing business which specialises in the conservation and restoration of fine paintings. We (Thread) will also be relocating our main office to the new studios and we are therefore especially excited about the creative potential of this new hub.

The achievement of planning permission for this project is exceptional as, due to the inclusion of living accommodation, there is no planning policy to support this type of development. Policy DM2 sets out potential uses for converted buildings in the rural area in sequential order. Conversion to private residential use is the last option on this list and is only permissible in exceptional circumstances: “residential uses will only be acceptable if the building is of particular architectural merit, worthy of retention and demonstrably unsuitable for all other listed uses”. Policy therefore strongly restricts new residential accommodation in the rural area such as this and neither is there provision for Work/Live units. In accordance with Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, permission should, therefore, be refused unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

In this case, Planning Consultant Stuart Rackham of Rackham Planning successfully argued the extraordinary circumstances that justify the inclusion of a residential aspect in the development on this site: The fine art restoration business, which has operated from the site for some years, has the opportunity to expand but is unable to compete with other providers (which are mainly based in London and the South East) without improved security at the site. The on-site presence afforded by the residential unit would provide sufficient security to at least double the amount of work for the business. Acknowledging that this would bring additional employment opportunities to the area and allow the business to grow, the planning committee cast a unanimous vote in favour of approving the application.

Having had a close working relationship with Everett Fine Arts for many years we (Thread) are also delighted that, once the works are complete, we will be relocating our main office to the new building at Heatherton Park Studios. The new studios are expected to be ready for occupation in summer 2016 and, with the inclusion of a central shared entrance, double height gallery, and space for meetings and gatherings, we are really excited about the potential that this new creative studio building will offer - watch this space for news on progress and exciting events coming up.