A professional town & country planning service, saving you time and money
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Our services

Established in 2001, Plan Research is an independent consultancy offering advice and support from chartered professionals on all aspects of town and country planning in England.

Please phone our local rate number 0845 508 3085 to discuss your project.

Our expertise includes:

  • Planning applications
  • Enforcement issues
  • Pre-application advice
  • Certificates of lawfulness
  • Appeals against refusal of planning permission
  • Conservation areas and listed building consents
  • Design and Access statements
  • Green travel plans
  • Community planning and neighbourhood engagement
  • Planning appraisals

Conditions discharged for a farm campsite

30th August 2022 — Plan Research has discharged planning conditions for a farm campsite which we obtained planning permission for some four and a half months previously. This straightforward scheme for six bell tents and a barn conversion in one corner of a working farm might not have interested the planning system in the past, but the farm's location in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty means detailed negotiations are now required. The local authority even asserted control over the make and model of lightbulbs in proposed lighting fixtures for the campsite.

In all, the process from application submission to condition discharge took seven months, which meant an entire summer season was missed. If you are planning a seasonal use on your land, our advice is to apply for planning permission the year before you intend to start a new venture. Local authorities might sometimes hit statutory deadlines for delivering planning decisions, but when pre-commencement conditions are applied to planning permissions, the process can last far longer than anyone might reasonably expect.

Appeal won for homes on a brownfield site

17th June 2022 — A Plan Research client has won an appeal against refusal of planning permission for the demolition of garages and the construction of a pair of semi-detached houses on an urban brownfield site. The local authority had previously refused permission on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site, character and appearance of the area and the amenity of neighbours, despite the fact that this derelict site was located within a densely built-up area of small terraced and semi-detached houses.

While greenfield out-of-town sites are under pressure due to the demand for new and more energy-efficient housing, we are glad that the Planning Inspectorate agreed with our client that this particular brownfield site was suitable for a pair of new homes. Not all home buyers want to maintain or can afford a large plot. Town centre living, with pedestrian access to nearby work, retail, leisure and education opportunities, is meant to be more sustainable than living in the suburbs, and this case just goes to show that brownfield housing projects are still possible.

Updating a holiday camp for modern tourism

3rd August 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained outline planning permission for six additional tourism units as part of the redevelopment of a former holiday camp site. This site had planning permission for 52 very basic flat-roofed tourism units dating all the way back to 1971, a permission which Plan Research had previously obtained a 'Lawful Development Certificate' in order to confirm. This new outline permission is in addition to six modern holiday units already built, greatly increasing the quality of tourism provision while leaving space for a mixture of residential housing on the remainder of the land.

With the demand for tourism in the south of the UK stronger than ever, this is a great time to revisit those run-down holiday sites and obtain planning permission to turn them into something more attractive. Investment yields from short-term visitors can be significantly higher than for buy-to-let residential property, and because planning policy encourages economic development, tourism is often given the go-ahead in locations where residential development would be discouraged.

Replacement of a barn with Class Q residential use

16th June 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for a replacement dwelling on the site of a Class Q residential barn conversion. Although the barn on this rural site was lawful for full-time residential occupation, the method of construction and the design of its foundations meant it was far better to demolish and start again in order to create a comfortable and energy-efficient home.

Class Q permitted development is very useful for farmers who wish to create a new dwelling on their land, but that option comes with many restrictions. Some barns are worth saving and some are not, and in the latter case a full planning application for a modern replacement might be a better option than living with the restrictions of Class Q.

Hidden alterations on a listed building

14th May 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained Listed Building Consent for replacement of a basement door, and new metalwork at the rear, including railings and a ladder, on a historic town-house. The previous basement door was non-original and not in keeping with the listed building, but could not be seen from the public highway due to the steps above.

This case is a reminder that alterations to a listed building usually require consent from the local authority, even when removing modern alterations which would not be given listed building consent today. Consent must be obtained before building work starts, including in those cases where passers-by are in all probability never going to notice the improvements!

Appeal won on domestic extension in a National Park

27th April 2020 — Plan Research clients have won an appeal against the New Forest National Park Authority concerning a first-floor extension, solar panels, and the replacement of a conservatory and outbuilding on a 1960's house (APP/B9506/D/19/3238342). Extensions and alterations to the dwelling were approved by the National Park in May 2017, but as is often the case, minor changes proved necessary during the construction phase. The local authority then refused a condition variation application which had been intended to regularise these minor changes.

The local authority's refusal of the condition variation application hinged on the definition of habitable floorspace. The National Park has a policy which insists that dwellings cannot be extended beyond a certain percentage of floorspace. Houses which were extended before this policy came into effect are not restricted in size, which means that some neighbours can enjoy the use of an extension to their home, while others cannot.

Plan Research successfully made the case to the Planning Inspectorate that the National Park's calculation of habitable floorspace was incorrect in this case, which meant that our clients did not have to demolish the improvements to their home.

Private swimming pool in a conservation area

17th April 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for a below-ground swimming pool and air source heat pump enclosure in a conservation area. This 10 metre by 4.5 metre pool will be built in the garden of our client's home, just a few steps from the back door and patio area. With many of us spending a lot of time at home at the moment, this project was perfectly timed!

When excavations are required for a domestic swimming pool, these engineering works sometimes require planning permission, depending on the size of the proposed pool relative to the size of the garden. Outbuildings associated with a swimming pool, such as changing rooms or equipment sheds, might also require planning permission, particularly in the case of a listed building, conservation area or a designated landscape such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If in doubt, we recommend consulting a Chartered Town Planner before ordering a pool installation, in order to avoid potentially significant delays and additional costs.

Two-storey extension on a split-level detached house

19th March 2020 — Plan Research clients have obtained planning permission for a proposed two-storey extension and alterations to their home. The house is split-level, because of being built on a site which slopes upwards to the rear, with an internal double garage taking up much of the ground floor. A large extension relocating the garage to the side of the property was designed to deliver a significant increase in usable internal space, and a wider first-floor balcony area.

When you like your property and don't want to move, a major extension can often be the best way to upsize, compared to the cost and uncertainty of selling it and buying something bigger. This type of project has the added bonus of delivering exactly what you want, with the assistance of a project team who can respond to your personal aspirations.

Detached art studio and residential annexe in the countryside

9th March 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for two new outbuildings to provide an art room and a separate residential annexe, on a rural site. Our client already had an art studio in an existing building, but it needed upgrading. Additional living space would mean she could concentrate on her projects without having to travel back and forth each day.

With affordable commercial buildings suitable for use as creative spaces now in short supply, new outbuildings on freehold land can provide an attractive and cost-effective alternative. Not only can they be built to modern standards of energy efficiency, making them cosy and cheap to run. Building on your own land can offer much better long-term security of tenure, compared to a leased commercial property.

Lawful development certificate enables house sale

2nd March 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained a lawful development certificate for the retention of a first-floor extension to their home. While attempting to sell the property, a potential buyer's solicitor discovered that this extension did not have planning permission, and the sale fell through. The lawful development certificate prevents local authority enforcement action, which means that the house can now be put on the market again.

Before attempting to buy or sell any property in England, it is highly recommended to check on the planning status of the building and any alterations to it, even if extensions or modifications appear to have been in place for a long time. A relatively small investment in specialist planning advice could help ensure a positive outcome to the transaction.

Conversion of former hotel to residential units

20th February 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for the conversion of a former hotel to nine residential units (use class C3). This permission includes the demolition of old extensions, the creation of new single-storey lounge and sun room extensions, a new roof terrace, restored balconies and an enlarged turret.

The tourism market in England has changed radically in recent years, and small independent hotels are closing all over the country. With no shortage of bed and breakfast accommodation available, the optimum use for a former hotel is sometimes a residential conversion which enables year-round housing. Residential permissions retain the flexibility to enable seasonal holiday uses, if that suits the owners.

Modern houses in country setting nearing completion

19th February 2020 — A Plan Research client is completing a development of 25 modernist houses in the Ryde, Isle of Wight area. The land is semi-rural but nearby a cluster of existing twentieth-century housing, and within easy reach of the town centre due to having a bus stop on a regular route. Panoramic views across the valley are enabled by large first-floor windows.

When considering the development of new rural housing, it is best to respond to the potential of the site rather than assume that only bland generic designs will be acceptable to the local authority. If you can secure a site which has excellent public transport links, it is much easier to make the case that the new homes will not be unsustainable or socially isolated.

Larger replacement beach hut with amenity area

5th February 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for a replacement beach hut on a seafront promenade. The plot features an extensive lawn area, which meant we were able to secure permission from the local authority for a larger replacement building.

Even though beach huts often have planning conditions preventing overnight use, these simple structures can be more valuable than you might expect when in sought-after locations, especially when they have plentiful amenity space. British seaside holidays are back in fashion, and so beach huts and chalets in the right setting can be well worth redeveloping as weekend get-away properties.

Neighbour's appeal for five new houses dismissed

29th January 2020 — Plan Research clients have succeeded in having their neighbour's appeal against refusal of planning permission dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate, following our representations. A neighbour had applied to demolish a house and build five new houses on the plot, but had been refused permission by the local authority. Our clients had serious concerns about overcrowding and the safety of vehicle access, and retained our services in order to make the case against this development at the appeal stage.

While Plan Research generally works on winning planning permissions and appeals, sometimes the best investment you can make in your property is preventing it from being devalued by others. We can prepare your letters of objection at the initial planning application stage, support you through any appeal by the developer, and represent your case to the Planning Ombudsman if a decision has been made unlawfully.

Replacement of holiday chalets with a new residential dwelling

29th January 2020 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for the demolition of two residential properties and replacement with a single residential dwelling. The site contains two structures originally built as holiday bungalows many decades ago, which are now seriously sub-standard. Our research discovered there was no condition recorded which limited these bungalows to tourism use only, so we were able to make the case to the local authority that replacement with a modern residential property would be appropriate.

Many of the the properties erected hastily during the 20th century mass tourism boom fall well below current standards of energy efficiency and damp-proofing, as they were never really intended to be used throughout a British winter. Flat-roofed single-storey units often make inefficient use of land, too. As demand for year-round letting remains high, replacement of holiday units with modern houses can provide a better return on investment for the property owner.

Separating family-owned land into two residential dwellings

18th December 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained a Certificate of Lawful Use for an attached building to be used as a separate dwelling house. Our clients had separated the plot of their countryside home to create space for the next generation of the family to live on. When the original house had to be sold to cover care costs, the new house built next door for the children might have been sold with it.

We successfully made the case to the local authority that the new house had been separate for more than four years, and so a certificate could be issued which protects the new home from future enforcement action.

If you're thinking of building a home for your family, we suggest contacting a Chartered Town Planner for advice before drawing up detailed plans.

Council's private housing scheme on farmland deferred

17th December 2019 — Plan Research, working on behalf of East Cowes Town Council, encouraged the Isle of Wight Council's Planning Committee to defer a decision on the controversial Crossways housing application.

This scheme for 165 new residential properties on five hectares of productive farmland owned by the Isle of Wight Council was submitted by the Council itself, via a private sector partner. We hope that the applicant, working with local residents, can submit an improved scheme on a more suitable site.

This application had a significant amount of local resistance, which is hardly surprising, looking at the plans submitted. If developers work with local communities, rather than against them, then applications will get through the planning determination process more successfully. It is important that we consider the views of local people at all stages.

New ice rink for the Isle of Wight wins approval

17th December 2019 — Plan Research was delighted to watch the Smallbrook ice rink scheme get the go-ahead despite a recommendation for refusal from the local authority. We prepared the speech on behalf of the applicant to support the scheme at the Planning Committee meeting.

Fantastic news for all the ice skaters who have worked so hard to get this application through to approval!

Dormer windows and balcony on a Heritage Coast cottage

6th December 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained planning permission for a Juliet balcony and dormer windows on the front and rear elevations of their home. Permission was granted despite the house's location being designated as Heritage Coast and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at a prominent elevation overlooking a famous landmark.

This type of alteration can make the most of spectacular views, and is usually possible to obtain planning permission for if the design is well-considered. A Chartered Town Planner can save you a lot of time and money by guiding your architect or draughtsman towards a scheme with a good chance of being accepted at the first attempt.

New build detached home on a rural infill site

22nd November 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for a large detached dwelling on a rural infill plot. Although most new development is concentrated within settlement boundaries, rural areas typically have scattered groups of existing housing which can be built between without harming the open countryside.

If the land in question is within walking distance of a village school, as in this case, it can provide housing suitable for families who can contribute to the vitality of isolated communities.

Continued use of bedrooms and chalets for bed and breakfast

15th November 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained permission for the continued use of two bedrooms and ancillary chalet structures for bed and breakfast. When setting up a tourism business or Airbnb, planning permission may be required for a change of use, even when utilising existing rooms in your home or outbuildings on your land.

Plan Research has extensive experience of obtaining planning permission for tourism uses and agricultural diversification. We highly recommend getting any necessary planning permissions in place before opening for business!

Retrospective permission for an animal shelter and storage

9th October 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained retrospective permission for an animal shelter and storage on an agricultural smallholding. Despite permitted development rules for farms, if neighbours complain about new structures appearing in the countryside, a visit from a council enforcement officer can follow.

We always suggest that farmers and smallholders check the planning rules before putting up new barns or field shelters. Being required by the Council to make a retrospective planning application can cause uncertainty and unnecessary expense for an agricultural enterprise, and in the worst case scenario your new buildings could end up being demolished.

Insurance replacement of an agricultural bungalow in an AONB

16th September 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for the replacement of a 1960's wooden-framed agricultural occupancy bungalow, destroyed in a tragic fire which took the life of its owner.

Even though the insurer required a like-for-like replacement, planning permission was still necessary, with the application made more complex by the site's location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast designation.

If you have older wooden buildings on your land which people are going to be living in, our advice is to consider rebuilding them to meet modern fire safety standards.

Demolition and replacement dwelling in a conservation area

10th September 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained permission for the demolition of an existing house and a unique replacement dwelling in a conservation area. Sometimes the best option for creating the home that you really want is to knock down a building and start again, especially if you are aiming for high standards of design and energy performance.

Just because the ideal location for your project is within a conservation area, it doesn't mean that demolition is going to be impossible. However, we recommend seeking the advice of a Chartered Town Planner before you start knocking anything down!

Music education annex in the garden of a detached house

16th July 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained permission for a substantial replacement chalet in her garden, which will include a piano room and a lounge with bi-fold doors overlooking a terrace. The site owner is a well-known composer and music teacher who will use this annex to work from home, while minimising noise disturbance to neighbours.

With the running costs of commercial property, working from home is a very popular option for all kinds of professionals, but domestic properties are often not well-suited to specialised uses. A purpose-built garden annex with modern standards of insulation could be the answer, but will usually require planning permission and appropriate vehicle access.

Side extension and conservatory on a bungalow with mature trees

11th June 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained permission for a proposed single storey extension on a residential bungalow. Even though a conservatory salesman might assure you that planning permission won't be required, the law on permitted development and residential extensions is complex.

It's a wise move to review your home upgrading plans with a Chartered Town Planner to ensure that potential enforcement action is avoided in future, especially when mature trees could be affected by the development.

Glamping and education centre on a rural forestry site

28th May 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained permission for the change of use of land to tourism and education, including the siting of seven glamping pods, a campsite, an outdoor classroom, showers, toilets, storage, temporary wardens accommodation and alterations to vehicular access.

This large rural site contains a mixture of ancient woodland and more recent forestry plantation on former agricultural land. The approved scheme adds considerable economic, community and wildlife value, and also enables the site owners to live on the land while they establish their tourism and education business.

Alterations to an equestrian stable block and new garage

15th May 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained permission for variation of a planning condition to allow amendments to approved stables and a new car parking garage at the same rural property. The previously approved plans would have created too large a stable block and have it facing the wrong direction, so a new application was pursued to create a more practical solution.

As circumstances change, sometimes it is appropriate to revisit granted permissions and update them, rather than build an out-of-date design.

Removal of conditions restricting occupancy and sale of dwellings

1st May 2019 — Plan Research has succeeded in the removal of conditions which restricted the occupancy of its clients' buildings on a rural site. One condition required the occupier of a dwelling to work in a particular business on the same site, while another condition prevented a converted barn from being sold separately from the business.

Prior approval for change of agricultural building to dwelling

12th March 2019 — A Plan Research client has obtained prior approval for a change of use from an agricultural building to a dwelling, under Class Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

This legislation enables farmers and other agricultural land owners to convert certain types of buildings into housing without applying for full planning permission.

Replacing a modern barn with new-build holiday accommodation

4th March 2019 — Plan Research clients have obtained planning permission for the demolition of a redundant steel barn, and the construction of a two storey block of six units of holiday accommodation with parking.

This scheme on a rural tourism site will help support local employment, as well as increasing the quality of tourism provision in the area.

Revising design in a conservation area after refusal at appeal

20th December 2018 — Our clients have obtained planning permission for demolition of an extension, and new side and rear extensions in a conservation area after the refusal at appeal of an earlier scheme for demolition and rebuilding of the house. We worked with a designer to devise a new scheme which would meet with planning approval.

New build house on a plot outside the settlement boundary

7th November 2018 — Plan Research clients are completing their house on a plot outside the village development envelope. We successfully argued that their infill plot was an ideal location for a scheme which would help deliver the local authority's target for rural housing.

Larger side and rear extensions on a terraced house

8th October 2018 — Our client has obtained planning permission for a domestic side and rear extension considerably larger than the one the local authority was minded to approve, together with new roof lights, after negotiation with neighbours.

Upgrading a house with a dormer and solar panels in an AONB

27th September 2018 — Plan Research clients have secured planning permission for refurbishments to their home in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including a dormer window, solar panels, car port and garden buildings, despite an earlier refusal for a similar scheme.

Lawful Development Certificate for a residential houseboat

23rd August 2018 — Our clients have secured a Lawful Development Certificate for the use of a houseboat for permanent residential purposes in Bembridge Harbour.

With house prices continuing to rise, living on the water is becoming an increasingly popular option!

Demolition of school foyer and replacement entrance

1st June 2018 — A Plan Research client has obtained planning permission for the demolition of a school foyer and its replacement with an enclosed entrance hall, which will be far more energy efficient.

Temporary vehicle access for a building site

31st May 2018 — Our client has obtained planning permission for the formation of a new vehicular access after a great deal of negotiation with the local authority.

The existing access was simply not suitable for bringing large construction vehicles onto the site during the complete refurbishment of a large villa, converting it from a care home back to its original use as a private residence.

Residential boarding house for an independent school

9th May 2018 — A Plan Research client has secured planning permission for a major development including the construction of a school boarding house, netball courts and associated landscaping works despite a sustained campaign against the scheme from local objectors and a previous design having been refused permission.

Freshwater, Isle of Wight adopts Neighbourhood Plan

21st March 2018 — Plan Research assisted Freshwater Parish Council in the preparation of its Neighbourhood Plan, which was adopted as Planning Policy on the 12th March. Plan Research wrote the policies within the plan, following consultation with the community on the things that they most valued about their Parish, including the preservation of open spaces.

The Chair of the Parish Council said "Your skills and background were a great help to the team and a real factor in the plan being accepted by the Isle of Wight Council."

Chapel alterations, dormer and porch in a conservation area

4th December 2017 — Our client has obtained planning permission for chapel alterations, a dormer roof and porch next to a listed building in a conservation area.

Oak framed garage and outbuilding completed in AONB

2nd November 2017 — Plan Research clients have built an oak framed garage and outbuilding which we obtained planning permission for on land with Heritage Coast and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designations.

Construction under way for vintage vehicle storage barn

25th October 2017 — Our client is completing the storage barn that we obtained permission for, in order to house his vintage tractor and steam vehicle collection.

Retrospective permission for swimming pool and storage

24th October 2017 — Plan Research obtained retrospective permission for a swimming pool and storage outbuilding constructed by our client for his family.

Conversion of Grade II listed office buildings to residential use

30th June 2017 — Plan Research obtained planning permission for internal alterations and change of use from offices to three dwellinghouses in a historic block of Grade II listed buildings within a conservation area.