Planners.......

Planners.......

Postby misterkwo » Mon May 28, 2007 4:11 pm

Hello all,

Long time reader, first time poster.
I have just taken receipt of my (outline) planning permission from Louth CC. As additional info was requested, and submitted, I expected permission to be granted. However, as the planner involved with the application is renowned for being more than difficult, and less than helpful, I more or less expected there to be major conditions attached.
I haven't been dissapointed in that regard. 18no. conditions attached. The most bizarre of them being;

The dwelling shall not exceed 1-1.5 storeys and the ridge height shall not exceed 7m.

I originally applied (outline) for a 2no. storey dwelling!!!

The proposed house, located in the country, has neighbouring dwellings either side, built in 1999 and 2005respectively. Both neighbouring houses are aver 7m in height and both have 2no. storeys, one is even a 2.5 storey/multi-level.
In the application, my proposed dwelling had a max. ridge height of 8.5m and was still below the ridge level of one of the neighbouring houses.
How can the LA restrict me to a bungalow, when both houses either side are 2no. storey or more???

What can I do?

Withdraw the application before final decision is granted? Appeal the condition on the outline permission?
How can the LA impose the higher build costs I will now have to contend with building an F-ing bungalow?

How can proper order and development constitute two 2no. storey dwellings sitting either side of a little fart of a bungalow sitting on a 1.3 acre site in the middle???

Of course, the planner involved does not have to answer to anybody, and I'm still waiting after 2 years to get to this stage, which is worse than when I f-ing started.

My mother owns the land. I want to build. My siblings want to build. Louth CC obvoiusly don't want us to build for whatever reason. Yet they'll look at you like you have horns when you ask to be put on a housing list because you can't afford 450k to buy a place.

Totally frustrated, flabbergasted and pissed off!
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Re: Planners.......

Postby henno » Mon May 28, 2007 4:33 pm

misterkwo...

firstly, i makes no sense to withdraw the application before the final grant....
secondly, you havent been restricted to a bungalow, you have been restricted to a storey and a half dwelling....

your only option, (if that planners is going to be around for the forseeable future), is to appeal that condition to an Bord Pleanala.... but be warned, your probably talking about a six month turn around there....

you may have good grounds, if you can include in your appeal a rural scape elevation showing the ground, path, floor and ridge levels of the adjoining site dwellings... and show that your ridge isnt above them...it makes sense that if both neighbouring dwellings are approx 7m in height that the planner would restrict you to a similar ridge height......

8.5 m is a bit excessive for a two storey dwelling... ..... but again, the restriction to 7m is low for a storey and a half dwelling..... even dormers are in the region of 7.5 m....
but any good architect could design a 'narrow plan' storey and a half dwelling that would maximise ceiling heights.......
just because you specify a ridge height on an outline application, that doesnt mean it carries any weight during the process.....

the fact that the build would have higher costs is nothing to do with the planner, if he deems the dwelling to be excessive in height then he has to act on it.....

BTW, the planner is answerable to the senior executive planner, who has to 'sign off' the decision, assuming the planner him/herself isnt the senior executiv planner.....
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Re: Planners.......

Postby unblinkered » Mon May 28, 2007 5:42 pm

From experience, Louth CoCo don't allow 2 storey dwellings in rural areas much these days - they're quite happy with single storeys, dormer style or split levels, though. While 7m does seem quite low (7.5m is what we usually get conditioned, albeit by Monaghan CoCo), it's not going to be impossible. Louth CoCo, as far as I've dealt with them, really appreciate good design that takes the site into consideration and will actually let you get away with quite unusual and/or modern solutions if they're well thought out - find yourself a good architect (check the RIAI website for local ones) and you'll be flying! I'm not sure I'd go down the appeal route on this - you're looking at a minimum of 6 months and you'd need to put a good case together to stand a chance...you never know, if you submit a design they like on foot of your outline permission, they might be more flexible with the height? I'd definitely suggest taking a design into a pre-planning meeting before submitting anything and asking them what they think.

I'd also guess that quite a few of the 18 conditions are fairly standard, once you read through them - stuff like drainage and planting.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby publicrealm » Mon May 28, 2007 9:06 pm

unblinkered wrote:From experience, Louth CoCo don't allow 2 storey dwellings in rural areas much these days - they're quite happy with single storeys, dormer style or split levels, though. While 7m does seem quite low (7.5m is what we usually get conditioned, albeit by Monaghan CoCo), it's not going to be impossible. .


I'm inclined to agree - go with the flow and see if you can pick up another bit of height by using a good architect.

However you do have a very good case for appeal in my view - due to the obvious precedent beside you and the lack of any clear direction in the County Development Plan.

See Section 4.10 of the Plan (Design considerations for ‘one-off’ housing in the countryside) and check the provisions relating to your particular area.You should also check any local plan for your area - on the County Council website. http://www.louthcoco.ie/downloads/Reports/DevelopmentPlans/VLouth/Variations%20to%20County%20Development%20PlanV2.pdf

If a ridge height criterion is not listed then get the Planners Report on your case from the PA and see what grounds he advanced for his decision.

If the grounds are not stated (or not reasonable and unsupported by the Plan/s) then go for an Appeal. You would be lucky to get a result in 6 months the way things are going at present though.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby misterkwo » Tue May 29, 2007 2:02 pm

Thanks for the input folks.

I was seeing red as I posted that thread yesterday, but now that I have calmed down, I am actually looking forward to the challenge of designing a house that meets my needs as well as stisfying the LCC criteria.

However, as some of you agreed, the 7m ridge height restriction seems excessive and will limit how much of a 'free reign' I will have when designing.

I do not wish to appeal as I coundn't manage another 6 month delay, however, would I have a case if upon the approval application I matched, or at least, did not exceed the neighbouring ridge heights?

I am reluctant ot approach the planner (I know, I know...) to discuss the proposal, as what has happened previously is, I outline my propsals/wishes/requirements to the planner in a pre-planning meeting and she/he/it permits me to propose anything bar what I have outlined as my proposal - just, it seems, out of pure spite! I would actually wager that those reading this familiar with LCC planners, know exactly who I am talking about.

It is for this very reason that there should be planning ombudsman or the like.

If planners do not like the agent, they do not like the design. Simple as.

People say you should go to the senior executive planner if you are making no ground with the planner dealing with your case - but when have you ever seen anybody in a local authrity over-rule one of their own. God forbid.

House #1 - 2 storey with ridge height of 7700mm - built in 1999
House #2 - 2.5 storey with ridge height of 8300mm - built in 2005/6
Proposed dwelling between the above houses - Max Ridge 7m & max 1.5 storey!!!!!!!!!

What gives?

Reason: to protect visual amenity of the area

Can any planners out there let me know;

How much more of a visual impact does a house with a ridge height of 8m have over a house with a ridge height of 7m?????
How much more of a visual impact does a 2 storey house have over a 1.5 storey house?????

This "visual amenity" line given by planners, is far too vague, purely for the reason that, if challenged on it, they can just 'ryhme off' a list of alternative trivial items that they deem to unacceptable also.

It all depends on the planner, and unfortunately cetain portions of Co.Louth are far from blessed in that regard.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby henno » Tue May 29, 2007 2:29 pm

misterkwo wrote:It all depends on the planner, and unfortunately cetain portions of Co.Louth are far from blessed in that regard.


unfortunately, certain portions of the Country are far from blessed with good planners!!! :)

you will have a hard uphill struggle trying to convince either THAT planner or a predecessor that the restrition on the ridge height is excessive.. especially since it is now down in black and white on a planning permission....
they will argue that, if you have a problem with the condition you should appeal it to the Bord....
while it might be very easy to argue the point, i dont feel doing it in the context of a 'permission consquent' is the right road to go down..... you will straight away be in contravention of one of the conditions of the outline.... which in turns gives the planner an easy argument to refuse the high ridge.... if you were to push for a higher ridge i wouldnt go anymore than 500mm above the 7m mark.... plus you could always try to squeeze out a few more mm during the construction...(ground levels will change after all)...

personally the way i would go about this, if your dead cert on a full 2 storey, is to now apply for full permission,... youve been granted outline so all the usual issues have been deliberated and accepted eg, percolation, sightlines, housing need, etc....
an application for full permission would take the same length of time as a 'permission consequent' application....
this application should include a full topographical survey of the site, the important levels of the sites and dwellings adjoining, any hill top level or horizon level.... and from this information a 'ruralscape elevation' should be prepared, this should show the elevations of the three dwellings in full and in proportion....... existing and 'proposed' landscaping should be included to show the reduction of the visual impact of the proposed dwelling... a full detailed landscaping plan should be prepared by a qualified person with the brief to reduce visual impact (be prepared to pay anything from €1k to €1.5k for this).. and that should be included with the initial submission... dont leave it to a possible FI request.....

in going down this road, you would be making the strongest possible argument for your proposal (obviously the proposed ridge wont be over the existing ones....)....... and on giving the planner a full detailed rural scape elevation showing the actual visua impact, it should make it extremely hard for him to refuse it.....
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Re: Planners.......

Postby henno » Tue May 29, 2007 2:30 pm

oh, an one other piece of advise misterkwo..... do not listen to 'lay' people and their anecdotes regarding planners and planning........ they all have agendas and do not understand the processess...

EDIT sorry, just reading your post again.. surely your not thinking of designing your building yourself???
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Re: Planners.......

Postby misterkwo » Tue May 29, 2007 3:46 pm

Thanks Henno,

great advise-just recieved the same from both the planner (although whilst power-tripping, she/he still reckons she can refuse the new 'full' application) and an architect friend of mine.

Yes, I will be designing the building myself. Have several applications under my belt, although my own application is being by far the most troublesome. Although I will be designing the house, an architect friend of mine will be acting as agent, as certain people cannot comprehend how anybody other than an architect has 'the right' to design a building. I'm a qualified building surveyor working as a construction manager if that softens the blow any.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby unblinkered » Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

People say you should go to the senior executive planner if you are making no ground with the planner dealing with your case - but when have you ever seen anybody in a local authrity over-rule one of their own. God forbid.


It's been known to happen. But you need to have some *really* good arguments, balls of steel and possibly a tame politician. ;)

The problem with using your neighbouring houses as precedent, as I'm sure you realise, is that planning laws, local development plans and the way they're interpreted change all the time and that something which got permission previously wouldn't get planning now...so the argument of "my neighbours did X, so why can't I?" won't necessarily work. Submitting a good design and arguing for a bit more height on the grounds of *that* is probably the more diplomatic option.

Also, again something you probably already know, but I'd suggest taking a look at Cork CoCo's Rural Housing Guide - it'll give you an excellent idea of what the council are looking for and you can roll it out to support your design when you submit.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby The Willinator » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:46 pm

unblinkered wrote:
Also, again something you probably already know, but I'd suggest taking a look at Cork CoCo's Rural Housing Guide - it'll give you an excellent idea of what the council are looking for and you can roll it out to support your design when you submit.


Why does everyone refer to Cork CoCo rural house guidlines as the be all and end all of rural planning guidlines.

It is an excellent document that suits west cork but i live in Wicklow. Because the planners salivate over every utterance from this manual I am stuck with a 7m height restriction too.

There is no native house within 5 miles of my site that resembles anything akin to West Cork Rural house guidlines yet this is the standard i must adhere too. All the native houses in my area are natural stone, 2 story buildings. I will post pictures to the forum later.

Any thoughts from Architects?
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Re: Planners.......

Postby reddy » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:13 pm

Well the Cork Rural Housing Guide is a very good document and it ticks a lot of the boxes with regards encouraging proper orientation, siting and landscaping amongst many others. Many of the principals set down by these guidelines - simplicity of form and reinterpretation of the quiet character of Irish vernacular houses- are shared across much of the country.

To be honest if all houses built in the Irish countryside were covered by a document like this we might be better off!

However, every decision made in the design of your house should be derived from its context and can be argued as such. If you ground every argument in a clear, sensible rationale it can be demonstrated to the planners that your design is a sensitive, logical, and hopefully a beautiful interpretation of the architecture of the locality.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby sw101 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:29 pm

your sticking point appears to be their unwillingness to accept that the precedeceet by these taller houses means you should also get to build a tall house. ig that were the case then John would go 7200mm, David would go 7800mm but sqeeze 8100mm because who checks anyways, and you'd be entitled to go over 10metres because it's the trend of things.

the way it works, and rarely does, is that a bad decision to grant PP in the past does not mean bad PPs should be granted in the future. 7 metres with 1.5 storeys is adequate to design and build an excellent house.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby mrdarcy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:31 am

Louth also produced guidelines.
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Re: Planners.......

Postby mrdarcy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:32 am

Looks a dormer house, how did it go anyway?
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