Monday, 30 March 2015

Planning permission needed to knock down buildings

Developers will have to gain planning permission before demolishing buildings after a judgement in the Court of Appeal last week.

The case between campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage and communities secretary Eric Pickles arose after Lancaster Council authorised the demolition of the historic Mitchell’s Brewery building without prior permission.

Although the brewery has since been listed, the campaign group’s legal team continued with the case, seeking a landmark ruling following an initial defeat in the High Court last year.

The result of the judgment is to bring all demolitions into the scope of a European directive for the first time. This governs the environmental effects of building projects and other schemes and interventions in the environment.

Previously, the secretary of state had maintained that demolition in itself fell outside this directive, but now any proposed demolition which is considered to have significant effects on the environment will be subject to the environmental impact assessment process.

The Court of Appeal ruled that most of the secretary of state’s ‘demolition direction’, which exempts demolition from planning control, was unlawful.

The ruling will have widespread implications for planning authorities, particularly for proposed demolitions in Pathfinder areas.

Marcus Binney, president of Save Britain’s Heritage, said: ‘For 35 years Save has challenged the waste involved in the demolition, year on year, of tens of thousands of soundly built houses which could often be renovated for a fraction of the cost of compulsory purchase, demolition and rebuilding.

‘The appeal court judgment is of vast significance as it will help to put a brake on the cruel practice of evicting residents and flattening houses before any decision has been made about the future of the site.’

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