Further knock-back for Sunderland nursery as plans dismissed again by planning inspector at appeal

A council ruling blocking plans for a children’s day nursery on Wearside has been upheld for a second time by a Government planning inspector.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 10:38 am

Proposals for the building, on the junction of Ryhope Road and Villette Road, included a nursery business looking after dozens of children.

At a planning hearing in October 2019, councillors voted against the advice of their own planning officers to refuse the plans – citing potential traffic, noise and parking issues.

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Proposals for the building, on the junction of Ryhope Road and Villette Road, included a nursery business looking after dozens of children.

Although an appeal was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate contesting the planning decision, this was dismissed by Government-appointed planning inspector David Cross in 2020.

A second attempt to secure planning permission for the change of use included a revised application with a new noise survey and plans for a traffic regulation order (TRO).

Despite a recommendation to approve from council planning officers, the council’s area Planning and Highways Committee voted unanimously to reject the resubmitted plans in February 2021.

At the time, some councillors were concerned about the notion of introducing parking and travel restrictions to facilitate a planning application, rather than addressing an existing problem.

In the latest twist in the planning saga, an appeal against the second planning bid for Rowlandson House has been dismissed by a separate planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.

In a decision report published on August 26 2021, planning inspector A M Nilsson upheld the council’s decision to refuse the change of use.

Issues outlined in the report included the living conditions of occupants of nearby residential properties with regard to noise, disturbance and parking and the issue of highway safety.

Although the planning inspector was satisfied that there was now “robust evidence” from the appellant related to noise and disturbance issues and that highway safety was acceptable, concerns were raised about increased parking in a rear lane.

This included unrestricted parking during pick-up and drop-off times which, the planning inspector said, “would have the potential to restrict access to nearby residential properties, causing disturbance and harm to living conditions.”

The planning inspector also noted that a traffic regulation order was needed to make the plans acceptable, but that bringing it forward involved a separate legal process from the planning permission – which could not be pre-determined.

In the absence of an “appropriate mechanism to implement the TRO,” the planning inspector was unable to support the planning appeal and dismissed it.

The decision report reads: “I acknowledge the benefits of the development that have been put forward.

“These include economic and social benefits due to employment creation and the provision of a service for use by the community.

“I also recognise that the proposed development would bring a vacant building into use and be in an accessible location.

“Whilst collectively, these benefits are of significant weight, they do not outweigh the harm I have identified would be caused in light of the absence of an appropriate mechanism to implement the TRO which I have found to be necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms.”

The report’s conclusion adds: “Although I have found that the proposed development would not harm highway safety, in view of the lack of an appropriate mechanism to secure the delivery and implementation of the TRO, which I have found to be necessary, I am unable to conclude that there would not be unacceptable harm to the living conditions of occupants of nearby residential properties.”

The full appeal decision report can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website here www.gov.uk/planning-inspectorate by searching reference: APP/J4525/W/21/3269107

While an application for costs against Sunderland City Council has been made by the appellant, the inspector’s report states this is “the subject of a separate decision.”

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