All posts by Planning House

Forestry Workers Dwelling – Planning Success

Planning House are ecstatic to announce that Durham County Council Planning Committee overturned officer recommendation and approved planning permission for a rural workers dwelling in County Durham.

The benefits of the scheme shone through and we couldn’t be happier for our clients who run a forestry business.

It’s times like this that we love what we do and can see how much the approval means to our clients.  We worked with the clients for a number of months and because of the personal approach we adopt we are overjoyed to have supported them through the process – congratulations Janice & Justin at Howarth Raw Timber & Logs.

forestry workers dwelling approved

Proud sponsors of the Derwentside Reservoir Races 2019

Planning House were proud to sponsor the Derwentside Reservoir Trail Races 2019.  Take a look at photos from the event in out Photo Gallery.

We were super proud to have our very own Helen Heward representing Planning House along with her husband Adam and Chris Pipe, husband of Chris Pipe, Planning House Director (2 Chris’s confusing isn’t it!).

The results are in and Chris came an impressive 2nd in the men’s 5k race with a spectacular time of 22.13 (running at a pace of 7.37minute miles – WOW). Chris then went on to race in the 7 mile (after a 30 minute rest) and completed the race in a very respectable time of 1.03.13.

Helen completed the 5k race in an amazing time of 29.20 and Adam completed it in a remarkable time of 26.11.

Helen is over the moon with her medal which will be wearing to all future meetings!

Run Peterlee launched a 7 mile trail race around the multi-purpose track of the beautiful Derwent Reservoir, in 2018, the event expanded to include a 3 mile (5k) race. Both races took place on Sunday 2nd June 2019 in support of raising money for Water Aid.

A big thank you to David Ferguson, Chairperson of Run Peterlee and Commercial & Contracts Manager at Northumbrian Water Group who organised the event as Race Director and all the Run Peterlee volunteers who made the day a great success.

A massive thank you to all who took part.



Helen Heward Shortlisted for Rising Star Award 2019

Planning House are proud to announce that our very own Helen Heward has been shortlisted for the We are the City – 2019 Rising Star award in the Property, Construction & Facilities Management category, powered by The Times & The Sunday Times.

Helen now needs public votes of support. If you wish to show your support, please cast your VOTE in support of Helen. Voting closes on the 31 May 2019.

Winners will be announced at this years prestigious award’s ceremony on 03 July at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, in Mayfair, London. Winners will also be published on the Rising Star website on 04 July.

Good luck in the next round of judging, Helen!


Ask an Expert at Grand Design Live

Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House will be again be appearing at the London Grand Designs Live Event in May 2019.

We have FREE tickets for the event, please get in touch if you would like some.

Ask an Expert, is an opportunity not to be missed. Specialists including RIBA architects, interior designers, landscape gardeners, financial, planning and eco experts will be available to discuss your own grand design in FREE 30-minute consultations.

Bring your plans and drawings to get the most out of your session.

You can reserve your spot in advance via the Grand Designs Live website or on the day, on a first come first serve basis.


You can also pick up a copy of our Town Planning…The Basics for Self Builders at the event or you can download this or other topics for free from our website.

Extension to Biomass Facilty Approved

Planning House are pleased to announce that they have secured approval for an extension to the Biomass facility ran by SDS Inc Limited in Co. Durham.

SDS takes waste wood chippings from timber yards and uses them to produce electricity. The site has four turbines that are used to export the energy to the National Grid.

SDS also produces solid wood fuel briquettes, used in wood burning fires and stoves, which are a cheaper alternative to traditional seasoned hardwood.

The extension to the premises will assist in the growth of this sustainable business.

Planning success for local business

Planning House are delighted to announce that Retreat Hair & Beauty have secured planning permission to extend their premises in Hartlepool.

The recommendation was to refuse the planning application, based on the effect it would have on a neighbouring property (0.6m above the existing wall and 0.73m longer than contained within the Council guidance).  However, Hartlepool Borough Council Planning Committee overturned the recommendation and approved the application unanimously.

In support of the current application a letter from Hartlepool College was submitted which supported the extension and stated that the business has supported apprentices from the college for the past 7 years.  These apprentices have been heavily invested in by the business and retained as permanent members of staff following completion of the apprenticeship. This in essence is the reasoning behind the need to expand the business, without the extension it would be impossible to continue the support of the student due to limited space within the existing salon layout.

Planning House produced a comprehensive planning statement to accompany the application setting out the economic benefits, with Stuart Pinches (The Planman) producing the plans.

Retreat can now continue to support the college and continue to employ apprentices with additional treatment rooms.

Congratulations Retreat!

We’re Making a Splash!


Planning House are proud to sponsor the Derwent Reservoir Trail Race 2019,  sign up and we’ll see you there.

Date: Sunday 2nd June 2019
Location: Derwent Reservoir Visitors Centre and Shop,
Derwent Reservoir Edmundbyers,
Country Durham,
United Kingdom.

Starts: 5km starts 9am, 7 mile starts 10am
Distances: 5km or 7 mile
Entry Fee: £10 for 5km, £15 for 7 mile

Register Now    

In 2017, Run Peterlee launched a 7 mile trail race around the multi-purpose track of the beautiful Derwent Reservoir, in 2018, with a new improved visitors centre and car park, the event expanded to include a 3 mile (5k) race.  Both races return on Sunday 2nd June 2019.

Derwent Reservoir lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the border between County Durham and Northumberland, and, after Kielder Reservoir, is the second largest reservoir in the region. It supplies 28 million gallons (127 million litres) of water every day to the homes and industries of much of Wearside and South Tyneside.

Parking at the visitors centre (DH8 9TT), runners will warm up as they make their way up to the starting area at the dam, with magnificent views of the reservoir and the surrounding hills.

5K Trail Race – starts 09:00 – Starting from the dam, the 5K race will head to the left towards Pow Hill Visitors Centre, past South Shore. Turning at Pow Hill Visitor’s Centre the participants will run back to finish on the dam. Therefore, this is an out and back course.

7M Trail Race – starts at 10:00 – Starting from the dam, the 7M race will head to the left towards Pow Hill Visitors Centre, past South Shore. Turning at Pow Hill Visitor’s Centre the participants will run back toward the dam, then pass Cronkley Bay, Henry’s Plantation and The Meadow towards Millshield Picnic Area. Turning one more time the participants will run back to finish on the dam. Therefore, this is a double out and back course.

Fund Raising
If you’d like to help raise money for WaterAid you can set up a Just Giving page.  Everything we raise can really make a difference.


Design & Build Challenge at Hartlepool College

Helen Heward, Associate Planning Consultant at Planning House, was delighted to be involved in a ‘Design and Build Challenge’ at Hartlepool College organised by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) on Thursday 21st March.

NAWIC is an international organisation of women working within the construction industry which seeks to promote diversity and equality across the construction industry by organising events where members can meet and build relationships with other professionals in the industry.

The event was attended by Year 9 girls from schools across Hartlepool to highlight the opportunities available for girls within the construction industry and the wide range of courses available at Hartlepool College to support future careers.


The morning started with an introduction from John Cartwright, Head of Construction and Built Environment at the college followed by a short presentation from each of the women who had volunteered to assist with the morning. Speakers ranged from builders, joiners, electrical engineers, quantity surveyors and planners to an anthropologist who is studying the construction industry for an upcoming book.

Angela Carney who organised the event and is Head of Carney Construction was keen to impress upon the girls that women in the construction industry are massively under represented and they are as capable as men, so the construction industry should be viewed as an opportunity for the girls in the future.

Each speaker then assisted a table of girls with the design challenge which was to design a school or college building and build it out of Lego. Each design had to be fully costed, to a tight budget, include an element of fun and incorporate some form of renewable energy generation. The girls then presented the end product to the room and a vote was taken to decide the winning team.

Whilst team ‘Planning House’ didn’t win there were some fantastic design ideas including a forest school element to keep cost down and integrate the building into its environment.

To finish the event there was a question and answer session with the panel of speakers. Questions included what education speakers had undertaken, whether they liked their job and how much they got paid! The girls seemed genuinely surprised at the wide range of opportunities available to them and commented that the speakers “didn’t look how they expected women in the construction industry to look”.

It was a very positive event and Planning House were proud to support the event which encouraged girls to consider future careers in the industry and promoted gender equality and diversity across the construction industry.

Town Planning…how to find your way through it all

There’s a lot of advice available regarding Town Planning, thousands of pages dedicated to what can be perceived as red tape but with a lot of jargon and confusing details. In general, they don’t tend to cover what you need to know in simple terms. This article for Wynyard Matters has been written by Helen Heward Associate at Planning House (& Wynyard Resident) to provide valuable information in order for people to be better informed about the planning process without being bogged down by unnecessary waffle.

Town planning can be seen as ‘red tape’ however it is what controls how we build our neighbourhoods, it sets guidelines to make sure developments do not have adverse effects on their surroundings. It also protects listed buildings – buildings that we have deemed important to heritage, culture and history. Basically, it seeks to manage development to minimise impact.

The National Planning Policy Framework, with supporting Planning Practice Guidance provides guidance for how Local Plans should be made and how planning decisions should be taken.

The planning function is controlled by different bodies at varying levels dependant on where you are. Town planning is mostly handled by local government. Typically, local government has three tiers:

  • County Councils;
  • District, Borough and City Councils;
  • Parish and Town Councils. Applications and all planning matters are handled by the relevant Local Planning Authority, for Wynyard this is either Stockton or Hartlepool Council depending on your location.

The process of a planning application is relatively simple it’s the potential issues involved which sometimes aren’t. Once an application is submitted, it goes through a validation process whereby the Local Authority ensures all the required information accompanies the application and plans are accurate. Then the process of consultation is carried out where neighbours and various Council departments and external bodies, such as the Environment Agency or Highways England are notified and given a minimum of 21 days to respond. For some applications, depending on the type of development, site and press notices are posted which you may have seen on lampposts.

Planning applications must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material planning considerations indicate otherwise. The Local Authority have set timeframes in which they should determine applications, for instance; 8 weeks to determine minor applications, such as an extension to a home or 13-16 weeks for major applications. However, these timeframes can be extended with or without the agreement of the applicant. Often however are agreed where amended plans are submitted or additional information is required and further consultation is needed.

Decisions on planning applications can be made either under delegated powers, which means that Planning Officers make a recommendation and it is signed off by a Team Leader or Manager, or by Planning Committee. Planning Committees are made up of elected members (Ward Councillors) from across the Borough who assess planning applications in public meetings and vote to determine the application. These decisions are informed by a Planning Officer report, members can, and sometimes do, go against officer recommendation and this is their democratic right.

If your application is refused don’t despair, there is a statutory right to appeal against refusals of planning applications or if unacceptable conditions are imposed, however this is only open to the applicant. An appeal can also be lodged if the Local Authority do not determine the application within the agreed time. Be aware that there is no third party right of appeal, this means that an objector cannot appeal against an approval. Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State and determined by Planning Inspectors who are independent from the Local Planning Authority.

Following the grant of planning permission an applicant may have conditions that they have to comply with. It’s essential to know what conditions are attached, what they cover and how they can be complied with. In some cases, a further application may be required to be submitted with additional information to formally discharge a condition. This could be anything from drainage details or details of external materials for a new house or extension up to details of landscaping, play areas or car parking for a larger development. Not discharging or adhering to planning conditions means the applicant is in breach of their planning condition and enforcement action could be progressed by the Local Authority. A Breach of Condition Notice could be served which would require compliance to the condition. However, breaching a pre-commencement condition (a condition which prevents a start on site until a condition has been adhered to), could render your whole permission as null and void.

Planning conditions cannot be imposed to secure financial contributions or relate to land outside of the application site boundary. Sometimes a decision can be subject to a legal agreement, often referred to as a section 106 agreement. These agreements often, but not always, secure financial contributions towards works in order to make a scheme acceptable. For example, housing developments may be required to contribute towards provision or improvements to cycle links, highway works or sports facilities.

Prior to a planning application both Stockton and Hartlepool Borough Council operate a pre-application enquiry service where you can ask for planning advice regarding a proposed development, some Council’s charge for this service. There are many benefits to engaging with the Local Authority before submitting an application, for example if an issue is identified early this can give an opportunity for amendments to be made to overcome any problems at formal application stage, ultimately avoid delays and wasted expense.

Town Planning is not rocket science, to help you know the basics of town planning, Planning House have prepared eBooklets covering just that, the Basics. If you want to look further into a particular topic more information can be found online very easily. These resources have been prepared as an easy read starting point, free of charge, no email collection before you can download and no sign up to a newsletter – no strings attached! All you need to do is go to the Planning House website, click the eBooklet and read it. Alternatively, should you wish to speak with a planning consultant please get in touch.

Women in Planning North East Launch

Planning House were proud to sponsor, along with Kings Chambers the launch of the North East branch of Women in Planning, organised and chaired by our very own Helen Heward. The wonderful Laurence Sweeney took some beautiful photographs which can be viewed in our Photo Gallery.

Women in Planning is an independent network with the aim of promoting a diverse and inclusive planning industry. The network has a clear vision to inspire women to feel empowered and be successful with the overall aim of promoting gender equality. Whilst the network is women led it is not exclusionary, both women and men are encouraged to get involved and work towards a common goal of increasing diversity and championing gender equality across the planning industry.

Women in Planning North East Launched on Thursday 7th February at The Botanist in Newcastle. The event was attended by over 70 people, both men and women, who enjoyed a Masons gin and tonic on arrival followed by drinks and nibbles. The atmosphere was amazing and there was a definite buzz of excitement in the air.
Speeches were made by Helen as the Chair of the North East branch, who spoke about her reasons for setting up the branch and the need for people to unite to bring about equality in the region. Alison Mackay, one of the founding members of Women in Planning in 2012, spoke about why the network was originally set up and the success it has enjoyed, and Sarah Reid, a Barrister at Kings Chambers spoke about the need to inspire and encourage women and the role that the network has to play in order to address the gender imbalance across the industry.

The next step for the North East branch is to set up a committee and then start work on the next event. It is a really exciting time to get involved, as those involved at this stage can be influential in shaping the network going forward. There seemed to be a definite feel from attendees that short CPD events held in the form of interactive breakfast seminars and post work social events such as a pub quiz or cocktail making class would be well received so those are already on the ‘To do’ list.

Mentoring was also high on the priority list for attendees particularly the wonderful planning students who joined us on the evening and are just starting in their planning career.

If anyone would like to get involved in any aspect of the network, either on the committee or as a mentor please email and to find out more about upcoming events sign up to the Mailing List.

More information about who we are and the vision of the network can be found on the Women in Planning Website.