[Bell Historians] Hanley Stoke on Trent

Peter Rivet peter at 6L8hXAQ5mS0f38slMOeeMMKVd6eVRPpS2gi-chwVAA-Zf06eVcGcHIFxQAnn6nDiuI2LdNapRhMdl4hq5FeHHQ.yahoo.invalid
Thu Oct 15 21:26:00 BST 2009

The decision by Stoke-on-Trent City Council is disappointing but it's a
matter of interpreting PPG15 (and whatever it says in the policy set out in
the Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Structure Plan 1996-2011, which I haven't
looked through) rather than conflicting with it.  PPG15 contains no hard and
fast advice about leaving church bells and organs in redundant churches.

I think something which will have weighed heavily here with the planning
officer is the War Memorial argument.  The number of letters arguing for and
against the application isn't the main consideration; it's what they say.

Yes, the applicant can appeal, and the obvious grounds would be that the
local planning authority have reached the wrong decision in that the bells
will no longer contribute anything to the building once its new use has
commenced.  Para 3.8 of PPG15 says that "Generally the best way of securing
the future of historic buildings and areas is to keep them in active use..."
There is no obvious reason why this shouldn't apply to artefacts as well.
Obviously it would be prudent to try to negotiate with the local planning
authority before putting in an appeal but it sounds as if the Conservation
Officer has already reached his own conclusions.

For those who haven't been involved in planning appeals before, it's worth
pointing out that the costs needn't be very great.  It depends which of
three routes is taken through the system:

1. Written representations - this is how the vast majority of planning (and
most listed building) appeals are dealt with.  The appellant puts in a
statement saying why permission should have been granted, and the local
planning authority puts in one saying why it was refused.  Third parties can
also put in further representations.  A Planning Inspector, who in this case
would be somebody with a historic buildings as well as a planning
background, will read these and all the material considered with the
original application.  The Inspector will then come and have a look at the
site, accompanied by somebody from each side so that they can point out all
the things they have referred to in their statements.  They are not allowed
to conduct an argument on site; the inspection is for that purpose alone.
The Inspector will then go away and reach a decision.  This procedure is
cheap and relatively quick, but it doesn't allow an opportunity for you to
argue with each other's expert witnesses.

2. A Hearing - this procedure is often used where there are a number of
members of the public and representatives of other bodies want to give
evidence.  It takes the form of a discussion led by the Inspector, who
having read each side's evidence will prepare his own agenda setting out
what he believes to be the key issues to be decided.  It is not a court of
law, or anything like it; you do not take along legal representation.  At
the end of the hearing the Inspector will conduct a site visit, on exactly
the same basis as for a written reps case.

3. A Public Inquiry - used for only a small number of planning appeals, but
as they usually involve high profile cases - supermarkets, airport
extensions, gypsy sites - this is the version that people tend to have heard
of.  This is the expensive option, as it involves using barristers and it
functions much like a court of law.  Frankly I would regard it as over the
top for an appeal involving something of this nature.  Either side can
demand a public inquiry but it is unlikely that the local authority would.
Public inquiries take up a lot of the planning officer's time, and
barristers don't come cheap.

Generally speaking both sides are expected to bear their own costs.  If one
side or the other behaves unreasonably (failing to provide any evidence in
support of their arguments, or putting in extra evidence at the last minute)
it is possible for their opponents to put in a claim for costs; but this
doesn't happen in the majority of cases.

It should be added that the Inspector's decision is final - unless you
believe that it's flawed because it has misinterpreted a point of law.
Getting involved in legal challenges is expensive, and is not recommended!

I hope this is some help.

Peter Rivet

  -----Original Message-----
  From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
[mailto:bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of John H Allen
  Sent: 15 October 2009 14:48
  To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
  Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Hanley Stoke on Trent

  This is my take on the situation:-

  The question has been asked whether the LB Application was adequately
prepared. Look on the Stoke CC link and click on the Documents tab and make
up your own mind.

  Can an Appeal be lodged? The answer is yes but only by the Applicant
(Under Section 20 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas)
Act 1990, only the applicant can appeal a decision). What would be the
Grounds for Appeal? The Applicant would have to meet all costs. Would the
Planning Inspector go against advice contained in PPG 15?

  Robert Lewis asks what happens next. On the assumption that no Appeal is
lodged and won, the bells will stay in the church and will pass with the
ownership of the church. Any future removal would be subject to Listed
Building Consent (unlikely) and subject to the Directions of the Bishop of
Lichfield. The bells will be entombed in the church, rather like the
situation at Christ Church Oldbury where the installation of a concrete
reinforced floor under the bells, under which is air conditioning plant,
means that the only realistic method of removal is through the tower roof or
through the louvres. All this would be subject to the necessary consents.



  From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
[mailto:bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robert Lewis
  Sent: Wednesday 14 October 2009 23:18
  To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
  Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Hanley Stoke on Trent

  At 22:38 14/10/2009, John wrote:

    Earlier today, Stoke on Trent City Council refused Listed Building
Consent to remove the 10 G & J bells as the first step towards a transfer to
Stone Staffs.

  That is an unfortunate set-back.  What is the plan now?


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