Planning officers failed to recognise that the application included a change of use from “B1” (offices). That’s because the owners (Opticrealm) had obtained a planning permission for B1 use previously and had begun to implement it. They began some nominal works (a short trench was dug) but more significantly, Opticrealm had made an “on commencement” S106 payment to the Council. This was done seemingly to avoid an existing 3 year permission expiring because that would have taken Opticrealm back to scratch.
The reason this is significant is because change of use requires a better deal compared with permission merely to build. Many planning applications require two permissions – to change the established use and to erect whatever the applicant has designed. Without change of use permission being required the threshold required by a developer is a little lower than if they they are just erecting a building.
Everyone makes mistakes etc but this is frustrating. It does give the council a bit more leverage though. Will hopefully come back to the committee in the next few weeks.