Victory as small business given go-ahead

A local resident wanting to start a small business near Bath is celebrating victory following a long running battle with B&NES Council planners.

At a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Development Control Committee last Wednesday, 28th August, local resident Erika Hayward was finally granted permission to run a Physiotherapy businesses from her home in Bathampton.

The decision by councillors to approve the application comes despite a recommendation to refuse by the Council’s planning officers on the grounds of lack of public transport.  Councillors ultimately voted unanimously in favour of the application.

The approval has been described as a ‘victory for common sense’ by local councillor Geoff Ward, who has been supporting the resident’s planning application, and welcomed by Councillor Martin Veal, who sits on the planning committee which approved the application.

Cllr Geoff Ward (Cons, Bathavon North) spoke in support of the application at the planning meeting.  He said:

“I’m delighted with this outcome and was really pleased I was able to support Erika in this application.  It marks a victory for common sense and sets a new and important precedent in B&NES which should make it easier for people to start small rural businesses.

“Erika was told she needed to apply for planning permission to establish this business over six months ago, so it’s a shame we could not have seen this resolved sooner.  Unfortunately, planning officers continually advised that the application should be turned down based on an arbitrary reading of a local planning policy which prioritises use of public transport.  However, we successfully argued that the traffic impact of such a small business would be negligible and that the economic benefits should be given greater weight, as stated in the Government’s new Planning Policy Framework.”

Cllr Martin Veal (Cons, Bathavon North), who sat on the planning committee which approved the application, said:

“It was abundantly clear that this application should be granted permission, and in fact councillors on the planning committee were critical that it ever got to this stage, unnecessarily wasting officer and councillor time.  I believe our decision was not just about this particular application, but about supporting small and rural businesses in general.  In a struggling economy it’s vital that we make it as easy as possible for people to start a small business or become self employed. I therefore believe the Council should draw up a Supplementary Planning Document which gives planning officers new guidance on when to approve rural and small business applications.”