Sympathetic Development Matters!

At Fear Group we have specialised in obtaining planning approval for nearly 50 years.

For us it has always been about working with landowners, planning officers and, most importantly, the local community, to achieve a result which works for everyone.

As an example, in 2007 we started the process of designing a care home for the elderly on land that we owned in Bristol. This land was almost an acre but had a dreadful access up a narrow street full of Victorian family homes.

Although the land had existing permission for an Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre, we felt the 6,000 sq ft of existing buildings weren’t enough to create a specialist unit of this type. Allied to our concerns over the commercial viability of such a scheme, was the fact that the local community were dead set against such a facility being so close to their homes. Although NIMBY (not in my back yard) feelings can sometimes thwart development, on this occasion they could not, due to the fact that an existing use was in place.

Regardless of this however, we could see the residents’ point of view. After all, it is they that would have to live there post development, not us!

Following our tradition of involving the local community in what we are planning, we held a meeting in the local village hall which was attended by 153 people.

At first the residents were very hostile. They assumed that we would be confrontational and try what one of them called “developer bully boy tactics”, we knew that nothing could be further from the truth so we explained that rather than being confrontational, we understood their concerns and wanted to produce a development which everyone could be proud of and that included the local residents.

The planning officers were also quite hostile at first, saying that as our land was on a protected Common permission would be hard fought.

After much thought and the use of a good architect we came up with a plan that worked for everyone concerned, including the City Council who owned a specialist mental health unit next to our site.

They had a great access but their buildings were falling apart. The home housed six occupants who were all held securely under the mental health act. We owned a much larger site with derelict buildings on it but had a lousy access.

After several meetings with the Council, an agreement was reached where we blocked off our entrance through the residential road of houses described above and replaced it with access through the top of the site which came from a main arterial route into the city. That made the residents pretty happy I can tell you! For years they had lived with the possibility that a developer would use their street to access a large development.

Only by consulting and working with the local community, City Council and its planning officers, was the brilliant end result achieved.

Eventually we received planning approval for a 75 Bed Nursing Home which was subsequently let to Methodist Homes for The Aged for a period of 35 years.

A brand new, state of the art, secure specialist care home was also built for the six residents who had been housed in less than acceptable conditions prior to our involvement.

At the end of the day a superb result was achieved by professional but friendly negotiation with all concerned. Something that we at Fear Group are proud to call “our way of doing business” working with people instead of immediately threatening to go to appeal or being unnecessarily difficult.

Incidentally, a delegation of residents turned up at the planning meeting with TV cameras rolling outside and argued our case for the project to be given approval.

The above mini case study is just one of the many that we are proud of after nearly fifty years of working with local communities to achieve planning which benefits them as well as us.

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