Building stop notice issued at Kettering construction site as illegal extra floor added

The temporary stop notice was issued by North Northamptonshire Council

By Alison Bagley
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 5:34 am

A temporary stop notice has been issued to a construction company after it breached planning permission and began adding an extra floor to a Kettering apartment block.

Michigan Construction Ltd had been granted planning permission to develop the site next to the Prince of Wales public house in Job's Yard, managing to secure approval for a four-storey building for nine flats.

But builders started work to add a fifth floor - in a clear breach of the approval planning - leading to the stop notice being issued earlier this month.

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The Stop notice inset with the Job's Yard development

Michigan Construction Ltd has a base in Robinson Way, on the Telford Way Industrial Estate, Kettering, but the company office is registered in Towcester and is owned by a Marcus Fielding.

The notice states that the builder is: "To cease all the activity - construction activity associated with the building of a five-storey block of flats - other than limited work required to make this site safe," adding the reason for the notice being issued as "A fifth floor is being constructed unlawfully following the grant of planning permission under KT/2019/0908 which was for four storeys only."

Attached to the safety barriers in front of the building site, the notice had been signed on behalf of the executive director of place and economy for North Northants Council, George Chandler. The notice that took effect on August 2, 2021, will expire on Monday, August 30, 2021.

Planning permission for the Job's Yard development of nine apartments - six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom - had been granted after an appeal to the Government's Planning Inspectorate on January 26, 2021, overturning a decision made by the then Kettering Borough Council.

Plans were approved on appeal for a four-storey building

The planning permission appeal was granted for a four-storey apartment block with a stepped profile to set the upper storeys further from the adjacent buildings.

Concerns had been made previously by Kettering Civic Society on behalf of the Toller Church that the flats - to be built with no car parking spaces - in the Kettering Conservation Area would add traffic down the narrow Meeting Lane, and affect neighbours by blocking out light and affecting their privacy.

Despite objections, the Planning Inspectorate granted the appeal saying: "I find that the appeal proposal [the flats] would not harm the character and appearance of the area, including the setting of the Kettering Conservation Area, with particular regard to scale, mass and design.

"Furthermore, the appeal proposal would not impose any greater harm to the living conditions of neighbouring residential properties than the fall-back position that would be unacceptable. Consequently, there would be no conflicts with the development plan in these regards. There are no other matters before me that would indicate that the appeal should not succeed."

The apartment block is next door to The Prince of Wales pub in Job's Yard

Concluding: "For the reasons given, the appeal should be allowed, subject to the specified conditions."

In its response to the four-storey application, refused by Kettering Council's planning committee, Northants Fire and Rescue had voiced concerns as to the height of the building and the access route in an emergency.

It said: "The lane appears to be too narrow for a fire appliance and the top floor flat is outside of the 45m hose length - given that closest parking area is outside of Prince of Wales at best if no cars there."

Michigan Construction Ltd had already breached planning rules when work started illegally in 2018 on what was to be a retail unit and seven apartments in a three-storey building on the brownfield site after planning permission had lapsed.

How the four-storey apartment block was planned

An original planning application in 2008 for four shopping units and six one bedroom flats was approved. In 2012 the same application was approved again with changes to the number of retail units - now one shop and seven apartments.

In 2015, however, a change to the planning was refused when an application for 14 flats was asked for. Limited works had been undertaken on the site and subsequently Michigan Construction Ltd was advised to submit a fresh application for the site.

In the intervening period two alternative, and larger, applications were been submitted for the site and refused due to their scale and design which, it was feared, would result in overdevelopment of the site and overbearing impacts on surrounding development.

The company applied for retrospective planning permission. Due to time constraints the developer could not resolve all conditions that had been placed by the planning committee and an application to discharge conditions was refused on December 5, 2018, and therefore the permission lapsed.

When the developer restarted construction it applied for retrospective planning permission. At the meeting to decide the retrospective planning permission it was concluded that if the application was refused the Local Planning Authority 'would be obliged to take enforcement action' and that the planning had previously been 'acceptable'.

Adding that even though the start of building on the site was 'unlawful' and were not 'condoned', 'the applicant has been shown to be keen to regularise the situation'.

An artist's impression of the site - showing future developments

Concluding that "whilst the previous application (KET/2015/0580) has lapsed, this submission is the same as the previous approval and there have not been notable changes in planning policy since the previous approval that give rise to a different recommendation on the application compared to the council’s previous decision."

North Northamptonshire Council has been contacted for a comment.

Michigan Construction Ltd has also been contacted for a comment.

The extra storey can be seen