Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 9)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:

 

Item No

Applicant

Parish

Page No

1

Lifestyle Living Group

Watton

14 - 20

2

Wright’s Attleborough Ltd

Attleborough

21 - 25

3

Thetford Town Council

Croxton

26 - 32

4

William H Brown

Dereham

33 - 36

5

Mrs J Syrett

Attleborough

37 - 40

 

Minutes:

RESOVED that the applications be determined as follows:

 

a)         Item 1: WATTON: Redhill Mobile Homes Park, Town Green Road, Redhill Lane: Extension to Mobile Home Park: Applicant: Lifestyle Living Group: Reference: 3PL/2013/1054/F

 

All Members had received direct representation.

 

This application proposed an additional 54 mobile homes in a similar form to the existing 96.  In planning terms, mobile homes counted as dwellings.  Although the Council had a housing land supply shortage, the application was not considered sustainable: the access road was in poor condition; motor vehicles would be needed; and no affordable housing provision had been offered.  There was a strong highways objection and negotiations to address that had resulted in a variety of plans.  The latest included a footpath closer to the site but the landowner had not agreed to that.  The required flood risk assessment had not been submitted.

 

Councillor Gilbert (Ward Rep) thanked Officers for keeping the local Members well informed about the application.  He knew the site well but thought that it was already big enough.  It was outside the Settlement Boundary and the road network was totally inadequate.  He did not believe that the proposed footpath would decrease vehicle movements as it was a long walk to town and back.

 

Councillor Rogers (for the Town Council) said they were in favour of the development.  The footpath would allow residents to walk safely into the town.  The additional entrance would improve access for emergency vehicles.  The church would benefit from a new wall and the £50,000 offered to the Town Council would enable the development of play areas for youngsters in the town.

 

Mr Lincoln (Objector) had lived nearby for 42 years.  He used the road regularly and there was not room for two cars to pass.  Parked cars and delivery vehicles impeded progress as well as pedestrians.  Weddings and funerals at the church made the problem worse.  Sometimes the ditch smelled of sewage and the bridleway flooded.  It was a well maintained site but the entrance was not clearly marked and was near a dangerous bend in the road.

 

Mr Campbell (Agent) pointed out an error on the layout plan presented to Members.  A revised plan was shown which had an area of Open Space in the middle together with visitor parking provision.  The original application had been for 58 additional mobile homes and that had been reduced to 54 to provide those changes.  The total number of homes would be dependent upon the site licence.

 

Mr Campbell went on to say that the site was a retirement site and the amount of people using cars was substantially lower than other types of residential development.  There was no policy for mobile homes in the LDF therefore there was a presumption in favour of the development due to the housing land shortage.  The proposal should be determined on its merits.  The extension would make a successful site more sustainable.  The £50,000 contribution was confirmed as well as the Open Space provision.  Negotiations were continuing with the landowner to provide a footpath.  The flood risk was no different to the current site.

 

The Chairman noted that the Highways representative was present to answer questions.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Carter it was confirmed that the initial permission had been before the requirement for an affordable housing contribution but the current application would be treated as any other and the Housing Enabling Officer wanted a contribution.

 

Councillor Armes thought that most people would use cars and therefore the road should be upgraded, but it was pointed out that only an upgrade to the footpath was proposed.

 

Councillor Duigan asked whether the footpath would be of sufficient standard to be used by motorised scooters and the Highways representative responded that it was unlikely to be wide enough.  He pointed out that some mobility vehicles were required to use the road.

 

Further comments were made about the need for a flood risk assessment, the lack of an on-site shop and open space being needed for visiting children.

 

Refused, as recommended.

 

b)         Item 2: ATTLEBOROUGH: London Road (Benbree and land adjacent Westcroft): Demolition of Benbree and erection of 4 No dwelling houses: Applicant: Wright’s Attleborough Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2013/1084/F

 

Councillor North made a declaration for clarity (See Minute No 15/14).

 

This application proposed four houses on former garden land, part of which already had permission for one dwelling.  It was confirmed that the applicants were willing to provide a contribution for Open Space and affordable housing.  Officers had concerns about the type and size of dwellings proposed as they did not feel that the scale and style reflected the character of the area.

 

Councillor Pettitt spoke as Ward Rep and for the Town Council.  They supported the application which they said was well thought out and attractive and would enhance the street scene.  The layout would help to eliminate on-street parking as a turning space was provided.

 

Mr Barbuk (Agent) said that the layout had been carefully planned to ensure that amenity was not compromised and to avoid any overlooking.  It was appropriate to develop the wide and deep site to a reasonable density.  Minor detailing could be dealt with by conditions or amendments.

 

Councillor Spencer did not consider that the designs sat well with the Edwardian houses in the Conservation Area opposite.  She asked about the affordable housing contribution and was advised that a financial contribution had been offered in lieu of on-site provision.

 

Councillor Chapman-Allen was concerned about water displacement following site clearance, but it was confirmed that the well defined hedgerow to the rear boundary had been retained.

 

Councillor Carter was surprised at the descriptions used about the proposed dwellings and said they were the sort of houses that people aspired to.  They appeared well constructed and well presented and he liked them.  Councillor Joel agreed but was concerned about the overlooking of gardens.  It was pointed out that there was no issue due to the distances involved.

 

After further discussion about the design and clarification of the sash windows, Members were minded to approve the application.  In that case the Planning Manager asked them to consider restricting Permitted Development Rights.

 

The recommendation of refusal was not supported.

 

Deferred, and the officers authorised to grant approval, subject to conditions including a restriction on permitted development, on completion of a section 106 agreement.

 

c)         Item 3: CROXTON: Off Croxton Road: Erection of concrete skate park with associated lighting & fencing, access from Joe Blunts Lane: Applicant: Thetford Town Council: Reference: 3PL/2013/1108/F

 

See Minute No 15/14 for declarations.

 

Councillor Kybird asked why the Town Council members of the Committee could not vote when they were allowed to vote on applications submitted by Breckland Council.  The Solicitor explained that the Committee had to be able to make a decision on the Council’s own applications.

 

This application was presented as a complicated and contentious proposal for a skate park on the outskirts of Thetford, within Croxton Parish, adjacent to the Thetford Academy.

 

Litter bins and seating shown on the indicative plan were not proposed in the Management Plan.

 

The distance to neighbouring properties was shown.  It was 180metres to the nearest dwelling.  The land sloped down to the skate park which would screen it from view but also cause a lack of surveillance.

 

Additional information had been provided on page 76 of the Agenda Supplement.

 

Planning permission had previously been granted for a skate park at the Leisure Centre site, that land was no longer available.  A number of alternative sites had also been explored.  It was clarified that the skate park would not be part of the Academy which already had lots of facilities for community use. 

 

The lack of surveillance was a concern and CCTV would assist, but was not included in the details of the application.  Key concerns were the safety of users; access arrangements and impact on the Academy.  Currently it was proposed to access the park from Joe Blunts Lane only.  The Lane was identified in the Local Plan as a potential cycle link but was currently only a footpath.

 

Councillor Kybird (Ward Rep) was also a member of the Moving Thetford Forward Board.  He noted that the objections to the use of Joe Blunts Lane on grounds of light and noise were not supported by the Environmental Health Officer and under Policy TH11 the owner was required to agree to an upgrade of the path.  The previous Principal of the Academy had been wholly supportive of the proposal which had considerable support from the Thetford community.  25% of the population was under 16 and a healthier lifestyle was a good thing for Thetford.  The skate park would form part of the Urban Extension.

 

Mr King (Croxton Parish Council) had no objection to a skate park but thought it was an inappropriate location with a lack of emergency access and surveillance.  It would be unsuitable for family type use and might lead to unsociable behaviour.  The Planning Officer, Police, Highways Officers and Academy Head had the same concerns.  The previous site at the Leisure Centre had been far more suitable as well as being more central.  To ensure maximum value for money it should be in a better location.

 

Mr Andrew (Objector) said it was clear that the youths of Thetford wanted a skate park but this was the wrong location.  The Headteacher thought it would have a detrimental impact on the Academy.  It would be more appropriate to build it to the south of the town to revitalise that area.

 

Ms Fulford (Town Council) said that the previous planning application land was no longer available.  They were willing to work with Croxton Parish Council.  There had been a change in leadership at the Academy and they had worked hard to overcome concerns.  They now had agreement for construction traffic to access the site from the car park and would be happy to extend the CCTV system. They were in consultation with the Joe Blunts Lane landowner to allow cyclists and were also looking at providing a path alongside the car park for access.  17 sites had been investigated.  This was not near residential development.  She asked Members to give permission subject to access details and they would take a partnership working approach to make it work.

 

Councillor Childerhouse (Ward Rep) said there were a number of unresolved issues and concerns.  There was a strong desire for a skate park but not on this site.  It should be centrally located, accessible for all and safe with no conflict with neighbouring uses.  Many considered the access inappropriate and the park not safe.  It was a long distance from the town centre and the south of the town had less facilities.  The Council should not support a project that was detrimental to the Academy’s aims.  In view of the objections raised he urged the Committee to carry out a site visit to see why there were concerns.

 

The Chairman advised Members that the Thetford Growth Programme Manager was present to answer any questions.

 

Councillor Spencer read a statement.  She said that the skate park provision was a priority for Moving Thetford Forward.  They had worked with the Town Council to see it through and they had negotiated with the Academy for over six months.  The work by the Town Council should be applauded.  An alternative access should be looked for but the proposal had huge support.

 

Councillor Claussen said there were too many things that he could not understand, including the effect on the Academy.  Five years ago young men had asked the Council to support the skate park and at the current rate they would be old men before it was provided.  He proposed that the Committee attended a site visit to see for themselves and to put them in a better position to make a decision.  That proposal was seconded by Councillor Chapman-Allen and supported by Members.

 

The site visit should be unaccompanied and for Officers and Committee Members only.

 

Councillor Lamb knew the area well as he had lived overlooking it for 30 years.  The whole area was part of the Thetford Area Action Plan and would be covered by houses so he could not understand the landscape objections.  He asked Members to bear that in mind when they visited it.

 

For a point of clarity, Councillor Childerhouse asked if it was appropriate for Committee members that were also Thetford Town Councillors to attend the Site Visit.  The Solicitor confirmed that it was.

 

In response to a question about whether Ward Representatives could attend the Planning Manager made clear that it would be a fact finding visit by the Committee which should be carried out the same way as a Planning Inspector’s site visit with no questions on site.  The purpose of the site visit was to establish the facts, nothing more or less.

 

Deferred, for a Site Visit.

 

d)         Item 4: DEREHAM: 4a Market Place: Change of use (A1 to A2): Applicant: William H Brown: Reference: 3PL/2013/1177/CU

 

This application sought the change of use of an existing knitting shop (A1) to provide room to extend the adjacent Estate Agents (A2).  The extension would provide a level access entrance to the Estate Agents.  The applicant was not willing to market the property for A1 use (as required by the Council’s policies) as there were currently 24 empty properties in the Town Centre and a number of charity shops.  Policy DC9 allowed the change providing it did not increase other ‘A’ uses above 25% in the Primary Shop Front Area.  If approved, the change would increase the percentage to 50%.

 

Mr Evans (Agent) clarified that the Estate Agent’s premises did have internal access to the toilets whereas the Knitting Shop staff had to exit the building and re-enter through another door to access them.  The extension would be easily linked by the creation of two internal doors which would allow the expansion of the letting and new homes business.  Refusal could put jobs at risk if relocation was needed.  The marketing campaign would mean the landlord would lose 12 months rent.  The shop was hindered by the market stalls in front of it on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 

Councillor Duigan read out a letter he had received from the previous occupant of the premises opposite who supported the application saying that the applicant had been in business in the town for over 70 years and that there were no other suitable premises in the town.

 

Councillor Carter agreed and said it was an established business seeking to develop itself and would be a useful addition and welcome in the town.

 

The recommendation for refusal was not supported.

 

Approved, contrary to the recommendation, on the grounds that it was a natural extension to a long established premises and would provide disabled access.

 

e)     Item 5: ATTLEBOROUGH: Land opposite Old Hall Farm Barn: Erection of a 2 bedroom agricultural dwelling: Applicant: Mrs J Syrett: Reference: 3PL/2014/0009/O

 

This was the resubmission of an application which had been refused in July 2013 for failure to demonstrate need.  Part of the reason for refusal had been the lack of a financial contribution, but a Unilateral Undertaking had been received that morning so that reason for refusal could be removed.

 

Currently the arable side of the business was run by the applicant and her son managed the Heavy Horse side of the enterprise.  However, he was often away attending equine events or teaching.  The case for the dwelling was based on the need for on-site security and welfare of the horses and the agricultural equipment.  The NPPF was clear that a dwelling could be allowed if an essential need was established but that evidence had not been provided.

 

Mrs Hocking (for Applicant) said that security was needed due to the value of the livestock and machinery.  People often drove into the yard and currently Mrs Syrett had to cover when her son was away.  A house swap had been suggested but might increase the number of journeys.  There was no room for an annex due to existing buildings all used for the business.

 

Councillor Stasiak (Ward Rep) said that the application had the support of Attleborough Town Council and Besthorpe Parish Council.  It was a family farming business and there was a need.  The initial application had not raised a Highways objection.

 

Councillor Martin (Ward Rep) said each application should be taken on its own merits.  This was a small hamlet away from the town which could accept an addition.  He asked Members to support the proposal on security grounds.

 

Councillor Chapman-Allen noted that the Suffolk Punch was listed as a critically endangered species.  They were expensive and valuable and security was paramount.  She thought the application should be supported with the right restrictions on the use of the accommodation.

 

Councillor Lamb agreed.  He did not usually support applications outside the Settlement Boundary, but thought that this application had a good reason and should be granted.

 

Councillor Carter came from a farming background and was aware of the need for security.  He noted that the applicant, Mrs Syrett, might need help to manage the large horses over time.

 

Councillor North advised that there had been only three reported crimes in the Attleborough area in the last three months.  She also advised that the refusal of a similar application had been upheld on appeal.

 

The Planning Manager thought there was a case to be made as the horses were rare and very large and care was needed, but no case had been made.  The Applicant should get an independent report to support her application.  The Committee wanted to support applications from the farming community but the Applicant was expected to provide better grounds.

 

Councillor Joel thought that security was a good enough reason to grant permission for the dwelling with an agricultural tie.

 

Councillor Chapman-Allen proposed that the application be deferred to allow the Applicant to provide more substantial information.  Councillor Carter seconded that proposal.

 

Mr Hickman-Smith (Agent) said that they would have provided more information if they had been advised that they needed to.

 

Deferred, for further supporting information.

 

Notes to the Schedule

Item No

Speaker

Deferred Report

Agenda Item 8a

Mr Read – Objector

Mr Thompson - Applicant

1

Cllr Gilbert – Ward Representative

Cllr Rogers – Town Council

Mr Lincoln – Objector

Mr Campbell - Agent

2

Cllr Pettitt – Ward Representative

Mr Wright – Applicant

Mr Barbuk - Agent

3

Cllr Childerhouse – Ward Representative

Cllr Kybird – Ward Representative

Mr King – Croxton Parish Council

Miss Fulford – for Applicants

Mr Howard – for Applicants

4

Mr Evans - Agent

5

Cllr Stasiak – Ward Representative

Cllr Martin – Ward Representative

Mr Hickman-Smith – Agent

Ms Hocking – for Applicant

 

Written Representations taken into Account

Reference No

No of Representations

3PL/2013/1108/O

68

3PL/2013/1084/F

3

3PL/2014/0009/O

1

3PL/2013/1045/O

6

 

Supporting documents: