Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 10)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:


Item No



Page No


Hopkins Homes Limited

Swanton Morley




South Lopham



Weeting Football Club




Mr & Mrs P Codd




Mr Matthew Davison




Mr Maurice Howard




Samved Holdings Ltd





RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:


(a)       Item 1: SWANTON MORLEY: Land off Rectory Road: Erection of 52 residential dwellings with associated open space: Applicant: Hopkins Homes Limited: Reference: 3PL/2014/0083/F


This application had the support of the Parish Council.  However, they had requested an upgrade to Harkers Lane.  Norfolk County Council had the legal powers to upgrade the Lane and had indicated that such works would cost around £8000.  If Members were minded to approve the application authority was requested for Officers to negotiate the upgrade if feasible.


Mr Atterwill (Swanton Morley Parish Council) explained that Harkers Lane would provide a safe route to the school but it got very muddy in winter.  Any upgrade should be completed before the first occupation of any dwellings.  Other suggestions were for a tactile crossing for pedestrian safety; Open Space to be laid to grass and transferred to the Parish Council after 12 months; street lighting to be approved by and transferred to the Parish Council; and affordable homes to be offered to local people first.


Mr Carrick (Objector) did not object to the development but was concerned about the method of disposal of surface water.  He suggested porous surfaces or piping the water through the Church car park which he owned.


Mr Smith (Agent) had discussed Mr Carrick’s proposals but had to satisfy EA requirements.  The Officers would condition the drainage scheme.  He had no problems with the upgrade of Harkers Lane and funds could be found from the S106 contributions.  Details of offsite highway works had been agreed in principle but if a tactile crossing was required by NCC that matter would be revisited.  Parish Council approval for street lighting would be sought.


Councillor R Richmond (Ward Representative) said there were no major issues with the application although it was apparent that Harkers Lane was important.  Flash floods could be serious and he was pleased the EA had suggested a SuDS system.


Members discussed the flooding issue and it was noted that the SuDS system was for surface not foul water, but that drainage details would be a pre-commencement condition.

With regard to Harkers Lane it was clarified that as a public byway it could not be a ‘trod road’ and a Type 1 finish had been suggested. 

It was also noted that the Council had a policy to allocate affordable housing to people with a local connection first.


Councillor Lamb was surprised that the village welcomed such a large development which he thought was urban in style.  Mr Atterwill explained that as part of the LDF process villagers had identified the site as the best place for future development.  The critical thing was to see the Lane upgraded but it should not be tarmac.  It was clarified that the Lane would not be lit.


Deferred, and the officers authorised to grant approval, subject to the conditions listed in the report and additional conditions concerning surface water drainage details and the surfacing of Harkers Lane, on completion of the section 106 agreement.


Delegated authority was granted to the Council’s Planning Manager to refuse planning permission if the legal formalities in respect of the S106 were not completed within three months of the date of decision or such other timescale as deemed appropriate for the completion of the legal agreement


(b)       Item 2: SOUTH LOPHAM: Land south of A1066 Thetford Road: Installation of a 10MW solar farm and associated infrastructure: Applicant: AVIC-PCI Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/0143/F


The report had originally been prepared for the June meeting but had been withdrawn from the agenda at the request of the Chairman in conjunction with the Planning Manager.  Further supporting information had been submitted by the applicant along with a Legal letter which argued that there was no requirement for a sequential test.  However, due to the impact on good quality agricultural land the application was recommended for refusal.


Ms Crossley (North Lopham Parish Council) said they were unanimously opposed to the application.  She complained about the lack of pre-application consultation and said there was plenty of low grade land available.  There would be no benefit to the local community.  The Government did not support such developments.


Mr Barnet-Lamb (Blo’Norton Parish Council) had not been consulted yet their residents were the closest to the site and would be affected by shine, noise and the view which screening would not disguise.  Noise from the converters could affect the horse stabling business nearby causing the loss of some jobs.


Mrs Martin (South Lopham Parish Council) said the development would ruin an area of unspoilt countryside with far reaching views.  Policies should encourage effective use of the land and local community concerns should be taken into account.


Mr Bedford (Objector) was representing the views of local residents who were unanimously opposed to the application which would blight the landscape. The site had been chosen because it would provide an easy connection to the grid.  The land was not poor quality and over 25 years more than 7000 tonnes of food production would be lost.  It was not an appropriate site for an industrial power plant.


Ms Van de Pieterman (Agent) noted that the application should have been presented in June when it was recommended for approval.  Undue weight had been given to one appeal decision.  They had been requested to provide a sequential test and had given reasons for their site selection.  It was the only site in a 20 mile radius.  Other sites were on protected land.  The scheme was appropriate and did not conflict with national policy.


In response to the views expressed by the Agent the Planning Manager clarified that whilst the application had originally been recommended for approval the appeal decision referred to was but one of a number of factors which had led to the change in recommendation.  The earlier report had been withdrawn from the agenda because of concerns that it did not present a property balanced judgement and that too much focus had centred on the positives whilst not fully rehearsing the negatives.  The thrust of government guidance was clear in that large scale ground mounted solar arrays should ideally be sited on roofspace, previously used (brownfield) or low grade agricultural land.  The appropriateness or otherwise of utilising high quality (BMV) agricultural land was an issue which needed to be considered in the round and assessed against both the scheme’s positives and negatives in light of the thrust of prevailing policy and guidance.


Councillors Armes and Claussen spoke in support of retaining the land for food production. 


Councillor Chapman-Allen raised concerns about light pollution and cumulative effect.

Councillor Carter was not a supporter of wind turbines or solar farms, but he had one near his home and there had been no complaints since it was completed.  The panels did not cause glare or glow in the night.  The cameras were inward facing and not intrusive.  The farmer still grazed his sheep under the panels.


Refused, as recommended.


(c)        Item 3: WEETING: Lynn Road: Change of use from Agriculture to sports & recreation (D2e) including changing rooms/toilets (temporary building): Applicant: Weeting Football Club: Reference: 3PL/2014/0310/F


This was a resubmission following a previous refusal on a nearby site.  Comments had been received from Councillor Childerhouse, Ward Representative.  For transparency he had declared that he was related to the landowner but that he had no financial interest in the site.  He was pleased that there were no Stone Curlew issues with the site and thought it was the Council’s duty to support local initiatives.  The club had an increasing following and currently with only one pitch for four teams they were having to travel to other facilities.  NCC had offered the portacabin as there were no funds to build a permanent building.  The majority of residents lived near to the site and the distance from the south of the village was 1600m.

Mr Green (Agent) and Secretary of the football club said they had been promoted to the first division and if they were promoted again they would need improved facilities which the proposals would support.  More people were showing an interest in joining the club.  There was a need and the site was available.


Councillor Sharpe asked why so many pitches were needed and Mr Green explained that they ranged in size from five-a-side to full size pitches and there were also aspirations for a cricket pitch.


Councillor Robinson was concerned that there was no need for seven pitches and it might draw people from other areas which already had their own pitches.


It was explained that the current site had only one very small football pitch and had a fenced play park so the size of the pitch could not be increased.


In response to a question it was confirmed that nets and equipment would be stored in the changing rooms and if required the goal posts could be taken down and secured for safety.  A good quality track would be put in to provide access if permission was granted.  A gravel car park would be provided for parking.  The portacabin had toilets which would operate on a septic tank and water would be sourced from a standpipe.


The Chairman asked if there had been negotiations about any other sites and was advised that one next to the village hall might be available, but no negotiations had taken place.


Refused, as recommended.


(g)   Item 4: MUNDFORD: Land adjacent Post Office, 62 St Leonards Street: Erect 2 No three bedroom semi detached houses, parking and amenity space and erection of garage ancillary to the PO: Applicant: Mr & Mrs P Codd: Reference: 3PL/2014/0350/F


It was considered that this proposal would result in a visual improvement to the area and would also improve traffic circumstances.  Further comments and photographs had been submitted since the report was written.  The photographs were shown during the presentation.  An e-mail had also been received from Councillor Steward, Ward Representative.  She raised concerns about traffic and parking issues particularly in relation to an adjacent complex of housing for the elderly. 


Mrs Grace (Objector) asked if the braille letter submitted by her blind daughter had been included in the report and was advised that it had.  Church Lane provided access to 14 properties and the church.  There was a history of parking and access problems with people parking partially on the path which caused problems for her daughter and other elderly and disabled pedestrians.  She urged Members to visit the site.  The garages were in good repair and their demolition could damage her mother’s house.  She also raised concerns about access for emergency vehicles, overlooking and the sewage plant being close to properties.


Mr Codd (Applicant) said the proposal would improve the appearance of the area and make the cottage detached.  There were no parking problems.  Delivery vehicles only visited infrequently.  The hedge had been cut back to improve visibility.  The Party Wall issue was a civil matter.


Councillor North asked about the part of the shop/Post Office to be demolished and it was explained that it was currently used as the sorting office.  Internal rearrangements would allow its relocation within the building.  The new garages would be used for one car and storage of garden equipment, etc.


The Planning Manager suggested an additional condition to ensure the making good of the party wall once the existing garages were demolished.  Also, due to the concerns raised, a condition could be added to control the parking arrangements of construction vehicles, etc.


Approved, as recommended, with two additional conditions concerning a construction traffic management plan and the making good of the party wall.


(g)   Item 5: MATTISHALL: 10 All Saints Walk: Proposed bungalow: Applicant: Mr Matthew Davison: Reference: 3PL/2014/0429/O


This application came to Committee due to local concerns about the proposal to sub-divide the garden to provide an additional bungalow.  The siting of the bungalow had been amended to move the new bungalow back from the road.


Mr Reeson (Objector) represented residents in the vicinity.  They were concerned about ‘garden grabbing’.  The property was too big for the site and did not sit well with surrounding properties.


Councillor Rose (Ward Representative) agreed with those comments and urged the Committee to take residents’ views into account.


Councillor Claussen noted that he was also a Ward Representative for Mattishall and at their Parish Council meeting 100% of residents present had objected to the proposal.  The turning head of Vasser Court should not be used for access.


Members discussed the application and were concerned that it represented over-development of the site.  However, the Planning Manager advised that as it was an Outline application the size of the dwelling was not yet known.


Refused, contrary to the recommendation, on grounds that the proposal was inconsistent with the present form and character of the area and insufficient information had been provided to prove that a bungalow could be suitably accommodated on the site.


(g)   Item 6: CROXTON: Off Croxton Road: Skatepark with associated lighting, CCTV and sound proof fencing on two sides: Applicant: Mr Maurice Howard: Reference: 3PL/2014/0458/F


All Members had received correspondence from the Town Council.  Councillors Armes, Lamb and Spencer declared they were Town Councillors and would speak and then leave the room. 


This was the resubmission of an application which had been withdrawn.  The new application included details of a new access path to Joe Blunts Lane to improve accessibility to the site.


Additional representations had been received which included four letters of support.  Councillor Childerhouse had raised the following concerns: it was the wrong site and should be more central; the CCTV was reliant on the Academy; and the site was isolated and heavily screened.


Mr King (Croxton Parish Council) noted that when standing in the site the adjacent car park could not be seen as it was on higher land.  The proposed footpath would be constructed by NCC and they did not have funding for it and it would not support emergency vehicles.  The CCTV system would not provide a fast action response and the Academy would not take monitoring responsibility.  There were safety concerns.  Removal of trees would invalidate the Academy’s landscaping conditions. The previously proposed site was more central and more suitable.


Ms Fulford (on behalf of the Applicant) had worked to address concerns.  They had strong support.  The proposed path would provide safe access and could be adopted as a cycle way.  Thetford Academy offered many out-of-hours facilities up until 10pm and the car park was in constant use.  Permission had been given to use the car park during construction.  Anti social behaviour was not related to the application.


Councillor Kybird (Ward Representative of the immediately adjacent Ward) noted that 25% of Breckland’s youth lived in Thetford.  The skate park delivery was a priority for Moving Thetford Forward.  90% of the perimeter of Thetford was in Wildlife Protected areas.  There had been multiple attempts to deliver the skate park and this site avoided detriment to residential amenity.  A Thetford slogan was Historic Past Healthy Future.  With regard to safety he pointed out that mountain bikers used Thetford Forest which was much more screened and remote.  Infrastructure should precede development and this would be an example of that.


Councillor Armes thought that the requirement for the site to be soundproof and visible was contradictory.  Castle Park was not a suitable alternative as it was a Heritage Site.  The Leisure Centre site had no access permission.  Anti social behaviour already occurred as young people used areas of the town as a skate rink. 


Councillor Spencer noted that the Thetford Area Action Plan had a vision for recreation and cycle routes and the skate park area could be reached by them.


Councillor Lamb said that they had been searching for a suitable site for a number of years and this was the last resort.  The Leisure Centre site had seemed ideal but there had been objections.  He hoped that Members would be mindful that the Town Council was trying to create this facility.


Councillors Armes, Spencer and Lamb left the room.


The Director of Planning & Business Manager summarised a letter received that morning from the Town Council referring to inaccuracies in the report.  They clarified the size of the site and that there were only trees to the boundary with Joe Blunt’s Lane; a petition had been hand delivered to the Council; the Leisure Centre site had had access issues with all neighbouring businesses refusing to allow access.  The site had therefore been used as additional car parking for the Healthy Living Centre; the new path was outside the Academy fence; only the first part of Joe Blunt’s Lane would be resurfaced; CCTV was not manned 24/7 but would be monitored during Academy hours; the current Principal’s concerns had all been addressed but had now been reinstated and the Town Council did not know why; emergency access was available from the existing footpath, the Academy car park and the proposed footpath.


Councillor Chapman-Allen was confused by the lack of details about the new footpath.  She also had concerns about safety issues and the effects on Joe Blunt’s Lane.


Councillor Claussen asked for confirmation that the previous site was no longer available.  He thought that 90% of the Academy users would use the facility and that lone users were unlikely. 


Councillor North was concerned about emergency access for vehicles if the car park was shut.


Councillor Sharpe asked who would be responsible for the skate park as it was in Croxton and he was advised that it would belong to Thetford Town Council but be open to all users.


Councillor Robinson was surprised about the anti-social behaviour comment.  He lived very close to the site and knew that Joe Blunt’s Lane was a well used thoroughfare and not isolated.  The site was on the edge of the town at the moment but with the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension approval it would sit in the hub.


Councillor Duigan agreed that it was clear that the community wanted the facility but secure access arrangements needed to be clarified before permission could be granted.


Councillor Chapman-Allen did not think that the concerns of the Academy were being taken into consideration.  She asked Mr King, as a member of the Moving Thetford Forward Board, whether the previous application was ‘dead’.


Mr King believed it was still alive and thought the point needed to be clarified.  He acknowledged that there had been concerns about access to the Leisure Centre site but he did not believe them to be insurmountable.


Ms Fulford explained that the Town Council had inherited the old planning permission and then found that they could not access the site.  They had held several meetings to try to overcome the issues without success and had therefore moved on to look for another site.


The Planning Manager thought that the discussions had raised more questions than answers and felt that the Committee was not in a position to grant consent.  He advised that the application should be treated on its own merits and should not be influenced by the other site.  He suggested that the application should be deferred until the questions had been answered.


Councillor Claussen thought that more delay was unacceptable and a proper conclusion needed to be reached.


Deferred for further information.


Councillors Armes, Spencer and Lamb returned to the room.


(g)   Item 7: GRESSENHALL: Woodstock Rectory Residential Home, The Green: Extensions and internal alteration of care home.  Create 9 new bedrooms, increase number with en-suite.  Provide additional space: Applicant: Samved Holdings Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/0490/F


Members were shown a shaded layout plan to explain which areas were to be extended and where the internal alterations would take place.  The applicants had submitted a proposal to extend the staff car park to provide 3-4 additional parking spaces. 


Councillor Duffield (Ward Representative) said the Parish Council was concerned that the Care Home did not contribute to the expense of the road.  Local residents were concerned about staff parking on the village green damaging it.  More parking spaces should be provided.


Councillor Chapman-Allen felt that as long as emergency services could access the Home it was not a problem.


Approved, as recommended.


Notes to the Schedule

Item No


Agenda Item 9a

(Deferred Item)

Cllr Borrett – Ward Representative

Mr Davies – Billingford Parish Council

Mr Wood – Hoe Parish Council

Mr Atterwill – Swanton Morley Parish Council

Mr Labouchere – Objector

Mr Howell – Objector

Mr Moulton – Agent

Mr Todd – Applicant

Mr Kirk – for Applicant


Cllr Richmond – Ward Representative

Mr Atterwill – Swanton Morley Parish Council

Mr Carrick – Objector

Mr Smith - Agent


Ms Crossley – North Lopham Parish Council

Mr Barnet-Lamb – Blo’Norton Parish Council

Mrs Martin – South Lopham Parish Council

Mr Bedford – Objector

Ms Melanie Van de Pieterman - Agent


Mr Green – Agent


Mrs Grace – Objector

Mr Codd – Applicant


Cllr Rose – Ward Representative

Mr Reeson – Objector


Cllr Kybird – Ward Representative

Mr King – Croxton Parish Council

Ms Fulford – Applicant


Cllr Duffield – Ward Representative


Written Representations taken into account

Reference No

No of Representations
















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