Agenda item

BILLINGFORD: Elmham Road: Recreation and agricultural facilities with visitor centre: Applicant: Mr B Todd: Reference: 3PL/2014/0056/F

Report of the Director of Commissioning.


Members were given a brief recap of the application which had been deferred for a second time at the May meeting.


Additional information from the Applicant had been included in the report and Members had received direct correspondence.  Members were informed that a formal letter of objection had been received from George Freeman MP.


The site history was extensive and had been set out in the report.  A summary of the recent Appeal decision regarding the site had been provided in a Supplement to the Agenda.  The Inspector had found that the existing building was not necessary and harmed the character and appearance of the area and the need for the building had not been justified.  That decision was material to the Application and therefore the Officer’s recommendation had been changed to one of refusal.  Any future submission should include a scaled back version of the visitor centre and more robust evidence of need.


Mr Davies (Billingford Parish Council) raised concerns about loss of public access, noise, the affect on existing tourism businesses, obstruction of use and the playground near open water.


Mr Wood (Hoe Parish Council) pointed out that the appeal decision referred to a smaller area and the much larger proposals in the current application would cause even greater harm to the protected river valley.  He asked Members to refuse the application and authorise further enforcement action.


Mr Atterwill (Swanton Morley Parish Council) acknowledged that many of their concerns had been addressed by the latest report, but not all.  Four points needed stronger conditions: 1) swimming should be supervised at all times and suitable lifesaving equipment provided; 2) No visitor traffic should use the Swanton Morley / Worthing Road; 3) Secretary of State contact regarding the Common Land should be required; and 4) prior approval regarding the design of any chicken houses should be required.  He concluded saying they still strongly objected to the application.


Mr Howell (Chairman of Norfolk Fly Fishers Club and speaking on behalf of Dereham Angling Club) drew attention to their submission of 14 April and reiterated their concerns about security, noise and light pollution, rights of way and liability.


Mr Labouchere (Objector) reiterated his previous concerns about the damage to the site and loss of habitat and amenity.  He was concerned that other applications would follow and said that no mitigation could justify approval.  He asked Members to reject the application and enforce removal of the building.


Mr Moulton (Agent) pointed out that the site was suitable for agriculture and could be ploughed and cropped including the Scheduled Ancient Monument and open access land.  Pigs, sheep and chickens could also be brought onto the land which would support the agricultural building.  However, the Applicant wanted to use the site for recreational purposes and some of those uses had been accepted by the Appeal Inspector.  The current proposal was a reduction in scale of the application refused by the Inspector.


Mr Todd (Applicant) advised Members that although the Appeal had been rejected and he had been told to take the building down he would still need a building on site for storage of machinery and equipment and the hanging of nets.  He had a site for another building but thought it would be a waste of money to take one down only to put another up elsewhere.


Councillor Borrett (Ward Representative) was not against development in the countryside as it kept communities alive and vibrant but there were rules and the Applicant had totally disregarded them.  No agricultural use had been proved and the building was illegal.  The Inspector had said it had an unacceptable impact on the landscape.  The Committee had the power to refuse the application on those grounds.  Their previous refusals had been vindicated by the Inspector.


Councillor Carter asked about Enforcement.  The original Notice had given the Applicant three months to remove the building but that had been extended to nine months by the Planning Inspector.


Councillor Sharpe asked if the other building on site was covered by the Enforcement Notice.  He was advised that it was not but further action would be considered.




(1)               the application be refused on grounds of impact on the character and appearance of the landscape and the failure of the Applicant to justify the scale of built development proposed and extent of uses on site; and

(2)               authority be given to Officers to take any enforcement action necessary.

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