Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 9)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:

 

Item No

Applicant

Parish

Page No

1

Orbit Homes (2020) Limited

Great Ellingham

28-45

2

Gladman Developments Ltd

Watton

46-62

3

Mr Rob Lond-Caulk

Caston

63-71

4

Breckland Council

Thetford

72-74

5

Mr J Daniels

Whissonsett

75-80

6

Mr Jack Passant

Mundford

81-86

7

Mr & Mrs G Bucke

Beachamwell

87-92

8

Mr T Taylor

Attleborough

93-98

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:

 

a)       Item 1: GREAT ELLINGHAM: Land at Attleborough Road: Residential development for 39 dwellings (Revised scheme): Applicant: Orbit Homes (2020) Limited: Reference: 3PL/2014/0683/F

 

The Chairman clarified comments made by a Parish Councillor about Councillor Smith and Councillor Jordan (NCC) which implied a possibility of pre-determination on the application.  There had been a mix up of wording which had since been corrected and there was no such issue.

 

This application had received a good deal of local opposition.  It had been amended several times to try to address the issues but the local objections had not been overcome.

 

Great Ellingham was a small Service Centre Village with a number of local facilities which would all derive an element of support from new development.  The site was not isolated and was close to the centre of the village but it had an open aspect which contributed to the rural character and would be radically changed by the development.  However, the design and layout were acceptable and would be a good fit for the surroundings.

 

Highway safety was a particular concern to local residents and the Parish Council due to the volume of traffic, speeds and impact on the access to the school.  Significant amendments had been made including improvements to footways, pedestrian crossing points and a part time 20mph speed limit, and NCC Highways had no objections.  There was therefore no basis to refuse the application on highway grounds.

 

In conclusion, the development met the requirements of the NPPF and would provide affordable housing.  In the Officers’ view, on balance the application was acceptable subject to conditions and obligations.

 

Councillor Jordan (NCC) had been inundated by concerns about the danger of the junction and the safety of residents.  The improvements were not good enough.  A roundabout was required, or the junction needed to be moved to reduce the danger.  It was the wrong place for development and would put lives at risk.

 

Mr Betts (Parish Council Chairman) explained that the Parish had adopted a policy for small sustainable development of up to 12 dwellings, but they had excluded the Hingham Road area due to safety concerns.  Under that policy 40 new homes had been supported in recent months and ten more were coming.  The Parish Council's reasons for not supporting the current application were itemised in the report.  In short, 39 homes were unsustainable and would unbalance the village.  The doctors had no spare capacity, the bus service was not sufficient and the road was not safe.  Video evidence of the danger of the junction had been given to the Highways authority.

 

Mrs Whettingsteel (Agent) noted that planning circumstances had changed and Councils were under pressure to deliver more houses in sustainable locations such as this.  The development was of sufficient scale to fully contribute to the village.  The scheme would improve the village hall, provide highway improvements, affordable housing and bring funding through the New Homes Bonus scheme.  The layout had been carefully designed to be attractive, low density and well linked to the rest of the village.  It was a full application and was ready to move forward quickly.  The legal agreement had already been drafted.

 

Councillor Cowen (Ward Representative) was very familiar with the area and aware of the highway issues.  He was astounded that the Highway authority said the junction was safe.  Growth was already taking place in the village.  The issue in this case was scale and a lack of appreciation of the way the village had grown organically over time.  This application was just phase one.  Potentially nearly 80 dwellings could come forward.  The long views and open skies of the site provided a wonderful vista which was precious and would be lost.

 

The Chairman referred to the video which had been mentioned.  Due to technical issues it was not possible to show it to the Committee but he had watched it and it showed the intense amount of traffic in the early morning, outside the school and also a number of articulated lorries which used the junction as a cut through.

 

Councillor Sharpe asked if Highways had seen the video and whether it had changed their mind.  He also asked if they had only carried out a desk-top study.

 

Mr Worsfold (NCC Highways) confirmed that the video had been watched.  It had not changed their decision and they had carried out a site visit.

 

Councillor Sharpe asked the Agent about the site area and possible future development.  She advised that the red line cut the field in half.  The second half had been put forward for inclusion in the Council’s site allocation process for the new Local Plan.

 

Councillor Wilkinson sympathised with the highway problems which happened in many villages in Norfolk.  He commended Highways for trying to put safety measures in and asked if there could be a roundabout or change to the junction layout. 

 

Mr Worsfold advised that Highways considered the current access arrangements acceptable but that position could be revised if the applicant put the suggestion forward.  Every application was considered on its own merits.  There had been one personal injury accident at the site in the last four years.

 

Councillor Martin travelled the road regularly.  The two minor accesses on Hingham Road would have very poor visibility due to the existing bungalow.  If the second phase came forward there would be another main access off the busy Attleborough Road.

 

Councillor Claussen agreed it was a balancing act but noted that Great Ellingham had increased the size of their village by 10% and they were saying it was enough.  The proposal would add another community to an existing community.

 

Councillor Smith asked for the plan of the whole site to be shown, although the Chairman pointed out that it was not relevant to the current application.  Councillor Smith thought it should be clarified for Members as it was a substantial area.  There had been opposition from the County Councillor, the District Councillor the MP, the Chairman of the Parish Council.  Little Ellingham Parish Council had also objected.  The village had significant archaeological heritage and big open skies and views.  It was the home of the Breckland astronomical observatory and Great Ellingham had been designated as a Dark Sky area.  Highway safety was the main concern.  The NCC School Safety Officer had commented that it was the worst junction for school children to cross in Norfolk.  If the application succeeded it would distort the physical appearance of the village.  It was an unsustainable increase.  There were no school places, children would have to be transported elsewhere.  The letter from the MP advised that the sustainable criteria requirement had been used to refuse applications and Councillor Smith believed that this application failed the test.

 

The Chairman asked Mr Worsfold for clarification of the pedestrian refuge to be provided and the details were explained.  The crossing in Hingham Road would comprise a dropped kerb.  The proximity of that crossing to the junction was questioned, especially in relation to the length of turning lorries.  Mr Worsfold advised that it was normal to place crossings close to the junction as it was the preferred crossing place for pedestrians.  The position could be reconsidered if permission was granted.

 

The recommendation of approval was not supported.  Councillor Chapman-Allen proposed refusal on grounds of the impact on the rural area and the loss of openness.  Councillor Smith seconded that and added that the social and environmental sustainability criteria had not been met.

 

Members also suggested that highway safety was an issue but were advised that the Highways authority were the experts and they did not object.  The Solicitor confirmed that the Inspectorate relied heavily on Highways advice.

 

The Chairman said that it would be clear in the Minutes that Councillors had concerns and if the second phase progressed it would need to be reviewed.

 

Councillor Clarke suggested that as residents would have to rely on higher order settlements for facilities the sustainability argument had weight.  The Planning Contract Manager agreed that the lack of a full time bus service was less than desirable.

 

Refused, contrary to the recommendation, on grounds of impact on the rural character of the landscape and sustainability concerns.

 

b)       Item 2: WATTON: Land at Thetford Road, Thetford Road: Residential development of up to 180 dwellings, provision of recreational facilities, site access and associated works: Applicant: Gladman Developments Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/1253/O

 

All Members had received direct correspondence.

 

Members were shown an aerial photo of the application site and the position of Wayland Wood was pointed out.  An indicative site layout plan and photo montages of existing and proposed views had been submitted and were shown.  Planting would help to screen the development.  A technical drawing of the proposed roundabout at the junction adjacent Barn Ruche was also shown.  The development would consist of mainly two storey and some two and a half storey dwellings. 


The issues had been carefully considered.  The site related well to Watton and the new roundabout and highway improvements were acceptable.  However, the level of development was likely to create a hard settlement edge and there was concern about the effect of the development on Wayland Wood.  Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) felt that mitigation measures were unsatisfactory.  The indicative layout was not considered to be a true reflection of 180 houses and was likely to be much denser.  Infrastructure issues had been considered by Statutory Consultees and were considered to be acceptable.  The problems at the Doctor’s surgery were due to a lack of GPs which was not a planning issue.

 

On balance Officers felt that the development would have significant harmful impacts and were recommending refusal.

 

Councillor Gilbert (Ward Representative) said it was nice to be able to support the Officers’ recommendation.  The harm to Wayland Wood, which was an ancient woodland with delicate ecology, would be irreparable.  Watton already had three large developments approved and needed time to absorb those before any more was accepted.  The schools and doctors were under pressure and it was totally unsustainable.

 

Mr Bishop (Town Councillor) said the Town Council were not averse to housing planned in smaller batches.  All the recent proposals coming forward would add over 700 houses to the town in just three years.  Wayland Wood was the third oldest in England and was in a fragile state.  It was habitat to rare plants and birds.  With regard to the surgery he noted that Brandon Lewis MP had said that health services should be taken into account.  Recruitment was a long-term problem and could not keep pace with development.  Finally he noted traffic concerns.  55% of the houses would access the A1075 from the roundabout, but that meant that 45% would have direct access to the A1075 virtually opposite to the Hopkins Home site.

 

Mrs Stallard (Objector) said that a healthy, thriving community was dependant on a sustainable balance and Watton was a small market town that had seen a significant increase in its population in the last ten years which had created a strain on services and infrastructure.  There was a lack of employment opportunities and poor transport and recreational facilities.

 

Mrs Webber (Objector) was concerned about two developments opposite each other creating a large increase in traffic which would cause danger to children accessing the three schools nearby.  The roads were not wide and parked cars added to the problem.  The safety of children should be considered.

 

Mr Shaw (Agent) pointed out that in the context of local and national planning policies the application represented sustainable development.  The new roundabout would significantly improve road safety.  Addressing the concerns raised he advised that the size of the site was not out of scale and would have a lower density than the site opposite.  Recreational pressures on Wayland Wood would be limited by the provision of open space on site and there would be a financial contribution to enhance existing rights of way and to provide new ones.  The development would also provide a financial contribution to education and affordable housing.

 

Councillor Wassell (Ward Representative) raised concerns about the myriad of unsuitable applications that the smallest market town in Breckland was having to deal with.  The proposal was an example of a Developer trying to take advantage of the inadequacies of national planning policy.  The site was directly adjacent Wayland Wood, a Site of Special Scientific Interest which covered 34 hectares and featured many species of trees, birds and moths.  It was also the only known location of the Yellow Star of Bethlehem in Norfolk.  It must be protected for future generations.  The density of the development was too great.  He referred to the 200+ letters of objection and emphasised that the residents of Watton were not opposed to all development, but it had to be the right place and the right types of houses.  This was the wrong location and the wrong type of houses and the applicant had no local connection whatever.

 

Councillor Bowes was also a Ward Representative and she agreed with the points raised.  She stressed the importance of Wayland Wood which had a history back to the ice age and should be preserved at all costs as a jewel in Watton’s crown.  To bring suburbia to its edge would be contrary to policy and would significantly change the nature of the area.

 

Councillor Chapman-Allen was concerned about the loss of good agricultural land.  She also supported the objection from the NWT.

 

Councillor Smith reiterated what he had said under Agenda Item 7.  There were certain criteria to be met for sustainability and he felt the application failed to meet the economic and social requirements. 

 

Councillor Claussen congratulated the Officers for recommending refusal.  Wayland Wood had to be protected and preserved.  If development was allowed to stretch to within 200metres all species would be at risk from predation by cats and dogs.  NCC Highways did not take the cumulative effect of developments into consideration and there should be stronger Highway grounds for refusal.  He did not believe 40% affordable housing would be provided and asked the Solicitor if the legal agreement would provide any weight in future if viability issues were raised.


The Solicitor explained that legal agreements could be varied and a viability assessment was often a reason for such variation.  There was nothing that could legally prevent that.

 

Councillor Claussen thought that was something else that the Leader should take up with the Minister. 

 

Refused, as recommended.

 

c)       Item 3: CASTON: Co-Dunkall Ltd, The Barn, Dukes Lane: Erection of storage building with offices (Retrospective): Applicant: Mr Rob Lond-Caulk: Reference: 3PL/2015/0180/F

 

This was a retrospective application for a storage building with offices which was being used to support building works in the vicinity.  The applicant had submitted a planning application for three dwellings on the site which would require the removal of the building.  The Parish Council had suggested a temporary permission but that was not felt to be appropriate as the development was considered acceptable.

 

Mr Blincow (Parish Council Chairman) said the building had been erected in early 2014.  During public discussion the applicant had said he wanted to relocate it within nine months.  The residents wanted it removed as it caused noise and disturbance.  They had agreed that an 18 month permission would be acceptable.

 

Mrs Gill (Objector) was a resident of Duke’s Lane.  She supported the agreement for a temporary permission subject to conditions.

 

Councillor Cowen (Ward Representative) said the applicant and Parish Council had reached agreement and were happy for a temporary permission.  If full permission was given he had concerns that the building could be sold and its future use might cause even more amenity issues.  The lane was unadopted and the residents had to maintain it.

 

The Planning Contract Manager thought it laudable that the applicant had agreed to a temporary permission but pointed out that that would create a very weak case for future enforcement action if required as it was a permanent building.  He was concerned that whatever the case, removal of the building would be reliant on the applicant’s good will.  An alternative option would be to refuse the application and give 18 months for the removal of the building before enforcement action was taken.

 

The recommendation of approval was not supported.

 

Refused, contrary to the recommendation, on grounds that the building was unsuitable in a rural setting and the nature of its uses were unsuitable for the location.  Delegated authority was granted to issue an Enforcement Notice giving 18 months for the removal of the building.

 

d)       Item 4: THETFORD: Charles Burrell Museum, Minstergate: Replacement of windows, doors, timber cladding, brickwork and re-pointing to various elevations: Applicant: Breckland Council: Reference: 3PL/2015/0204/LB

 

This application had the approval of the Historic Buildings Officer subject to a suitable mortar mix being agreed.  The works would preserve and enhance the appearance of the listed building.

 

Mr Lamb (Chairman of the Trustees of the Museum) said it was getting very shabby and the works should be done as soon as possible.  The Trustees hoped that the original ironwork (including the hinges of the doors) could be incorporated wherever possible as they had been manufactured by Burrells.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

e)       Item 5: WHISSONSETT: Land adjacent Mill Lane: Erection of 2 storey dwelling house with detached garage and workshop: Applicant: Mr J Daniels: Reference: 3PL/2015/0401/F

 

This proposal was on a site well related to the village.  There would be limited views of the new dwelling which would be set back on the site and was similar in scale to the adjacent dwelling.  It would cause no material harm to the setting.  With regard to amenity concerns there was sufficient separation to existing rear gardens and screening in place.

 

Mr Burton (Parish Council Chairman) had informed parishioners of the application and many had attended the meeting at which it was discussed.  All were in favour.  The applicant was from a long-standing family in the village.

 

The Applicant and Agent were present to answer questions.

 

Councillor T Carter (Ward Representative) said this was housing for a local family which had lived in the village for generations.  Their present dwelling was unsuitable for the extended family and no other suitable and affordable housing was available.  The land was family owned and friends would help with construction keeping costs low.  It was a wonderful opportunity for a young family.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

f)        Item 6: MUNDFORD:  Site between 4 and 6 Lynford Road:  New dwelling and garage: Applicant: Mr Jack Passant: Reference: 3PL/015/0404/O

 

This proposal would develop an infill plot between existing houses in a highly vegetated and well screened area.  The site was close to Mundford and the impact on the countryside would be negligible.  There would be no amenity issues subject to window siting.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

g)       Item 7: BEACHAMWELL: 38-40 Old Hall Lane: Alterations and extensions to existing dwelling, erection of linked dwelling and garage and garages for existing dwellings, including access: Applicant: Mr & Mrs G Bucke: Reference: 3PL/2015/0465/F

 

Members were shown details of the proposed development compared to the previously refused scheme.  The new proposal was considered to have an improved design and to represent sustainable development.

 

Councillor Wilkinson was Ward Representative and noted that the previous refusal had not come to the Committee.  The design had been altered to overcome objections and the proposal would provide improved accommodation for the sitting tenant as well as a new dwelling and would improve the street scene.

 

Materials would match existing.


Approved, as recommended.

 

h)       Item 8: ATTLEBOROUGH: Plot adjoining The Paddocks, Leys Lane: Erection of single house and garage on plot adjoining The Paddocks: Applicant: Mr T Taylor: Reference: 3PL/2015/0543/F

 

This proposal was on a site in a well-defined area of sporadic development.  It would not have a significant effect on the rural character of the area.  NCC Highways had requested road widening but the applicant was not prepared to accept that.  However, improved visibility splays would be provided.  An objection had been received raising concerns about the impact of the development on the neighbouring property and the drainage of the road.

 

Mr Price (Objector) said his main concern was the road which in winter had standing water up to a foot deep.  If a septic tank was used grey water might find its way into the drains.

 

Mr Spencer (Agent) was unaware of the drainage objection as the applicant had not mentioned any problems.  A small treatment plant would be used.  The applicant had agreed to set back the gates to improve the vision splay and that would effectively provide a passing place.

 

Councillor Stasiak (Ward Representative) supported the application.  It was a good sized plot and would provide a home for a family member to inhabit.  Although it was outside the Settlement Boundary it would be surrounded by development in future years.

 

The Principal Planning Officer advised that Building Regulations would deal with the drainage issues.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

Notes to the Schedule

Item No

Speaker

1

Cllr Jordan – NCC

Cllr Cowen – Ward Representative

Mr Betts – Parish Council

Mrs Whettingsteel – Agent

Mr Worsfold – NCC Highways

2

Cllr Wassell – Ward Representative

Cllr Gilbert – Ward Representative

Mr Bishop – Town Council

Mrs Webber – Objector

Mrs Stallard – Objector

Mr Shaw - Agent

3

Cllr Cowen – Ward Representative

Mr Blincow – Parish Council

Mrs Gill - Objector

4

Mr Lamb – for Museum

5

Cllr Carter – Ward Representative

Mr Burton – Parish Council

Mr Daniels – Applicant

Mr Harris - Agent

8

Cllr Stasiak – Ward Representative

Mr Price – Objector

Mr Spencer - Agent

Deferred Item 8a

Cllr Rogers – Ward Representative

Mr Clegg – Objector

Ms Douglas – Objector

Mrs Bone – for Applicant

Mr Evans - Agent

 

 Written Representations taken into Account

Reference No

Representations

3PL/2015/0401/F

3

3PL/2015/0543/F

1

3PL/2014/0683/F

69

3PL/2014/1253/O

227

3PL/2015/0180/F

27

 

Supporting documents: