Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda item 9)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:


Item No



Page No


Thornalley Funeral Services Ltd




Mr Edward Bales




Mr Dean Barham




Mr Adrian Stubbs




Mr Allan Lynn




Mr Roy Dunthorne










RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:


a.         Item 1 – SCOULTON: Land at Norwich Road: Erect new crematorium, car park, access road, ancillary buildings and gardens of remembrance: Applicant: Thornalley Funeral Services Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/1204/F


Nick Moys, the Principal Planning Officer (Capita) presented this item and started his presentation by drawing Members’ particular attention to the background information on page 18 of the report.  This was the third time this application had been presented to the Planning Committee and was identical to what had been presented previously apart from minor variations to the design.


The application had been formally re-advertised and formally re-consulted upon.


The details of the proposed scheme were highlighted, including the minor   changes to the elevations and the removal of the roof lights. The presentation slides showed the location of the site; the site in relation to nearby settlements; photographs of the access; proposed layout; and an illustration. Mr. Moys explained that the illustration of the proposed development did not reflect the amended site layout, as the building and car park was to be located further towards the west. Mr. Moys explained that the illustration was useful to show the general arrangement of the proposed development.


The planning issues pertaining to the application had been clearly set out on page 24 onwards of the officer’s report. Mr. Moys drew Members’ particular attention to paragraphs 60 and 61 of the report that referred to the location, the requirements of the Cremation Act 1902 and the relevance of ‘The Siting and Planning of Crematoria’ (DoE, 1978) Government guidance. 


For the purpose of paragraph (a) of Policy DC7, a review of existing and proposed employment land in the District had been undertaken, and no other suitable sites or locations had been identified as a result of this review.  Additionally, and according to the applicant’s planning statement, the applicant had undertaken a separate assessment of a number of other brownfield sites in Deopham, Watton and Dereham and a range of greenfield sites near Thickthorn, Hethersett, Attleborough, Great Ellingham, Rocklands, Cranworth and two others in Scoulton.  None of these sites were found to be suitable, mostly due to not meeting the requirements as set out in the Cremation Act 1902 and relevant Government guidance. Mr. Moys explained that because the applicant’s assessment was not required under policy DC7, no weight should be attached to it.


This proposal would help to address the need for a crematorium in Breckland, as existing facilities were located in Norwich, Kings Lynn and Bury St Edmunds.


The impact on the character and appearance of the location under paragraphs 76 to 83 of the report was highlighted.  Members were informed that overall, the extensive landscaping proposed would mitigate any landscape issues.


Transport and highway safety and the effects on residential amenity under paragraphs 84 to 93 and 94 to 97 were also highlighted.  It was noted that careful consideration had been given to this application by the Highways Authority and as this section of the B1108 was straight, the proposed access to the crematorium was considered to be safe.  The nearest residential properties to the proposal were shown to be approximately 250 metres away and the main body of the village of Scoulton was approximately 750 metres to the south-west.


The effects on trees and landscaping dealt with in paragraphs 98 to 103 were discussed, as the proposal would result in the loss of two oak trees that were subject to a Tree Preservation Order, both of which would be replaced.


Additional comments had been received and had been considered in relation to ecology at paragraphs 104 to 114.  Heritage and historic issues were also highlighted at paragraphs 115 to 118, as well as the other matters discussed in paragraphs 119 to 121 of the officer’s report.


Following all the above, the Principal Planning Officer (Capita) advised that the recommendation was one of approval, subject to the conditions summarised on page 38 of the report.


Michael Horn, the Solicitor to the Council, had a number of points that he needed to add. Firstly, Councillor Philip Cowen, the Executive Member for Growth and Commercialisation had submitted a statement and had asked for it to be read aloud at the meeting.  Mr. Horn obliged and recited the statement word for word.  Secondly, notwithstanding paragraph 67 of the report, Officers had recently received details of another proposed site for a crematorium. However, these details had not been either formally or informally assessed. Mr Horn further advised that Officers were not required to assess this proposal and therefore, had not done so. Accordingly, limited weight should be attached to this proposal, and the current proposal before Committee should be assessed on its own planning merits.


A letter had also been received from Mr. George Freeman MP, who had raised a number of points. This representation queried the suitability of the crematorium facility on the application site; whether alternative sites and air quality had been assessed; and whether this development might set a precedent if approved.


Mr Horn advised that whilst it was prudent to bring this representation expressly to Members’ attention, it was not considered that it raised any further matters that were relevant to the determination of the application, or had not already been documented and considered in the Committee Report.  


Mr. Mehta, the applicant’s agent, Mr. Thornally, the applicant and Erica Whettingsteel an objector were in attendance to speak on this item.


Mr. Thornally stated that he had identified a critical need for a crematorium in the vicinity.  If approved, the amount of travelling time and distances would be reduced together with waiting times, and a number of employment opportunities would be created.  He had received an overwhelming amount of support for this proposal.


Mr. Mehta stated that all issues that were relevant to this application had been fully analysed in the officer’s report, which had been endorsed by the applicant.  All statutory consultees remained in support of the application and the proposal remained policy compliant.  He felt that there was no legal reason for Officers to consider other sites over and above that already undertaken and detailed in the committee report. For these reasons, Mr. Mehta considered that further to the section 38(6) duty, the scheme complied with policy and there was no reason to justify refusal.


Erica Whettingsteel spoke on behalf of a number of residents who lived in the location. She questioned the reasons why the Council had quashed the previous decision for a second time.  The Air Quality reports, in her opinion, were fundamentally flawed as the reports were out of date and related to other parts of the country.  The objections raised by residents in relation to highway safety had been confirmed by George Freeman MP and Councillor Jordan, Leader of Norfolk County Council, and there were discrepancies in the application in terms of planning policy.  She mentioned another funeral company who had found a site suitable for a crematorium facility, and she urged the Committee to refuse or defer the application so that this other proposal could be fully explored.


Councillor Sharpe took the opportunity to commend the Principal Planning Officer for his report and his excellent presentation, and stated that he supported the Officer’s recommendation of approval.


Councillor Claussen raised concerns about the air quality evidence.  He also felt that the Principal Planning Officer had been very even handed with his careful and thorough examination of all the policies. Mr. Horn pointed out that this type of evidence was a very specialised scientific area and the issue had been looked into most carefully by the Council’s expert, who had confirmed that there was no objection to this proposal from an air quality point of view.


Councillor Wilkinson mentioned the traffic concerns and asked if the remedial works could be carried out before the construction of the proposed crematorium.  Members were informed that this had already been provided for in the proposed conditions.


Councillor Joel wanted to know how many more legal challenges there could be.  Mr. Horn advised that this could go on for a number of years, as any decision that Members made in respect of this application was likely to be challenged.


Approved, as recommended; subject to the conditions as listed in the report.


b.         Item 2 – MATTISHALL: Poplar Farm, 41 South Green: Residential development proposing 15 market homes (including one existing farmhouse) and 8 affordable: Applicant: Mr Edward Bales: Reference: 3PL/2016/0395/0


Councillor Claussen declared an interest in this application as he knew of the applicant but did not class this as prejudicing his impartiality.


Simon Wood, the Interim Business Manager (Capita) presented the report and mentioned that Dr Piper, who lived at number 37 South Green had written to the Council. 


Members were informed that there was potential for other buildings on the site to be converted as part of the scheme but had not been included in this application. 


Indicative plans and photographs of the site were shown.


It was noted that the cessation of use of the existing poultry unit would be secured by a Section 106 Agreement if Members were mindful to approve the application.  The installation of a footpath through Church Plain/Mill Street could also form part of a legal agreement (if approved).


Dr Piper who was in attendance was undecided in his decision as he lived directly behind the proposal.  He realised that Breckland Council had a responsibility to meet its five year land supply but pointed out that Mattishall had already committed to a number of new dwellings and asked if this application could be phased or delayed.  He had noted that the Highways had objected to the application but felt that the installation of a footpath would alleviate these concerns. He further felt that if the proposed Local Plan was approved, a smaller development would not have such a detrimental effect on the village but any more than 12 could overload and exasperate the traffic movements. Additionally, the tree boundary surrounding the site should be fully protected.


Councillor Dimoglou, a Ward Representative, knew that the Parish Council was in support of the application and Mr Bales, the applicant, was thought of very highly in the village.  He pointed out that Mattishall was under pressure for housing land; therefore, in his opinion, applications such as these should be supported.


Councillor Claussen urged the Committee to talk to the Chairman of the Parish Council before any work/adjustments were made to Mill Street as he was of the opinion that this area was totally self-policing and the speed of the traffic was already limited.  He had attended the Local Plan meeting in Mattishall and felt that this proposal was a very good quality scheme and although the access onto Mill Road was not the best he knew of no-one who had experienced any highway problems and therefore, was in full support of the proposal.


Councillor Clarke knew Mattishall very well and was, on balance, in favour of the application but was struggling to reconcile the comments under 4.7 of the report and asked for assurance from the Officers that Highways, on this occasion, had got it wrong.  The Interim Business Manager (Capita) advised that the views of the Highway Authority had been noted and the test in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) had to be severe but the benefits must also be taken into consideration and as there were works that could remedy these concerns and this was the balance that Officers had taken.


Councillor Martin thought the scheme was very sympathetic and supported the application.


Councillor Wilkinson asked if anything was going to be done with the access.  Members were informed that there would be conditions attached in relation to visibility splays and for a new access to be constructed.


Mr Dye, a Highways Engineer who had accompanied the applicant to answer questions pointed out that adequate visibility could be achieved.


Councillor Marion Chapman-Allen asked for a condition to be added to protect and retain the trees on the site and also asked that the conditions include the installation of a footpath.


Referring to the indicative plans, the Chairman had noticed that the buildings to the front of the farmhouse looked fairly cramped and felt that there needed to be a little more work done to the plans to alleviate this.  In response, Mr Bales advised that this particular area included a number of trees which had to be taken into account and the indicative plans only demonstrated what could be achieved on the site but he would look at this area again.


Approved, as recommended; subject to conditions.


c.         Item 3 - ATTLEBOROUGH: Grants Cottage, West Carr Road: Detached dwelling: Applicant: Mr Dean Barham: Reference: 3PL/2016/0543/F


Chris Hobson, the Principal Planning Officer presented the report.


The site location, photographs and the key issues were highlighted.


A number of concerns had been raised in relation to the site being outside the Settlement Boundary and not within the immediate vicinity of the available facilities; however, the benefit of providing a dwelling would demonstrably outweigh the limited adverse impacts.


Councillor Claussen felt that distance issues seemed to be a moveable feast.


In response to a question, Members were informed that this proposal was for a 3 bedroom dwelling.


Approved, as recommended.


d.         Item 4 – MATTISHALL: Mill Road: Erection of 4 bed dwelling: Applicant: Mr Adrian Stubbs: Reference: 3PL/2016/0728/O


Councillor Claussen declared an interest in this item due to him knowing the applicant and had been aware that this application was coming forward.


Simon Wood, the Interim Business Manager (Capita) presented the application.  The application site was located outside the Settlement Boundary and currently formed an area of grassed paddock which included a stable block and was used by the applicant for her horses. 


Emma Mooney the applicant and the applicant’s partner were in attendance.  The Ward Representative, Councillor Dimoglou was also in attendance to speak in support of the application.


Ms Mooney had lived in Mattishall all her life and the land had been in the family for many years.  The applicant had invested heavily in the site and had to drive to the site twice daily from rented accommodation in Swanton Morley to ensure the horses’ safety as she had experienced a number of break-ins to the existing stable block.


The Chairman was aware of the risks of theft.


The Ward Representative informed Members that the applicant now had national recognition for her equestrian business and there was a real need for this dwelling due to the applicant suffering rural crime.  He pointed out that Breckland Council had granted a number of permissions along this road and had received 11 glowing letters of support.


The Interim Business Manager (Capita) reminded Members that this was an isolated dwelling in the countryside and nothing had been put forward about the value of the stock additionally, equestrian use was not the same as agricultural use.  He asked the Committee to be aware of the precedent that it could set and further asked Members to consider the application on how it had been submitted.


Councillor Claussen noted the Officer’s comments but felt, for security reasons, the applicant had to be on site and supported the application.


If the Committee was mindful to approve the application, the Interim Business Manager (Capita) asked Members to have clear and valid planning reasons and suitable controls put in place.


Councillor Claussen asked if the property could be tied to the business.  It was noted that this restriction might not be ideal for the couple in the long term and if not restricted it would allow the couple more flexibility and they could come back asking for another dwelling.


Mike Brennan, the Operations & Contract Manager empathised with this dilemma that Members had but without valid planning reasons, anyone who looked at this in the future would have difficulty establishing the reason why Members came to that view.


It was noted that this application had been brought to the Committee at the request of the Ward Member.


The Vice-Chairman, Councillor Sharpe dismissed the security issues and looked upon this application as an ordinary dwelling and in his opinion, not in isolation.  He reminded Members that they could control what the dwelling looked like as this was just an outline application and, again in his opinion, would not harm the appearance of the landscape and from that point of view he leaned towards going against the Officers recommendation.


The Chairman suggested deferring the application for further information.


The recommendation of refusal was not supported.


Approved, contrary to the recommendation on the grounds that the proposed dwelling would provide some benefits in terms of providing a small contribution towards the five year housing land supply shortage and the economy through its construction.


e.         Item 5 – HARLING: Land at Fen Lane: Erection of detached house, with associated access, landscaping and servicing: Applicant: Mr Allan Lynn: Reference: 3PL/2016/0872/F


Chris Hobson, the Principal Planning Officer presented the report.


The site location, photographs and the key issues were highlighted.


The applicant was in attendance to answer questions.


Councillor Brame liked the look of the proposed dwelling and thought it was well located in the middle of the plot.


In response to a question, the applicant advised that the cladding was going to be actual flint and not a flint panel.


Approved, as recommended.


f.          Item 6 – HARDINGHAM: Ketts Cottage, Low Street: Erection of 6 dwellings with associated access and open space: Applicant: Mr Roy Dunthorne: Reference: 3PL/2016/0946/F


The Interim Business Manager (Capita) presented the application.  Attention was drawn to the supplementary agenda where further information had been provided. It was noted that this application had been referred to the Planning Committee at the request of the Ward Member.


Site plans, the designs of the properties and photographs of the area were shown.  The key issues were highlighted; one of which was in relation to a Grade II Listed Lodge Building situated to the west of the site.


The recommendation was for refusal for the reasons as set out in the supplement.


The applicant’s agent, Russell De Beer, was in attendance and was proud of the proposed layout and believed it would complement the area.  He pointed out that the applicant’s had owned the land for a number of years and part of it had already been sold to facilitate a pumping station as the field was too small for any agricultural use.  Mr. De Beer also pointed out that only 5 dwellings had been built in Hardingham in recent years and this proposal would help invigorate the village.  Public transport was not an issue and none of the dwellings overlooked any existing dwellings and some affordable housing would be included even though they were not required.


Lynn Whitwell, an objector to the application reminded the Committee that the proposal was outside the settlement boundary and the land itself was classed as agricultural.  Low Street was part of the B1135 and was a very busy stretch of road and therefore, a risk to walk or cycle.  There were no facilities and the lack of public transport would encourage car travel.  An additional vehicular access for 6 dwellings would cause more accidents and, in her opinion, the development would add nothing to the village and destroy an area of open countryside.


The Parish Council had also objected to the application.


Councillor Dimoglou, the Ward Representative, had driven past the site on many occasions and was surprised that it had not been developed before.  There was no requirement to provide any affordable housing; there were letters of support and, in his opinion, would be an attractive development.  He pointed out that the pumping station was located right outside the Listing Building and there had not been any new houses built in Hardingham for many years all had been barn conversions and currently there were no properties for sale.  He was aware of the twice weekly bus service, plus a flexi bus and therefore he felt it appropriate to support the application.


Councillor Clarke asked if the comments raised in the 18 letters of objection and the 16 letters of support could be highlighted.  The Interim Business Manager (Capita) said that there was no reason to disbelieve any comments that had been made.


The Vice-Chairman, Councillor Sharpe asked how the element of affordable housing could be enforced as the development was below the required threshold.  Members were informed that the provision of affordable housing made the proposal acceptable and could be tied to the reasons and within the S106 Agreement.  One issue to consider was the impact this proposal could have on the Listed Building; Members would have to weigh up the benefits and the non-benefits.


Referring to the objections from the Highway Authority, Councillor Marion Chapman-Allen pointed out that according to the Local Plan, development should be no further than 800m away from the village and this proposal clearly was.  Members were informed that this reason had been reflected in the refusal. 


Councillor Claussen referred to the B1135 and felt that this road was no worse than any other in Norfolk.


Picking up on the point around viability, the Operations & Contract Manager advised that Members must take account that there was no guarantee that these affordable dwellings would be delivered.


The recommendation of refusal was not supported.


A proposal was made and seconded to approve the application on the grounds that the benefit of the affordable housing outweighed the harm to the Listed Building.


Members were informed that there would be no decision notice until a S106 Agreement had been prepared.  It was also noted that even when the S106 had been signed there was still an opportunity for the applicant’s to come back stating that the affordable housing element was not viable.


Deferred, contrary to the recommendation, and the officers be authorised to grant approval, subject to conditions, on completion of a Section 106 agreement.


h.         Item 7 – ATTLEBOROUGH: Development plot, Warrens Lane: Change of use from agricultural to burial site and outline for 8 dwellings: Applicant: Righetti: Reference: 3PL/2016/0486/H


This application had been deferred for further information.


i.          Item 8 – GARVESTONE: Ismac, Dereham Road: Variation of condition 2 on 3PL/2015/0607/D: Applicant: Mrs Hazel Aldridge


The Interim Business Manager (Capita) presented the application. The proposal sought to vary the approved drawings so that the roof material was zinc standing seam.  Dark concrete tiles had been listed on the approved plans.  Building works had already started on site and the roof had been completed.  This application had been as a result of an enforcement investigation.


Mr Garrod, the Chairman of the Parish Council had been shocked when he noticed that the roof had been completed in a completely different material and asked what remedial action could be taken.


Mr Cadney, an objector, thought the roof was stark and looked industrial and felt that the developers had taken a cavalier attitude to this development and, in his opinion, was not a genuine mistake.  He did raise concerns with Building Control as they had not taken any apparent action when this had been first reported.


The son of the applicant was in attendance to speak on the matter.  He had lived in the village for many years and his intention was to self-build an eco-home for his mother.  He had submitted revised plans to Building Control but had not received any feedback.


Councillor Claussen stated that the Parish Councillors who had been engaged in this process from the start when the proposed roof was supposed to be concrete tiles were very disappointed in the result. 


Members were informed that the planning system allowed for variations.


The Chairman felt that this could be a very costly exercise for the applicant as Members were now faced with a retrospective application and asked the Committee whether the roof was acceptable.


Councillor Darby could not see much difference between the two and was not keen on either.


Approved, as recommended.


In Building Control’s defence, the Operations and Contract Manager pointed out that Building Control viewed planning applications differently.


j.          Item 9 – OLD BUCKENHAM: Land at Harlingwood Lane: Erection of new dwelling and garage with highway improvements: Applicant: Mr A Nicholls: Reference: 3PL/2016/0987/O


Councillor Joel declared an interest as he knew of the applicants.


          Chris Hobson, the Principal Planning Officer presented the application which was outside the settlement boundary.  The highway improvements were highlighted.  The Committee was informed that the impact on the character and appearance of the area would be localised.  If approved there would be a further condition to secure the existing hedgerow.


          Mr Nichols, the applicant stated that this application was for a private family home within the curtilage of their land.  The family had lived in Old Buckenham for many years and he was not a property developer but a very active member of the community.  He had worked very closely with the Highways Authority and the improvements would be paid for out of his own pocket.


Councillor Joel, as the Ward Member, reminded the Committee of the highway improvements that would be made, if Members were mindful to approve the application.  He asked that a condition should be included to complete the highway improvements prior to the dwelling being built.


Approved, as recommended subject to the conditions as listed in the report.


Supporting documents: