Agenda item

Bylaugh: Bylaugh Park, Elsing Road: Proposed residential development for Mr S Vince: 3PL/2008/1273/O (Agenda Item 9)

Report of the Development Services Manager.


This outline application proposed residential development on a large piece of agricultural land within Bylaugh Park.  A section of the boundary wall would be demolished and re-built to provide the access and visibility splays. 


The indicative layout showed clusters of development around courtyard areas.  All details were reserved for later consideration.


This application for residential development in the open countryside was against local and national policies.  However English Heritage guidance on Enabling Development was relevant.  This allowed development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms, to enable public benefits sufficient to justify it being carried out.  In this instance, the residential development would help to fund restoration works to Bylaugh Hall. 


English Heritage guidance provided tests to apply to such proposals.  These included establishing that there was a deficit between the cost of repairs and the value of the building (ie the value of the completed building was less than the cost of the outstanding works).  Figures had been provided which had been sent to the District Valuer.   It was pointed out that the works already completed had created a deficit which had been met by the applicant from his own funds.  It was only the cost of completing the restoration that required enabling development.


The critical test was in deciding if the benefits of completing the works to the Hall outweighed the dis-benefits of this breach of policy.


The applicant had requested a deferral to allow consideration of alternative proposals.  Details of these were not clear but suggested a reduced scale of development at the current site and additional development at the Hall; converting the existing conference and function facilities to residential accommodation and providing additional residential units on land previously used as a parking area for the commercial use.


If Members considered there might be benefit in allowing enabling development, deferral was an option.  However, if Members did not consider enabling development was appropriate, there would be no point in deferring.


On balance Officers had concluded that the gains did not justify the development.


Mr Sunter, Agent, gave Members the history of the Hall since it was built in 1849.  He said it had been advanced in design and the use of technology and was a rare survivor of a gentleman’s country house.


The Hall had been requisitioned by the military during the war and later sold.  It had been stripped and left to fall into disrepair.  When the applicant had bought the Hall it had been a ruin and he had gradually restored much of it to a very high standard.  The South East corner remained to be done and needed reroofing and flooring.  The only way to complete this work would be through enabling development.


Mr Bambridge, Ward Representative, was concerned at the scale of the proposed development.  He said the boundary wall was built of unique bricks and was of great interest.  He thought that other parts of the estate might be more suitable for enabling development, but mentioned that the road network needed improvement as did the drainage system as there were long term problems with foul and surface water in Bylaugh Park.


Members discussed the scale of the proposal and its effect on the rural nature of Bylaugh.  There was concern about the unsustainable location. 


Two Members felt that the applicant should be supported to restore the Hall and that alternative enabling development proposals should be invited.


The Principal Planning Officer told Members that, having been in discussion with the applicant for more than five years, he wanted to make it clear that any proposal would involve significant development.


Finally a Member summed up by saying that the principle of enabling development was well established but that the quality of that development was crucial.  In this case the development of 34 houses in the middle of the countryside was not in the public interest.  Although the Hall was an important heritage asset for Breckland the damage to the environment must be proportionate.


RESOLVED to refuse the application as recommended.


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