Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 11)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:

 

Item No

Applicant

Parish

Page No

1

Mr Anthony Gaskin

Attleborough

24-28

2

Salvern Properties

Hockering

29-32

3

Peddars Way Housing Association

Thetford

33

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:

 

(a)   Item 1:  Attleborough:  Land at Leys Lane, Docking Wood:  Change of Use to include standing caravans for Mr Anthony Gaskin:  Ref:  3PL/2009/0604/F

 

The Principal Planning Officer explained that this application was for a change of use for the stationing of caravans for six residential gypsy pitches with utility/day room buildings and hardstanding. 

 

The site was located south of the town centre and the main railway line divided Leys Lane.  One end only gave pedestrian access, whilst the remaining part of the lane was extremely narrow.   The site (which was outside the Settlement Boundary) comprised an area of former woodland immediately abutting an existing gypsy site, which was currently occupied by a single gypsy family.

 

He felt that this was a finely balanced case.  From a local and national planning policy perspective, it was acknowledged that such accommodation was needed in the Attleborough area and the site performed well against many of the set criteria.  

 

Policy CP2 and Circular 1/2006 were relevant.  Care needed to be taken not to prejudice or pre-empt other sites being considered in terms of site-specific consultations as part of the LDF process.  

 

However, there were legitimate concerns, shared by the Highways Authority, about the road access to this site, which comprised a single track lane.  Any development would potentially lead to increased traffic and, bearing in mind existing local residents and commercial property, it was felt that problems could soon develop. 

 

The Development Services Manager acknowledged a fax that he and various Members had received that morning from the Ward Member, who was in favour of this application provided that the concerns about vehicular access could be satisfactorily resolved.

 

Mr Moore, speaking as an objector and a local resident, raised various concerns, including the amount of traffic using the road;  that planning permission had recently been refused for another house in the vicinity;  a small river/stream ran alongside the lane; that there was no mains sewage to the site; and that the site had been covered with trees.

 

Mrs Gaskin, speaking on behalf of the applicant (her husband), made the following comments:

 

·        They were keen to put down some roots and lead a more settled life.  

 

·        They believed that the traffic movement figures as quoted by the Highways Authority had been somewhat exaggerated.

 

·        There was a signed limit of 10 m.p.h. already in place.

 

·        Leys Lane was narrow,  but there were similar lanes in the area which were already busier.

 

·        Finally, she said that this application had been put through in a formal and correct manner, as opposed to just pulling trailers on to the land.  She also requested Members not to pre-judge her family or this application just because they were gypsies.

 

In discussion, Members were in general agreement that the key problem for this application was the road access.   On the one hand, there could be no control of the amount – or type – of vehicle which was currently using the Lane in terms of the small industrial units.   Nor was it practical to make it a one-way route, since, rather than looping back, the lane took traffic some way away from the main road.   A passing area was not formally part of the application but was something which could be discussed with the Highways Authority. 

 

Other Members commented that many of the traditional routes and sites used by the gypsy communities had gradually been blocked off or built on.   Well-planned sites should be supported where practically possible.

 

Deferred, for discussions with Norfolk County Council (Highways Authority) with regard to the provision of passing places on the narrow access road, or other means of overcoming the highway concerns.

 

(b)   Item 2: Hockering:  Sandy Lane, Frans Green Industrial Estate: Change of use from agricultural to industrial for Salvern Properties: Ref: 3PL/2009/1186/CU

 

Mr P. Duigan and Mrs P. Spencer said that Members had received various correspondence on this application.

 

The Principal Planning Officer explained that this application concerned a proposal for a change of use from agricultural land to industrial in order to achieve additional storage space for Norfolk Salvage.  The land under consideration comprised the corner of an agricultural field which bordered onto an industrial area, including the site currently owned and run by Norfolk Salvage.   The site was located in the Parish of Hockering but was also adjacent to Weston Longville (under Broadland District Council).   Objections had been received from both Parish Councils. 

 

He reminded Members that the Core Strategy (DC7) approach to business development in the countryside aimed to achieve a balance between protecting local communities and the need to meet certain economic criteria. 

 

Other points highlighted included: 

 

·        No other sites had been considered in terms of expansion.

 

·        Local Impact:  The site was currently open landscape and if permission were to be granted, then appropriate screening would be needed in order to minimise local impact. 

 

·        Residential Amenity:  He noted that there had been many concerns raised locally about this proposed expansion.   The nearest property was 230m away from the site.  Other objections included concerns that the existing site was poorly managed; pollution from smoke; noise; the potential increase in traffic etc; as well as a general negative impact on an essentially rural location.

 

The Principal Planning Officer pointed out that some of the concerns could be addressed by planning conditions.

 

·        Traffic:  The Highways Authority had confirmed that they had no objections to the proposal, subject to a suitable routing condition being secured by a S.106 Agreement. 

 

In conclusion, the Principal Planning Officer stated that the issues concerning this application were balanced.   However it should be acknowledged that it was a sensitive site, in a rural area.  The recommendation was for approval subject to appropriate conditions, including a S.106 concerning the routing of traffic. 

 

Mr S. Ashford, representing Hockering Parish Council, spoke strongly against this application, saying that all local residents were opposed to it.   They felt that agricultural land was a key resource for Breckland and should be valued as such.   Until a change of ownership, the field in question had been highly productive – as opposed to weed-covered, as at present.    It certainly had the potential to be productive again.  

 

In addition, he highlighted some specific local complaints about the current site’s opening hours, noise, smoke, wind-blown litter etc.   Residents were also concerned that this application to extend the site could set a precedent for further sites across the 8 acre field.   He noted that a second application had already been submitted concerning an adjacent plot.    

 

Mrs Hickling then spoke on behalf of East Tuddenham Parish Council, reminding Members that the site under consideration also affected some of their residents, not least in terms of local traffic.

 

She said that the Parish Council felt there were legitimate queries about the nature of the business – including some claims that the company’s main business had possibly changed emphasis from salvaging to being involved in assessing vehicles under insurance terms.   The associated large vehicle transporters which were accessing the site were not practical for local roads.  There were also four recycling businesses already in the locality, including some storage facilities south of the A47.

 

Mr Boswell and Mr Claxton spoke as local residents and objectors to this application.   They emphasised concerns about the potential devaluation to property, as well as emphasising the negative impact of noise, traffic and general quality of landscape etc.  They mentioned acrid smoke from incinerators (including at weekends) and concerns about how the current site was managed, querying the operating hours, use of concrete crushing machinery, increased noise and traffic generally.   It was also believed that existing usage agreements for Sandy Lane were being flouted on a daily basis. 

 

They questioned the applicant’s assertion that there would be increased employment opportunities – partly because the space was proposed to be used for storage, and partly because Breckland District Council had de-allocated the area in employment terms.   

 

Mr Payne, as agent for the applicant, gave some brief background to the company, which had been in existence since 1979 and had been successful with a number of its tenants.   Current legislation and general trends were to encourage recycling and salvaging.  

 

Norfolk Salvage were very keen to expand their current site to enable them to store more vehicles.   All dismantling work would continue on the existing site.   Mr Payne explained that while their existing licence allowed them to stack three vehicles, it was proposed to only stack two on the new site.   He added that the Environment Agency imposed strict conditions on the way the site was set up. 

 

Finally, he said that his clients were happy to be flexible with respect to screening. 

 

Mr P. Claussen then spoke, as the Ward representative.    Reiterating the strength of local feeling against this application, he reminded Members that the site had been de-allocated in terms of employment, as well as the fact that another application had already been submitted for an equivalent amount of land.   It was felt, therefore, that this proposal was unsuitable for the locality. 

 

In response to a question, Mr Payne confirmed that the vehicles on-site were not there for insurance assessment, but were dismantled under European Union rules.

 

The Principal Planning Officer acknowledged that loss of agricultural land was a relevant concern, but also said that the Council needed to balance issues for each application.  He then reminded Members about policy DC7, and other relevant policies under the Core Strategy.   He explained that ‘de-allocation’ meant that a site which had previously been identified as an employment area in Breckland was no longer considered as such under the adopted Core Strategy.   Any application for business use on such a site would therefore need specific justification. 

 

A Member said that the site had arguably grown by default over recent years.  The current business had outgrown its surroundings, including the road network.  It might therefore be more appropriate for it to find a better site altogether – an acknowledged industrial site or perhaps an unused airfield etc.

 

Another Member pointed out that the neighbouring field was rated as Grade II by DEFRA (i.e. good quality agricultural land). 

 

In response to a question, Mr Ashford confirmed that whilst residents may not have made many complaints to the Planning Enforcement Unit, they had certainly done so to the Environmental Health team on a number of occasions. 

 

With regard to complaints about noise made by the concrete crusher, the Chairman pointed out that it should be borne in mind that there may well be more than one such machine operating in the vicinity, under different ownership. 

 

Refused, against recommendation, on grounds of the failure to demonstrate need, and unacceptable impact on the landscape and on the amenities of local residents, including noise. 

 

(a)   Item 3: Thetford: Sweyn Close, Fulmerston Road: Residential development

 

See Minute No. 46/10, above.

 

 

Notes to the Schedule

 

Item No.

Speaker

1

 

Mr Moore – Objector

Mr Worsfold – Highways

Mrs Garkin – Applicant

2

 

Mr Claussen – Ward Rep.

Mr Ashford – Hockering PC

Mrs HicklingE.Tuddenham PC

Mr Boswell – Objector

Mr Claxton – Objector

Mr Payne – Agent

R9

Mr Thompson – Applicant

R10

 

Mr Brand – Objector

Ms Handford - Applicant

 

Written Representations taken into account

 

 

Reference No.

No. of Representations

 

3PL/2007/1688/0

 

4

 

3PL/2009/1186/CU

 

 

4

 

3PL/2010/0013/F

 

2

 

3PL/2009/0606/F

 

6

 

Supporting documents: