Agenda item

Active Land Management - Tranche 2 (Agenda item 10)

Report of the Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio (Mark Kiddle-Morris).

Minutes:

The Land Management Officer explained that the report sought decisions on the use of each of the nine sites covered, being the second tranche of the Active Land Management Programme.  She then presented a summary of the main issues and constraints, potential land values, parish council comments and options available in each case.

 

For Beeston, the Land Management Officer reminded Members that a shortfall of open space had been identified.  The Parish Council wanted the land to be developed but only as a community asset in the form of an amenity open space/nature reserve.  The Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio (also the Ward Representative for Beeston) informed Cabinet that the piece of land in question had remained in a derelict condition for many years and had lots of concrete hard-standings.  He felt that the area of land, if developed as amenity space, would not be used by the residents of Beeston as it was too far out of the village.  He felt that the small area of land adjacent to existing properties should be sold for the provision of affordable housing and the remainder should be offered for sale or lease to the adjacent farmland owner.

 

The three sites in Great Dunham (GD1, GD2, and GD3) all had potential negligible values due to various constraints on each site.  The aforementioned Executive Member, who was also the Ward Representative for Gt Dunham, pointed out that GD1 was too small to do anything with, GD2 was adequate in size to accommodate two dwellings and all three options for GD3 needed to be further investigated as the site had a difficult access. 

 

In Necton, although the majority of the site lied outside the settlement boundary and had been a former quarry, the Chairman suggested that a planning application should be submitted and any sale should include the adjacent wood.  He felt that the site would have great potential for the purchaser.

 

Having noted that this was the largest most primest site within Breckland Council’s portfolio, the site at Shipdham had a restrictive covenant limiting any development on the land to Breckland Council only.  Shipdham Parish Council had offered a land swap so that the area could be retained as open space.  A Member on behalf of the Ward Representative for Shipdham stated that over 450 residents had spoken about this piece of land. She reminded Members that the land adjacent to the site had been included in the Local Development Framework and therefore was likely to have many houses built on it.  If the Breckland site was also developed Shipdham could end up being a small town rather than a village.  She felt that this land was an important piece of amenity space and urged Members to support option 5 which was to swap the site with alternative village owned land.

 

The Chairman was aware that the people of Shipdham had strong views with regard to this piece of land and agreed that option 5 should be pursued but to come back to a future Cabinet meeting if unsuccessful.

 

In Sporle, the Land Management Officer advised that option 2, to offer the site to the Parish Council to be retained as open space, had already been attempted and had not taken place because the Parish Council refused to pay the Council’s legal costs.  The Chairman preferred option 1 - to investigate the possible development to extend existing housing on Priory Close - as the access seemed adequate and the site was inside the settlement boundary.

 

For Swaffham, planning consent had already been established.   In response to a concern, the Land Management Officer explained that this land would not act as a ransom strip to the developers who owned land directly to the south of the site.  The Chairman saw advantage in investigating a joint venture with the aforementioned land owner, if unsuccessful, the site should be offered for sale on the open market but with a current market valuation.  He was also not averse in retaining the land if land values were to rise in future.  

 

It was noted that the Ward Member, the Parish Council and the community were against any development on the site at Swanton Morley.  The Executive Member for the Corporate Development & Performance Portfolio felt that option 1, to offer the site for sale for affordable housing, would complete the development.  The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman reminded Members that the Council had a duty to listen to the views of the Ward Member and the Parish Council.  The Executive Member agreed but pointed out that the Council also had a duty to the tax payer and highlighted the housing shortage.  The Chairman felt that a valid point had been made and agreed that it was all about making the best value out of the Council’s assets.

 

The Land Management Officer pointed out that the Parish Council had expressed strong views to have the land in question transferred to them to retain as open space.  She further pointed out that a community exercise to understand the residents’ views for this land had been undertaken.  The Chairman asked if the land would be developable if a social landlord expressed an interest.  Members were informed that a quite far advanced application had already been carried out by a certain Housing Association but had not progressed following the community consultation.

 

The site at Ramsey Close, Thetford was designated open space and if put on the open market, the Council would have to provide another open space provision elsewhere.  A Member said that the Town Council would prefer the site to be developed into allotment land. The Executive Member for the Corporate Development & Performance Portfolio informed Members that the land had been derelict for a long time and did not think it viable for allotments.  His preference was to sell it on the open market, to purchase land elsewhere for open space and make a contribution to the Town Council towards finding somewhere else for allotments.  The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman agreed with the aforementioned suggestions as it was a good site for housing that met all the necessary criteria.  A Member advised that the Town Council would have difficulty finding an alternative open space and reminded Members that there had been strong local support for allotments on this land.

 

The Executive Member for the Corporate Development & Performance Portfolio felt that the land at The Covert, Thetford would not be viable for development and suggested that the site be offered to the Town Council as an area of open space.  A Member asked if Breckland Council would issue encroachment notices before the transfer.  In response, the Land Management Officer explained that the issue of such notices would cause considerable delays and would not be consistent with other transfers.  The Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio asked if these encroachers would be subject to adverse possession.  The Land Management Officer was unable to answer the question as she was unsure how long these violations had been there.

 

Members agreed that the site should be offered to the Town Council, as seen, as an area of open space.

 

Options

 

To decide on the alternative/future use of each of the nine sites processed through the second tranche of the Active Land Management Programme.

 

Reasons

 

To ensure that the diverse interests that existed around land usage were realised, and to provide a source of funding for both the Councils Revenue and Capital spending.

 

RESOLVED that the action indicated be taken in respect of the following sites:

 

(1)         Beeston  - Herne Lane: the small area of land adjacent to the existing properties to be sold for the provision of affordable housing; and the remainder of the site to be offered for sale or lease to the adjacent farmland owner;

(2)         Great Dunham – Litcham Road/South Street: site reference GD1 to be offered to Parish Council to be retained as an area of amenity open space; site reference GD2 to explore the possible extension to existing housing; and GD3, the site to be offered to Anglian Water as an extension to its plant facility, if not forthcoming, offer the land to adjacent owner occupier(s) the opportunity of purchasing extra car parking or garden space, if not forthcoming, the site to be offered to the Parish Council as open space or allotments;

(3)         NectonKetts Hill/St Andrews Lane: a planning application be submitted (any sale to include adjacent wood);

(4)         Shipdham – Chapel Street: to swap site with alternative village owned land, if not forthcoming, the land to be retained by Breckland Council and other options be explored;

(5)         Sporle – Priory Close: to investigate the possible development of extending the existing housing on Priory Close;

(6)         SwaffhamSandringham Way: to investigate a joint venture with adjacent landowner, if unsuccessful, the site to be sold on the open market;

(7)         Swanton Morley – Middleton Avenue: to offer the site for sale for affordable housing;

(8)         Thetford – Ramsey Close – site to be sold on the open market and a contribution be made to Thetford Town Council towards alternative land for allotments; if site is sold Breckland Council must find alternative open space;

(9)         Thetford – The Covert: the site to be offered to Thetford Town Council as an area of open space (to be transferred as seen).

Supporting documents: