Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 9)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:

 

Item No

Applicant

Parish

Page No

1

Crown Chicken Ltd

Kenninghall

 

2

Mr Bob Gooderham

Kenninghall

 

3

NR16 Limited

Kenninghall

 

4

Mr Bob Waterson

Attleborough

 

5

Rethink Energy Limited

Bridgham

 

6

Lincoln House Care Home

Swanton Morley

 

7

Lincoln House Care Home

Swanton Morley

 

8

Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd

Fransham

 

9

Mr David Taylor

Harling

 

10

Hursit SPV1 Limited

Narford

 

11

Claramond Solar SPV 1 Ltd

Litcham

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:

 

(a)       Item 1: KENNINGHALL: Green Farm, Edge Green: Extension to hatchery: Applicant: Crown Chicken Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2011/1100/F

 

Councillor Armes declared a personal interest in this item and left the room while it was discussed.  Councillor North declared that she had received direct representation from the applicant.

 

Members were shown a map of the area with various application sites highlighted as they were relevant to the Officers’ recommendation.

 

The proposal had received no technical objections but the Parish Council and numerous third parties had objected on various grounds including traffic, smells, pollution and impact.

 

The key consideration was the environmental impact of the scheme.  The Secretary of State (SoS) had issued a Screening Direction requiring that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should address the cumulative effect of the applications.  An EIA had been received but it had not fully addressed that requirement.  The application was therefore recommended for refusal on the grounds that the effects of the development could not be fully assessed.

 

Mrs Scott-Barber (Parish Council) said they had had concerns about the site for some time and had written to the Council about buildings and bulk bins being erected without permission.  The site plan submitted with the application was out of date.  They supported the recommendation and asked the Committee to err on the side of caution.

 

Mr Waters (Objector) said there had been six planning applications in the past 12 months.  Two had been withdrawn and three were on the agenda.  The sixth was for the bulk bins which had been erected without planning permission, as had the whole site.  HGVs from the site damaged the road surfaces.  The Certificate of Lawfulness issued by the Council had been quashed by the Court.  The site was unlawful and was also under investigation by HM Revenues & Customs with regards to rates.  He urged Members not to approve any applications until the question of lawfulness had been determined.

 

Mr Armes (Applicant) said the Company had been in operation for 60 years and the economic effects of a refusal would be great and would put jobs at risk.  The extension would have no detrimental effect on the area in terms of noise, smell, etc.  There had been a lot of poultry farm closures. Where did the cumulative effect start and where did it finish?  As the last major employer in the area he asked the Committee for their support.

 

Councillor Nunn (Ward Representative) was speaking on behalf of the residents.  Clarity was needed.  There were a lot of applications and Crown Chicken was caught up unfairly in the confusion.  There needed to be a balance between development and amenity.  There were three applications on the agenda and another three pending.  The applications could not be determined until the cumulative effect had been assessed.

 

Councillor North asked how many people were employed on the site and was advised that of 400 employees overall, about 70 were employed on the Green Farm Site.  She then asked for legal clarification.

 

Mr Horn, Solicitor to the Council, explained that the Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) granted by the Council had been challenged in the High Court and the Council was in the process of submitting to judgement, due to a technical drafting issue with the Certificate – on no other grounds.  Therefore, currently, it could not be concluded whether the use was lawful or not.

 

After further questions from Members regarding the buildings on the site, the Solicitor to the Council reiterated that the legal position was that the developments on the site could not presently be considered either lawful or unlawful.  He advised Members that the Officers’ recommendation made it clear that the EIA did not adequately address the cumulation of development, and therefore, the legal advice was to refuse the application.  He went on to say that the Secretary of State’s Direction had been criticised by the Court of Appeal.  Nonetheless he advised the Committee to have due regard to the Screening Directive.

 

Refused, as recommended.

 

Councillor Armes returned to the room.

 

(b)       Item 2: KENNINGHALL: Ash Tree Farm: Demolish 9 poultry sheds, erect 8 broiler houses for the rearing of poultry, feed bins and 4 service buildings: Applicant: Mr Bob Gooderham: Reference: 3PL/2012/0876/F

 

Councillor Sharpe asked whether the other applications around Kenninghall were affected by the Directive from the Secretary of State regarding the cumulative effect. 

 

The Solicitor to the Council advised that it was a common theme which did effect all three applications, but as they were separate applications each had to be determined individually.

 

The Senior Planning Officer presented the report and advised that the key issue was again the fact that the EIA did not sufficiently address the cumulative impact of the developments.

 

Mr Gordon (Parish Council) showed photographs of the narrow village street with cars parked on either side and no footpaths.  His main concern was traffic and access.  The EIA did not make clear how large vehicles would impact on the residents of Kenninghall.  He was also concerned about emissions from the 200,000 chickens.

 

Mr Goodrum (Applicant) wanted to modernise the 40 year old operation.  The existing two storey buildings would be replaced by single storey buildings designed to reduce their effect on the environment.  The poultry farm would need less deliveries.  The overall effects would be reduced and he asked how it could therefore be cumulative?

 

Councillor Nunn (Ward Representative) had huge sympathy with the applicant who was caught up in the mess.  The applications all affected the village.  In isolation they would be more straightforward.  The problem was how to deal with developments all around the community.  They needed to all be decided with the cumulative impact considered.  He asked for the applicants to receive advice on how to take matters forward.

 

Councillor Claussen considered there was a net gain in this instance.  The operation was existing and broilers would not need as many traffic movements as egg production.  He was at a loss why the application was caught up in the Secretary of State’s Directive.

 

Other Members were also unclear and Councillor North said it was confusing for Committee Members as in any other location the application would probably be approved.

 

The Solicitor to the Council agreed and noted that the lawfulness and appropriateness of the Secretary of State’s Direction had been expressly questioned by the Court of Appeal.  It probably did not stand up to close scrutiny, but he had to advise Members to follow it.

 

Councillor Sharpe said that although Members usually took Officer’s advice into account they generally had the opportunity to exercise common sense.  In this case they could not, as the Directive was clear.

 

Councillor W Richmond asked how many jobs would be created on site if the application was approved and the Applicant advised that there would be four full time jobs on site.

 

The recommendation for refusal was tied with four votes for and four against.  The Chairman said he had to support the refusal because of the cumulative effect situation, and accordingly used his casting vote in favour of the recommendation.

 

Refused, as recommended.

 

(c)        Item 3: KENNINGHALL: Land to the West of Kenninghall: Solar photovoltaic panels & associated works (inverter housings, security, fencing & cameras): Applicant: NR16 Limited: Reference: 3PL/2012/1088/F

 

This was the third of the Kenninghall applications on the agenda affected by the Secretary of State’s Directive.  An EIA had been submitted which was satisfactory in terms of the impact of the solar farm development but failed to address the cumulative effect.  It was also, therefore, recommended for refusal.

 

Mr Gordon (Parish Council) objected to the siting of the proposal which formed part of the Lopham Plain with long, open views.  There was also concern about surface water drainage as the area already suffered from dust, stones, etc being swept onto the road by heavy rain.  Another solar farm was proposed at the other end of the village. There were concerns about the loss of food producing land.

 

Mr Knights (Agent) had worked closely with all parties and the application was compliant in every way.  Breckland Council did not have a cumulative effect policy and the Local Planning Authority should have written to the applicant explaining the need for more information.  A refusal would be open to challenge and costs.  It was an impossible situation but he did have a possible solution. 

 

Councillor Nunn (Ward Representative) said that the issue went on and on.  If the application was being considered in isolation there would be no huge problem. It was the impact of all the applications combined that was the problem and all had been caught in the cumulative impact net.  It was an untenable situation and hugely unfair on all the applicants and the community.

 

Councillor Claussen thought there was a cumulative effect on agriculture and the loss of food producing land.  The Council needed an over-arching policy for eco-friendly applications.

 

Councillor Sharpe thought that the decision could affect subsequent applications nearby and he asked who decided what area was covered by the cumulative effect.

 

The Solicitor to the Council said that that was a good question.  When relevant future applications were submitted, the Secretary of State would be asked for a Screening Direction and he would decide if they were covered by the cumulation issue. 

 

Councillor Sharpe asked what effect there would be on the Council if it went against the Secretary of State’s Directive and how it would affect the application.

 

The Solicitor to the Council advised that the applicant was not prevented from bringing proceedings due to lack of finances, pursuant to the Aarhus Convention.  If the claimant had insufficient resources there would be a ‘cost stop’ on what the Council could claim (of about £2,500) on any Judicial Reviews that the Council had to defend, even when they were successful.  Actual costs were usually in the order of £60-80,000 each time.

 

Councillor Bambridge said it was a dilemma.  He liked to make his own mind up but today he had had to comply with the Secretary of State’s Directive.  His hands had been tied and he would write to the Secretary of State to say he was not happy about it. 

 

Councillor North noted that the application was ‘temporary’.  She asked if the materials would be disposed of in an eco-friendly way.

 

Mr Knights advised that materials were predominantly sand and metal frames which would all be recycled.  The land would be returned to agriculture.

 

Councillor Duigan challenged the Secretary of State to come to see how the Committee was suffering due to his Directive and Councillor Lamb noted it was the same Minister that was extolling Planning Committees for facilitating development but that did not apply in this case.

 

Councillor Armes referred the Committee to a DEFRA report about the need to source food locally and said that there would not be sufficient land to do so if solar farms were supported.  It was said that animals could be grazed amongst the solar panels but it would be impossible for the farmers to round them up.  Alternative ways were more efficient than solar farms.

 

Refused, as recommended.

 

(d)       Item 4: ATTLEBOROUGH: Bunns Bank: Relocation of current Station Road poultry processing to site of former poultry processing facility at Bunns Bank: Applicant: Mr Bob Waterson: Reference: 3PL/2013/0511/F

 

This proposal would provide for complete processing within one building.  The existing odour abatement plant would be retained and upgraded.  It was an appropriate location and conditions would alleviate amenity concerns.  It was hoped that additional landscaping would address concerns about the effect on the Scheduled Ancient Monument and on balance the proposal was acceptable.

 

Mr Delafield (for applicant) mentioned that Councillor Lamb had sought reassurance at the meeting on 29 July that the relocation of the poultry business would be to Bunns Bank.  This application would secure existing jobs and allow the Station Road site to move forward with redevelopment.

 

Mr Waterson (for applicant) was Project Manager of Banham Poultry which was one of mid-Norfolk’s largest employers.  The company had originally been at Bunns Bank but had relocated to Station Road due to a fire.  The existing buildings there were getting old and refurbishment was not ideal.  The move back to Bunns Bank would give a new purpose built, highly sustainable processing plant.  Efficiencies had been incorporated into the new development and the prime site at Station Road was already approved for development.

 

The Chairman advised Members that the Principal Environmental Health Officer was in attendance to answer questions.

 

Councillor Martin (Ward Representative) said the proposal was very prosperous for Attleborough and the move back to the original site would alleviate smells and traffic in the town as well as freeing the Station Road site for development.  Banham Poultry had a Liaison Committee which met four times a year.  An Environment Agency Officer attended those meetings, as did residents, staff, members of the public and officials from the Company.  Councillor Stasiak (also a Ward Representative) could not be present but fully supported the recommendation.

 

Councillor Sharpe asked about potential harm to the Scheduled Ancient Monument and Mr Waterson advised that they had responded to English Heritage to discuss mitigation measures.

 

Councillor Claussen noted that he had been invited to a Civic Reception by the Mayor of Attleborough and there had been unanimous support for the proposal from the Town Council.

 

Councillor North agreed that it would be a great benefit to Attleborough.  All that was needed now was the Link Road to alleviate town centre traffic.  She mentioned the concerns raised by Old Buckenham Parish Council which related to Heavy Goods Vehicles using the Hargham Road which was narrow in places and asked if it could be conditioned that HGVs did not use that route.

 

Councillor Spencer was very pleased about the Liaison Group meetings, she wished the applicants success.

 

Councillor Armes asked for clarification about whether a previous planning permission for energy from waste was still going ahead.   She was advised that it was not.

 

Deferred and the officers authorised to grant approval, subject to conditions, on completion of the section 106 agreement for a Travel Plan Bond.

 

(e)       Item 5: BRIDGHAM: Land at Hall Farm and Field Barn Farm: Construct solar farm & associated works (inverter cabins, access tracks, security fencing & cameras): Applicant: Rethink Energy Limited: Reference: 3PL/2013/0546/F

 

This application had been withdrawn.

 

(h)   Item 6: SWANTON MORLEY: Lincoln House Care Home, Dereham Road: 20 Assisted Living Units (C2 use) Part 1: Applicant: Lincoln House Care Home: Reference: 3PL/2013/0626/F

 

Items 6 and 7 were considered together.

 

Key issues to be considered were landscape impact and highway safety.  In the Officers’ views they were both sufficiently provided for.  If approved the occupation of the units would be restricted by legal agreement.

 

Mr Atterwill (Parish Council) was concerned that NCC Policies had not been adhered to.  No traffic assessment had been carried out.  The access was via a dangerous junction.  The units were too far from village facilities including the nearest bus stop to be sustainable.  The application offered no contribution to affordable housing or Open Space due to the classification of the units, but that classification had been varied by legal agreement on previous units. 

 

Mrs Barham (Objector) lived locally and found the junction very dangerous and inadequate.  Drainage was also a concern.  Surface water went into an existing pond and ditches but they were not adequate and excess water flooded the road and into her garden.  More development would make the situation worse.

 

Mr Evans (Agent) said the application followed two and a half years of discussions during which time it had been altered and amended as required to give a better layout.  It would allow assisted living with access to the Care Home.   Units would be linked by legal agreement with a qualifying age of 60.  The emphasis was on facilities for local people.  A traffic count had been carried out and improvements to the access agreed.  There would be less increase in traffic than for previous approvals as less than half the residents were expected to have cars.

 

The Chairman asked the Officer to clarify the Highway and Drainage concerns.

 

The Senior Planner said that the Highway Authority was aware of what was there, what was planned and the increase that would bring and they had raised no objection.  The Drainage scheme had been designed to cope with increased capacity on site and the Environment Agency were aware and had raised no objection.  On a final point, the units were not regarded as dwellings and would have restricted occupation therefore there was no need for affordable housing provision.

 

Councillor R Richmond (Ward Representative) said that after the approval for the first 25 dwellings the residents of Swanton Morley had taken active part in the LDF process.  The area had been identified as a constrained site due to access limitations and the ability of the surrounding highway network to take additional traffic.  The village had predominantly linear development which should be maintained and the detached hamlet of Woodgate should be protected from inappropriate infill.  To approve the application would render the LDF process worthless.  In the spirit of Localism he asked the Committee to support residents.

 

Councillor Sharpe asked if the Applicant had consulted with the Parish Council and the Agent confirmed that they had attended three meetings and showed their plans which they understood to be acceptable in principle.

 

Mr Atterwill could only recall one meeting in the last 18 months.  The Parish Council had pro-actively sought the views of Woodgate residents who were all very concerned about the application.  During the LDF process 75% of residents had agreed where development should take place and the proposal did not enhance the village.

 

Councillor Lamb thought the development was utterly inappropriate for a rural village.

 

Councillor Bambridge thought drainage was very important and problems could only increase unless action was taken to ameliorate them.  He was also surprised that Highways had raised no objection.

 

Mr Porter, the Applicant’s Highways advisor, was asked to comment.  He said there were three main issues: highway/junction capacity, safety and alternative access.  A survey had been taken of existing movements.  Only a very small increase would be generated by the additional units.  The junction had been improved as part of a previous application.  There had only been two accidents involving personal injury in the last five years within 750 metres of the junction.  An alternative access had been suggested but was over third party land which the applicant did not own.

 

Councillor W Richmond proposed that the application be deferred for a traffic assessment to be carried out.  That proposal was supported and Councillor Spencer asked for a complete report about drainage to be included in the next report.

 

Deferred, contrary to the recommendation, for a traffic assessment and drainage details.

 

 

(g)       Item 7: SWANTON MORLEY: Lincoln House Care Home, Dereham Road: 5 Assisted Living Units (C2 use) Part 2 in conjunction with concurrent application for 20 Assisted Living Units: Applicant: Lincoln House Care Home: Reference: 3PL/2013/0627/F

 

This application was considered with Item 6 – see (f) above.

 

(h)        Item 8: FRANSHAM / GREAT DUNHAM / KEMPSTONE / BEESTON / MILEHAM / STANFIELD / WHISSONSETT: Various amendments to permitted onshore cable route between Ryburgh and Fransham: Applicant: Dudgeon Offshore Wind Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2013/0641/F

 

This application sought minor amendments to the route for cable laying mainly to accommodate requests from landowners.  No objections had been received and there were no new issues.

 

Ms Ward (for Applicant) said that they had reviewed construction following discussions with landowners.  The expected life of the cable was 20 years and it was important to establish good relations with neighbours therefore the application had been submitted to make changes to minimise disruption.  The changes had been assessed by Environmental Consultants and would slightly reduce the impact of the works.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

(i)         Item 9: HARLING: Land East of Lopham Road: MMA to 3PL/2010/0374/F in respect of enlargement of plot 2 & amended fenestration and position of plots 13, 14 and 15: Applicant: Mr D Taylor: Reference: 3PL/2013/0672/F

 

These minor material amendments included changes to window and door positions and a slight increase to one plot size.  They were before the Committee as they concerned a major application.

 

The Solicitor explained that it was not clear whether such amendments needed to come to the Committee under the current Delegation Agreement which was why suggested amendments to that were on the Agenda.

 

Agreed, as recommended.

 

(j)         Item 10: NARFORD: Land off Low Road: MMA to 3PL/2012/1036/F to include provision of additional structure on site: Applicant: Hursit SPV1 Limited: Reference: 3PL/2013/0739/F

 

This was also a minor amendment to include an additional small building on the site for the retention of spares.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

(k)        Item 11: LITCHAM: Land West of Tittleshall: MMA to 3PL/2012/1020/F to enable additional structure to be erected on site: Applicant: Claramond Solar SPV1 Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2013/0747/F

 

This was the same minor amendment as above, to include a small shed.  One objection to the design of the building had been received, but it was considered that the utilitarian design served its purpose and the colour blended in well.

 

Approved, as recommended.

 

Notes to the Schedule

Item No

Speaker

1

Cllr Nunn – Ward Representative

Mrs Scott-Barber – Parish Council

Mr Waters – Objector

Mr Armes – for Applicant

Mr Ward – for Applicant

2

Cllr Nunn – Ward Representative

Mr Gordon – Parish Council

Mr Gooderham - Applicant

3

Cllr Nunn – Ward Representative

Mr Gordon – Parish Council

Mr Knights - Agent

4

Cllr Martin – Ward Representative

Mr Waterson – for Applicant

Mr Delafield – for Applicant

Mr Grimley – EHO

6 & 7

Cllr Richmond – Ward Representative

8

Ms Ward – for Applicant

 

Written Representations Taken into Account

Reference No

No of Representations

3PL/2007/1688/O

5

3PL/2012/0876/F

12

3PL/2011/1100/F

9

3PL/2012/1088/F

5

3PL/2013/0511/F

4

3PL/2013/0626/F

2

3PL/2013/0627/F

11

3PL/2013/0747/F

2

 

Supporting documents: