Agenda item

Schedule of Planning Applications (Agenda Item 9)

To consider the Schedule of Planning Applications:


Item No



Page No


Norfolk Children’s Services




Mr & Mrs De Boos




Benjamin James Development Ltd




RE:think Energy Limited




Mr John Davies

Little Cressingham



Mr/Mrs D Stebbings




Mr & Mrs B Motts




Mr & Mrs Chris Negus




Gladman Developments Ltd




Mr Paul Gardner

Little Dunham




RESOLVED that the applications be determined as follows:


a)         Item 1: THETFORD: Drake Infant School & Nursery, Fairfields: Remodel existing building, external spaces and new car park and single storey new build extensions: Applicant: Norfolk Children’s Services: Reference: 3CM/2014/0019/CM


Members were advised that Norfolk County Council was the decision maker for this application and that Breckland Council was just a consultee.  The Ward Representative had asked for the matter to be brought to Committee as he considered it to be contentious.


It was proposed to remodel the existing school and add extensions and additional parking by using some of the open spaces to either side of the building.  It was also proposed to fence off the school playing field for school use only although some open space would remain for public use.


The Town Council had made comments direct to NCC raising concerns about the loss of amenity open space for local residents and issues of flooding, parking and highway safety.  They wanted a new school not an extended one.

The issues to be considered were balancing the benefits against the loss of open space.  Officers felt that the proposals were acceptable as long as access was provided for the wider community and NCC had agreed to explore that at a meeting with the Town Council in February.


Councillor Lamb was not the Ward Representative but had attended the meeting of the Town Council when the application was discussed.  He pointed out that this was the closest school to the Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) which would bring infrastructure.  The Town Council was concerned that if this school was extended to cope with the influx from the new development it might mean that the SUE would not provide a new school.  He also pointed out that the area of open space was not large; ownership of the land was in question; the road was a dead end which created enormous congestion; and that permission would double the size of the school.


Councillor North wanted the public to have access to facilities at all times.


Councillor Chapman-Allen knew the area well and there had always been parking problems.  The school had been identified for expansion some years ago and she welcomed the proposals to provide a new primary school and 46 parking spaces.


Councillor Robinson’s children had both attended the school and the overriding problem was congestion.  He asked if the 46 parking places would be for teachers or for drop-off by parents.   If the latter was the case it might alleviate the problem.  With regard to amenity space the larger area was well used.  The Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) had been located away from the houses but that could lead to anti social behaviour and it was close to the railway line which might lead to problems.


The Chairman noted the comments but pointed out that if the MUGA was closer to properties it could cause problems with noise.


Members were advised that land ownership had been checked and was not relevant to the application.


Councillor Duigan was concerned that the amount of open space for ‘mature users’ was being decreased and NCC needed to provide proper recompense for that.  He also thought that if the MUGA was in the control of the school it might lead to access problems in future.


The recommendation of no objection to the proposal subject to conditions was supported.


b)         Item 2: QUIDENHAM: The grounds of the White House, Sandfield Road, Eccles: Proposed two new dwellings and garages: Applicant: Mr & Mrs De Boos: Reference: 3PL/2013/1156/O


This was an outline application for two dwellings.  Indicative details showed one and a half storey, cottage style dwellings set back from the road, well separated from the existing house by screening.  There was existing permission for 20 dwellings on a site nearby. 


Mr Read (Parish Council) reiterated their unanimous support for the proposal.  There had been no objections at all.  It would restore balance in view of the 20 starter homes already approved.  The two detached homes would provide a more coherent hub to the centre of Eccles Village.


Councillor Lamb thought that one house would be more appropriate on the site than two.


Councillor North knew the site and said it was a substantial piece of land. 


Approved, as recommended.


c)         Item 3: FRANSHAM: Fransham Motor Co Site, A47: Erection of 4 dwellings, parking spaces and ancillary works: Applicant: Benjamin James Development Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/0497/F


This application was an amendment to a previously approved scheme for four houses. Two houses approved at the rear of the site would be replaced by four semi-detached units, increasing the total number of dwellings to six.   The site was reasonably well related to the village and approval was recommended subject to a two year time limit (which was a change from the published agenda).


Mr Futter (Agent) said that consent had originally been granted in 2005 and development had commenced in 2008 but bad contamination had been found increasing costs and making the original permission unviable.  The new proposal would minimise losses and kick start the site.


Mr Lamb noted that the Parish Council did not support the change.  The original permission had been contentious.  He did not think more dwellings should be allowed on the site which was close to the main road.


Councillor Carter said that the majority of houses in Fransham had access to the main road and it was not an issue.  The Chairman also noted that the site was within the 40mph zone.


Approved, as recommended, subject to a two year time limit.


(d)       Item 4: BRIDGHAM: Land at Hall Farm and Field Barn Farm: Solar farm and associated works (inverter cabins, switchgear, access tracks, security measures and landscaping): Applicant: RE:think Energy Limited: Reference: 3PL/2014/0589/F


All Members had received direct representation on this item.


The application had been deferred from a previous meeting for consultation with the Secretary of State and to ensure that all procedural matters had been dealt with in accordance with legislation.


The original proposal had been amended to reduce the area covered by the solar panels to mitigate the visual impact of the development.  Members were shown maps, elevations, photographs and a photo-montage giving an indication of views of the site after development.  The applicant had also provided an agricultural land classification map which showed that the majority of the soil on site was Grade 4 (poor) and the rest was Grade 3 (good to moderate).  The site was on the limit of the 10 kilometre radius to connect to the grid.  An indicative cable route was shown.  Members were advised of the comments in three additional letters of objection received since agenda publication. 


On balance officers felt that the benefits of renewable energy outweighed the negative impact on the local landscape which could be mitigated through appropriate conditions and a legal agreement.


Mr Dickenson (Chairman Bridgham Parish Council) said that they, Harling and Roudham & Larling Parish Councils and most residents objected to the proposal.  It was a huge site close to the village on land used for food production.  There were better places for the development which would be a major change to the outlook and would not improve or enhance the landscape.


Mr Honeybone (Supporter) had been resident in Bridgham for over 20 years.  He spoke on behalf of many residents who supported the proposal.  Most fields had large dormant areas to prevent over-production.  The solar panels would be silent and not easy to see. It was important to find an alternative to fossil fuels for the future.


Mr Besent (Objector) said the benefits were outweighed by the cons which were: other sites were available; unacceptable harm to views and wildlife; loss of food producing land; the adverse effects of concrete; problems with restoration; and disruption during grid connection.  The development would dominate the village and there was overwhelming opposition to it.


Mr Grogan (Agent) pointed out the key benefits which included: power for up to 8,500 local homes; retained agricultural use – sheep grazing; dedicated carefully managed land for pollinators; rich and varied habitat for skylarks, etc.  There would be almost no adverse visual impact with 57 acres of open buffer zones being provided.  The proposal was supported by the NFU, CLA, Wild Anglia and the UEA.  The choice for the site was either continued use for agricultural with pesticides, fertilizers, etc or the temporary use to provide energy and to build up the bio-diversity of the site.


The Chairman noted that Mr Broom-Lynne (landscape consultant), Mr Smith (Norfolk Wildlife Services) Ms Frost (for Agent) and Mr Tomlinson (for applicant) were present to answer questions.


Councillor Jolly (Ward Representative) spoke on behalf of Bridgham, Harling, and Roudham & Larling Parish Councils who all objected to the proposal.  She acknowledged that some people did support it.  She was concerned about the impact on the landscape.  The development was intrusively large and less than half a mile from Bridgham’s listed church.  Policies gave the landscape high protection and that had been the reason for the previous refusal.  At the recent appeal the Inspector had said that the development would have an intrusive and utilitarian impact on the countryside.


Councillor Sharpe asked for clarification of the proposed legal agreement and he was advised that it would secure off-site works for bio-diversity.


Councillor Richmond asked about construction traffic and was advised that there would be a traffic management plan.


Councillor Bowes was concerned about impact on wildlife and the protected species in the SPA.  Mr Smith explained that the site was not part of the SPA.  A detailed management plan would give the opportunity to create large areas of wildlife meadow.  He noted that the skylark population had declined due to intensification of arable use.


Councillor Robinson asked why the ecological plan was only for ten years when the temporary permission was for 25 years.  Ms Frost said that ten years would be long enough to establish the ecological benefits but they would be happy to accept a condition for a 25 year plan.


Councillor Chapman-Allen was aware that the Government Minister and the local MP had both said they no longer supported solar panels on agricultural land and that subsidies would be withdrawn.


Councillor Carter asked about panel installation methods and Ms Frost advised that the number on concrete pads was expected to be low and would be determined by a geo-physical survey.  There would then be an option to trial trench or use concrete as a last resort.  The majority would be pile driven.


Councillor North did not agree that the visible impact would be negligible.  She also thought that sheep grazing would conflict with stone curlew nesting.  However, Mr Smith advised that the stone curlew’s main habitat was heathland which was often grazed by sheep.


When attending the Site Visit Councillor Sharpe had been shocked by the size of the site and thought that the application would drastically change the form and character of the village.


Councillor Chapman-Allen challenged some of the information provided by the applicant which conflicted with information on the DEFRA website.  She asked who would be responsible for decommissioning the site and where the panels would be disposed of.


Mr Grogan clarified that the figures came from the landowner and his advisor.  He apologised if they were incorrect.


The Chairman said that the decommissioning was part of the application.


Councillor Claussen was concerned about cumulative effect and asked how much Breckland land was covered by solar panels.  The figure was not known.  He accepted that electricity was needed but so was land for growing food.  He had also attended the site visit and he wondered what effect the construction of the cable route would have on the local roads.


Ms Frost advised that the final routing was not fixed and did not form part of the application.


Councillor Lamb noted that Officers had not initially been in favour of the application and asked why that had changed.  He was also concerned that in 25 years more land might be needed for food production.


The reason for the Officers’ change in recommendation was the reduction in the area covered by the solar panels which reduced the impact on the landscape.


Councillor Duigan asked about the information on Government Policy provided by Councillor Chapman-Allen and the Solicitor advised that the application had to be determined on current policies which had not changed.


The Officers’ recommendation of approval was not supported.  Councillor Sharpe proposed that the application be refused on grounds of its size and location and its adverse effect on the form and character of Bridgham village.


Councillor North suggested that the CPRE final objection paragraph summed up the reasons the application should be refused.


Councillor Claussen also wanted mention of the amenity impact issues on local roads during construction.


Refused, contrary to the recommendation, on the following grounds:


1.      The size, scale, design and materials of the solar farm in this rural location would result in a large alien feature in the countryside causing significant harm to the form, character and setting of the village and on the local landscape.


2.      The loss of good quality agricultural land that could otherwise be used for food production.



3.      Given the close proximity of the site to the village it is considered that significant harm would result to the amenity of local residents due to traffic movements to and from the site during the construction phase of the development.


(e)       Item 5: LITTLE CRESSINGHAM: Land at Fairstead Lane: Proposed new Eco dwelling: Applicant: Mr John Davies: Reference: 3PL/2014/0965/F


This application proposed a single dwelling on a large site near to the main built up centre of the village and immediately adjacent to a large farm building.  The design made the dwelling appear like a barn from the road and additional screening would be provided.  It would be built to a high standard and it was considered that any harm caused by lack of local services would be outweighed by the benefits of the proposal in providing additional housing, the high standard of sustainable construction and improvements to the appearance of the area.


Mr Futter (Agent) noted that the site was originally within the Settlement Boundary which had been withdrawn by the Council.  The development would provide nothing but benefit and assist in maintaining the vitality of the village.  It would also improve appearances by shielding the ugly storage buildings.


Mr Abel (Parish Council Chairman) said the land had been dormant for some time and the Parish were excited by the proposal.  There had been no opposition at all.


Councillor Nairn (Ward Representative) commended the proposal which made use of redundant land.  The design was remarkable and in compliance with Code Level 5.


It was noted that the time limit had been reduced to two years to encourage early delivery.


Approved, as recommended subject to an additional condition requiring Code Level 5.


f)          Item 6: BESTHORPE: Adjacent Northview Cottage, Norwich Road: Detached dwelling: Applicant: Mr/Mrs Stebbings: Reference: 3PL/2014/1032/F


Members were shown the proposed location of the dwelling and the distance to the bus service, employment area and footpath.  The site was outside the Settlement Boundary but not isolated and within walking distance of the village. 


Councillor Bowes wished that more emphasis had been placed on providing an interesting and good design.


Councillor Robinson thought that the conservatory design was poor and asked for an informative to be added to the conditions to that effect.


Councillor Lamb asked that soldier bricks and segmented arches over windows be required.


Approved, as recommended subject to the additional comments made.


g)         Item 7: MATTISHALL: Rayners Farm, Dereham Road: Residential development: Applicant: Mr & Mrs B Motts: Reference: 3PL/2014/1067/F


This application had originally proposed four bungalows, but that had been reduced to three.  That amendment provided a more spacious development which conformed to the character of the area.  On balance it was felt that it would be a sustainable form of development which would support the rural community.


Councillor North requested an additional condition restricting Permitted Development for upward development.  However, Councillor Robinson did not have an issue with future upward development.  Councillor Duigan pointed out that the PD restriction would just mean an application would be required.


Approved, as recommended.


h)         Item 8: SHROPHAM: South Bungalow, Church Road: Residential extension of existing bungalow to provide a two-storey family dwelling: Applicant: Mr & Mrs Chris Negus: Reference: 3PL/2014/1123/F


This application proposed extensions to an existing bungalow which were contrary to policy as they were not in proportion to the existing dwelling.  However, due to the location, screening and lack of significant impact on neighbours it was recommended for approval.


Mr Napier (Parish Council) said they supported the proposal strongly and unanimously as it would allow the applicant to take on an increased role in the family farming business.


Councillor Cowen (Ward Representative) also supported the proposal which would enable an existing business to continue and thrive.  He felt that the design of the extensions would be a significant improvement to the existing building.


Councillor Duigan suggested that the existing policy was not fit for purpose and asked the Local Plan Working Group to look at it.


Councillor Canham asked about parking provision and was advised that it was not an issue.


Councillor Lamb asked for clay pantiles to be required as it would add to the appearance of the dwelling.  The Chairman suggested that slate might also be acceptable.


Approved, as recommended.


i)          Item 9: MATTISHALL: Land South of Dereham Road: Erection of up to 90 dwelling houses with associated infrastructure: Applicant: Gladman Developments Ltd: Reference: 3PL/2014/1143/O


The application site was in Councillor Claussen’s Ward.


All Members had received direct representation.


This was an outline application with only the principle of development and access to be considered.  An indicative layout plan had been provided but it showed less than 90 dwellings.  Members were shown maps, photographs and indicative layout plans which showed a play area, orchard and allotment provision.


The Highways issues were still to be resolved, but refusal reasons two and three could be removed as those objections had been overcome.  Anglian Water had also confirmed that there was sufficient capacity to deal with the development.


An amended reason for refusal had been included in the supplement to the agenda.


In summary, although the proposal would provide 40% affordable housing and contribute to the Council’s housing land supply the site was in the countryside, without much screening and would have a suburban character and create a hard edge to the village which would cause significant harm to the character of the area.


Mr Rockcliff (Parish Council) thought the development was too large and in the wrong place.  It was right at the end of the linear development and most residents would have to travel into the village by car.  The roads were poor and there was limited parking.  There was lots of space closer to the middle of the village but residents did not want such large development.  They had just started to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.  If local feeling counted for anything the proposal should be refused.


Mr Simons (Objector) representing ‘Mattishall Matters’ had detailed their objections in a letter to the Council.  The urban design would fragment and divide the village.  There was insufficient infrastructure to support the development.  The school and doctors were full.  The sewage system was inefficient.  The roads were inadequate and dangerous with pinch points which caused gridlock.  The footpaths and parking were also insufficient.  The site flooded in heavy rain.  The village had initiated a Neighbourhood Plan and the application should be refused on grounds of prematurity.


Mr Shaw (Agent) said the proposal was sustainable in the context of the NPPF.  It was within walking distance of facilities.  They were fully committed to providing 40% affordable housing.  The access objection had been resolved in principle and the archaeological concerns would be resolved once the survey results were submitted.  The benefit of the additional housing was of significant weight.  In the absence of the required housing land supply there were no just reasons for refusal.


Councillor Borrett (Norfolk County Council) noted that the development was a really long way from the middle of the village where most of the facilities were located and people would not walk that distance.  There were already problems with traffic congestion and the school and the doctors were full.  A smaller more integrated proposal would be better.  The impact on the landscape character and appearance was a key reason for refusal.


Councillor Rose (Ward Representative) agreed that the proposal was too large and in the wrong place.  It would represent urbanisation on a large scale and form almost a satellite.  During the LDF negotiations he had sat on the Working Group and he knew that many conforming sites had been offered by landowners which would fill the land supply deficit.


Councillor Claussen felt that the Agent was implying that the Committee had no choice as the Council had a housing land supply deficit.  However, that would mean that all the work the residents of Mattishall had done on the LDF and now on their new Neighbourhood Plan would be taken away and that was wrong.   The effect on traffic movements through the middle of the village had to be considered.  There were no jobs in Mattishall so people would commute, mainly to Norwich which would mean driving through the whole village from the proposal site.  There was also the flooding issue to consider – it was a serious issue even though not supported by the statutory consultee.


Councillor Carter thought that new building in a village should be integrated and this was isolated at the end of the village a mile from the centre.  There was no integration or assimilation and it wouldn’t work.


Councillor Canham was concerned that it was not the right place for large scale social housing.


Councillor Sharpe was also not convinced that 40% affordable housing would be provided and he was unhappy that the development was on Grade 3 agricultural land.


Councillor Duigan asked if the Council believed that the site could be delivered within the time scale and the Officer confirmed that there was nothing on site to question deliverability.


The Chairman was unhappy that the applicant had not done more consultation with residents in view of the large amount of public unrest. 


Refused, as recommended by the amended reasons in the supplement to the agenda.


j)          Item 10: LITTLE DUNHAM: The Chestnuts, Necton Road: A five bedroom two storey detached house with a detached double garage: Applicant: Mr Paul Gardner: Reference: 3PL/2014/1169/O


This was an outline application for a dwelling on a site which originally had permission for three dwellings but only two had been built.  The application would infill between the two existing dwellings.  When the original permission had been granted the site had been within the Settlement Boundary, but that was now gone.


Councillor Lamb noted that almost every application on the agenda was for housing outside the Settlement Boundary and nearly all had been approved.


The Director of Planning & Business Manager advised that Members had been sent a briefing note regarding the Housing Land Supply issues which gave context to the position that the Council was in and the work that the Planning Policy Team was doing to address those issues.


Approved, as recommended.


Notes to the Schedule

Item No



Mr Read – Parish Council


Mr Futter – Agent


Cllr Jolly – Ward Representative

Mr Dickenson – Parish Council

Mr Honeybone – Supporter

Mr Besent – Objector

Mr Grogan – Agent

Ms Frost – Agent

Mr Broom Lynne – Landscape Cons.

Mr Smith – Wildlife Services

Mr Tomlinson – for Applicant


Cllr Narin – Ward Representative

Mr Abel – Parish Council

Mr Futter - Agent


Cllr Cowen – Ward Representative

Mr Napier – Parish Council


Cllr Borrett – Norfolk County Councillor

Cllr Rose – Ward Representative

Mr Rockcliff – Parish Council

Mr Simons – Objector

Mr Shaw - Agent


Written Representations taken into account

Reference No

No of Representations














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