Snetterton: Proposed hotel/restaurant, The Flame Restaurant, Adjacent A11: Reference: 3PL/2007/1568/F (Agenda item 11)
Report of the Development Services Manager.
The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) presented the report which concerned a planning application for a hotel/restaurant development adjacent to the Snetterton Heath employment area. It had been recommended that the application be approved.
The application had been supported by a Design Statement, a Traffic report and a Needs Assessment.
The application site fell outside the Snetterton Heath Employment Area, as defined in the Local Plan. Saved Local Plan Policy TRA.5 was considered relevant to the application. Relevant national planning policy guidance included PPG 13 Transport, PPS 6 Planning for Town Centres and the Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism. There was no national planning policy guidance specifically on motorist service areas, although draft guidance had been recently issued for consultation by the Highways Agency.
The proposed development would be accommodated in a series of interconnected one and two storey blocks of contemporary design. Access to the development would be gained off an existing roundabout, linking directly to existing slip roads onto the A11. Parking for 94 cars would be provided on site, together with a space for coach parking.
The main issues that were focused on were design matters and the layout of the proposed development. These factors were considered to particularly important as the site would form the gateway to the employment area. The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) felt that the materials used would also be an important factor and would have to be conditioned.
The Parish Council had raised concerns with regard to the existing high pressure gas main that ran through the site, and that insufficient information had been provided about traffic; however, the Traffic Assessment that had been submitted had been found to be satisfactory.
Mr Askew, the Ward Representative, was in attendance and he supported the application in principle but had concerns about the growth of employment alongside the A11. He felt that it was important that any growth should be carried out in a structural manner. Mr Askew also reiterated the Parish Council concerns about the existing gas main. In response to these concerns, the Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) advised that the Council would be providing a new planning framework for the Snetterton area within the LDF. He further advised that this site could be considered in isolation as it sat on its own and there would not be any change to the general character of the use as the Flame Restaurant was already well established. The Chairman wished to point out that the site had been a former petrol station which she felt would have been slightly more hazardous than a hotel.
Planning permission had previously been granted in December 2006 (Minute No. 235/06(2) refers) for a 20-bedroom motel and restaurant. The applicant had since acquired further land to enable expansion.
A Member asked questions about the roof materials as, in his opinion, the roof looked terribly bland. In response, the Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) advised that it would be a metal clad roof but the precise colour and materials were yet to be agreed. Pictures were shown of other buildings in the area which had similar features to the building proposed.
A Member felt that the design that had been submitted had not provided enough detail and he was concerned that the proposal looked like a functional set of boxes. The Chairman disagreed and felt that the building had a lot of detail and interesting features.
The Development Services Manager advised that there were a number of key issues that should be taken into consideration. Firstly, the site already had a history; there was a timing issue but it was felt that the Council should promote Snetterton and that a good quality well designed building should be approved. Finally, as long as the materials were right and, if Members were mindful to approve the application, then in his opinion, this would be the right thing to do at the right time.
A Thetford Member mentioned sustainability and forward planning. He reminded Members that a previous application for another hotel in the area had not been sold. He also pointed out that a hotel not far from this proposal had been on the open market and had been unable to sell. The Member felt that Breckland ought to raise its standards on the design issues. The Solicitor advised Members that it would be difficult to contest the principle of development, as the principle for this type of use had already been established. Further to this, Members should think hard if they were of the mind to refuse the application on design grounds only.
RESOLVED that planning permission be granted subject to conditions relating to materials, landscaping, parking, drainage and contaminated land.
Note: Mr J Labouchere abstained from voting on this matter.