Agenda item

Deferred Applications (Agenda item 8)

To consider applications deferred at previous meetings including some, but not all, of those shown on the attached Schedule of Deferred Applications.


a)           Swaffham and Sporle: A wind energy development comprising six wind turbines and associated works on land off Sporle Road for Next Generation: Reference 3PL/2007/0314/F


The Principal Planning Officer presented the report which concerned a planning application for the erection of six wind turbines with hard-standing areas, information board, electricity sub-station and a temporary construction compound on land off Sporle Road, Swaffham.  The application had been deferred from the meeting held on 17 December 2007 to enable further representations to be submitted.


A Member was concerned, having read the related reports over the past few months, particularly in relation to the MOD objections, whether the application should be heard.  In response, the Solicitor advised that he was aware that there was a conflict of opinion but this was an application that the Committee should take forward and be dealt with today.


The six turbines would have a tower height of 78 metres and a blade diameter of 82 metres.  For comparison, Swaffham II had a tower height of 85 metres and a blade diameter of 70 metres.


If the proposal was permitted, it would bring with it significant environmental benefits; clean electricity from a renewable source would be provided for up to 9,500 homes.  The applicant had estimated that the six turbines would save on the emissions of up to 31,474 tonnes of carbon dioxide and would also contribute 1.8% of the capacity required to achieve the region’s 2010 target or 7% of that identified for Norfolk.


The consultation process had been extensive and a large number of responses had been received including 30 objection letters.  Since the publication of the Agenda, Sporle Parish Council had provided a second objection to the application and a letter had also been received from CATS (Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham) objecting to the proposal. The main concern related to flicker.  Members were informed that the matter of flicker was one that had been recognised and could be controlled by condition.


Photo montages of present and future views of the area had been provided with the Landscape Assessment document.  Members were able to comprehend what effect the turbines would have on the landscape from various locations.


The Principal Planning Officer explained that the Council had received an objection from the MOD who had requested that the development, if approved, should not commence until a proven technical solution had been found.


The Committee was informed that in the light of the detailed objection from the MOD relating to the impact of the proposal upon air traffic control radar and air traffic management procedures at RAF Marham, the application had been recommended for refusal.


The following speakers were in attendance for this item:


·        Mr D Williams, Ward Representative

·        Mr Hickey, Sporle Parish Council

·        Mrs Bartley, Sporle Parish Clerk

·        Mrs Burrows, Objector

·        Mrs Stone, Objector

·        Mrs Cawley, Objector

·        Mr Partridge, Ecotricity


Mr Hickey, who was in attendance with Mrs Bartley, said that both had concerns relating to noise and the environmental impact.  Mr Hickey felt that the cumulative effect of the turbines would turn a tranquil landscape into an industrial one. 


Mrs Burrows felt that the major fault of the proposal was the location particularly with regard to the bridleway/restricted byway which should remain open to the public at all times.  Mrs Burrows pointed out that the bridleway was frequently used by horse riders and was concerned that the British Horse Society, that had guidelines on wind turbines, had not been consulted.


Mrs Stone, who lived in Sporle, and was the closest resident to wind turbine II, had concerns about power surges and noise, and had further concerns relating to the effect this proposal would have on the value of her property.  She felt that no thought had been given to her or her neighbours.


Mr Partridge had been involved in the industry for 14 years and had been very impressed with the vast majority of views concerning wind turbines from Swaffham residents.  He felt that the Officers had taken a very pragmatic approach in reducing their grounds of refusal to one.  Mr Partridge mentioned a similar application at South Norfolk District Council where a “Grampian” condition had been imposed as part of the permission.  He explained that such a condition could be effectively discharged over three years.


The Development Services Manager explained that a "Grampian” condition was a planning condition attached to a decision notice that prevented the start of a development until certain matters or works had been completed.  One of the requirements of a “Grampian” condition was whether there was any reasonable prospect that the condition could be complied with.  The Development Services Manager felt that the imposition of such a condition at this stage was not appropriate.


Mr D Williams, the Ward Representative, emphasised the importance of the MOD objections and urged Members to refuse the application.  He pointed out that the wind turbines would be on the aircraft approach to the largest air base in Britain.He asked Members to consider the consequences if all 18 aircraft had to divert away from the area; he highlighted the Necton incident as an example. 


A Member complimented Mr Williams on the aforementioned statement; however, he agreed with Mr Partridge’s comments that most Swaffham residents did like the wind turbines.  Nevertheless, this was a proposal that would increase the “family” and he was afraid that if the application was approved, Swaffham and the surrounding areas would become known as “wind” valley.  He reminded the Committee that no-one in the area would gain from the electricity as all the power would be fed into the national grid.


Another Member had calculated that the turbines would be approximately 9,000 metres from Marham’s runway and would be bang in line with the final approach; therefore he was not able to support the application and proposed that the Committee supported the Officer’s recommendation of refusal.


RESOLVED that the application be refused as recommended on the basis of the objection from the Ministry of Defence: i.e. that the turbines would leave an unacceptable impact upon Air Traffic Control Radar and air traffic management procedures at RAF Marham.


b)           Yaxham: Former Breckland Garden Centre: Development of a “Lodge Park” within the site of the former garden centre and re-use of ex-camping and caravan site for THPD Properties Ltd


This application had previously been deferred to allow time for the applicant to provide additional supporting information in relation to the proposal.  The report took into account the additional information submitted by the applicant and by third parties, and as such superceded the “Assessment Notes” section of the previous committee report. 


The application was recommended for refusal.


The Principal Planning Officer presented the report which concerned the stationing of 50 timber clad holiday lodges plus an office/reception.  The existing bungalow on site would remain as the manager’s dwelling.  The scale and density of the proposed development would, in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority, result in an unwarranted intrusion into the rural landscape to the detriment of the character and visual amenities of the area.


It was considered that the applicant had failed to adequately demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority that the proposal had taken account of the following issues:


·        Flood risk

·        Protected species and habitat; and

·        Landscape issues


In support of the proposal, the applicant had stated that the development would provide an economic boost to the community and would create 11 full and part time jobs.  The units would be sold off to individual owners with a covenant preventing the dwellings from being sub-let.  The applicant had further felt that the development would protect existing housing stock from being bought as second homes.  The proposal would not compromise local services such as doctors, dentists or hospitals as these could be accessed in the owners’ home towns.


The Principal Planning Officer advised that a further letter had been received from Yaxham Parish Council that was a direct result of the Parish meeting held on 10 January 2008.  Yaxham Parish Council had objected to the application for a number of reasons, including: failing to demonstrate the need, the scale and density of the development, increase in traffic and less employment than the applicant envisaged.


Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust had also objected to the application as it felt that the development could create trespass and safety problems.


Natural England objected on the grounds that the application contained insufficient survey information that could demonstrate whether or not the development would have an adverse effect on legally protected species.


The Council’s Tree and Countryside Officer felt that the applicant had provided insufficient detail to support the application, for example: the supply of services, the removal of waste water, the character of access tracks and night time lighting.


The Council’s Environmental Planning Policy Officer and the Environment Agency had also raised objections to the application.


Further to the above, 31 written letters of objection had been received from local residents together with a 126 named petition undertaken by  the Parish Council.


Members were made aware that although the site could be accessed by an hourly bus service a footpath would not and could not be provided from the site to the town.


The Principal Planning Officer advised that all of the aforementioned issues had been taken into consideration. 


The following speakers were in attendance for this item:


·        Mr Jordan, Ward Representative

·        Mr Crummet, Parish Council

·        Mr Cutting, Supporter

·        Mr Martin, Objector

·        Mr Anema, Objector

·        Mr Dimoglou, Applicant

·        Mr Hay, Applicant


Mr Crummet, the Chairman of Yaxham Parish Council, said that Yaxham was a very pleasant village that had less than 200 dwellings and a thriving village hall.  He supported future development but did not support this application.  Mr Crummet stated that he had never known a planning application to create such an uproar in the village.  He failed to see the need for these holiday homes and he was concerned that these dwellings would become second homes.


Mr Cutting had no problem with the application.  He had visited similar sites around Norfolk that the applicants owned and he complimented them on their good business experience. 


Mr Martin spoke on behalf of Yaxham residents who had submitted the petition.  A photograph was displayed that illustrated that not all the site was brownfield land; only one acre at the front of the site was brownfield and the remainder was horticultural.  The site was outside the settlement boundary and he felt that the application would be for second homes in the village.


Mr Anema owned 9½ acres of farmland adjacent to the site and was concerned about the increase in surface water that would run from the hard-standing into the ditch.  He was further concerned with regard to the risk of pollution from the proposed water treatment plant.  Mr Anema said that he had spoken to the Environment Agency who had advised him that the water would not be drinkable and would be polluted.


Mr Hay and Mr Dimoglou had both been involved in the holiday business for many years and had won many awards.  Mr Dimoglou advised that the development would employ local people and the lodges would not be sub-let.  He felt that the site could not be fully appreciated without a site visit.


Mr Jordan pointed out that there were more objectors than supporters to this application.  He had a number of concerns; firstly, if the site happened to change to residential in the future, Yaxham could end up with 10 acres of housing estate outside the guidelines.  Secondly, he was not convinced that the water treatment plant would not carry bacteria and finally, the impact on the village.  The people who supported the application felt that the proposal would enhance the village; the objectors did not want Yaxham to become a dormitory to Dereham.  Mr Jordan hoped that he had provided the Committee with a balanced view.


In response to a question on when Officers had visited the site, the Principal Planning Officer confirmed that he had met with the applicant in February 2007 and felt that the site was well landscaped and that it could be used for some tourist dwellings but not as many as proposed.


The Development Services Manager explained that the recommendation of refusal had been based purely on the consultation.


A Member asked whether this was an application for second homes or a holiday park.  Mr Dimoglou replied that the proposal would be for a holiday park and was intended for holiday use only.  The park would be aimed at semi/retired professional people who would be able to leave their holiday homes for a long period and come back to them in a pristine condition.


Another Member considered the site to be a housing estate where no council tax would be paid and he supported the Officer’s recommendation of refusal.


The Solicitor quoted the definition of tourism and advised that the normal restrictions for pure tourism were much more restrictive than had been suggested.  He mentioned the Appeal decision for a similar application in Beetley.  This application, in his opinion, was a different type of tourism.


A Member felt that the proposal was in the wrong place. There was no demand for such holiday homes in the area and the development would not bring wealth or health to the area.  He asked to view an illustration of the type of dwellings that would be installed.


The holiday lodges would be transported to the site and would be in the form of two and three bedroom log cabins.


In response to a question concerning flood risk, Mr Dimoglou had yet to submit the details of the water disposal.  This could be solved by means of a condition.  Mr Dimoglou had been disappointed with the lack of support from Breckland Council and the Environment Agency on this matter.  This was a £2m investment for the area which he felt should be supported. 


A Member asked the Principal Planning Officer to clarify the Highways Authority decision.  The Committee noted that the Highways Authority had requested one minor improvement to the visibility splays.


In conclusion, the Committee


RESOLVED that the application be refused as recommended on the four grounds as set out on page 51 of the Agenda.


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