Agenda item

Brettenham: Home Farm, Shadwell: Change of Use from agriculture fields to equine use incorporating an all weather gallop and two stables consisting of six boxes each for Mr Philip Hodson: Reference: 3PL/2008/1419/F (Agenda Item 8b)

Report of the Development Services Manager.


Councillor Bowes declared a personal interest in this item.


This application had been deferred from the previous meeting to seek clarification of the use of the land within the gallops.


Members were shown a map and photographs of the site which was outside the proposed buffer zone for Stone Curlews and adjacent to a County Wildlife Site.


The application for two, all-weather gallops which could be linked to make one extended track for equine endurance training included two blocks of stables to be sited close to existing buildings to minimise their impact on the countryside.  The stables and grazing would be used for isolation purposes.


The inner edge of the gallops would be fenced with post and rails and the outer edge with post and wire, leaving a wildlife habitat zone beyond.


It was confirmed that the area within the gallops would be used for grazing by the horses when they were on-site and by sheep when the horses were away.


Two main issues to be considered were the impact on birds and the impact on the character of the countryside.


No objection had been received from the RSPB or Natural England and Officers considered that there would be a negligible effect on the character of the area.  The application was recommended for approval.


Mr Poulter, representing Brettenham and Kilverstone Parish Council, said the application was contrary to Policy; would result in the loss of high grade agricultural land; and was not in the best interests of the local community.


Mr Wright, objector, had been the tenant farmer since 1970.  He objected to the loss of agricultural land and the effect on bio-diversity.  It was not necessary for such a large piece of land to be lost and most could still be used for agriculture.  There were already isolation boxes on the farm and no more were needed and the proposal did nothing for local employment.


Mr Warth, Agent, mentioned that compensation would be payable to the tenant.  He reiterated that the change of use would have no impact on Stone Curlews and would significantly increase employment and provide many benefits.


The views of the Ward Representative, Lady Fisher, were read out as she was unable to be in attendance.  She objected to the minimisation and fragmentation of habitats and was concerned about the effect on employment.  The proposal would compromise local food production; lead to building in the countryside; and be detrimental in terms of travel impact.


A local Member was concerned that no attempt had been made to mitigate the effects on the farmer.  He also questioned the isolation blocks which were too close to existing buildings to fulfil that criteria.  He said there were other available places more suitable for the purpose.


The Principal Planning Officer clarified that the Council’s records showed the land as grade 3 and 4.  Normally only grades 1 and 2 would be considered for protection.


On a vote, the recommendation of approval was not agreed, and Members discussed reasons to refuse the application.  They were advised that it would be difficult to support a refusal on the grounds of the loss of agricultural land.


After general discussion of the issues it was RESOLVED by 8 votes to 5, to refuse the application on the following grounds:


(1)               the loss of agricultural land;

(2)               the effect of the stables on the landscape;

(3)               the general impact of the development on the countryside; and

(4)               the detrimental effect on local employment for a large part of the year.


Mr Duigan, Mr Kiddle-Morris, Mrs Spencer and Mr Wilkin asked to have their votes against the proposal recorded.


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