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Agenda item

19/00404/FUL - Land Rear of Grove View, Market Lane, Greet

PROPOSAL: Conversion of existing builders storage building to 1 bed dwelling and change of use of land to residential.




40.26        This application was for the conversion of existing builders storage building to one bed dwelling and change of use of land to residential. The Chair indicated that in presenting the application, the Planning Officer would explain why the recommendation had changed from permit to delegated permit.

40.27        The Planning Officer advised that the application related to a parcel of land situated to the rear of Grove View off Market Lane in Greet. The application had been deferred at the August meeting of the Committee in order to allow Officers time to investigate additional engineering works on land immediately adjacent to the site and building. This was now taking place and, as a result, additional contaminated land testing had occurred and the additional land to the rear of the building had now been included within the application before the Committee today. Due to the change in the site area a re-consultation had been undertaken issued on 29 October 2020 by way of revised site notices and neighbour notifications. The Council’s website indicated that the response date would be 3 December 2020 and, on that basis, the application was now recommended for delegated permit subject to there being no new substantive issues being raised before the end of the re-consultation period. During the re-consultation period an objector had written to all Members copying in Officers. The Planning Officer indicated that due regard had been given to this additional representation and it was considered that the points raised had been addressed within the Officer report. The site was located within a sylvan setting which was largely surrounded by maturing trees. Historically, the site formed part of a brickworks and landfill site however, this use had long ceased, and the land had since been assimilated into its natural surroundings. Notwithstanding this, the site had been identified as potentially contaminated land by the Council’s Environmental Health Department. The site was accessed by a track off Market Lane which currently served land and buildings used as a builders store which was obtained through a Certificate of Lawful Use. The site was also located in a Special Landscape Area (SLA). This application sought planning permission for the conversion of an existing building into a one bed dwelling and change of use of the surrounding land for residential purposes. If the permission were to be granted, the existing builders storage yard would cease. The existing building was single story with a shallow pitch roof and clad in waney edge timber boarding. There are three openings on the front elevation each secured with double doors. In terms of the principle of this development, it was judged that the proposal complied with the Council’s residential conversion polices. As outlined in the Officer’s report, the Council could not currently demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites, and in this situation, permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. As set out in the report, it was considered that the proposal would not result in any additional adverse impact to the landscape and the applicant had demonstrated that the existing trees on site could be protected and any contaminated land issues could be mitigated satisfactorily. The application would not cause any adverse impacts upon neighbouring amenity and there would not be any ecological issues relating to the change of use and conversion of the building. Therefore, the Officer recommendation was a delegated permit subject to there being no new substantive issues being raised before the end of the re-consultation process.

40.28        As the speaker in objection to the application was having some difficulties accessing the meeting, the Chair invited the applicant’s agent to make her submission. She explained that the application was the culmination of 20 months’ work and she thanked the Planning Officer for his hard work and comprehensive report. She explained that the applicant had engaged in pre-application discussions in early 2019 and had subsequently submitted the application. The majority of the site had a certificate of lawfulness for use of land as a builders storage yard which was unrestricted in terms of hours or days. The proposal sought to convert the existing builder’s storage yard building into a one bed dwelling for the applicant and his wife to live in. The builders storage yard use would cease as a result of the development. With regards the principle of development, the Committee report set out that the proposal complied with JCS policy SD10, Local Plan policies AGR6 and 7 and emerging policies RES3 and RES7. In her view, the Neighbourhood Development Plan was silent on the matter of conversions and the lack of a five-year supply directed that permission should be granted unless significant or demonstrable harm would arise to outweigh the benefits. The building already existed, and therefore the pattern of development of the area would not be adversely affected as no new buildings were proposed. The building was capable of conversion and retaining its existing character and the removal of the builders storage items and replacement with a domestic use, plus planting of new trees, would be a visual enhancement as at paragraph 7.42 of the report, and an ecological enhancement. The cessation of the builders storage use would bring about benefits including noise reduction and less traffic including building machinery, as agreed by many of the third party letters of support summarised at paragraph 5.2 of the Committee report. During the application process, the applicant had carried out extensive contamination assessments and the Council’s Environmental Health Officer was satisfied subject to conditions. No objections had been raised by Highways, Natural England, the Council’s Tree Officer, Ecology Advisor, Flood Risk Management Officer or Environmental Health Officers. She indicated that, for clarity, the historical appeal related to a completely different part of the site which was woodland, was for a new build, was not brownfield and not at all comparable. This was an opportunity to create a small one-bed dwelling for the applicant to live in, which would count towards the Council’s self-build properties and also the five-year housing supply. It was also development of a brownfield site and could support facilities in nearby settlements. Paragraphs 8.1-8.3 of the report clearly set out that there was no adverse impact that would significantly outweigh the benefits and therefore it was in the absence of a five-year housing supply, permission should be granted and the Officer recommendation supported.

40.29        As the registered objector had been unable to access the meeting in accordance with the Council’s public participation scheme, the Chair invited the Development Management Team Leader (North) to read the submission. I am an adjacent neighbour of the application site in Greet. I oppose the proposed building conversion and am grateful for the opportunity to explain why. Firstly, let me say I am conscious I have already hit Councillor Members with a lengthy written submission, so this morning I promise to be brief. Members may wish to refer to that written submission, and its Appendices, to aid later discussion. Everything I say here is fully supported by the detailed analysis and evidence in those papers. Secondly, I acknowledge this application is a complex and difficult matter which is testified by the fact that it has taken a year and a half to reach Committee and the Case Officer recommends 17 Planning Conditions, should it be approved. Whilst  the objector believed the application should not receive approval should the Committee determine otherwise he had suggested two additional conditions. The objector also acknowledged that because of the complexity of the application the Committee’s deliberations may not be clear-cut and members may decide that  more time was needed or further consideration outside of today’s meeting. He indicated that his submission and speech were intended to make the issues clearer for the Committee not to hinder. This was not about individuals, nor about personalities and it was not about NIMBY-ism either; he was not the only objector; there were others in Greet, and further afield too - this is about hard facts. It is about planning policy only, and why in his opinion policy did not allow this proposal to proceed. The problem was in a nutshell that the particular policy (namely JCS policy SD10, part 5), that needed to operate as an allowable exception for this conversion to be permitted, did not fit the circumstances. This was because SD10 part 5 also required there be no conflicts with other “Relevant Policies” in the Local Plan when in fact there were several. He maintained that his submission showed unambiguous difficulties arose in Saved Policies HOU 4 and AGR 6 together with emerging policies RES 4 and RES 7 as set out in the written submission. He highlighted the main stumbling block for the proposal which was AGR 6 (the precursor of RES 4, and thus of RES 7 too). He maintained that  AGR 6 alone was infringed in multiple ways as set out in Appendix 2, Page 4 of his written submission. There were other difficulties: the proposal did not meet the NPPF sustainable development definition and it failed the tilted balance test. In all essential respects it was the same as the 2016 case rejected on Appeal. There were ongoing enforcement cases and land contamination issues continued and would not be resolved simply by approving this application. In conclusion he thanked the Committee for listening and urged Members to refuse the application.

40.30        One of the local Member’s indicated that he would like to congratulate the Planning Officer on a very thorough report which he had carefully considered along with the detailed submission of the objector. He indicated that this had been a very complex matter which had been ongoing for some time but he was in agreement with the Officer recommendation of delegated permit and proposed accordingly and this was seconded. A Member referred to the two sheds that had been shown in the video, together with the builders materials on site, and questioned whether these would be removed; she also wished to know whether permitted development rights would be removed if permission was granted for this application. The Planning Officer confirmed that there was a condition for permitted development rights to be removed so that any extensions to the building, a porch, rooflights and any works outside to that effect would need specific planning consent. In terms of the site where the building materials were stored including the sheds, there was a condition as part of the landscaping plan that required the applicant to plant trees on this area of land and this was being used to secure the removal of the building materials and sheds. Obviously if Members felt that a different condition was needed to achieve this then it was within their power to do what was reasonably necessary. The Member sought clarification that the sheds would be demolished and the Planning Officer confirmed that this was the case as they were cited on the land where the landscaping plan required the planting of trees. He indicated that there was not a prescriptive condition which stated that the sheds had to be demolished within a certain period of time but in order for the applicant to implement the permission to live in the building, the planting of the trees had to have taken place and for this to happen the sheds had to be demolished. A Member referred to the caravan shown on the video and asked whether this was being used for residential purposes, she also sought an update in relation to the statement in the report that some development of the site had already commenced which was the subject of an investigation. The Planning Officer reported that there were two open enforcement cases on this site, the first one related to the stationing of the caravan which was actually outside the permitted Certificate of Lawfulness Use (CLU) site and was in the woodland area. The Council’s Enforcement Officer had visited the site and had asked the applicant to move the caravan to within the CLU site which had been done; in terms of usage the applicant had advised it was used as an occasional office in terms of the business and that he lived off site somewhere else so it was not used for residential purposes. The new location of the caravan was within that area where the trees would be planted so would need to be removed for the planting to take place. The second enforcement case which was currently open was for the land to the rear of the site that had been highlighted on the plans shown to the Committee and now formed part of the application site. The applicant had done some engineering operations to level that land out and put sleepers in; this had been done without the benefit of planning permission but after discussions with the applicant it had been included in the current application and, provided Members were in support of the Officer recommendation for a delegated permit, this enforcement case would be closed.

40.31        Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager                            subject to no new substantive issues being raised before the                           end of the consultation period.

Supporting documents: