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Agenda item

Agenda item

20/01214/FUL - Unit 4 Redwood House, Orchard Trading Estate, Toddington

PROPOSAL: Retrospective application for outside storage and security fencing.




72.22        This was a retrospective application for outside storage and security fencing.

72.23        The Development Management Team Leader (North) advised that the application related to Unit 4 of Redwood House, located towards the south-eastern corner of the Orchard Trading Estate in Toddington. There was a public right of way to the north-east of the application site and another public right of way to the south of the adjacent B4077. The site was within the Special Landscape Area and its eastern side boundary lay immediately adjacent to the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as the Toddington Manor Registered Park and Garden which was Grade II Listed. The application site also included trees which were protected by Tree Preservation Order 272 and this area served as structural landscaping that assisted in screening the industrial estate. The Orchard Trading Estate was designated as a major employment site within the Tewkesbury Borough Local Plan, and as an existing rural business centre within the Pre-Submission version of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan. Unit 4 was currently occupied by a company which specialised in sourcing and importing artwork, sculptures, furniture and ornaments from Africa, Asia and Indonesia.  The application advised that the main building was used to store the most valuable and rare stock, but that this was currently full. The application therefore sought retrospective planning permission for the retention of the following structures:40ft and 20ft shipping containers to the south of Unit 4 – four of these shipping containers had been stacked two upon two, and the overall height of this did not exceed the eaves height of Unit 4. A white temporary storage structure had also been constructed towards the south-eastern corner of the site. This was proposed to beused as a marquee showroom for visiting clientsbut, due to the reduced trading throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this structure was currently being used for storage purposes. The application did not clearly specify whether the marquee showroom would incorporate any retail element, nor had the sequential test been applied. Two green temporary storage structures had also been constructed towards the south-western corner of the site.  The application advised that the lower value items were stored within the shipping containers, with the lowest value items stored within the temporary storage structures and compound.The application also sought retrospective planning permission for the retention of a 2.4 metre high galvanised palisade fencing, which had been constructed parallel with but set back from the northern, eastern and southern boundaries to form a secure compound, and two no. palisade access gates at the location of previous kerbs and access points to the south.  The application for the erection of a light industrial unit, as approved in 1988, was subject to restrictive conditions pertaining to the erection or construction on this site of any extensions, gates, fences, walls, other means of enclosure, or structures of any kind; and any outside storage whatsoever on this site. These conditions were required in order to ensure that the development would be visually attractive in the interests of amenity.  The development which had been carried out was in breach of the restrictive conditions.The unauthorised development had been carried out to allow for the expansion of an existing business and this weighed in favour of the application. However, the palisade fencing which had been erected was stark and utilitarian in appearance, particularly in such a prominent location adjacent to the public highway within the Special Landscape Area and the immediate setting of the AONB.  In addition, the three storage structures which had been erected within the TPO woodland were large in scale and located adjacent to this southern boundary. It was considered that this unauthorised development failed to conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB, and that it adversely affected the rural landscape of the area and the visual amenity of the Special Landscape Area.It was further considered that the development caused harm to those features of the landscape character which were of significance, including the woodland and trees which were protected by Tree Preservation Order 272, which provided an important amenity feature for the entrance to Toddington village. These trees consisted of G1 which were mainly Wellingtonia some oak and pine. There were six individual oak trees and a woodland shown as W1 on the plan which was primarily oak.  The structures within the site had a significant negative impact on the trees’ visual amenity and the erection of structures and the storage and relocation of items within their root protection areas would result in the dysfunction and eventual decline of the trees. The development therefore failed to protect existing green infrastructure, the quality of the natural environment and its visual attractiveness, and failed to conserve the landscape character of the Special Landscape Area or the landscape and scenic beauty of the Cotswolds AONB.Finally, the application failed to demonstrate that biodiversity and wildlife, including protected species, would be conserved.Whilst there were no objections in respect of impact on the Toddington Manor Registered Park and Garden, the impact on the amenity of existing and future occupiers, or highways impact, it was concluded that the adverse impacts of granting planning permission would outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. It was therefore recommended that planning permission be refused.

72.24        The Chair indicated that there were no public speakers for this item and the Officer recommendation was to refuse the application.

72.25        A Member proposed that the development be permitted and indicated that it was a shame that the Committee could not undertake a physical site visit to take on board the context of the whole site as this was actually a commercial industrial site and some of the things for which permission was sought i.e. containers were commonly seen on industrial sites as they were easy to install and offered a considerable amount of security. This business had been severely affected by Covid-19 as a substantial part of the operation involved going to shows to sell its wares which had not been possible and therefore additional storage was required. The delivery of the goods came from foreign countries and was very hit and miss which had not helped in terms of needing space to store the deliveries. In addition, there was not an abundance of police in the area, it was very easy for theft to take place as the site was not particularly secure. When installing the fencing the applicant had been very mindful of the trees and the need to ensure that they were protected and the comments of the Conservation Officer set out in Paragraph 7.16 imply that there is not much of an issue with the fencing provided that it is painted. This site was mentioned in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan in respect of growth and there needed to be a little bit of flexibility if businesses were to thrive but the attitude to this application appeared to be a little negative and harsh toward the applicant. The site offered employment to local people and in the opinion of the Member should be supported which was why he could not support the Officer recommendation and was proposing that the application should be permitted. The one boundary was along the side of the road and as you drove past with the hedgerows now starting to grow it was apparent that they would act as a barrier against any visual impact from the road particularly in respect of the fencing. Another Member spoke in support of the Officer recommendation maintaining what had been constructed on this site was absolutely awful visually and she proposed that the application be refused. In seconding the proposal to refuse a Member indicated that whilst he understood the sentiment and feeling of the proposer to permit the application, he had not produced one policy reference to support a permission against an Officer recommendation to refuse. The case had been made on sentiment and local knowledge as opposed to policies which could outweigh the demonstrable harm. In addition as a matter of principle he would rather see applications seeking consent to construct as opposed to those seeking consent after the construction had taken place. One of the local Member’s for the area referred to the objections of Toddington Parish Council which she felt must be taken into account and whilst she appreciated the comments of the Conservation Officer in relation to the fence in that the impact could be mitigated by painting and some screening with native hedging she was of the view that the structures had been placed within an area that had an impact on protected trees and for this reason she could not support a permission. Another Member expressed support for the application and seconded the proposal to permit on the basis that he was pro-business, and this was a growing burgeoning business which seemed to be in the right place on an industrial trading estate. In the debate that ensued reference was made to the policy context which would support this application being permitted as set out in paragraphs 8.2 and 8.3 of the Officer’s report. A Member maintained that this was about a balance of benefits against harms and whilst the Officer was of the view that the harms outweighed the benefits he was of the opposite view: this was an existing rural commercial site, the principle of development had already been established, the harms in his opinion were minor and the Council should be looking to support people in their attempts to improve their businesses and the prosperity of the area particularly in rural locations where this is much more difficult to do. Debate ensued with Members expressing opinions both for and against the development. The Development Manager indicated that much of the debate seemed to be focused around the fencing and the wider visual impact but one of the key concerns was the impact on the trees which were subject to a TPO and obviously a serious matter. He indicated that there was real concern that the development as it currently was would have a deleterious impact on those trees which could result in them being lost which would in itself have an impact on the wider area with the screening offered by the woodland and these trees to the business park as a whole being lost. A Member asked about conditions should this application be permitted and the Development Management Team Leader (North) suggested indicative conditions for the Committee to consider in relation to approved plans, painting of the security fence, restricted use to Class E(g) (the former B1) to ensure no inappropriate uses of the business site with it remaining for employment purposes, a recommended ecological enhancement condition relating to bat and bird boxes, a tree/hedgerow planting scheme; as set out in the report there had been some inappropriate evergreen boundary tree planting around the periphery which had been commenced before submission of the application and therefore officers would seek to try and ensure that this was replaced by some native planting to assist with screening, a restrictive condition on outside storage with the exception of the tent/marquee and storage containers shown on the plan before the Committee and the restriction of permitted development rights to align with the 1988 permission to give as much protection as possible to the trees within the site; this would mean that extending buildings, the erection of new buildings and enclosures, walls, gates and outside storage other than what was already on site would not be permitted and would require the submission of a planning application. A discussion ensued on the suggested condition in relation to other outside storage with the proposer of the motion to permit expressing the view that this was too restrictive and would perhaps encourage more shelters to be erected which should be avoided, he stressed that this was an industrial estate on which it was commonplace to see outside storage. The Development Manager stressed that this condition was to address the concern about the trees and to minimise any further harm to them arising from additional vehicles accessing the storage and manoeuvring around the trees compacting the earth and affecting the root systems. Should Members permit this application then it would be accepted that there would be harm to the trees which would continue but the removal of permitted development rights would help to minimise this going forward. Hopefully this would not encourage more shelters to be erected as the applicants would recognise after going through this process that planning permission would be required for the erection of any further structures. The proposer of the motion to permit the application referred to Page 158 of the Officer report which stated that the applicant had put large concrete blocks around the root areas of the trees to provide protection and that most of the trees inside the fences had historical low level stem damage, this damage was old, looking like vehicle damage from when the area was used as a parking site. He maintained that as the applicant had already put in place measures to protect the trees that it would be unreasonable to restrict further storage space being erected by the removal of permitted development rights but he was happy with all of the other conditions that had been suggested. Confirmation was sought and obtained from the seconder of the motion to permit this application that he too was happy with the suggested conditions with the exception of the one in respect of other outside storage. The motion was put to the vote resulting in an equality of votes and the Chair exercised his casting vote against the motion to permit. Accordingly, that motion was lost and subsequently, it was proposed and seconded that the application be refused as per the Officer recommendation. Once again this resulted in an equality of votes for and against the motion with the Chair exercising his casting vote in favour of the motion to refuse the application. It was therefore

                 RESOLVED           That the application be REFUSED in accordance with the                                     Officer recommendation.

72.26        The meeting adjourned at 11.10am for a break

72.27        The meeting reconvened at 11.25am with the same membership present.

Supporting documents: