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Agenda item

20/00957/FUL – The Croft, The Leigh

PROPOSAL: Change of use of land for the siting of two holiday yurts on decking and provision of an ancillary amenity building.




7.24           This application was for change of use of land for the siting of two holiday yurts on decking and provision of an ancillary amenity building.

7.25          The Planning Officer advised that the application site comprised part of the residential garden and paddock area afforded to The Croft, a detached, non-designated heritage asset located on Blacksmith Lane from which access to the site was gained.  There was no defined settlement boundary for The Leigh and the site was deemed as being within open countryside and located within the Landscape Protection Zone and Flood Zone 1.  The proposal sought change of use for the siting of two holiday yurts, which would be sited on timber decking, and the provision of an ancillary amenity building to house a small kitchen area and toilet/shower facilities.  The application required Committee determination as there was an objection from the Parish Council which had raised concerns in respect of additional traffic using Blacksmith Lane and the impact on neighbouring properties.  The Parish Council had commented that the proposal was not in accordance with the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan; however, that was still in the early stages of plan preparation process and could be afforded no weight at present.  For the reasons detailed in the Committee report, the proposal was deemed to comply with saved local plan policies TOR1 and TOR5 which were supportive of tourism-related development.  Whilst it was recognised that camping sites could be visually intrusive, the scale of the proposal – providing two pitches in total which would be removed when not in use – would not result in any undue harm to the landscape.  The scheme would be implemented in accordance with a detailed landscaping plan which would provide natural screening in addition to existing hedgerows and trees which surrounded the site.  No objections had been received from consultees in respect of residential amenity, biodiversity, heritage impact or access and highway safety, subject to recommended conditions.  Therefore, the application was recommended for permission, subject to conditions.

7.26          The Chair invited the applicant to address the Committee.  The applicant thanked the Planning Officer for a comprehensive and well-balanced report which addressed all the relevant policies and guidance and he fully endorsed the positive recommendation.  As the COVID-19 pandemic altered the way in which people chose to holiday, this site would help to provide a quiet but natural rural setting in which visitors could explore the surrounding borough.  Both the local plan and National Planning Policy Framework placed a strong emphasis on supporting the rural economy and local tourism and, although it was accepted in planning policy that rural areas were less accessible than urban locations, that should not be used as a reason to prevent this type of development coming forward.  The principle of this small-scale holiday scheme was therefore supported at both local and national level. He explained that this was a very modest scheme for two temporary holiday yurts with an ancillary amenity building; the yurts were to be placed on decking pads and removed when not in use.  The application had been amended in light of advice from the Council’s Landscape Consultant with a revised landscaping scheme being produced which ensured the site would be well-screened from public views and sympathetic to the surrounding landscape character; the latest plan was supported by Officers.  The Committee report outlined that there were no objections from statutory consultees with regard to highway matters, biodiversity, environmental health issues, heritage impacts, flood risk or drainage and the Planning Officer had advised there would be no adverse impacts with regard to residential amenity.  This development would assist in achieving the aims of the Council’s Economic Development and Tourism Strategy, which served to improve visitor accommodation in the borough, and would support economic growth at a time when the pandemic had severely impacted upon the leisure industry.  As such, he respectfully requested that Members support the Officer recommendation and permit the application.

7.27          The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application, subject to conditions, and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that the application be permitted in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  A Member indicated that she supported the proposal but wanted to appeal to the applicant as the Parish Council clearly had concerns about increased footfall on the public right of way around the village.  This was a health and safety risk due to the proximity of farm animals and heavy farm machinery as well as the possibility of people leaving gates open and letting livestock out onto the road.  She therefore wished to request that information on the local country code and using footpaths be included in any welcome packs that were provided to visitors staying in the yurts.  Another Member noted that the Parish Council also appeared to be concerned that this proposal could be the start of a larger development and she asked if there was scope for further development and, if so, whether it would be appropriate to limit the number of yurts that could be accommodated on the site as any increase could have a negative impact on neighbouring properties.  The Development Manager clarified that the application was self-limiting as the nature of the yurts meant they were considered to be buildings; therefore, any additional yurts would require planning permission and Officers would consider any further planning application on its merits at that time.  In response to a query as to when the Leigh Neighbourhood Development Plan would be considered by the Council, the Development Manager confirmed it was currently at the stage prior to consideration by Council so it was not currently known when that would take place.

7.28           Upon being put to the vote, it was

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

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