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Agenda item

21/00380/PIP - Manor Farm, Market Lane, Greet

PROPOSAL: Permission in principle for up to six dwellings following demolition of redundant farm buildings.

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Approve.

Minutes:

13.8          This application was for permission in principle for up to six dwellings following demolition of redundant farm buildings.

13.9          The Planning Officer explained that the application site was located to the western side of Market Lane in Greet and measured approximately 0.37 hectares.  It currently comprised an undeveloped field and a number of modern agricultural buildings.  The site had a boundary of mature trees to the eastern edge facing onto Market Lane and led to open pastureland to the west.  The site was relatively flat and was located within a Special Landscape Area and Flood Zone 1.  This application was for permission in principle which had two stages: the first stage established whether the site was suitable in principle and the second ‘technical details consent’ stage was when the details of the development proposals were assessed.  The current application was the first stage of the process and sought solely to establish whether the site was suitable in principle for the erection of up to six dwellings.  The scope of the first stage was limited to location, land use and amount.  Officers considered that the development would conflict with the strategic housing policies of the Winchcombe and Sudeley Neighbourhood Development Plan; however, given the Council’s five year housing land supply position, these policies could not be considered up-to-date and presumption in favour of sustainable development applied.  In this case, the modest harm to the landscape character that would be caused by the development was not considered to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in the overall planning balance when considering whether the location of the site was suitable for housing; therefore, the Officer recommendation was for permission in principle to be granted.

13.10         The Chair invited a local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.  The local resident explained that the community had strongly objected to the loss of green field space and, although their views had probably not been formally recorded, the same sentiment had been expressed by many walkers when the site notice had been displayed.  The local resident explained that Market Lane was a rural haven and its space and views were appreciated by local residents, walkers, cyclists, runners, elderly people with walkers, mothers with pushchairs and families with youngsters on their first bikes.  Since lockdown, the number of daily visitors to Market Lane had increased markedly with youngsters riding their bikes and playing, children chatting at the gates of the field and visitors and tourists using the Isbourne Way.  Greet did not have any amenities except for a small, tarmacked playground on Beckett’s Lane, so the green spaces and views were the amenities.  The gap and its views through accentuated the listed homestead Manor Farm, isolated it from other development and maintained a sense of historic rural charm to this part of Greet.  It had significant local ecological importance with its varied wildlife and mature Horse Chestnut trees at its perimeter which were a dominant feature along Market Lane – its value was precisely in that it was a rural, agricultural and undeveloped space.  In terms of the national guidance and local and borough plans, the development would conflict with Policy SD6 and SD10.4 (ii) of the Joint Core Strategy and Policy 3.1 of the Winchcombe and Sudeley Neighbourhood Development Plan and that was the view and ruling of the Inspector in his appeal decisions for applications for housing on the adjacent field in 2016.  Many residents believed that Greet had taken more than the “very small-scale residential development” envisaged by the Tewkesbury Borough Plan for a small settlement with no services which was evidenced by the loss if its public house to housing; 37 houses being built in recent years; the landscape being diminished by previous development outside of the settlement boundary; and, as only two green gaps remained with views to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the application site, if this proposal went ahead both the adjacent field and the other green gap were at risk of development.  Taking this into account, the local resident asked Members to refuse permission in principle because the loss of the green field in conflict with the local and Parish plans would be devastating for the community.  If the green space was excluded from the application, development could still effectively be achieved by limiting it to the footprint of the existing buildings and maintaining the green gap would give the development historic rural charm; whilst the contribution to the five year housing land supply may be slightly less, there would be less damage to the environmental and social wellbeing of the village.

13.11        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent felt that the Committee report for the application was comprehensive and she was pleased that the Officer recommendation was to approve the permission in principle; nevertheless, she was also very conscious of the concerns that had been raised regarding the proposal the majority of which related to design, layout and other similar concerns.  Whilst these were not matters for this stage of the process they were matters for the technical details stage and, if Members agreed with the Officer recommendation, the applicant’s agent was keen to provide assurance that they would work with the Town Council and other stakeholders to ensure the technical details stage produced a quality design and layout that was also acceptable to Tewkesbury Borough Council.  Some of the other benefits associated with development of the site which were not referenced in the Committee report included the removal and replacement of the large industrial-looking agricultural buildings which would seriously improve the setting of the surrounding buildings, particularly those to the north of the site; the potential redevelopment of the site with a carefully designed scheme would, if granted, lead to a better outcome when compared with converting the existing buildings to dwellings using Class Q permitted development rights; and the fact that the livestock buildings would be removed from the site should result in environmental improvements for residents locally.  In conclusion, should Members grant permission in principle, it was only the concept of development that would be approved.  The applicant would then work with Officers, the Town Council and other stakeholders on a potential design proposal and would address any issues and concerns through the detailed stage. 

13.12        The Chair invited a local Ward Member for the area to address the Committee.  The local Ward Member explained that Greet was a charming, historic settlement based around Market Lane - a beautiful quiet lane which included a number of exceptional rural listed properties.  It was distinct from the town of Winchcombe and separated by clear open countryside which gave views of the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as a welcome break in the urban sprawl.  This gap was a space that residents of both settlements and visitors benefited from.  He stressed that Greet was not a village, it was small settlement and, aside from a small park attached to some more recent housing, it had no social facilities, no shops, no public house and no church, as such, its residents had to travel out of the settlement for all amenities.  The two key roads were constrained by physical geography and historic settings and served communities in a beautiful upland valley setting surrounded by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  As a result of past overdevelopment in Winchcombe, Greet and surrounding areas, the current road system was inadequate for the existing level of traffic, with both the B4078 and Beckett’s Lane in particular being used as rat-runs to escape the problems in Winchcome where traffic regularly ground to a halt in peak hours or whenever a large vehicle attempted to navigate the Medieval streets.  Furthermore, both Beckett’s Lane and the B4078 were in terrible condition, something which reflected the excessive volume and weight of traffic they carried, a consequence of overdevelopment of housing that had been allowed in a valley location. In his view, the proposed development, which was clearly not supported by local residents, would not only be detrimental to the character of the settlement but would further exacerbate the existing traffic problems by placing more housing in an area that already had severe traffic problems, and in a settlement that offered no social infrastructure meaning inevitable generation of additional motor traffic.  Whilst Winchcombe was just a mile away from Greet, for much of that distance the path – which was also in terrible condition, in part due to the volume and weight of traffic – was extremely narrow and people were effectively forced to drive.  Allowing further development in Greet was completely inconsistent with the need to build in a more sustainable way where residents of new housing could access work and social assets by foot, cycle or good public transport.  Whilst he opposed the development in principle, he also wished to note that the proposed loss of the greenfield agricultural field was a particularly concerning element of the current proposals.  The field formed an integral part of the character of Greet, providing a welcome break in the street profile and offering agricultural views and he hoped that the unnecessary sacrifice of both the field and the lane could be avoided.

13.13        A Member queried when the Winchcombe and Sudeley Neighbourhood Development Plan had been adopted and whether it was now considered to be out of date given that it was more than two years old.  In response, the Legal Adviser confirmed it had been adopted in January 2017 and Paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework set out that, in situations where the tilted balance applied, the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicted with the Neighbourhood Development Plan was likely to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits provided that it had become part of the development plan within the last two years – the Neighbourhood Development Plan was not out of date per se but it did not have the benefit of that particular paragraph of the National Planning Policy Framework.

13.14        A Member noted from the Committee report that some of the residents had stated that the proposal would be redevelopment in part of a brownfield site and she asked for a comment in that regard.  She also sought clarification as to whether members of the public had access to the greenfield site.  Finally, she noted that Winchcombe Town Council had encouraged the applicant to consider submitting an application which was limited to the area covered by the redundant barn as this would be preferable to taking up the green space and she queried whether it was possible for the Committee to reduce the site boundary or whether that would require a new planning application.  The Planning Officer confirmed that, notwithstanding the presence of a building, the land was agricultural and not technically brownfield land.  The Development Manager went on to advise that, whilst the application before the Committee was what needed to be considered in terms of the site area, it was open to Members to ask the applicant to consider a different red line and extent of development if they so wished, or the Committee could refuse the current application and the applicant’s agent would be able to feedback those comments to the applicant.  With regard to access to the green open space to the front, it could only be assumed it was within the applicant’s ownership and although people may use it, he was unsure whether there was a legal right for the local community to do so.  The Legal Adviser indicated that she was not aware of any record of use by the public as of right in respect of the site.

13.15         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to approve the permission in principle application and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that the application be approved in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  A Member indicated that the local resident speaking in objection to the proposal had suggested there was a lack of open green space but plenty could be clearly seen around Market Lane.  Although there were other residential properties in the area, there were open green spaces throughout Greet.  There was a secondary school within walking distance of the site so she believed there was a case for residential development; however, she felt that this should be kept to the area occupied by the redundant barn so, whilst she could not support the application in its current form, she would be happy to support something utilising the current space of the building.

13.16         Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That permission in principle be APPROVED in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

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