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Agenda item

20/00734/FUL - Land at Berry Wormington, Stanway Road, Stanton

PROPOSAL: Erection of a temporary dwelling for an agricultural worker.




13.45        This application was for the erection of a temporary dwelling for an agricultural worker.

13.46        The Planning Officer advised that the proposal was for a single storey log cabin style building which would be accessed from an existing farm track and would be located adjacent to existing agricultural buildings at the site.  The principle of agricultural workers’ accommodation in the countryside was broadly supported by the National Planning Policy Framework where there was an essential need for a rural worker to live at, or near, their place of work and that was carried through into Policies HOU3 and AGR3 of the submission version of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan.  The applicant had set out details of their existing and emerging livestock business at the site and that the nature of the livestock business required an onsite presence for the welfare of stock.  The applicant’s case for an agricultural dwelling at the site had been appraised by the Council’s Agricultural Adviser who confirmed that the applicant had significant livestock experience and the recently constructed agricultural buildings at the site demonstrated a firm intention to further develop their enterprise.  In terms of the functional need for a dwelling at the site, it was considered that the principal sheep business would not necessitate a need as nearby caravan accommodation could be used; however, the calf-rearing enterprise required high levels of management with short notice or ‘out of hours’ treatment likely which would necessitate a functional need for a stock person to be readily available at the site.  Furthermore, the suckler cow business may also entail some ‘out of hours’ attendance.  On balance, it was concluded there was a functional need for someone to be based on the site.  As that need was largely based on recent/emerging enterprise, it was considered appropriate that permission be for a temporary period of time in order that the ongoing viability and projected growth could be monitored in accordance with Policy AGR3 and that could be secured by condition.  The proposed building would be discretely sited and, as a result of the design and scale, it would not adversely impact the character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the setting of nearby listed buildings.  It was therefore recommended that the proposal be permitted for a temporary period and subject to the conditions set out in the Committee report.

13.47        The Vice-Chair in the chair invited the applicant to address the Committee.  The applicant explained that, over the last 25 years, he had built up the livestock business which included 1,200 breeding ewes, 2,400 lambs, 30 breeding rams and 31 cows.  In that time, he had come to realise what an incredibly difficult profession farming was and had faced many challenges, particularly in recent years.  Having seen other family farms go under, it was vital to diversify the offering and he had managed to secure a number of contracts for calf-rearing which had given some security for the long term future of the farm.  Whilst calf-rearing fitted with the expertise in livestock farming, there were distinct differences from sheep, in particular the need to be on site to maintain the high standards of animal welfare and security that were required for efficient operation of the business.  Although that was another significant investment, it was important for the continued successful running of the farming enterprise.  The application was for a temporary agricultural worker’s dwelling for three years in order to demonstrate there was a viable business.  The Council’s Agricultural Adviser had assessed the application and concluded there was an essential need for someone to be on site, as well as confirming that the current enterprise was viable, and agreed with the firm intention to develop it.  The applicant had worked hard with Officers during the application process in order to achieve the best possible application; that had included responding to the Conservation Officer’s comments by changing the location and orientation of the dwelling to minimise the impact on the listed buildings of Wormington Grange and Berry Wormington Farmhouse.  There was some concern about maintaining dark skies which the applicant had discussed with the Planning Officer and had agreed to conditions to demonstrate that any lighting used would not significantly impact on the darkness of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  No other concerns had been raised with regards to highways or ecology or by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.  As such, he encouraged Members to support the Officer recommendation to permit the application.

13.48        The Vice-Chair in the chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed that the application be permitted in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  A Member noted that it was recommended that temporary permission be granted for three years and he questioned whether this was the normal amount of time expected for a development of this nature as it did not seem very long.  In response, the Vice-Chair in the chair explained that the emerging Tewkesbury Borough Plan policy was for a temporary period of three years which was considered an established test of time.  The Member acknowledged this response and duly seconded the proposal.  Another Member expressed the view that three years was quite restrictive when the applicant was trying to plan a business and he asked if there was any way that could be altered.  The Development Manager explained that was a question that should have been asked when the emerging Borough Plan was put together; three years had always been the norm and it would be difficult to expand that without a clear rationale.  The Lead Member for Built Environment reiterated that this matter had been discussed at length by the Tewkesbury Borough Plan Working Group and it was deemed that, in order to get to the application stage, the applicant had already produced a comprehensive business plan to prove the need for the dwelling on the site and that there was a viable business going forward.  If temporary permission was granted for a longer period, that would restrict the applicant from applying for a permanent site – three years was a considerable time to demonstrate to the Council whether the business was moving forward.  A Member assumed that, at the end of the three year period, the applicant would have the option of applying for another temporary permission or for a permanent structure.  She also queried why the proposal was for a three bed dwelling given that it was for an agricultural worker.  The Planning Officer clarified that the dwelling would be for the agricultural worker and their family and it would be inappropriate to restrict the dwelling to one person. 

13.49         A Member pointed out that the Planning Committee comprised several farmers so there was a good understanding of the needs and ambitions of the farming community and he asked what advice the applicant had been given at the early stages of the application as temporary structures could be very costly to erect.  The Planning Officer explained that, to his knowledge, there had been no discussions with regard to the nature of the dwelling on site other than as had been applied for; there were concerns about further development of the site in terms of landscape impact and impact on the heritage assets so a new dwelling may not be forthcoming, notwithstanding that, the application had been assessed on its own merits, the proposed structure was considered appropriate and would not result in harm.  The Development Manager advised that planning policy required that a new enterprise be given time to establish itself through a temporary permission and he imagined that was the advice that would have been given to the applicant’s agent; he confirmed this was the proper way to proceed in accordance with adopted and emerging policies.

13.50         Upon being put to the vote, it was

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

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