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Agenda item

21/00767/FUL - The Kneelings, Dog Lane, Witcombe

PROPOSAL: Erection of a two storey side and rear extension.

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Refuse. 

Minutes:

19.42        This application was for erection of a two storey side and rear extension.

19.43        The Planning Officer advised that the application related to a detached two storey property known as The Kneelings, which was located on Dog Lane in Witcombe.  The application site was located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and within the designated Green Belt.  A Member had requested that the application be determined by the Committee given its location in the Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  An assessment of the material considerations, including the impact of the development on the Green Belt, was set out at Pages No. 199-202 of the Committee report.  Officers considered that the proposed extension, when taken together with the extensions that had already been built at the property, would result in a disproportionate increase in size compared to the original building and would diminish the openness of the Green Belt.  As such, the proposed extension would amount to inappropriate development in the Green Belt and harm would be caused to its openness.  In this case, Officers considered there were no other factors which outweighed the harm identified to the Green Belt, consequently no very special circumstances existed to justify the development and the application was recommended for refusal.  As set out in the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1, the application was supported by a planning statement which included, inter alia, the applicant’s case in terms of the impact of the proposed development on the Green Belt.  The applicant considered that the proposed extension would result in a proportionate addition over and above the size of the original building.  Officers noted the position advanced by the applicant; however, when taking account of the information derived from the historic maps dated from 1922 to 1974 and the earliest planning history of the site held by the Council, a different approach was taken to establish whether the proposed extension would result in a disproportionate extension over and above the size of the original building.

19.44        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent indicated that the Planning Officer had stated in the Committee report that, owing to the proposal’s simple, subservient shape and form, the development would cause no harm to residential amenity; respected the character of the existing dwelling; conserved the scenic beauty of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and was not a substantial extension in terms of the current dwelling.  Furthermore, no objections had been received to the proposal. The application was therefore entirely compliant with all relevant local and national planning policy.  Notwithstanding this, the property was located within the Green Belt where domestic extensions were acceptable provided they did not result in disproportionate additions over the size of the original dwelling, i.e. the dwelling as it existed on 1 July 1949.  He pointed out that a disproportionate addition was considered to be 50% of the original floorspace.  The applicant had provided conclusive, unequivocal evidence from the Ordnance Survey in 1947 – which was evidence derived from an official government source, not conjecture – showing the property as having a gross external area (GEA) of 292.6 metres.  The proposed extension increased the floorspace of the original dwelling by just 17.15% which complied with policy.  There was evidence of the dwelling having been there for 400 years and its form had been altered many times, as evidenced in the planning statement; however, local authority records for the property only began in 1965 and, as a result, the Planning Officer had determined that to be the date of the original dwelling as which point it appeared to be a more modest 165 metres square.  The applicant’s agent contended that it was incorrect for the authority to determine 1965 as the date of the original dwelling simply in the absence of its own records and contrary to conclusive Ordnance Survey evidence provided by the applicant.  In terms of the balance of probabilities test, the case of Gabbitas vs. the Secretary of State determined that, if the planning authority had no available evidence of its own to contradict, or otherwise make the applicant’s version of events less than probably, there was no good reason to refuse the application.  As such, the applicant’s agent suggested that the planning authority had erred on the site of caution in its consideration of this matter and he respectfully requested that the proposal be permitted.  Given that the Planning Officer’s position had only been made clear last week, the applicant had been unable to source further evidence to corroborate the Ordnance Survey record in that time but, should Members deem that to be necessary, the applicant’s agent requested the application be deferred on that basis.

19.45         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to refuse the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that the application be permitted on the basis that it would not result in a disproportionate addition over and above the size of the original building and would not amount to inappropriate development in the Green Belt.  The proposer of the motion clarified that he was making this proposal as he preferred the applicant’s submission in terms of the Ordnance Survey evidence showing the size of the original dwelling.  A Member raised concern that there was no policy justification to negate the need to demonstrate very special circumstances on account of the Green Belt location.  Another Member queried whether there were permitted development rights associated with the property and what could be built under those rights if the application was refused.  In response, the Development Manager explained there was an inconsistency with government policy given what was set out within the National Planning Policy Framework and the permitted development rights issue that had been heard earlier in the meeting in terms of things which could be done – the government had not restricted permitted development rights in the Green Belt whereas they had in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas etc.  That case had not been advanced in terms of there being permitted development rights and, as it was limited to dwellings constructed between 1 July 1948 and 18 March 2018, it did not apply in this instance as this dwelling had been there for over 100 years.  In relation to the point about the very special circumstances, his understanding was that the proposer of the motion did not consider it was necessary to put forward a very special circumstances case because it was a proportionate extension due to the evidence put forward by the applicant’s agent.  The proposer of the motion confirmed that was correct. 

19.46         Another Member felt it should be noted that a lot of effort had been made to cover the issue of proportionality within the Tewkesbury Borough Plan. The Committee report stated there was no specific guidance on this but a 50% increase was generally applied by Officers with anything above that considered to be disproportionate. The Tewkesbury Borough Plan Working Group had looked at ways to overcome the inconsistencies around proportionality and it was intended to introduce a Supplementary Planning Document once the Borough Plan had been adopted.

19.47         The Development Manager suggested that, if Members were minded to permit the application, conditions should be included around the timescales for implementation; the development being carried out in accordance with the approved plans; and materials.  Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That the application be PERMITTED subject to conditions around the timescales for implementation; the development being carried out in accordance with the approved plans; and materials the drafting of which would be delegated to the Development Manager.

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