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Agenda item

Agenda item

21/00347/FUL - Land Attached to April Cottage, 39 Newtown, Toddington

PROPOSAL: Use of land for the stationing of two shepherd huts for holiday let purposes and provision of associated vehicular parking area.




32.43        This application was for use of land for the stationing of two shepherd huts for holiday let purposes and provision of an associated vehicular parking area. 

32.44        The Development Manager advised that the application required a Committee determination due to an objection from the Parish Council.  The Parish Council’s main concerns related to the precedent for commercial development of the area and highway safety.  Given the relationship of the site with the settlement, the proposal was in accordance with the Council’s policies in respect of holiday accommodation.  Furhermore, against the backdrop of the village, and given the scale and form of development, there would be no undue impact on the landscape, including the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  In terms of drainage, the Land Drainage Officer had assessed the submitted details and had no objection.  Therefore, the Officer recommendation was to permit the application.

32.45        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent advised that national and local planning policy was highly supportive of rural tourism, particularly in tourist hotspots such as the Cotswolds.  Policy supported tourism both through the conversion of existing buildings and the provision of well-designed new facilities.  As set out in the Committee report, the Council’s Economic Development and Tourism Strategy also encouraged the provision of visitor accommodation in the borough.  As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on international travel, the desirability of holidaying in the UK – “ staycations” – had rapidly increased and that trend was likely to continue.  As such, now more than ever, there was a need for a broad choice and variety of visitor accommodation, including lower cost facilities.  In particular, there had been a big shift toward glamping and “back to nature” holiday experiences.  With its many tourist attractions, towns and walking routes, the Cotswolds had a high demand for such facilities.  This application proposed the stationing of two shepherd huts for short-stay holiday purposes within the village of Toddington, a designated service village on the basis of its relative sustainability and access to services.  The huts would be stationed on land previously used for the storage of agriculture and equestrian machinery.  The applicant’s agent noted that the Parish Council had raised some concerns, referring to Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty location and the use as a commercial activity; however, as set out by Officers, the Council’s policies were supportive of rural tourism and enterprise and he indicated that agriculture equated to commercial activity.  Officers had recommended a condition tying the use to holiday accommodation only and he confirmed the applicant was more than happy to accept that.  The location of the site within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was not a barrier to development and the government’s policies on minor developments within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were permissive.  The proposals were low-key and inoffensive and landscape softening would be undertaken in any event.  The huts would be sited close to an existing stable block and well-related to the built form of the village so Officers had correctly advised no harm would be caused.  County Highways, Environmental Health and the Lead Local Flood Authority had considered the proposal and had raised no objections. The access visibility was in accordance with national transport standards and the low-key nature of the use ensured there would be no undue disturbance to neighbours, particularly as the units would each be for a maximum of two persons.  The applicant’s agent could see nothing but positives arising from the proposal and the opportunity to support rural tourism by increasing availability and choice of short-stay accommodation within the Cotswolds seemed a no-brainer to him; therefore, he hoped Members would lend their support to the application.

32.46        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member noted that the plans included electric vehicle charging points for both huts and she queried whether a condition should be included to ensure those were delivered, bearing in mind this had been put forward as a sustainable development.  In addition, the objection from Toddington Parish Council seemed to suggest that the proposal was temporary in nature and she sought clarification on this as she could not see it referenced in the Committee report.  In response, the Development Manager confirmed that it was within Members’ gift to include a condition requiring installation of electric vehicle charging points.  He clarified that the proposal was not temporary; he suspected that the temporary nature of the structures may be why it was considered to be temporary but that was not the case.  The Member subsequently proposed that the application be permitted, subject to the inclusion of a condition requiring electric vehicle charging points to be installed in respect of each of the huts prior to first occupation.  This proposal was duly seconded.  A Member indicated that the Licensing Committee had recently approved a revised Mobile Homes and Caravan Sites Licensing Policy in view of new legislation which required site owners and managers to be assessed to be “fit and proper” persons to hold a licence so he assumed this site would be subject to that requirement, should Members be minded to grant permission.  The Development Manager indicated that the site may well require a licence; however, that would be considered through separate legislation and was not relevant to the Committee’s decision today.  The Legal Adviser clarified that there were various exceptions to sites which required a licence, and she did not know if this would be the case here or not, but the question for the Committee was whether this proposal was acceptable from a planning perspective.

32.47        Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the application be PERMITTED, subject to the inclusion of a condition requiring electric vehicle charging points to be installed in respect of each of the huts prior to first occupation.

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