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Agenda item

21/01312/PIP - Land Adjacent Blenheim Way, Shurdington

PROPOSAL: Erection of a single dwelling.




48.18        This was a permission in principle application for erection of a single dwelling.  The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 17 December 2021.

48.19        The Planning Officer advised that the application site was located on land between Blenheim Way and Phoenix Meadow, formally known as New Haven, to the west side of School Lane in Shurdington within an area surrounded by residential properties.  The proposal sought permission in principle for one dwelling.  Following queries raised on the Planning Committee Site Visit, the applicant’s agent had confirmed that the applicant did in fact own Blenheim Way.  There was no indicative site layout plan and it was noted there was a pending application at the site for full planning permission for one dwelling under planning application reference 21/00868/FUL.  The whole site was within the Green Belt, as identified in the proposals map within the Joint Core Strategy, and the southern aspect had been included in the defined settlement boundary for Shurdington.  Members were advised that it was not within the scope of the application to determine the details of access to the site and the impact on the residential amenity of existing and future occupiers, both of the adjacent sites and this development, was for consideration at the technical matters stage.  For the reasons set out in the Committee report, it was recommended that permission in principle be granted.

48.20        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent stressed this was a permission in principle application, therefore Members were considering the principle of development only and not the technical matters to which the third party concerns related.  As Members would know, Shurdington was a Service Village; it was a highly sustainable location where housing was to be expected.  Whilst the site was within the Green Belt, both national and local planning policy allowed for limited infilling in villages in the Green Belt and although there was no definition of what constituted infilling, various appeal Inspectors had defined it as “infilling an existing gap in an otherwise built-up frontage”.  Contrary to what the Parish Council had suggested, land was not designated for infilling, it was a matter of planning judgement.  The site was flanked on either side, and on the opposite side of School Lane, by existing residential development.  A single dwelling on the site would infill an existing gap in an otherwise built-up frontage which would sit comfortably in the streetscene and would be seen in the context of existing residential development when viewed from the west.  As such, it was clear that the proposed dwelling would be well-related to the existing built form and represented infilling in the context of Policy SD10 of the Joint Core Strategy and in Green Belt terms.  In respect of the concerns that had been raised, they related mainly to access matters, residential amenity and drainage; as set out within the Committee report, it was not within the scope of this application to determine those matters.  Notwithstanding this, it was understood that many of the concerns in relation to access stemmed from the disruption experienced from other recent construction projects in the area.  Whilst those concerns were appreciated, County Highways had raised no objection on the grounds of highway safety and disruption from construction traffic would be temporary.  The applicant had advised that alternative access to the site for construction traffic and materials was available via land to the rear of the site and there was sufficient hardstanding for several vehicles, including Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), away from the highway at the farm off Church Lane which the applicant had negotiated access to; this could form the basis of a Construction Management Plan at the technical details stage.  The applicant’s agent also pointed out that the Flood Risk Management Engineer had previously raised no concerns in respect of drainage and it was also entirely feasible for a dwelling to be provided on the site that had an acceptable impact in terms of residential amenity.  Therefore, he respectfully requested that Members grant permission in principle in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

48.21        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member proposed that the application be refused.  He pointed out that Page No. 86, Paragraph 1.3 of the Committee report referred to the erection of a single replacement dwelling and he asked what the dwelling would be replacing.  Although he recognised it was not possible to take land drainage into account at this stage, he felt it was important to draw the Committee’s attention to the full application that had been submitted for the site where it was noted that the proposal for managing land drainage via soakaways would be problematic as the underlying geology was mudstone which was impermeable.  With regard to Page No. 91, Paragraphs 7.5 and 7.11 of the Committee report in relation to Green Belt, he felt there were no exceptional circumstances which suggested there was an appropriate reason to go against Green Belt policy and location was a matter which could be taken into consideration at this stage.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader (North) clarified that the reference to the replacement dwelling was an error for which she apologised.  She reiterated that drainage was for consideration at the technical matters stage and no comments had been received from the Flood Risk Management Engineer at this stage; if the issues could not be overcome then the application could potentially be refused at the technical matters stage but that could not be a reason for refusal today.  She explained that it was not necessary to demonstrate exceptional circumstances at this point; infilling in the Green Belt was an acceptable form of development if it could be demonstrated that there were no other issues - policy would need to be considered at the technical matters stage when the details and design of the scheme had been provided.  At this stage, Members were just looking at whether the location was acceptable for infilling in principle. 

48.22        A Member seconded the motion to refuse the application.  He felt there had been a number of questions raised by the Planning Committee Site Visit which had not been answered and he felt it would have been useful to have seen the plan for the application that had been submitted in full which showed the proposed dwelling located right up against the other houses.  The application site was only partially in the development boundary and was in the Green Belt, therefore, he had thought that exceptional circumstances needed to be demonstrated; however, as the Officers had suggested, the main question was whether this proposal was considered to be limited infill and, although the applicant’s agent had said it would be a built-up frontage, he considered it was an open frontage so infill would be unlimited.  The Chair clarified that no plans had been submitted for this application showing the location of the proposed dwelling so it was not clear whether it would be against the fence or not.

48.23        In terms of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, a Member understood that Green Belt was an exception to that and did not therefore apply.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader (North) confirmed that there was an exception in Paragraph 149e of the National Planning Policy Framework which allowed limited infilling and it moved on to look at issues such as the impact on the openness of the Green Belt but that could only be done at the next stage when the detailed plans had been submitted.  The Legal Adviser explained that, if it was judged to be limited infill within the village then openness etc. did not need to be considered; however, if that was not the case then very special circumstances would need to be considered.  The proposer of the motion to refuse the application indicated that he disliked permission in principle applications because they were too “woolly” and open and it was clear that a full application had been submitted for the proposal in addition to this permission in principle application.  With regard to Green Belt Policy, he pointed out that Paragraph 149e was just one of seven justifications for development coming forward.  The Planning Committee Site Visit had shown that part of the site was outside of the residential development boundary and he did not feel it would be infill development.  The Development Management Team Leader (North) understood that the main issue being raised was whether the development could be considered to be limited infill within the context of Shurdington village and, if that was the case, that could be a locational reason for refusal on the basis of it conflicting with Green Belt policy.  The proposer and seconder of the motion to refuse the application confirmed they were happy with that forming the basis of the refusal reason and, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That permission in principle be REFUSED on the basis that the development was not considered to be limited infill within the context of Shurdington village and therefore conflicted with Green Belt policy.

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