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Agenda item

22/00282/FUL - Home Cottage, Lowdilow Lane, Elmstone Hardwicke

PROPOSAL: Erection of an open fronted car port, and retrospective outbuilding. (Resubmission of planning application 21/01446/FUL).

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Split Decision.

Minutes:

14.40        This application was for erection of an open-fronted car port and retrospective outbuilding (resubmission of application 21/01446/FUL).

14.41        The Planning Officer advised that this was a householder application for Home Cottage, Lowdilow Lane which was a detached property on the outskirts of Elmstone Hardwicke and was situated within the Green Belt.  The dwelling did not benefit from permitted development rights.  The proposal sought to regularise the erected outbuilding to the rear of the dwelling and erect a detached car port to the south-west of the dwelling.  A Committee determination was required as the application had been called in by a Member to assess the impact on the Green Belt.  No objections had been received from the statutory consultees and the Planning Officer’s view was that the erected outbuilding would be in keeping with the surrounding development and would be a proportionate addition within the Green Belt, as outlined in the Committee report.  It was considered that the proposed car port would be an inappropriate form of development within the Green Belt which would add to the built form of the site and would result in loss of openness to the Green Belt, as set out in the Committee report.  Therefore, a split decision was recommended with the retrospective outbuilding being permitted and the car port being refused.

14.42        The Chair invited the applicant to address the Committee.  The applicant confirmed this was a revised application following a previous withdrawal and the amendments made included changes to the roof of the car port to lower its impact – this had been achieved through a hipped roof as opposed to gable ends.  He did not intend to repeat the representations put forward by his agent in terms of the relevant planning considerations; however, it made no sense to him that Officers were suggesting the car port could not be considered under the domestic extensions exception in the Green Belt policy because it was six metres away from his house.  The applicant felt that the small car port and shed that formed part of the application were completely proportionate to the size of the original dwelling and he believed that the car port was in the best ‘tucked away’ position on the site.  If the building was sited within five metres of the house, it would be more prominent but still proportionate in Green Belt terms.  When he purchased the land it was very clear that it had been used inappropriately in the past with rubbish tipping and signs of continual fires.  He had also been informed that it was a source of frequent complaint including a stabbing on the land.  Everything he had done to the plot had improved it tenfold – this included taking out over 1,000 tonnes of rubbish, returning a third to agricultural land, new fencing, hedging and landscaping.  The application had the support of residents within the village and the Parish Council had raised no objection so the applicant indicated that he would be grateful if Members would resolve to permit the application, or carry out a Planning Committee Site Visit to see for themselves the efforts to site the car port in the most appropriate location.

14.43        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was for a split decision to permit the retrospective outbuilding and to refuse the car port and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member indicated that he had passed the site and knew a bit about its history and, in his view, the proposals would have no impact on the Green Belt whatsoever, therefore, he proposed that the application be permitted.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) explained that buildings within the Green Belt were inappropriate save from a number of exceptions, as outlined at Page No. 217, Paragraph 7.9 of the Committee report.  This proposal did not meet any of the exceptions and therefore was inappropriate by definition.  As such, very special circumstances must be demonstrated to outweigh that harm and those had not been put forward, therefore, the Officer recommendation was for a split decision.   A Member indicated that he was happy to second the proposal to permit the application.  In terms of the justification for this, the Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) noted that the applicant had suggested it would be more harmful to the Green Belt for the car port to be located within five metres of the property and regarded as an extension.  A Member understood there was case law which suggested that several seemingly ordinary factors could combine to equate to very special circumstances.  The Member indicated that, according to the National Planning Policy Framework, there were five stated purposes of including land within the Green Belt: to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another; to assist safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.  In his view, none of those principles applied in this instance.  The Legal Adviser explained there was a judgement to be made in relation to the car port in terms of encroachment into the countryside – if it had been an extension, it was possible it would have fitted the exceptions criteria; however, it was not and therefore was against Green Belt policy and national guidance so it was necessary for very special circumstances to be demonstrated in order to allow the development.  A Member sought clarification as to the point a structure ceased being an extension.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) felt this was a good question and, drawing on appeal decisions and case law, it was generally accepted that anything within five metres of an existing dwelling was considered an extension.  The proposer of the motion noted that the applicant had stated that part of the site had been put back into agricultural use therefore it was not an encroachment into the Green Belt.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) advised that giving back land to the site was a consideration in the original application for a dwelling on the site and therefore could not be relied upon as very special circumstances in this case.

14.44        A Member queried whether any discussion had taken place between the applicant/agent and Officers about the possibility of moving the car port one metre closer to the house in order that it could be classed as an extension.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) confirmed that had been discussed with the agent but the location was what the applicant considered to be best.  A Member asked whether the car port would comply with policy if the applicant made it one metre longer so that it was within five metres of the house.  Another Member felt this was an interesting point – she had thought there may be a compromise as she did not see what difference it would make to the applicant if the car port was one metre closer to the dwelling.  The proposer of the motion to permit the application believed that very special circumstances could be demonstrated on the basis that the proposal did not conflict with the five stated purposes of including land within the Green Belt and as land had been returned to agricultural use and therefore was not encroaching on the Green Belt.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) reiterated that the fact the site had been tidied up and some had gone back to Green Belt had already been taken into account in the original application and could not be considered here.  In his opinion, the only very special circumstances that could be offered in this case was the realistic fallback position that, should the car port be moved to within five metres of the existing dwelling, it would be considered a proportionate extension.  A Member asked whether a delegated permission would be appropriate if the car port was made a metre longer or relocated within five metres of the dwelling.  Another Member recognised that five metres was a generally accepted distance through case law etc; however, he felt it was necessary to be pragmatic and assess the proposal based on the site itself.  He considered the location of the car port was appropriate and should not be moved or made bigger to comply with a generalised acceptance of what distance something should be in order to be classed as an extension.  The Planning and Enforcement Team Leader (South) felt there was some confusion and he clarified the applicant was not being asked to move the car port within five metres of the existing dwelling; however, that was a realistic fallback position and, should that be implemented, it would potentially cause more harm to the openness of the Green Belt.   The proposer and seconder of the motion to permit the application confirmed they were happy that the fallback position form the basis of the very special circumstances required to allow development in the Green Belt and, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the application be PERMITTED as there were very special circumstances in that it was a realistic fallback position that the car port could be moved within five metres of the existing dwelling where it could be classified as an extension and would potentially cause more harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

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