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Agenda item

22/00807/FUL - 54 Meadowsweet Road, Shurdington

PROPOSAL: Change of use from open space to residential garden land and erection of 1.8m high close boarded timber fence (retrospective).

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Refuse

Minutes:

43.43        This application was for change of use from open space to residential garden land and erection of a 1.8 metre high close-boarded timber fence (retrospective).  The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 13 January 2023.

43.44        The Planning Assistant advised that the application site was located in a prominent position within the estate as it adjoined part of the ‘green link’ which consisted of pedestrian footpath featuring open green space running west to east.  The ‘green link’ was designed as part of the original planning application for the estate which was granted in 2016 to help deliver open space which added to the overall quality of the area over the lifetime of the development, creating a better place in which to live.  The path was open with soft landscaping separating hard boundary treatments from the footpath, resulting in an open characteristic.  The National Planning Policy Framework stated that planning policies and decisions should ensure that developments would function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short-term but over the lifetime of the development and were visually attractive because of good architecture, layout and appropriate and effective landscaping.  The implementation of the fencing had resulted in a hard barrier abutting the footpath which was visually intrusive and eroded the open characteristic of this section of the estate, the ‘green link’.  It was considered that the fencing resulted in unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the streetscene and resulted in a loss of visually attractive open space which contributed to the level of amenity enjoyed by the public.  It was therefore recommended that the application be refused.

43.45         The Chair invited the applicant to address the Committee.  The applicant explained that they had purchased the house and garden, which included the area of land where the fence was located, from the developer in June 2019.  That area of land was within the title deeds of the property and not within public ownership.  When they had initially moved into the property, the north-eastern boundary was left open but the developer was still completing the outer edge of the front garden.  Within two weeks, the original fence alongside the front lawn had been erected by the developer and the hedge was planted beyond it.  As the year went by, their main concern was the number of dog waste bags dumped in the soil along with rubbish.  There was also a foul smell of urine which had been noticed both by them and their neighbours.  The applicant indicated that they felt the hedge was being used as a pet toilet for the estate and was causing a wider public health issue – their neighbour to the rear also had small children and would kindly help to clear the area each time.  When their back garden was being landscaped in June 2021, they had asked the landscapers if they could extend the existing fence as they thought it would benefit them and the wider estate.  Part 2 Class A of the Permitted Development Order allowed fencing up to two metres in height on land where it was not adjacent to a highway used by vehicular traffic, as was the case here.  As she understood it, permitted development rights were not removed under the original planning application therefore the fence did not require planning permission in their view.  The applicant stressed they did not think they needed planning permission otherwise they would certainly have requested that.  Since the fence had been erected it had stopped the dog waste and the smell had gone.  The applicant questioned who would pick up the dog litter bags and how the stench of urine would be removed, should the fence be required to be removed.  She pointed out that six letters of support had been received from their neighbours, including the one who shared the back of the fence with them and helped them to clear dog waste bags.  In the 18 months that the extended fence had been erected, there had only been one objection indicating that virtually all of the neighbours were in favour of keeping the fence.  As Members would have seen on site, the wider estate contained a wide variety of boundary treatments including close-boarded fences and brick walls and the width of the footpath would be retained at a generous nine metres and included significant landscaping and the public footpath.  The applicant indicated that proposals were in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and the development plan and she urged Members to support the application.

43.46         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 as the proposal would have an acceptable impact in terms of the character and appearance of the streetscene and there would be no harmful impact on amenity.  A Member noted that, when the Committee had visited the site, she had not seen a single dog waste bin in the whole green area so she asked if there was an opportunity to ensure one was added in an attempt to stop other residents from experiencing similar problems.  The Development Management Team Leader advised that she would need to go back to the Section 106 Agreement for the original planning permission for the estate to see whether dog waste bins were included; this was something which was normally requested by the Parish Council.  Another Member felt the application should not have needed a Committee determination as the photographs provided in the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1, showed a green open space next to a path and he did not feel there was any impediment whatsoever.

43.47         Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That the application be PERMITTED as the proposal would have an acceptable impact in terms of the character and appearance of the streetscene and there would be no harmful impact on amenity.

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