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Agenda item

Agenda item

22/00650/FUL - Truman's Farm, Manor Lane, Gotherington

PROPOSAL: Residential development comprising 45 dwellings, creation of new access, public open space and other associated ancillary works.




56.42        This application was for residential development comprising 45 dwellings, creation of new access, public open space and other associated ancillary works. 

56.43        The Development Management Team Leader (Northwest) advised that this was a full application seeking approval for a residential development of 45 dwellings which would comprise 18 affordable dwellings (40%) and 27 open market dwellings, including a mix of one and two storey and one to five bedroom dwellings.   The application was the subject of a non-determination appeal which would be heard at an informal hearing in June and the Council must advise the Secretary of State of its view on the proposals by 4 April 2023.  The site comprised two agricultural fields located at the eastern end of Gotherington on the southern side of Gretton Road and was adjoined to the west by existing residential development along Manor Lane, to the south by the Trumans Farm building complex and to the southeast by the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire Railway.  It was located within the Special Landscape Area designated within the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was located on the other side of the railway embankment.  The site was immediately adjacent to, but outside of, the residential development boundary of Gotherington, within the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and Gotherington Neighbourhood Development Plan.  In terms of history, outline planning permission had previously been refused for 65 dwellings and dismissed at appeal in 2017 and a more recent application for 45 dwellings was refused in 2021.  The main difference between the current and the dismissed scheme was the removal of the eastern block of development which resulted in a larger area of green open space to the east, including enhanced landscaping and a reduction in the number of accesses through the hedgerow onto Gretton Road.  Members would be aware that the Council could currently demonstrate a housing land supply of 6.68 years so the tilted balance was not engaged in this case, therefore, the presumption was that the scheme should be delivered in accordance with the development plan.  The key material issues had been carefully assessed as set out in the Committee report and, in the context of the current appeal, Members were asked to consider a recommendation of minded to refuse which, along with the Committee report, would be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate to inform the appeal.  The putative reasons for refusal were that the proposed development did not meet the strategy for the distribution of development in Tewkesbury Borough; it would result in a cumulative development disproportionate in scale to the existing development that would fail to maintain or enhance the vitality of the village and would have a harmful impact on the social wellbeing of the local community, risking the erosion of community cohesion; the adverse impact of the development on the landscape of the Special Landscape Area and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and, the absence of planning obligations at the current time to secure affordable housing, community, outdoor recreation and sports facilities, education and provision of libraries infrastructure.

56.44         The Chair invited the representative from Gotherington Parish Council to address the Committee.  The Parish Council representative indicated that an almost identical application for the site came before the Committee on 17 August 2021 which had been rejected by Members.  Since that time, the five year housing land supply had increased from 4.35 to 6.68 years and the Tewkesbury Borough Plan had progressed from emerging to adopted – the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and the Gotherington Neighbourhood Development Plan now carried full weight.  The Parish Council appreciated the hard work that Planning Officers and Members had put in to achieve such a strong planning position for the borough.  In their significant response of 151 objections to the application, residents had highlighted a number of concerns including traffic, the Malleson Road/A435 junction, access to doctors, impact on character and appearance, views from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, flooding, foul water disposal and capacity of buildings and playing fields.  The Parish Council would be voicing these concerns at the hearing on 13 June.  As highlighted by the Planning Officer, the proposal conflicted with policies of the Joint Core Strategy, Tewkesbury Borough Plan and Gotherington Neighbourhood Development Plan and did not meet the strategy for the distribution of new development in Tewkesbury Borough. The Parish Council did not believe the site was an appropriate location for new residential development.  As stated by the Planning Officer, the disaggregated requirement for Gotherington was 86 dwellings for the plan period 2021-31 and, if approved, this application would bring the number of consented dwellings to 190 at just over halfway through the plan period.  In the foreword to the current National Planning Policy Framework  stated that plans should deliver what they promised and to do other than accept the Officer recommendation would further break that promise.

56.45         The Chair invited a local resident speaking in objection to the proposal to address the Committee.  The local resident indicated that the proposal occupied two Special Landscape Area fields adjacent to Nottingham Hill in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The fields were a “valued landscape” and deserved protection in their own right – walkers, horse riders and cyclists could often be seen on Nottingham Hill and on weekends families also enjoyed its openness and tranquillity.  The proposal was outside the built form on the eastern end of the linear village so new residents, far from facilities, would feel isolated.  As the site was so remote, a playground had now been added to the public open space compromising the already tenuous plans to mitigate for wildlife.  The mitigation strategy stated that increased risk caused by cats and dogs could result in potential dormouse mortality and population collapse but existing residents did not believe new residents would follow the advice to keep their cats in at night.  It was difficult to imagine a more inappropriate location for a modern housing estate.  The government’s planning bill promised to safeguard Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, give more weight to local plans and remove the requirement for a rolling five year supply of housing land with the intention of curbing speculative development and planning by appeal.  It was vital to protect farmland, the openness and tranquillity of the countryside and residents’ mental health and the local resident urged Members to refuse this opportunistic and inappropriate proposal.

56.46         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was minded to refuse and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that the Committee be minded to refuse the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  The proposer of the motion advised she had been Borough Councillor for the area when the original application had been received and she was glad to see the same reasons for refusal stood today.  A Member questioned how the housing land supply and impact of the new calculation which had come into effect in December would be addressed at appeal.  He was aware that not all of the justification would be included in the statement of common ground and he was concerned that the Council would lose control of the application if it lost the appeal.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader (Northwest) advised that the Council would be defending its five year housing land supply position on several sites and was putting together a robust case – there had been no adverse Inspector decisions which had given Officers any reason to reconsider this position at the current time.  The Member did not disagree and felt that Officers put up outstanding arguments at appeal but he referenced the Fiddington appeal when the Inspector had gone against that and he feared the developer would have free reign if that was to happen again in this case.  The proposer of the motion pointed out that the Council did not have a five year housing land supply at the time of the Fiddington appeal but there was now a 6.68 year supply and Officers had provided a robust case so she did not see why an application should be allowed just because there was a risk of it being overturned at appeal – that would put the village at risk and would not protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

56.47         Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That the Committee be MINDED TO REFUSE the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

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