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Agenda item

Agenda item

23/00476/PIP - Hales Farm, Malleson Road, Gotherington

PROPOSAL: Permission in principle application for development of the site to provide between one and five dwellings.




33.15        This was a permission in principle application for development of the site to provide between one and five dwellings. The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 15 September 2023.

33.16        The Principal Planner advised that the application site was located on the north side of Malleson Road in Gotherington, partly within, but mostly outside of, the settlement boundary and partly within the Special Landscape Area.  The site consisted of a previous farmyard and part agricultural field with the former used as a builder’s yard and for storage. The site was generally level, although dipped slightly into the adjacent field to the actual trodden path of the defined Public Right of Way.  The applicant had provided a number of illustrative plans for potential different layouts - although these were not for consideration at this point - most of which retained the non-designated heritage assets of the traditional agricultural buildings on the site.  It was not within the scope of this application to determine the details of site layout, design, access, landscaping or drainage.  As explained in the Committee report, the application for permission in principle was limited to consideration of location, use and amount and, on that basis, it was considered that the proposal complied with the National Planning Policy Framework and Policy SD10 of the Joint Core Strategy and, whilst there were tensions with Policy RES3 of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and the Gotherington Neighbourhood Development Plan, the proposal was considered by Officers to be acceptable.

33.17        The Chair invited the representative from Gotherington Parish Council to address the Committee.  The Parish Council representative noted that 37 letters of objection had been received, as well as 17 letters of support, and he confirmed that the Parish Council had objected to the application so he did not intend to repeat the objections highlighted in the written submission.  He explained that the Gotherington Neighbourhood Development Plan was created on the basis of an indicative requirement of 86 dwellings over the plan period 2011 to 2031. To date, 98 dwellings had been built and occupied; a further 95 dwellings on the Meadow and Trumans Farm had been consented; and, including this application, a total of 20 dwellings had been validated but not decided. This amounted to approximately 213 dwellings against an indicative requirement of 86.  The Inspector’s report on the Trumans’ Farm appeal was published on 11 September 2023 and the Parish Council disagreed strongly with the decision but his comments were relevant to this application, specifically in paragraph 65 where he stated: “65. There is evidence before me indicating that various local clubs or associations are stretched to, or beyond, capacity (including the local football, cricket and history clubs).Inexplicably, the Inspector had not taken a precautionary approach and had allowed the appeal, adding a further 45 dwellings to the already consented 50 dwellings on the Meadow.  Anyone with a passing knowledge of Gotherington would know that it was not a suitable location for unconstrained development, given issues around parking and playing field and hall sizes with little prospect of any expansion to those facilities.  Unconstrained development also shattered trust in the planning system - why bother to produce a Neighbourhood Plan if this was what happened?  It may seem a small increment in terms of numbers but the Parish Council view was that it was significant and needed to be taken into account.  In summary, Gotherington Parish Council had objected to this application on the grounds that Gotherington had taken a large number of additional dwellings in the past two years with a further 95 dwellings yet to be delivered. There was no qualitative or quantitative evidence to suggest that Gotherington could accommodate additional residents and the community should be allowed to integrate new residents before further applications were consented.  On a precautionary basis, the Parish Council representative urged Members to refuse the application.

33.18        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent advised that the proposal was presented following a comprehensive discussion with Officers on the matters relevant to this application for permission in principle which were restricted to location, land use and amount of development.  As part of this process, further information had been provided on ecology, the existing use of the site, and further indicative plans. The applicant’s agent recognised the comments of the Council’s Conservation Officer and, should permission in principle be granted today, they would work with Officers to ensure a successful development in due course through the technical details consent process.  In relation to location and land use, the Committee report set out that the application site was partially previously developed land, the redevelopment of which was strongly encouraged by planning policies.  In addition, there were a number of other advantages associated with the redevelopment of the site.  Firstly, in terms of removing a non-conforming and unfettered builders yard use from a predominantly residential area which would improve the amenity of neighbouring properties.  The removal of this use would also result in the removal of larger vehicles, and would reduce overall traffic.  In addition, the applicant’s agent had allowed for an expanded red line either side of the existing drive for the access road to be widened if that was deemed necessary – this would be something to discuss further with Officers at the technical details consent stage.  In relation to the amount of development, the application was for the development of between one and five dwellings and the removal of the modern sheds and stables to the north would provide a site that was more than capable of accommodating this level of development, with suitable landscaping and biodiversity net gain.  In conclusion, the applicant’s agent concurred with Officers that the site related well to the built form of Gotherington; the grant of permission in principle would create an opportunity to remove a non-conforming use and provide a much better landscape setting to the northern edge of the village.  He hoped that Members could support the Officer recommendation and resolve to grant permission in principle.

33.19        The Chair invited a local Ward Councillor for the area to address the Committee.  The local Ward Councillor indicated that, although not a planning consideration, there was strong local opposition to the application.  The main concerns related to the narrow entranceway which would cause issues if two cars were entering and exiting the site at the same time resulting in an unsafe situation where the one entering from Malleson Road might be forced to reverse into the path of oncoming traffic.  Furthermore, it was a brownfield site and contained a farm building – a stone barn with some historical value – and its loss would be felt deeply in the village.  He indicated that the footpath line at the top of the development was not the original as the dropping of rubble had forced people to move away and he felt that the original line should be considered.  Most important, any infill to the north of Malleson Road should be avoided as it was viewed from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and could set a precedent for the loss of other parcels on the northern site; the local community sought to preserve the linear nature of the village on the northern side.

33.20        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member queried why there was no response from the Landscape Officer, given the sensitivity of the site within the Special Landscape Area and its visibility from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  In response, the Development Management Team Manager (East) advised that the Landscape Officer was not specifically consulted on all applications and, in this case, the Planning Officer had made an assessment themselves based on the relevant policies and using their judgement.  Another Member raised concern that the legal footpath route was not shown on the plan as it may impinge on the location of any future dwellings and, in response, the Principal Planner confirmed she was aware of the legal route but the trodden path was shown clearly on the site and on Google Earth; there would need to be a diversion of the formal route which was a separate process.  The Legal Adviser agreed that, if needed, a diversion was a separate legal process and it would not prevent the scheme from going ahead should Members be minded to permit the application.  The Member asked who would be responsible for making the decision and the Legal Adviser explained there were a number of ways to apply to divert or stop-up a footpath; in this case she suggested a diversion would be needed and, for an application of this nature, the process would normally be that Tewkesbury Borough Council would make the order to do that. 

33.21        It was proposed and seconded that the application be permitted in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  The proposer of the motion indicated that, whilst there were clear objections to the proposal, they were subject to discussion later on in the process and at this stage he could see no planning reason to refuse permission in principle.  Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the application be PERMITTED in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

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