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Agenda item

Agenda item

23/00280/FUL - Bushcombe House Farm, Bushcombe Lane, Woodmancote

PROPOSAL: Demolition of three existing barns and construction of three new buildings for use as holiday lets and the conversion of an existing barn into a holiday let.




51.19        This application was for demolition of three existing barns and construction of three new buildings for use as holiday lets and conversion of an existing barn into a holiday let. 

51.20        The Senior Planning Officer advised that this application related to Bushcombe House Farm; the land within the applicant’s ownership was extensive including two operational holiday let businesses within its bounds: Bushcombe House Farm and Bushcombe House Lodge.  The application had been brought to the Planning Committee for determination due to concerns raised by the Parish Council relating to principle, highways matters, impact on the Cotswold National Landscape and drainage.  In terms of principle, this was the expansion of an existing rural business through the appropriate conversion of an existing stone building and the erection of three well-designed new buildings in the place of structures which were in poor condition and of no architectural merit.  Although it was beyond the settlement boundary, the location was considered to be sustainable for the purposes of tourism policy which was supported by the County Highways Officer.  As such, the principle of development was acceptable.  Turning to the remaining highway matters, the existing safe and suitable access was sufficient to serve the site and the parking would be accessible and proportionate, with capacity to accommodate the anticipated trip generation without resulting in highway safety issues. The County Highways Officer had visited the site and raised no objections.  In terms of the impact on the National Landscape, the policy test required the development to conserve its scenic beauty and special qualities and it was considered that the development would achieve that. Planning conditions had been included to limit the impact of the development upon the surrounding landscape including restriction of materials, finished floor levels, external lighting, the removal of permitted development rights and the submission of a full landscaping scheme including boundary treatments.  The comments made by a local Ward Councillor in his role as Flood Warden, as set out in the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1, were noted but did not change the recommendation. Officers wished to emphasise that the site was located within flood zone 1, as defined by the Environment Agency, indicating the lowest probability of risk for surface water flooding.  A drainage condition had been suggested requiring the developer to submit detailed drainage information prior to the commencement of any development which the developer had agreed to. The Council’s Flood Risk Management Engineer had reviewed the proposals along with the condition and was satisfied the development would result in an acceptable impact on drainage and flooding subject to that condition.  Given that the application was in accordance with all relevant policies and comprised sustainable development, the Officer recommendation was to permit.

51.21        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent advised that the National Planning Policy Framework, the Joint Core Strategy and Tewkesbury Borough Plan all contain policies that were heavily weighted towards supporting a vibrant rural economy and a strong rural tourism sector.  In particular, the National Planning Policy Framework talked of support for the expansion of all types of business in rural areas both through the conversion of existing buildings and well-designed new buildings; this included new tourist accommodation, echoed in Policy TOR2 of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and the Council’s Economic Development and Tourism Strategy which supported proposals for serviced or self-catering accommodation where it involved either the re-use of buildings or the expansion of existing tourist accommodation sites.  As set out by Officers, this proposal fitted squarely with those policies.  Bushcombe House Farm was already a very successful holiday let which was registered with the English Tourist Board.  In 2019, Tewkesbury Borough Council granted permission for a new build holiday cabin on the opposite side of Bushcombe Lane, in association with the tourist accommodation offering at Bushcombe House Farm which had proven to be successful.  The current proposal would extend the tourism offering of the site which was supported by policy.  The current proposal sought to convert, and in some cases replace, existing disused buildings and outbuildings in the grounds of Bushcombe House Farm for further tourist accommodation.  The buildings to be replaced were those of low architectural and structural merit with new buildings that would be set around a traditional farmyard complex layout with the design also mimicking a traditional range of barns.  The opportunity to re-use and, where necessary, replace existing redundant and uncharacteristic buildings with higher quality design and appearance represented a substantial improvement to the character of the National Landscape. The enhancement to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provided a significant sustainability benefit.  All professional statutory consultees supported the application and there were no objections from County Highways, the Conservation Officer, Lead Local Flood Authority, Environmental Health or Ecology.  In particular, County Highways acknowledged that uses such as this were very low vehicle generating and had negligible impact on the local highway network.  The applicant’s agent recognised Woodmancote Parish Council had objected to this application; however, he suggested that Parish Councils ought to be supporting of rural tourism, particularly those with a duty of ensuring that the Cotswolds remained a strong tourist designation. Indeed, the Cotswold National Landscape Management Plan, a document that the Parish Council often referenced, stated that the natural beauty of the Cotswolds National Landscape was the foundation on which the tourism industry in the Cotswolds was based. Happily, nothing raised by the Parish Council caused substantive planning concerns, as confirmed by Officers.  The applicant’s agent hoped Members would feel able to lend their support to this proposal which would only improve the choice and availability of tourist accommodation in one of the country’s most sought after tourist spots.  

51.22        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member sought confirmation that electric vehicle charging points would be provided given there would be high reliance on car use and the Senior Planning Officer confirmed that was required by building control legislation therefore a planning condition was unnecessary.  A Member asked what the difference was between a residential property and a holiday let and whether there was a restriction on use.  In response, the Senior Planning Officer explained they were both Class C3 use and the holiday let restriction was via planning condition.  In this case, it was proposed that conditions 14 and 15 be imposed in order to restrict use to a holiday let and for the owners/operators of the holiday lets to maintain an up-to-date register of the names of all owners/occupiers of the accommodation in order to evidence use as a holiday let.  Another Member drew attention to Page No. 96, Paragraph 8.22 of the Committee report which stated that the existing development equated to 188 square metres with the proposed development equating to a total of 263 square metres and, being mindful of the concerns raised by a local Ward Member in relation to flooding, she asked whether it was intended to improve the drainage.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed there would be an increase in the overall footprint but there was currently no formal drainage whatsoever on the site, therefore, there would be a betterment as a result of the development.  The Member asked whether permeable surfaces were proposed and was advised that a landscaping condition was suggested in addition to a drainage condition requiring submission of a landscape strategy which would show which areas would be hardscape and softscape and that could be negotiated as part of that condition.  In response to a query as to whether the amount of non-permeable surface would be reduced, the Senior Planning Officer indicated that was potentially the case but full details were not available at this stage; there would need to be some hardscaping but there was scope if Members felt that should be reduced.  She pointed out that the nature of the development meant it was in the applicant’s interest to make the site look appealing and hardscaping would not necessarily achieve that.  A Member asked why the applicant had not submitted a drainage plan given the concern in that regard and was advised that this was not required given the site’s location in flood zone one; however, the Flood Risk Management Engineer had been consulted on the application and had indicated the proposals were generally acceptable subject to the submission of a detailed drainage design which could be secured via planning condition.

51.23        It was proposed and seconded that the application be permitted in accordance with the Officer recommendation and, upon being put to the vote, it was

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

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