To determine the application
Alison Hoffman presented the report to members.
Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Matthew Hall, the agent.
Mr Hall expressed the opinion that members can see from the officer’s report that there are no issues with regard to the principle of development, flood risk, highways or amenity areas to neighbouring properties and on the front of the report it states two-storey property, but it has been deliberately designed as a one and a half-storey property in keeping with properties to the East and South of the site. He referred to the officer’s report where is states “the proposal does not have a one third garden area”, but the site is 270 square metres and the rear garden would be 85 square metres, which would be a third amenity area and does not include any of the land to the side or the front.
Mr Hall stated that the Tree Officer has visited the site, has confirmed there are no Tree Preservation Orders and is not objecting to the proposal and made the point that the site is not in a Conservation Area. He referred to the officer advising under 9.8 that the proposed dwelling would be at odds with the character of the area, but under 5.5 the Conservation Officer states the dwelling is of reasonable scale and design and in keeping with the surrounding houses.
Mr Hall expressed the view that when he worked on this proposal he walked around Church Walk and Church Lane, with directly to the East of this site there are three chalet bungalows, two built in the 1980s and one in 1960/70, and at the top of Church Walk, to the south of this site, there is also a chalet bungalow, which was built around 1960s, which is what they are proposing with this application, a chalet bungalow, to match in with the character of the area. He made the point that comments made at previous Planning Committee meetings is that when you build an extension, dwelling or estate, the character of the area is constantly changing.
Mr Hall stated that the existing property still has nearly 20 metres of south facing garden and parking, which is over half of the site, and the officer’s report states there are no concerns regarding overlooking or overshadowing and all consultees support the application, with the exception of the Conservation Officer. He expressed the view that the public objections appear to be concerned with parking on Church Walk and the hedge to the front of this site and he has spoken to the applicant, who is happy to cut the hedge back, with some objections saying they want the hedge maintained and the applicant is also happy to maintain its height.
Mr Hall stated that Church Walk currently serves 7 properties and the Town Hall, with this proposal adding a single property and the Highways officer is not objecting to the proposal. He reiterated that all consultees support the application, with the exception of the Conservation Officer, there are no concerns regarding overlooking or overshadowing, there are chalet bungalows immediately to the East and South of the site, the site is not in a Conservation Area and 20 metres of parking and garden area is being left for the existing property.
Members asked questions of officers as follows:
· Councillor Cornwell stated that this is a situation where someone want to build within the curtilage of a Grade II Listed Building and, therefore, officers are concerned, amongst other things, about the quality of what the proposal is in relation to the Listed Building and asked if his understanding is correct? David Rowen responded in the affirmative and that officers are concerned regarding the impact of the setting on a Listed Building. Councillor Cornwell asked, if the proposal had been for a more appropriate design of property, would officers have supported it as it would be more in keeping with the Listed Building? David Rowen responded that officers can only assess what is in front of them and the issues is about building on part of the setting of a Listed Building and eroding the significance of that Listed Building so he believes that a dwelling of a different design on this site would still have raised similar issues.
Members asked questions, made comments and received responses as follows:
· Councillor Murphy stated that he knows this area well as it is virtually next door to the Council Offices and whilst it has got a building to the front of it, the garden is very long going from Church Lane to St Martins Road and he does not think the proposal is in the wrong location, with the opposite side of the road having 1960 semi-detached houses and he would not want an old-fashioned house here, but a nice modern house would fit in. He made the point that the site is not in the Conservation Area and thinks there might have to be an archaeological dig on site as it is on the opposite side of the road to the Church, but there have been so many archaeological digs in Chatteris that do not find anything and this site would not either as this site was originally in the same curtilage of all of Church Walk, which were built without any problems so why he does not see why there should be with this dwelling. Councillor Murphy expressed the view that there will eventually be a dwelling on site, even if refused today, as it is an ideal place for a dwelling and a lot of people do not want long gardens these days so a nice building on this site would finish the area off. He made the point that they have asked for the hedge to be cut down as it goes over the pathway and it has not so this development will make this happen. Councillor Murphy expressed the view that everywhere is suffering from lots of vehicles, the only danger of this location is the road is narrow and if all the residents start parking on the roadside it will cause chaos and it needs a double yellow line down there to stop parking. He would go against officer’s recommendation as he feels it is an ideal site to put a dwelling.
· Councillor Mrs Davis agreed with Councillor Murphy and her inclination is to go against officer’s recommendation, but her reservation is what would happen with the next plot, number 7, as, in her view, it would not be long before an application is made to remove that existing garage to the other side and then you have got another building plot, which would then start to be overdevelopment.
· Councillor Connor acknowledged the comments of Councillor Mrs Davis, but made the point the members have to look at what is front of them today and take what is felt to be the right decision.
· David Rowen stated that each application is taken on its own merits, but if this application were to be granted then it does make it more difficult to resist further development on that eastern side of Church Walk. In relation to Councillor Murphy’s point about the long garden of 16 Church Lane, he made the point that is the issue around the curtilage and setting of a Listed Building in that the size of the garden demonstrates the historic significance of number 16 and contributes to its status of a Listed Building.
· Councillor Murphy asked if a condition could be placed on any permission to double yellow line Church Walk? Councillor Mrs French referred to a development in March where this occurred. David Rowen drew members attention to the comments of the Highways Authority, which have recommended conditions of which double yellow lines are not one of them, and conditions need to be placed on an application if approved that are justified and reasonable and it may be something that the Town Council wish to take up with the Highway Authority.
Proposed by Councillor Murphy, seconded by Councillor Mrs Davis and agreed that the application be APPROVED against officer’s recommendation, with conditions delegated to officers to determine in consultation with the Chairman, proposer and seconder.
Members did not support officer’s recommendation of refusal of planning permission as they feel the proposal would not adversely impact on the significance of a heritage setting, would not be detrimental to the character of the area and has the support of the Parish Council.
(Councillor Benney declared an interest in this application, by virtue of being lobbied by two objectors that he socialises with and knowing all of the supporters and objectors apart from one, and retired from the meeting from the duration of the discussion and voting thereon)
(Councillor Murphy declared, under Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that he is a member of Chatteris Town Council, but takes no part in planning matters)