To determine the application.
Nick Thrower presented the report to members.
Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Rhian Freear, a supporter.
Ms Freear expressed the opinion that this is a replacement of an existing dwelling, this and the fact that permission has been granted for one property goes against the rules of the elsewhere location reason for refusing permission. She made the point that following a fourth appeal, Eastwood End is not seen as a settlement in its own right and its status was a matter of judgement, with the Inspector concluding that Eastwood End was an outlying part of the larger settlement of Wimblington.
Ms Freear expressed the view that a recently granted scheme for 3 dwellings directly opposite reinforced this finding and, therefore, refusal cannot be based on LP3 saying that it is an elsewhere location. She noted that the report states that character harm has already been caused by preparatory works, but she fails to see how this can be deemed to be character harm when other developments which, in her view, will cause significant change to urban areas have been allowed, and compared to other developments she does not believe this could be classed as stark and overbearing development.
Members asked questions of Ms Freear as follows:
· Councillor Booth asked if she classes this area as part of the envelope of the village? Ms Freear responded that, having lived in Wimblington for five years, she would always have classed Eastwood End as part of Wimblington.
Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Chris Walford, the agent.
Mr Walford stated that the applications site sits opposite a site with planning consent for 3 large dwellings and included within that consent was an extensive footway linking Eastwood End to Wimblington village centre. He acknowledged that officers have been consistent in their conclusion that the area fails to meet LP3 as it is outside the village and in an elsewhere location, however, the committee decision for the 3 dwellings opposite plus other appeal decisions in the local area have arrived at a different conclusion that the site is an outlying part of the larger settlement of Wimblington, with the new approved footpath reinforcing this and providing a link to the village.
Mr Walford expressed the opinion that the scheme has been designed as a continuation of the newly approved scheme opposite with a significant enhancement to this portion of Eastwood End and will significantly improve Highway safety on a very tight and blind bend. He made the point that both the Highways Authority and the case officer have confirmed that the proposed scheme does not present adverse highway impacts and that the requested visibility splays can be achieved on the road for that specific speed limit and furthermore the case officer has confirmed due to the nature of the road at that point it is likely that the actual speed are going to be much lower and, therefore, the visibility splay would be much less than that shown.
Mr Walford stated that at present there is one habitable dwelling on site, with the entire application site being domesticated garden and this proposal seeks to demolish this bungalow and rebuild 3 new dwellings which will be in keeping with the development opposite giving a net gain of 2 dwellings on site. He added that the proposal remains linear to the character and, therefore, is in character with the development along Eastwood End.
Mr Walford expressed the view that the case officer has also confirmed that the dwellings are acceptable from a residential amenity point of view and overlooking aspect, and has acknowledged that the scheme would make a modest contribution to the housing provision within the District and has the potential to support local employment during construction and the wider benefits of the village facilities. He asked that members support the application.
Members asked questions of officers as follows:
· Councillor Cornwell asked what is the real difference between this application and approval opposite? Nick Thrower responded that the site opposite was also recommended for refusal by officers and the recommendation was overturned by Planning Committee on the basis the proposal provided a pedestrian link between Eastwood End and Wimblington and, therefore, was considered to carry benefits with it that outweighed the harm caused in terms of the location.
· Councillor Cornwell questioned why this application is before committee when the committee had already taken that decision and this application is no different? Nick Thrower stated that this proposal does not come with the benefit of providing a pedestrian link which was approved under the previous scheme, this is purely a proposal for 3 houses in an elsewhere location whereas the previously approved application was for 3 houses in an elsewhere location with the benefit of providing a pedestrian link between Eastwood End in general and Wimblington. Councillor Cornwell made the point that, if the site opposite is providing the footpath link as a condition, would the residents of this proposal not also use this footpath link? Nick Thrower agreed that the future occupiers of this site would be able to use this pedestrian link, but this would not change the fact that the application is considered to be in an elsewhere location, where development is limited to that restrictive set of criteria appropriate to a countryside location. Nick Harding stated that officers were recommending refusal of scheme across the road, committee approved it so when it comes to this application officers are recommending refusal for the same reasons as the one opposite. He added that from committee’s point of view, members are able to go against officer’s recommendation, but need to identify the reasons why they want to do that as officers are still of the view that it is contrary to policy around development in this area of Eastwood End.
· Councillor Booth recognised that Councillor Connor asked for this proposal to come before committee as he assumes that he has concern that the one opposite had been approved and officers are recommending refusal on this one, so he assumes Councillor Connor supports this application being a councillor for that area. He queried the definition of elsewhere locations, if residents see this as part of the village and local councillors feel it is part of the village surely this position should be taken on board because there are not any defined boundaries that tell members where the village boundaries are, it is very subjective what is an elsewhere location. Councillor Booth stated that if you look at LP3, Eastwood End is not even mentioned as an elsewhere location, but he recognised that nowhere is mentioned as an elsewhere location but some of the smaller hamlets are mentioned and the fact that at appeal the Planning Inspector also considers it part of Wimblington. Nick Thrower responded that Councillor Booth was correct that LP3 identifies the settlements within the District, but it does not then define anywhere else that is not considered to be a settlement. He made the point that LP12 does, however, provide commentary on what is considered to be the built extent of the settlement and Eastwood End does clearly lie beyond what would be considered to be the built extent of Wimblington that is why officers have been consistent in recommending refusal on applications within Eastwood End and concluding that the applications are beyond the extent of the settlement. Nick Thrower expressed the view that the most recent Inspector’s decision does make some commentary on that, however, it neglects to consider Policy LP12 and it also references the site opposite and neglects to consider the reason for granting that consent in terms of providing the pedestrian link to Wimblington, with that reasoning set out in paragraphs 9.1-9.4 of the officer’s report.
Members made comments, asked questions and received responses as follows:
· Councillor Mrs French stated that on reading the report she thought the site lay in the open countryside, but on visiting the site she was surprised to see what was opposite and her understanding is that further up the road there was another application won on appeal which was definitely in the open countryside on agricultural land. She feels that a precedent has been set by approving the development opposite and this application should be approved as well.
· Councillor Murphy agreed that a precedent has already been set in this area, it is not an issue regarding the footpath as residents from this development can just walk across the road to use the footpath and feels that common sense should be taken into account.
· Councillor Mrs Bligh agreed with the need for consistency and asked how it would look if committee has approved the application across the road and then do not approve this application. She acknowledged that the site lies on a bend, but it is no worse that has just been approved at Newton-in-the-Isle and she feels that common sense has to prevail and the application should be approved.
· Councillor Benney queried the area being deemed as open countryside as you have the inside part of Eastwood End being built on and the other side with 3 houses being built on as well and he cannot understand how this can be refused. In his view, there is a big bungalow in existence which is the footprint and probably the size of two of the houses that are going to be built so the building has been established on this site.
· Councillor Booth stated that committee needs to be consistent and feels this is classic example of what is the village and where it extends to, with another development changing the characteristic of the area. He cannot see how it can be refused as if it is it would go to appeal and, in his view, an appeal would be lost.
· Nick Harding stated that if a proposal were to be brought forward that goes against officer’s recommendation he reminded members that they need to be looking at the two reasons for refusal and identifying why they consider that these reasons are not applicable to this development.
Proposed by Councillor Benney, seconded by Councillor Murphy and agreed that the application be APPROVED against officer’s recommendation, subject to reasonable conditions being delegated to officers to formulate in association with the Chairman, proposer and seconder.
Members do not support officers recommendation of refusal of planning permission as the feel that the proposal is not contrary to Policy LP3 as the principle of development already exists on the site, both the ward councillor and members of the community consider that Eastwood End is part of Wimblington, the proposal is making good use of the land and members are being consistent with previous decisions and planning appeals in this area, and they also feel it is not contrary to Policy LP16 as there are no heritage assets to protect, it will add to the local distinctiveness of the area, and the proposal would not detract but enhance the area as the bungalow on site is not an attractive building and the other development that has occurred in Eastwood End has improved the character of the area.
(Councillor Topgoodhad left the meeting prior to this application and any remaining applications being considered)
(Councillor Mrs Davis registered, in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that she attends Wimblington Parish Council Planning Committee meetings, but takes no part in the discussions)