To determine the application.
Nick Thrower presented the report to members.
Members received a written representation from Blair Simpson, an objector, read out by Member Services.
Ms Simpson stated that her representation was on behalf of the residents of Westfield Road who strongly object to the plans as there is currently a covenant on the land and the current occupant of the Woadmans Arms has spoken to several residents regarding this telling them that he would be using Westfield Road as an access point, although this was clarified at the last meeting that this is not the case. She asked that before permission is granted that terms are put in place so that at no point can access be made into Westfield Road via any of these properties.
Ms Simpson stated that the residents of number 10 and 11 would like to know who will be responsible for the fences on the side of their properties as well as the fence that sits between Westfield Road and the Woadmans Arms, which was erected by the current occupier. She referred to the previous meeting, where the application was deferred as the highway report had not been received and it was also mentioned by the committee that adding 4 dwellings to the site would be overpopulated, which is something the residents feels strongly about and queried why it had been returned to committee without any new plans.
Ms Simpson asked that if planning permission is granted residents would like working and delivery hours to be clearly stated as well as reasonable timescales for the building work to be completed by. She expressed the view that Newton-in-the-Isle is a beautiful, quiet village and although it would be a shame to lose the pub, residents do believe adding properties to this piece of land would be great, but it needs to be the right properties and the right amount, not just something that someone can make a quick bit of cash from.
Members asked questions of officers as follows:
· Councillor Mrs French asked for clarity on whether a condition will be put on the proposal so that Westfield Road cannot be used as an access? Nick Thrower responded that a condition is not proposed on the recommendation in front of members. He read out the wording of the covenant, which provides only agricultural purpose access from this land onto Westfield Road, with the site adjoined by the highway boundary and a verge, and does not give anyone a right of access, therefore, it is not felt there needs to be a condition imposed.
· Councillor Mrs French stated that it would be terrible for residents if access was allowed and there is also a very old Silver Beech tree that needs to be taken into account. She asked what would happen if residents of the application site started using it as an access? Nick Thrower stated that they would need the consent of the Local Highway Authority as they would be crossing highway land.
· Councillor Booth made the point that the covenant could be changed in law and an application could be made to the Highway Authority to install a dropped kerb. Nick Thrower responded that this could in the same way any access for any development site could be changed in the future. Councillor Booth questioned that protection is quite limited as the access arrangements could be changed. Nick Harding responded that an additional condition could be placed on the application to say the fence needs to remain in perpetuity, but an application could be made to vary that condition.
· Councillor Miscandlon expressed the opinion that the agent should have made the effort to get the covenant rescinded so there is certainty on who is going to own and maintain the road to nowhere. Nick Harding stated that the matter of the covenant is not a material planning consideration and officers cannot dictate how a parcel of land is divided between particular properties.
· Councillor Mrs Bligh expressed the view that no access should be allowed through Westfield Road, she wants to be certain this does not happen and any powers should be used via a condition to ensure it does not happen.
· Councillor Booth expressed concern about the marketing exercise as the timing of the marketing was undertaken at the start of the pandemic which would have serious implication on whether anyone would have wanted to take on a pub. He feels the marketing is not robust, it is the only community facility in Newton-in-the-Isle and it needs to be protected. Councillor Mrs Davis reminded members that the application was deferred from a previous meeting for highways and over-development reasons only, therefore, marketing reasons cannot be considered. Councillor Booth acknowledged this, but he was not at the last meeting and he is being asked to make a decision on matters before him and it is a consideration which he does not think was picked up at the last meeting. In his view, the marketing was undertaken at the wrong time, with the officer’s report making no mention of the fact it was undertaken during the pandemic and the effect this would have on the marketing exercise.
· Councillor Mrs French agreed that the application had been deferred for specific reasons. She does feel that the pub was last opened in 2017 which is more than adequate time.
Members made comments, asked questions and received responses as follows:
· Councillor Mrs French expressed concern with the application, with there being a horrendous bend going out of the village, which, in her view, is an accident waiting to happen but acknowledged that highways do not support this view. She feels that committee has no choice but to approve the application, although she is not happy with it.
· Councillor Booth agreed with Councillor Mrs French, with Highways taking a different view which does not take into account human nature.
Proposed by Councillor Mrs French, seconded by Councillor Skoulding and agreed that the application be APPROVED as per the officer’s recommendation, with the additional conditions of the fence to be retained in perpetuity and submission of a construction management plan.
(Councillor Cornwell abstained from voting on this application)