Agenda item

Land North Of 15, Sandbank, Wisbech St Mary
Erect 1no dwelling (outline application with all matters reserved)

To determine the application


Alison Hoffman presented the report to members.


Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Jamie Burton, the agent.


Mr Burton explained that the application is before the committee because of the amount of support both locally and from the Parish Council, with 8 of the 9 letters of support being from residents or landowners in Sandbank. He explained that the proposal is an outline application with all matters reserved to allow full details of the design, layout, and access to be considered upon submission of the reserved matters application, with the site itself not being agricultural but paddock land.


Mr Burton stated that the indicative site layout plan demonstrates that the proposal can deliver a high-quality development that follows the existing built form and will accord with the development pattern of Sandbank, with the intention of this application being able to deliver a high-quality self-build plot in a growth village in which small village extensions are appropriate, and added that it should be noted that early communications with officer’s during the application process indicated that the application was likely to be supported. He stated that some amendments to the scheme were incorporated working with the officers, and these amendments included reducing the width of the proposed plot to ensure it lines up with the extent of residential development opposite thereby ensuring the proposal does not result in linear ribbon development and reinforcing that the proposal respects the 9m easement of the IDB culverted drain that runs along the boundary.


Mr Burton explained that the access location was altered to improve the relationship with the transformer poles and the proposal extends the footpath network to meet the proposed access point ensuring that the occupiers would have safe pedestrian access to the facilities of Wisbech St Mary and the nearby bus stops. He expressed the view that the access achieves adequate visibility and has no objections from highways and stated that if members were minded to approve the application, the applicant is willing to accept a condition to relocate the transformer in liaison with UK Power Networks if deemed necessary.


Mr Burton stated that the Parish Council are also bidding as part of a highway improvement scheme to extend the 30mph limit along Sandbank as there are a number of properties beyond the proposed site, with many residents walking along the road into the village and, in his view, this proposal may assist in reinforcing their bid. He stated that the scheme has no objections from technical consultees or local people and has numerous letters of support and the support of the Parish Council and local Councillors.


Mr Burton explained that he has worked proactively with officers throughout the process and has noted the reasons for refusal, but with regards to flood risk the Environment Agency have no objection to the proposal and drainage is intended to connect to the sewer with rainwater into the water course, which is acceptable to the Internal Drainage Board subject to a contribution, which will be forthcoming. He explained that with regards to the sequential test there are no reasonably available alternative sites within the village as confirmed in the Flood Risk Assessment.


Mr Burton referred to other planning applications stating that one of the plots is out for tender and will commence shortly, the second will not be built at this time and the new owners of The Poplars are not pursuing this development and, therefore, it is not reasonably available. He referred to another application which is not currently available to purchase, and a search on the website Rightmove earlier confirmed this and the plot is, therefore, not reasonably available.


Mr Burton expressed the view that to the best of his knowledge other sites within the village have either commenced, are in the same flood zone, have been sold for development or are not currently for sale, all of which are not reasonably available, therefore, meeting the sequential test. He stated that there have been a number of approvals across the District at significantly higher risk of flooding than this proposed site and with regards to the exception test he is willing to accept a climate change mitigation condition as suggested by officers.


Mr Burton expressed the opinion that he believes the scheme abuts the built form, will not result in harm as it is not extending linear development past the current residential development into the countryside, and it should be noted that development exists past this proposed site further out of the village. He added that the proposed site does not mirror grassland opposite as suggested, the proposal mirrors the dwelling opposite, the remainder of the grassland will be retained, retaining the gap and they are willing to accept an ecological improvement condition to ensure they are enhancing the biodiversity of the site.


Mr Burton stated that the scheme will not adversely affect neighbour’s amenity and will respect the form and character, and this can be controlled as part of the Reserved Matters application. He drew members attention to the presentation screen and stated that the slide shows the former development boundary for Wisbech St Mary and clearly shows the proposed site abutting this boundary and, therefore, abutting the built form as required by policy to allow a small village extension.


Mr Burton expressed the view that the scheme is consistent with recent approvals within the village and is also consistent with a number of recent approvals by the Planning Committee within Fenland to deliver high quality development. He feels the proposal complies with policy, will result in a high-quality self-build development without causing harm to the form and character of the area or residential amenity and has local support.


Mr Burton asked the committee to support the proposal and approve this application with the conditions they deem appropriate.


Members asked Mr Burton the following questions:

·         Councillor Mrs French asked Mr Burton to clarify whether the applicant would be prepared to install a footpath?  Mr Burton confirmed that they would be willing to do that.

·         Councillor Connor asked whether the footpath could be installed before construction on the site commenced? Mr Burton stated that the applicant would accept it if it formed part of a condition.


Members asked questions, made comments, and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Sutton stated that he understands why the officer has recommended the application for refusal, but, in his opinion, it is adjacent to the built form, it is in a growth village and as long as the flood risk mitigation is in place when it comes to the Reserved Matters stage, he does not see anything wrong with the proposal.

·         Councillor Benney stated that the application has the support of the Parish Council and it is ideal land for the proposal. He expressed the view that he would not deem the application site to be in the open countryside as it is within the village boundaries and, is his view, LP12 and LP16 of the Local Plan are subjective either way and he will support and approve the application.

·         Councillor Mrs French stated that she agrees with Councillor Sutton and stated that all the Statutory Consultees have no objection. She added it is a growth village and she will support the application.


Nick Harding highlighted to members the flood risk reason for refusal, and referred members to the Policy LP12 (A) Section E where it says that regard should be given as to whether or not a development proposal would extend the linear features of the settlement or result in the development taking place and he stated that this development would result in that and would be contrary to the adopted Local Plan Part LP2.


Proposed by Councillor Sutton, seconded by Councillor Benney and agreed that the application be APPROVED against the officer’s recommendation, with conditions to be applied as deemed appropriate by officers.


Members do not support the officer’s recommendation of refusal of planning permission as they do not feel that the proposal causes demonstrable harm to the surrounding area, but will improve the setting and the risk of flooding can be overcome by applying flood mitigation measures on the Reserved Matters application.


Councillor Connor stated that he would like a condition included at the Reserved Matters stage that the path should be in place before any development commences. Councillor Mrs French stated that the top layer of the path should not be included.


Nick Harding stated that he appreciates that members require the early delivery of the path, but he is mindful that the County Council might not want to adopt the footway until it is completed. 

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