To determine the application.
Nicholas Thrower presented the report to members.
Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Mr Tim Slater, the Agent.
Mr Slater stated that the site provides a conundrum in terms of the purpose of policy and how it could and should be interpreted as it is accepted that the site is identified within Tydd Gote, which is in LP3 as another village, which limits new housing to single dwellings as infill, but questioned the planning balance of what difference does infill make to sustainability? He stated that LP3 is predicated on achieving sustainable growth and the first line of the policy states this and also confirms that development should make the best use of predeveloped land.
Mr Slater added that Policy LP14, which relates to flood risk, emphasises the need to direct new development to areas of lower flood risk and the site is accepted by the officer in the report as being within the development footprint of the village, which he agrees with, and it is, therefore, in his view, deemed within the scope of LP3 as a sustainable location for limited new development. He stated that as to whether it is infill or otherwise does not impact on the sustainability of the settlement, however, clearly infill is largely a visual consideration.
Mr Slater advised the committee that the site is in Flood Zone 1 and located on previously developed land and both factors are significant plus points having regard to both the development plan and National Planning Policy Framework. He stated that with regards to appearance and character and given the nature of the application for permission in principle, no detail of the final design has been submitted as part of the application and it is contended that a design for the building could be submitted that would be appropriate for the location and not be harmful to character or appearance of the immediate area and for that reason he expressed the opinion that he disagrees with the conclusion in the second reason for refusal.
Mr Slater expressed the view that an attractive property on this site would provide a visual gateway to the village enhancing the entrance from the south and there are no technical or neighbour objections and, therefore, the only substantive policy issue with the proposal lies in relation to LP3 and infill and whilst it is not infill as defined in the plan, it is noted that there is a building to the south and a row of homes to the west and as such the site is visually not isolated. He expressed the opinion that in terms of the planning balance, it is contended that the brownfield nature of the site, the fact that it is in Flood Zone 1 and that it is clearly visually related to the village form is sufficient to outweigh LP3’s reference to infill as that does not materially affect the sustainability of the site or the village.
Mr Slater added that matters of design will be subject to a further application and consideration by the Council, which will address the second reason for refusal.
Members asked Mr Slater the following questions:
· Councillor Cornwell stated that the plot appears to be located on the existing car park of the restaurant and he asked for confirmation that the application means that the second exit for the car park will be closed as it will form part of the plot as opposed to the existing exit which will have a bearing on vision out onto the A1101. Mr Slater stated that the southern access for the car park would be shut to the car park and the use of the car park would be transferred to the north.
Members asked officers the following questions.
· Councillor Cornwell stated that within the officer’s report it states that the site is not part of the character of the village, however, the site is part of the existing car park of a very long-established public house and is the only part of the village on that stretch of road and, therefore, in his view, it is part of Tydd Gote village. David Rowen referred members to 10.1 of the officer’s report where it states that the application is considered to be located in or adjacent to the existing developed footprint of the settlement of Tydd Gote, as per the definition within Policy LP12. He added that 10.9 of the report refers to the detachment of the proposal from any other built form, which is in essence the gap between the public house and the application site submitted, and the officer view is that the application site is in the open transition and the open countryside as you head out of the village. Councillor Cornwell stated that part of the village is in Lincolnshire and, in his view, it is part of the village as it part of an existing public house car park.
· Nick Harding stated that officers are not saying that it does not form part of the village they are saying that the character of that parcel of land is quite different due to the fact that it does not have any above ground physical development on it. Councillor Cornwell expressed the view that the car park is part of the pub and, therefore, in his opinion, it is part of the village.
· David Rowen stated there are two issues for members to consider, firstly the principle of development is a determination of whether the proposal is within the village or outside the village and whether it is considered in LP3 and LP12 terms in the village or in an elsewhere location and the conclusion has been reached that it is within the village and should be determined under Policy LP3 as within the village and not elsewhere. He added that the second issue is the nature of the character of the site which is clearly an open site and the officers have concluded that the open character of the area and the transition between the built form to the north albeit in Lincolnshire, and the open countryside to the south, where there is that transition between the built form and the countryside.
· Councillor Cornwell stated that, regardless to the points made by officers, it is next door to an existing building.
· Councillor Connor expressed the opinion that he agrees with the comments made by Councillor Cornwell.
· Councillor Miscandlon referred to 10.14 of the officer’s report in relation to an informal access which has been created and he is aware of the informal access point and the proposal will mean that this access will be removed causing issues for patrons of the existing business on site and for visitors to the Main Drain, however, the Highway Authority have indicated that they have no issues with the proposal.
Members asked questions, made comments, and received responses as follows:
· Councillor Sutton made reference to 10.3 of the officer’s report where it states that the Planning Portal defines infill development as ‘The development of a relatively small gap between buildings’ and it makes reference to an appeal in Gorefield where the Planning Inspector stated that infill development which is normally associated with the completion of an otherwise substantial built-up frontage of several dwellings or, at the very least, consolidation of a largely built-up area. Councillor Sutton added that it fails to say that the Inspector had also stated that it is not a question of how small or large a gap measures per se. He added that officers normally look at infill as a single dwelling whereas, in his opinion, it clearly indicates that it is not the case and it could be more than one dwelling. He added that he can see the merits of a dwelling there as there are two dwellings on the opposite site of the road and taking the village as a whole it is not that far out of keeping.
· Councillor Cornwell stated that the proposal site is part of the village and the plot is situated in the car park of a very old established business within the village and next door to a telephone exchange. He expressed the view that statements within the officer report are not quite clear and, in his opinion, the interpretation is quite simple that it is part of the village and it has never been able to have more development as it is right on the county boundary. Councillor Cornwell stated that there cannot be any more development other than that which is related to the area covered by the car park and if the proposal is in the car park of an existing business then, in his view, it must form part of the village.
· Councillor Mrs Davis stated that it is part of the village but if there is an open space and a property is placed on the open space then the character and landscape are being changed which is what the officers are saying. She added that officers have to follow policies and the policy states that if you have an open space and you are putting a property on it then the character and appearance is altered.
· Councillor Sutton stated that the proposal is going to change the character, but whether it is going to cause demonstrable harm to the open space needs to be decided by members.
· Councillor Benney referred to a previous application in Gorefield for four homes which was similar to the proposal before members today. He added that he does not see the application as being out in the open countryside and, in his opinion, the car park is brownfield site. He expressed the view that the proposal is policy complaint only to have one infill house and he would expect more dwellings to follow on the site. Councillor Benney stated that when he visited the site there was litter strewn on the car park and, in his view, the area is being used for antisocial behaviour. He expressed the view that it is an infill development as there is a telephone exchange on one side and a public house on the other side and it is within the built form of the area. He added that whatever you build changes the character of the area and once a dwelling has settled down and has landscaping, they look fine, with the proposal bringing a much-needed home for somebody, which he will support.
· Councillor Connor stated that he agrees with the comments of Councillors Cornwell and Benney. He added that comments are often made with regard to taking notice of Parish and Town Council views and in this case the Parish Council do not object to this proposal and, therefore, their view needs to be taken into consideration.
· Councillor Miscandlon stated that this proposal is only for planning in principle and, in his opinion, he does not have an issue with the bottom part of the car park being used for a dwelling, however, he is concerned with regard to the design of the dwelling when it comes back before the committee at the next stage of the application.
· Councillor Sutton stated that, whilst he appreciates the views of members with regard to taking notice of the thoughts and views of the Parish and Town Councils, in his opinion members must only take notice where their objection or support is a material planning consideration.
· David Rowen stated that the first recommended reason for refusal is that the proposal is located within the settlement of Tydd Gote, and consequently the application has been assessed against Policy LP3 of the Local Plan which identified Tydd Gote as an 'Other Village' where residential development will be limited to single dwelling infill sites within an otherwise built-up frontage. He added that the proposal is not considered as an otherwise built-up frontage as it is one part of a gap formed by the car park between the Public House and the telephone exchange and if the proposal is approved there will still be a gap of 120 metres between the development and the nearest building to the north. David Rowen made reference to the point raised by Councillor Sutton with regard to the appeal decision on the Gorefield application and stated that infill is defined by the planning portal and the definition is set out at 10.3 of the officer’s report where it states that infill development is the development of a relatively small gap between buildings. He added that the Gorefield appeal is the one appeal that has elaborated on that point and was for an application for two dwellings in effectively a gap between the last dwelling of the village and a pumping station and the Inspector had concluded that infilling is normally associated with the completion of an otherwise substantial built-up frontage of several dwellings or at the very least consolidation of a largely built-up area. The Inspector stated that given the fact that the building immediately adjacent to the north east boundary of the appeal site is a water pumping station he did not consider that the proposed development would constitute infill residential development and in that context the gap was being filled entirely by residential development. David Rowen stated that the basis for the reason for refusal with regard to the proposal before members is that the policy in the Local Plan allows for residential infill with single dwellings in other villages such as Tydd Gote and the development proposed is contrary to LP3 of the Local Plan with the secondary element that the loss of the gap is detrimental to the character of the area in the officer’s view.
Proposed by Councillor Cornwell, seconded by Councillor Benney and decided that the application should be APPROVED against the officer’s recommendation.
Members do not support the officer’s recommendation of refusal of planning permission as they consider that the proposal does meet the requirements of LP12 and would make a positive contribution to the settlement.