Agenda item

Planning Application DC/19/1217/FUL - 5C Oak Tree Farm, Wildmere Lane, Holywell Row (Report No: DEV/WS/19/039)

Report No: DEV/WS/19/039


Planning Application - 1no. dwelling with detached garage


Planning Application - 1no. dwelling with detached garage


This application was referred to the Development Control Committee following consideration by the Delegation Panel and at the request of Councillor Don Waldron, one of the Ward Members for The Rows.


A Member site visit was held prior to the meeting.  The Parish Council supported the application which was in conflict with the Officer recommendation of refusal, for the reasons set out in Paragraph 81 of Report No DEV/WS/19/039.


Speaker:      Rebecca Young (applicant) spoke in support of the application


Councillor Don Waldron opened the debate and made reference to an adjacent plot which had received planning permission for a dwelling, he also highlighted that the planning application in question had been submitted in June of this year with the Local Plan not having been adopted by West Suffolk Council until September 2019.


In response to which the Service Manager (Planning – Development) reminded the Committee that each application was to be considered on its own merit.  Furthermore, with regard to the Local Plan, if the application had been before Committee at the time of submission then significant weight would have still been attributed to it as it had been in a very advanced stage by June.  Members were also advised that planning law required applications to be determined against policies that are in force at the time of determination.


Whilst some Members expressed sympathy at the specific need/family circumstance as made reference to by the applicant under the public speaking, a number of the Committee were mindful that it fell outside of the settlement boundary and that the application did not qualify as an exception site.


In response to questions posed as to whether the applicant could resubmit the application identifying the site as an exception for gypsy and travellers, the Service Manager (Planning – Development) explained that whilst the applicant was at liberty to do this the permanent dwelling as applied for (as opposed to a mobile home or similar) fell foul of the Gypsies and Travellers Policy CS8.


Other Members asked if the applicant could put the site forward for development and/or the Parish Council could seek to move the settlement boundary as part of the Local Plan process.  Again, the Service Manager responded and explained that both of these avenues could be pursued by the parties concerned, however, they needed to be mindful that the review of the Local Plan had only just commenced and any new sites/changes to settlement boundaries would not be implemented for some considerable time.


Lastly, a question was posed in respect of the L-shaped agricultural building that existed on the site and as to whether this could be converted into residential use under Class Q permitted development rights.  Whilst being mindful that this did not form part of the proposal before Members, the Service Manager again advised that was something the applicant would be at liberty to explore.


Councillor Don Waldron made reference to the local support the application received and proposed that the application be approved, contrary to the Officer recommendation of refusal, and this was duly seconded by Councillor Andy Drummond.


The Service Manager advised that if Members were minded to approve the application, due to a differing interpretation of Policy DM27, contrary to the Officer recommendation then the Decision Making Policy would be invoked and a risk assessment would be produced for consideration by the Committee at their next meeting, prior to final decision being taken on the application. 


Upon being put to the vote and with 7 voting for the motion, 8 against and with 1 abstention the Chair declared the motion lost.


Councillor Ian Houlder then moved that the application be refused, as per the Officer recommendation, and this was duly seconded by Councillor Roger Dicker.


Upon being put to the vote and with 9 voting for the motion, 2 against and with 5 abstentions it was resolved that




Planning permission be REFUSED for the following reasons:


  1. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that the planning system should recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling and focus development in sustainable locations. Local Planning Authorities should avoid new homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances. Between them, policies CS1 and CS10 of the 2010 FHDC Core Strategy and policy SA1 of the 2019 Site Allocations Plan establish the spatial strategy for the area and they dictate that unless special circumstances prevail, residential development in the countryside, beyond the settlement boundaries, should be strictly controlled.  Furthermore, Policy DM5 (Development within the Countryside) states that areas designated as countryside will be protected from unsustainable development and Policy DM27 sets out further strict circumstances where new dwellings will be permitted outside of settlement boundaries. The proposal does not meet the provisions of any of these policies and there are no material considerations that outweigh this very significant conflict with the Development Plan. The proposal therefore represents a conflict with Policies SA1, CS1, CS10, DM5 and DM27 of the Development Plan.
  2. Policy DM2 provides that proposals for development should recognise and address the key features, characteristics of the locality within which they’re proposed. This is bolstered by Policy DM22 which further requires that all residential development proposals should maintain or create a sense of place and/or character by basing design on an analysis of existing buildings and landscape and utilising the characteristics of the locality to create buildings and spaces that have a strong sense of place and distinctiveness.

The proposal would give rise to a permanent dwelling which would be at odds with the prevailing nature and character of the immediate site. Whilst dwellings do exist to the South of the site, these are located within the settlement boundary whereas the site in question lies within the countryside from a planning perspective. If approved, this proposal would result in a formalised, permanent dwelling which, when compared to the current site, will appear as a stark contrast to the prevailing loosely developed grain of the wider, rural locality. In this location, noting the surrounding development’s form, scale and design, a permanent brick dwelling would be out of character and therefore contrary to both national and local policy.

The introduction of a further, two storey dwelling would be visually harmful given the site’s loose coalescence of non-permanent structures which are modest in scale and do not dominate the visual landscape. Furthermore, the locality is generally populated with modestly scaled, single storey dwellings which do not dominate their plot or appear as large, overly urban styled dwellings. The proposed dwelling is significantly larger and taller than the area’s existing properties. The ridge height and footprint appear incongruous with the existing pattern of development which, given the location on the periphery of the settlement boundary is relatively loosely grained and modest in scale. This proposed dwelling would appear as a stark contrast to the prevailing semi-rural character already in situ. It dominates its plot in a way that the locality’s smaller dwellings do not and the two front dormer windows are particularly prominent so as to conflict with the prevailing modest scale of development which defines the locality.

This results in a design and proposal which fails to respond to its surroundings and the prevailing urban fabric as required by point J of Policy DM2 of the Joint Development Management Policies Document (2015). The proposal also fails to accord with paragraph 124 of the 2019 NPPF which states that good design should be at the heart of all proposals to ensure that high quality buildings and environments are created.

  1. The proposed dwelling would be positioned to the immediate south of the adjacent pitch and this, based on the plans submitted in support of the application, has the potential to adversely impact the amenity of the off-site pitch due to loss of light and the physical overbearing relationship it will have with the smaller, more transient in design mobile home. This overbearing relationship would prove contrary to the good design principles embedded within the NPPF, CS5 of the Core Strategy and DM2 and DM22 of the Joint Development Management Policies Document.

The North elevation also has a window installed to the ‘upper’ floor and this gives rise to direct overlooking into the adjacent pitch. This would be detrimental to the amenity of the off-site mobile home as direct, unrestricted views from an upper level would be possible. This would therefore be harmful to the neighbouring property’s privacy and amenity to a sufficient extent for the proposal to represent a material conflict with part g of Policy DM2

  1. The proposal would result in the permanent loss of a lawful traveller pitch and this represents a material conflict with the LPA’s requirement to provide necessary sites for the travelling community pursuant to the 2015 Planning Policy for Traveller Sites.

The loss of this single pitch represents a net decline in the LPA’s overall provision and whilst the LPA note it is a single pitch only, given the obligation to provide appropriate pitches for the travelling community, with no material factors to indicate that this pitch should be sacrificed, there are no relevant planning reasons which enable the LPA to conclude that the loss of this pitch would not be detrimental to the LPA’s overall provision.


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