Agenda item

Planning Application DC/23/0493/FUL - Milton House, Thurlow Road, Withersfield (Report No: DEV/WS/24/001)

Report No: DEV/WS/24/001


Planning Application - five dwellings (following demolition of existing house)


Planning Application - five dwellings (following demolition of existing house)


This application was originally referred to the Development Control Committee on 6 December 2023 as the previous applications on the site were refused by the Committee in September 2020 and June 2021.


At the December meeting of the Committee, Members resolved to defer consideration of the application in order to allow the Committee the opportunity to visit the site. A Member site visit was therefore held on Tuesday 2 January 2024.


Withersfield Parish Council objected to the proposal, which Officers were continuing to recommend for approval, subject to conditions as set out in Paragraph 64 of Report No DEV/WS/24/001.


As part of his presentation to the meeting the Principal Planning Officer also provided videos of the site by way of a further virtual ‘site visit’.


Speakers:    Denis Elavia (neighbouring objector, speaking on behalf of himself and other neighbouring objectors) spoke against the application

                   Councillor Frank Eve (Vice Chair of Withersfield Parish Council) spoke against the application

                   Councillor Indy Wijenayaka (Ward Member: Withersfield) spoke against the application

                   David Barker (agent) spoke in support of the application


Councillor David Smith made reference to Plots 1 and 5 and stated that the Member site visit had reaffirmed his concerns in relation to the proximity of these plots, in particular, to the existing neighbouring premises. He considered the proposal to be overdevelopment and also referenced highway safety concerns. Councillor Smith therefore moved that the application be refused, contrary to the Officer recommendation, and this was duly seconded by Councillor Lora-Jane Miller-Jones.


During further discussion other Members made similar comments, with Councillor Sara Mildmay-White highlighting that the separation distance between Plot 1 and the neighbouring premises had simply not been addressed.


Councillor Carol Bull further highlighted the impact the proposed scheme would have on the amenity of the future residents of Plot 1 due to the proximity of that dwelling to the road/access into the development.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) addressed the meeting on the motion for refusal. She highlighted that there was no evidence from the Highways Authority, who had been consulted on the proposal, to support a refusal on a highways safety basis and she would therefore recommend that was removed from the reasons for refusal.


In relation to overdevelopment and the overbearing impact on the residential amenity of The Old Bakery and Thistledown Cottage brought about by Plots 1 and 5, in particular, this would relate to policies DM2 and DM22 and would not require the Decision Making Protocol to be invoked.


Furthermore, the proposer and seconder of the motion were asked if they also wished to include the impact on the amenity of the future residents of Plot 1 (due to the proximity of that dwelling to the road/access) as a further reason for refusal, as referenced by Councillor Bull. Councillors Smith and Miller-Jones confirmed that they supported this additional inclusion and the removal of the reference to highway safety.


Accordingly, upon being put to the vote and with 12 voting for the motion and with 4 against it was resolved that




Planning permission be REFUSED, CONTRARY TO THE OFFICER RECOMMENDATION for the following reason:


1.   Thistledown Cottage adjoining the site to the south currently has a relatively open aspect to its northern boundary, with ground floor windows to the gable end of the dwelling. Furthermore, the Old Bakery to the north west of the site currently enjoys a relatively verdant view to Milton House.


          The proposed development of five dwellings, gardens, parking and

          hardstanding is considered to be an overdevelopment of the site          resulting in plot 1 being sited 3.7 metres from the boundary to Thistledown Cottage, and 4.7 metres from the boundary of The Old        Bakery. This siting would have an overbearing impact on the           residential amenity enjoyed by both Thistledown Cottage and The        Old Bakery. Furthermore, the north elevation of plot 1 containing        bedroom and sitting room windows is sited 1 metre from the access          road to the site. This close proximity to an access road serving an

          additional 4 dwellings, would result in a reduced level of amenity for     the occupiers of this dwelling.


          The harmful impact on the amenity of the neighbouring dwellings,        and the poor standard of living conditions for the future occupiers of     plot 1 is contrary to Joint Development Management Policies DM2        and DM22, which amongst other things, requires new development   to avoid harm to existing residential amenity, and be fit for purpose     and function well, providing adequate space, and privacy.


(On conclusion of this item the Chair permitted a short comfort break.)

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