Agenda item

Planning Application DC/23/0133/FUL - Land off Fordham Road, Freckenham (Report No: DEV/WS/24/002)

Report No: DEV/WS/24/002


Planning application - change of use of agricultural land to enclosed field for dog training and exercising and associated access and parking


Planning application - change of use of agricultural land to enclosed field for dog training and exercising and associated access and parking


This application was referred to the Development Control Committee following consideration by the Delegation Panel.


Officers were recommending that the application be refused, for the reason set out in Paragraph 60 of Report No DEV/WS/24/002, which was contrary to the support given by the Parish Council and District Ward Member.


A Member site visit was held prior to the meeting. As part of her presentation to the meeting the Senior Planning Officer also provided videos of the site by way of a further virtual ‘site visit’.


The Committee was advised that during the course of the application two consultations had taken place with statutory consultees and neighbouring properties due to a number of amendments being received, including alterations to the site layout and the addition of landscaping to the site.


Speakers:    Andrew Fleet (agent) and Tracy Cannam (applicant) jointly spoke in support of the application


During the debate comments were made on the reason for refusal in respect of the impact the proposed scheme would have on the countryside landscape.


A number of Members highlighted that prior to the 1950s/1960s and the introduction of modern farming methods, the landscape would have been very different with frequent visual interruptions such as hedgerows or woodland, and some Members also commented that the landscape impact of the proposal would not be objectionable.


The reintroduction of the native hedging and trees proposed in the application was therefore seen as a real biodiversity benefit by some of the Committee.


Councillor Lora-Jane Miller-Jones made specific reference to the benefits the reintroduction of native hedging could bring about to the owl population. Accordingly, she proposed that the application be approved, contrary to the Officer recommendation, and this was duly seconded by Councillor Jon London.


During further discussion questions were posed by the Committee in respect of the hours/days of operation and how usage of the facility was to be managed.


The Senior Planning Officer explained that the hours of operation applied for were daylight hours Monday to Sunday, therefore, a condition would be added to the permission, if granted, limiting the use of the site from 8.00am to 8.00pm. Users would pre-book 45-minute slots which allowed for a 15-minute changeover period. Each 45-minute slot was restricted to two owners with a maximum of 6 dogs in total.


This response then promoted further questions in relation to the use of the site during the winter months of the year when there was limited sunlight. The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that lighting had not been applied for and would not be able to be installed without approval.


Questions were posed in relation to what height the proposed hedging would be when planted and whether the fencing could be a colour which would blend in with the surroundings until the hedging had become established, in order to soften the addition of the fencing.


Discussion also took place as to whether equipment was to be used as part of dog training/exercise and the visual impact this specifically could have on the landscape.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) addressed the meeting on the motion for approval. She explained that the Decision Making Protocol would be invoked in order to allow appropriate conditions to be drafted. Particularly, being mindful that the Eastern boundary of the site did not have landscaping included in the proposal before the Committee.


Furthermore, this would allow additional time in which for Officers to seek clarity from the applicant in respect of the winter operation of the facility (in view of the reduced hours of sunlight) and whether or not any form of equipment would be used on the site for dog training/exercise.


Upon being put to the vote and with 13 voting for the motion and with 3 against, it was resolved that


Members were MINDED TO APPROVE THE APPLICATION, CONTRARY TO THE OFFICER RECOMMENDATION due to the biodiversity benefits the native hedging and trees would bring about, and their view that the landscape impact of the proposals would not be adverse. A Risk Assessment would therefore be produced for consideration by the Committee at a future meeting.


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

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