Agenda item

Planning Application DC/22/1887/FUL - Land off The Street, Fornham All Saints (Report No: DEV/WS/24/009)

Report No: DEV/WS/24/009


Planning application - create access into All Saints Golf and Country Club


(Councillor Marilyn Sayer declared a non-registrable interest as she had previously commented on this application in her capacity as a local resident living in the vicinity of the proposed development. She left the meeting and therefore did not take part in the debate or vote on the item.)


Planning application – create access into All Saints Golf and Country Club


This application was originally referred to the Development Control Committee on 7 February 2024, following consideration by the Delegation Panel and in light of the objections from the Parish Council, Ward Member and the level of public interest in the proposed development.


At the February Committee Members resolved to defer consideration of the application in order allow Members the opportunity of visiting the site. A Member site visit was subsequently held on 4 March 2024.


During the February meeting Members commented upon the impact of the development on the character and appearance of the area and the Conservation Area and also raised concerns over highway safety, frequency of maintenance vehicles and the impact upon the amenity of Acer Lodge.


Members were informed that since the last meeting Officers had received additional representations from members of the public who objected to the application, some of whom raised queries of accuracy relating to the application which the Planning Officer addressed in his presentation to the Committee.


The Planning Officer also advised Members that the applicant had submitted an explanatory supporting note, however, this had not been issued as an agenda paper as it was received after the deadline for the issue of supplementary ‘late papers’.


Officers were continuing to recommend that the application be approved, subject to conditions as set out in Paragraph 61 of Report No DEV/WS/24/009.


Speakers:    Jane Stewart (neighbouring objector on behalf of herself and fellow neighbour Zoe West) spoke against the application

                   Councillor Martin Loveridge (Fornham All Saints Parish Council) spoke against the application

                   Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger (Ward Member: The Fornhams & Great Barton) spoke against the application


Councillor Ian Houlder stated that he considered the impact on the highway from the proposal to be minimal. Accordingly, he proposed that the application be approved, as per the Officer recommendation, however the motion failed to achieve a seconder.


Questions were posed during the debate as to whether condition No 4, which set to restrict the use of the access for maintenance purposes, could be extended to specify operation at certain times of the day, in order to minimise the impact on the highway at peak traffic times.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) explained that it would not be reasonable to do so because the Highways Authority had not made this stipulation.


Councillor Jon London referenced condition No 7 and the reference therein to No other part of the development hereby permitted shall be commenced until the new access has been laid out and completed” and sought clarification on what this referred to.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) advised that Officers were simply seeking to ensure that the physical access was in place prior to all other elements of the proposal being installed e.g. the gate, the fencing and all other elements referenced in Paragraph 6 of the report.


Councillor Sara Mildmay-White proposed that the application be refused, contrary to the Officer recommendation, due to the impact on the Conservation Area and the landscape character of the area, together with the erosion of green open space. This was duly seconded by Councillor Mike Chester.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) responded on the reasons cited for refusal and informed the Committee that she would not invoke the Decision Making Protocol and the recommendation would not be ‘minded to’.


Accordingly, upon being put to the vote and with 12 voting for the motion and with 2 against, it was resolved that




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


1.           Policy DM2 states that planning permission for all development should recognise and address key features, characteristics of the area and its landscape character. Policy DM5 states that development for economic growth and expansion within the countryside should not have a detrimental impact upon the historic environment or harm the character and appearance of the area. Policy DM13 states that all development proposals should demonstrate that their location, scale, design and materials will protect, and where possible enhance the character of the landscape, including the setting of settlements, the significance of gaps between them and the nocturnal character of the landscape. Policy CS13 states that development outside of defined settlements should be strictly controlled with a priority on protecting and enhancing the character, appearance, historic qualities and biodiversity of the countryside.

Paragraph 135 of the NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should ensure that developments (C) are sympathetic to local character and history, including the surrounding built environment and landscape setting. Paragraph 180 states that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by (b) recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. Paragraph 203 states that in determining applications the local planning authority should take account of (a) the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets and putting them to viable uses consistent with their consideration and (c) the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness.

Policy DM17 states that development within, adjacent to or visible from a Conservation Area should preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area or its setting. Section 72 (1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires the decision maker to have special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a Conservation Area.

The application site is located within the countryside from a planning policy perspective and immediately adjacent to the Fornham All Saints Conservation Area. The site is located adjacent to the B1106 highway along a continual, undeveloped verge which is open, rural and verdant in character and which provide a strong edge to the developed envelope of Fornham all Saints. The uninterrupted, open setting contributes positively to the setting of the conservation area.

The proposed development would result in a large, engineered break within the landscaped boundary which would erode and harmfully urbanise the open and green character of this edge of countryside location, encroaching into the open space of the wider golf course which provides an important undeveloped break in built up development between the settlements. The visual impact of this development fails to preserve or enhance the Conservation Area due to harm to its setting, albeit on the scale of less than substantial. The proposed development would be to the detriment of the character of the rural locality. Accordingly, the proposal fails to recognise and address key features, characteristics and local distinctiveness.

The proposal would provide an additional strategic access which would allow the golf course to operate more efficiently and marginally reduce the distance travelled by maintenance vehicles. However, the harm identified is considered to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

The proposal is therefore contrary to policies DM2, DM5, DM13, DM17 Of the Joint Development Management Plan (2015) and CS5, CS13 of the St Edmundsbury Core Strategy (2010) and to the NPPF.

Supporting documents: