Decision Maker: Planning Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
At the Planning Committee meeting on 12 August 2020, Members advised that they were minded to refuse the above application and invited an implications report for further consideration. The Committee therefore had before it a *report of the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration setting out the implications of refusal.
The Area Team Leader outlined the contents of the report stating that as outlined within the minute of the previous meeting, Committee Members gave consideration to a number of matters which included the desire of the applicant to live on site, the response from statutory consultees, visibility splay requirements and the need for the removal of hedgerow and rights of the applicant to cut back vegetation/hedgebank, the actual numbers of people who would live on site, concerns over safety for occupiers from various risks such as through falling trees and caravans falling over during high winds, accessibility of the site during snowy conditions, flooding concerns of the site with associated impacts on drainage and children’s play area.
Members of Planning Committee had therefore resolved that they were minded to refuse this application, deferring the application for consideration of an implications report to consider reasons for refusal to include:
· Policy Planning for Traveller Sites - Section 14. When assessing the suitability of sites in rural or semi-rural settings, local planning authorities should ensure that the scale of such sites does not dominate the nearest settled community.
· Policy DM7 - A, Space for children’s Play
· Policy DM7 - C, unacceptable landscape or ecological impact
· Policy DM7 - E, safe and convenient access to local facilities.
· Policy DM2 - High quality design
· Policy DM2 - Positive contribution to local character including any heritage or biodiversity assets and the setting of heritage assets
· Policy DM2 - Visually attractive places that are well integrated with surrounding buildings, streets and landscapes
· Policy DM2 - Appropriate drainage including sustainable drainage systems
As such three reasons for refusal had been formed to cover the above concerns with correct reference made to Policy DM1 rather than DM2.
He then provided by way of presentation the layout of the site and addressed the following detail:
The applicant sought planning permission for the material change of use of agricultural land to residential use for a gypsy and traveller family. The proposal would involve the siting of a static caravan; parking for two touring caravans; the siting of a storage shed and car parking area; landscaping works, including tree planting and the creation of a landscaped bank; and works to create a safe access onto the public highway.
The site comprised an area of mostly open grassland, including an area surfaced with loose material, on which two touring caravans were currently being kept (these would be moved on site to the position shown on the layout plan and form part of any planning permission issued), along with a wooden storage structure. The site’s western, northern, and eastern boundaries adjoined open fields in agricultural use. The southern boundary ran alongside the public highway and was formed by a mature hedgerow. The site was located outside settlement limits.
The original submission included the provision and use of a compost toilet and a reed-bed drainage system to deal with grey water but the proposal was amended following concerns received with the proposal now involving the use of a toilet facility within the static caravan with a Vortex Treatment Plant proposed to deal with foul drainage. Confirmation had also been provided from the applicant that there was mains water running adjacent to the site and power would be provided from solar panels.
With regard to the visibility splay: Members had received correspondence raising concern over the need for the removal of hedgebank to the east of the application site access in order to provide the required visibility splay which the applicant had no control over. Reference had also be made to correspondence received from the Local Highway Authority to the need for removal of hedgebank to either side of the access. However, in terms of the requirements of the Highway Authority over visibility, the consultation response of 30th September 2019, set out the following: The site is located on a road with limited passing opportunities and can be considered to be lightly trafficked having witnessed a single vehicle in 45 minutes. While the road is a derestricted speed limit I have observed speeds of 20mph. However local residents have observed that speed have been in excess of 45 mph. The Highway Authority would request that the applicant obtain a 24 hour speed survey so that appropriate splays can be applied to any consent. With current observed speeds by the Highway Authority a splay of 2.4m by 25m in either direction would be required but should the speeds be identified locally at 45 mph then splays of 2.4m by 120m with no obstruction greater than 600m above road surface would be required. Both splays would necessitate the removal of hedge row to satisfy the splays. The Highway Authority would apply the 85% speed to any design for the splays.
However the 2019 consultation response was subsequently updated by a further response dated 20th January 2020 which stated: The plan overcomes the Highway Authority concern, and subject to the access construction e.g. Hard surface in a bound material and drainage would not have any further observations. It will be a matter for the LPA (Local Planning Authority) to consider sustainability in light of the NPPF.
This was informed by a speed survey, the results of which led to the Highway Authority to clarify that visibility splays of ‘2.4 by 55m either side of the access were required and that to the right on exiting it should be to the nearside carriageway edge and to the left to centre line of the carriageway.
The position of the visibility plays were marked within the presentation and whilst the formation of the splay in the westerly direction would require a section of hedgebank removal (land in the applicant’s control), this was not the case for the easterly visibility splay and the reference made was to removal of brambles which overhung the highway.
He then focussed on the prepared reasons for refusal set out in the report where he felt that Reason 1could be upheld at appeal
Consideration was given to:
· The monitoring of speed along the road
· The adopted Local Plan Review and the number of gypsy and traveller sites proposed but not in place.
It was therefore RESOLVED that the application be refused on the following grounds:
In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority, the proposed site of the family traveller pitch given its countryside location and prominent position on the ridge of the hill will result in an unacceptable landscape and ecological impact through the introduction of caravans and other structures and the removal of hedgebank and trees to provide an adequate visibility splay for the access into the site. The location of the site is such that there will be no safe or convenient access to local facilities or services. Therefore any need for the development does not outweigh the harm which would result with the development being contrary to Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013-2033 Policies S14, DM1 and DM7 and guidance within the National Planning Policy Framework 2019 and Policy Planning for Traveller Sites (2015).
Reason for the decision – as outlined above
(Proposed by Cllr S J Penny and seconded by Cllr S J Clist)
i) Cllrs: G Barnell, E J Berry, Mrs C P Daw, Mrs F J Colthorpe, S J Clist, L J Cruwys, F W Letch, D J Knowles, S J Penny, R F Radford and B G J Warren made declarations in accordance with the Protocol of Good Practice for Councillors dealing in planning matters as they had received representations;
ii) The following members would represent the committee in the case of an appeal: Cllrs: S J Penny, S J Clist and B G J Warren;
iii) *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.
Publication date: 14/09/2020
Date of decision: 09/09/2020
Decided at meeting: 09/09/2020 - Planning Committee