Planning Control Committee Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 16th February, 2017
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Spirella Ballroom, Icknield Way, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor D.J. Barnard (Chairman), Councillor Fiona Hill (Vice-Chairman), Councillor John Bishop, Councillor Paul Clark, Councillor Jean Green, Councillor Ian Mantle, Councillor Alan Millard, Councillor M.R.M. Muir, Councillor Mike Rice, Councillor Harry Spencer - Smith and Councillor M.E. Weeks.
In attendance:
Richard Tiffin (Area Planning Officer), Joanne Cousins (Senior Planning Officer), Marie Searle (Property Lawyer) and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer).
Also Present:
At the commencement of the meeting Councillor Tony Hunter and two registered speakers.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
75 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Bill Davidson, Lorna Kercher, Paul Marment and Adrian Smith.
76 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Planning Control Committee held on 18 January 2017 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and signed by the Chairman.
77 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no other business.
78 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) The Chairman welcomed the Committee, officers, general public and speakers to this Planning Control Committee Meeting;

(2) The Chairman announced that Members of the public and the press may use their devices to film/photograph, or make a sound recording of the meeting, but he asked them to not use flash and to disable any beeps or other sound notifications that emitted from their devices;

(3) The Chairman reminded Members and speakers that in line with Council policy, this meeting would be audio recorded.

(4) The Chairman advised that Members would be using hand held microphones and asked they wait until they had been handed a microphone before starting to speak;

(5) The Chairman requested that all Members, officers and speakers announce their names before speaking;

(6) The Chairman clarified that each group of speakers would have a maximum of 5 minutes. The bell would sound after 4 1/2 minutes as a warning, and then again at 5 minutes to signal that the presentation must cease;

(7) Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Declarable Interest and were required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring a Declarable Interest which required they leave the room under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct, could speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.
79 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
The Chairman confirmed that the two registered speakers were present.
80 16/02487/1 - FLINT HALL FARM, LONDON ROAD, ROYSTON, SG8 9LX
The Senior Planning Officer informed Members that she had three minor updates to the report as follows:

1. Herts County Council had confirmed the condition wording regarding the provision of fire hydrants and Condition 16 would now read:

“No development shall take place until details of fire hydrants or other measures to protect the development from fire have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. Such details shall include provision of the mains water services for the development whether by means of existing water services, new mains, or extension to or diversion of existing services where the provision of fire hydrants is considered necessary. The proposed development shall not be occupied until such measures have been implemented in accordance with the approved details.”

2. In respect of Paragraph 4.3.15, a revised Arboricultural Report had been received, which clarified that the trees sited at Ashtrees, outside of the application area, would be retained’

3. In respect of the Rights of Way Informative reference to Barley FP17 should be removed and replaced with Royston Footpath 16 and Royston Bridleway 10.

The Senior Planning Officer introduced the report of the Development and Conservation Manager, supported by a visual presentation.

The Senior Planning Officer informed Members that the application site was a complex of farm buildings located approximately midway between London Road and Barkway Road

Mr Geoffrey Wilkerson, the applicant speaking in support of the application, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee.

Mr Wilkerson informed Members that his family had farmed at Flint Hall since 1966. The grain store and 45 metre long tithe barn had been put to agricultural use for many years but, due to increasing output and size of machinery and the limited use for storage, the buildings were becoming redundant.

In order to preserve the tithe barn an alternative use had to be found and conversion into homes was the best option.

The Agent had provided a scheme that would provide attractive housing whilst preserving the material assets of the farmyard.

The site was well screened by trees and the welfare of wildlife would be a priority, particularly the bat occupation, which would be protected and monitored.

Some years ago the family built two farm cottages in the village of Barley, which were given a North Herts Civic Award for their design.

Mr Wilkerson concluded by stating that he was very keen that this development should enhance the site and that the Committee would support the application.

Ms Anthony, the Applicant’s Agent speaking in support of the application, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee.

Ms Anthony informed Members that Flint Hall was a prime example of a 19th century farmstead which was classified as a non designated heritage asset.

Whilst the family had been keen to maintain and protect the original buildings, substantial work was now required to ensure that the they did not deteriorate to beyond a point at which they could be saved and given the buildings were largely redundant for modern agriculture, Mr Wilkerson could not justify further investment in the site.

Commercial use of these traditional buildings was unviable and unsuitable given the residential dwelling on and adjacent to the site. As a result a very high quality and sympathetic residential scheme had been developed, which had been based on discussions with North Herts Officers which started in 2012.

The project centered on the proposed restoration and enhancement of the existing historic barn and granary building with the cost of converting the buildings being more than the resulting asset value.

The proposed development included the creation of two sensitively designed new build dwellings, replacing existing buildings on the site, which would provide funds for the development.

The scheme would provide important housing in the District and the presumption in favour of sustainable development would apply.

Flint Hall provided an attractive setting linked by 5minute walk along a footpath to the edge of Royston where there were many public amenities.

Significant thought had been given to preserving the woodland feel of the site and the units had been carefully positioned to retain the majority of the mature trees. Further landscaping would be agreed with the local authority and monitored as a condition of planning approval.

The proposed scheme had been carefully designed to take into account the character of the farmstead as well as the scale, materials and how the buildings relate to the wider landscape.

The demolition of the more modern and redundant outbuildings which currently detracted from the traditional buildings would enhance the setting. The scale of development was appropriate for the location and care had been taken not to substantially change the character.

The new dwellings would supplement the granary by creating an agricultural style courtyard and the detail was simple with numerous references back to the traditional construction.

This was a largely self contained scheme that was designed to enhance the site, whilst providing a practical and well thought out living environment.

The protection of and enhancement for bats was included in the design of the modern structures as well as the historic buildings.

The scheme had been developed following various pre-application meetings and discussions with North Herts Officers over the last 5 years and the application had been submitted as a result of positive pre-application received last summer. Officers agreed that the site was sustainable and recommended granting permission.

Ms Anthony concluded by stating that, as well as firm planning grounds, there were considerable social and economic reasons for supporting the development including that the scheme would ensure that the heritage buildings were maintained long term and enjoyed by the occupiers. She asked that application be supported.

Members noted Paragraph 4.3.18 of the report and that eight trees would be felled and asked what had been agreed regarding planting of replacement trees and queried whether the farm would remain operational.

Ms Anthony advised that, as a result of the arboricultural survey, the intention was to retain all of the more mature trees and the trees identified to be felled were of low quality. The full landscaping scheme had not yet been agreed, but this was the subject of one of the conditions.

In respect of the working farm, Ms Anthony advised that the farm buildings were based at another site.

Mr Wilkerson informed Members that the buildings on the site would not be used for agricultural purposes, but there were two current employees and one retired employee living on the site and therefore a farming presence would remain

The Chairman thanked Mr Wilkerson and Ms Anthony for their presentations.

Members asked questions and debated the application as follows:

In respect of Paragraph 4.2.2 of the report regarding the barn conversion, Members noted that there was considerable fire damage to the existing structure and queried how much of that could be retained and expressed concern that any new materials matched as closely as possible those materials retained.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that a comprehensive structure survey report had been provided that evidenced which materials would be able to be retained and how the work would be carried out. Officer concerns regarding this had been one of the issues that had resulted in a long pre-application process and materials were the subject of one of the conditions.

Members asked for clarification regarding the European Protected Species license.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that the County Ecologist had looked at the site in detail and noted that the site had a lot of wildlife interest, which would be protected as part of the scheme and was the subject of conditions.

Members asked for clarification regarding the statement, made by the residents of Ashtrees, that the proposal would inhibit them using the road.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that there was a gateway to stop traffic driving through the site. This was private property and it was down to the owner as to who could use this access.

Members asked whether Officers would request two for one planting, even if this was on other areas of the farm, in respect of the trees being felled on the site.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that under separate legislation farms had to undertake the planting of trees, but this application could only control what happened on this site. The applicant was looking to enhance the site and would be planting trees where there was room to do so.

Members asked for clarification as to whether the site was within the Green Belt and asked whether rules regarding the change of use of land from farming to residential had changed.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that the site was classified as a rural area beyond the Green Belt. In respect of the change of use of land from agricultural to residential use, new legislation was introduced on 2015 that increased permitted development rights for agricultural buildings.

Members were concerned that the right of way was of poor quality for even more residents to be using.

The Senior Planning Officer advised that the access would be upgraded as part of the scheme.

Members commented that the proposal would result in a vast improvement on the look of the site and the development was wholly acceptable

Upon the vote it was:

RESOLVED: That, subject to the amendment of Condition 16 and the Rights of Way Informative as detailed below, application 16/02487/1 be GRANTED planning permission subject to the conditions and reasons contained in the report of the Development and Conservation Manager.

Condition 16 to read:
“No development shall take place until details of fire hydrants or other measures to protect the development from fire have been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. Such details shall include provision of the mains water services for the development whether by means of existing water services, new mains, or extension to or diversion of existing services where the provision of fire hydrants is considered necessary. The proposed development shall not be occupied until such measures have been implemented in accordance with the approved details.”

Rights of Way Informative
The first Paragraph to read:
“1. Before commencement of the proposed development, the applicant shall contact Hertfordshire County Council’s Rights of Way Service http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/envplan/countrysideaccess/row/ (Tel: 0300 123 4047, email at row@hertfordshire.gov.uk) to obtain their requirements for the ongoing maintenance of the surface of the Royston Footpath 16 and Royston Bridleway 10.”
81 16/03200/1 - WOOLGROVE SCHOOL, PRYOR WAY, LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY, SG6 2PT
Councillor Michael Weeks left the room during the presentation of this item and therefore took not part in the subsequent debate or vote.

The Area Planning Officer introduced the report of the Development and Conservation Manager, supported by a visual presentation.

He advised that the application had been brought to the Committee due to the size of the size being more than one hectare.

The 2.4 metre fence was to dissuade people getting into the school and the 1.4 metre fence was to protect staff and pupils from traffic, both would be dark green in colour.

Woolgrove School was sited to the north east of the Jackmans estate in Letchworth Garden City.

RESOLVED: That, subject to the conditions and reasons set out in the report of the Development and Conservation Manager, application 16/03200/1 be GRANTED planning permission.
82 PLANNING APPEALS
The Area Planning Officer presented the report entitled Planning Appeals.

He advised that two appeals had been lodged

He drew attention to the decision regarding Sunvale, Bedford Road. Holwell. Officers had concluded that, amongst other reasons, this was an unsustainable location as it was approximately a one mile walk to Henlow Camp. The Inspector did not agree with this conclusion, despite the need to cross the unlit A600.

Members queried how this application had been originally refused permission with one of the reasons being that it was a long walk to facilities with little public transport when Flint Hall Farm, a seemingly similar application had been recommended for approval and asked for some guidance regarding determining sustainability of applications.

The Area Planning Officer advised that in the case of Flint Hall Farm, the Agent rightly drew attention to the presumption in favour of sustainable development and the Officer, in her report, had undertaken an exercise in planning balance. The unsustainable nature of the development had to be balanced against the benefits and in this case the benefits had been characterised as the improvement of the model farm as an historic asset.

The Area Planning Officer informed Members that he had recently given some pre-application advice on a new build development near Flint Hall Farm and he has concluded in that case that the harm would outweigh the benefits in the planning balance so he understood the confusion..

Officers did not consider that benefits to the development at Sunvale outweighed the harm by reason of location.
Members asked whether an appeal had been submitted regarding the application at Potterheath Road, Welwyn and, if an appeal had not been submitted was the site being monitored for any further unauthorised development on the site.

The Area Planning Officer informed Members that, as he understood it, an appeal regarding this site was imminent and that if there was any further development of the site, it was likely that local residents would advise the Council.

Members asked for clarification that the appeals allowed were mainly delegated decision.

The Area Planning Officer advised that he did not have the statistical evidence to hand to answer this question definitively but that since the vast majority of decisions were delegated it was likely that there would be more appeals allowed in this category..

RESOLVED: That the report on Planning Appeals be noted.
Published on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017
8.07p.m