Erect 25 No. dwellings with garages, form vehicular access
The Planning Officer presented the report showing members all of the relevant plans and drawings. Members of the committee were advised that as the Milborne St Andrew Neighbourhood Plan has passed through the examination stage and that a referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan would take place on 8 August 2019, it was now considered that moderate weight should be given to the Neighbourhood Plan, which was a material change to when the application has been considered the by North Dorset District Council Planning Committee in January 2019. Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework as set out in the officer’s report also marked a material change to be considered. The Head of Legal Services advised the committee of the legal position relating to revisiting the application in the context of the Neighbourhood Plan; members noted that the committee would need to have good planning reasons to reverse the view of the North Dorset Planning Committee which had delegated authority to grant the application in January. The Planning Officer also advised the committee of minor typographical errors relating to the conditions set out in the report, which would be corrected in the appendix to minutes of the meeting.
The Planning officer highlighted that a previous proposal for the site had been for 30 dwellings and the current application for 25 dwellings was considered to be acceptable in terms of design and general visual impact with no significant harm to neighbouring residential amenity. In addition the committee was advised that the Council could only demonstrate 3.3 years of housing land supply and that the impact on ecology had been addressed through a Healthland Infrastructure Project. In view of the sustainability merits of the proposal and the shortfall in the Council’s housing land supply the development was recommended for approval subject to conditions and a legal agreement to secure the necessary off-site financial contributions.
Oral representations objecting to the planning application were received from, Elizabeth Humphrey, Phillip Bowell, Steve Bulley and Brian Keene. Those objecting to the development stated that the site was surplus to requirement given that the shortage of homes was within the towns and not in the villages, the land could still be used as arable land and the site was outside of the settlement boundary. It was also considered that in view of national planning guidance weight should be given to the Neighbourhood Plan and to approve the application would therefore go against national guidance and local democracy. Concerns were also raised regarding the height of the dwellings in view of the site levels which would impinge on the skyline and the risk around the trees touching the nearby electric cables. Objections were also raised in respect of those with mobility needs due to the slope of the site and the fact that the affordable homes had been located to the least attractive part of the site rather than being pepper potted throughout the development which w as inconsistent with national policy. Objectors also highlighted that the site was not the only site available and that there were other planning applications being considered for some 200 new homes. It was felt that the applicant was seeking a decision on the application prior to the referendum to avoid being bound by the Neighbourhood Plan.
Oral representations were received from Richard Macnair (Milborne St Andrew Parish Council). The Parish Council representative highlighted that the planning application was in contradiction to the Neighbourhood Plan and should be rejected as the referendum was to be held in two weeks’ time. In addition in a similar situation in Hazelbury Bryan, the Planning Manager had given a significant weight to the emerging Neighbourhood Plan. It was also felt that the proposal did not meet the community benefit test.
Oral representations were received from Robert Lofthouse (Agent for the applicant).
The committee was advised that the Planning Committee of North Dorset District Council has agreed to delegate approval of the application in January 2019 and the applicant had been working on the project for many years and the development would deliver 10 affordable homes. The councils did not have a current 5 year land supply which meant that housing opportunities such as the development under consideration should be supported. Sites that were deliverable should be embraced and supported, and approval of the application would mean that the homes would be ready for occupation early in 2020 together with public open space provided adjacent to the site.
The application would make an important contribution to meeting local housing needs in the area through the incorporation of affordable homes.
In response to some of the issues raised the Planning Officer reported that the referendum for the Neighbourhood Plan had not been held which was why the weight given to it was only moderate. In terms of the affordable homes it was considered that the layout was acceptable.
In respect of the condition 12 the Head of Legal Services advised the committee of an amendment to the condition which was amended to read:
“The applicants Biodiversity Mitigation & Enhancement Plan dated 31/08/2018 (from Clare Bird and Adrien Meurer of Hankinson Duckett Associates) shall be implemented in full prior to occupation of the 25th dwelling hereby approved or within timescales agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority prior to that date”.
In response to a question the Planning Officer confirmed to the committee that if the referendum result was for approval the weight given to the Neighbourhood Plan would change. Members also sought clarification on the interpretation of policies being out of date or no longer valid, it was confirmed that the policies were still relevant but the amount of weight given to them was less given that the Councils housing land supply was less than 5 years.
Members expressed their concerns about taking a decision a few days before the Neighbourhood Plan referendum. Members also raised concerns regarding the layout of the site in respect of the location of the affordable homes, the impact of the sloping site on neighbouring properties and mobility issues . It was felt that 25 dwellings was still too dense for the site and not sympathetic to the area.
The Head of Legal Services reminded members that if the committee was minded to refuse the application reasons for why the application was now unacceptable would have to be provided. Members felt that the previous decision had been taken by the North Dorset District Council, a separate legal body, the committee was therefore entitled to take a different view and look at the application afresh.
It was proposed by Cllr V Pothecary, seconded by Cllr B Ridout that the application be:-
REFUSED as set out in the appendix to these minutes.
At that point (15.10pm) the Chairman announced that there would be a short adjournment in order to enable the officers to confirm the wording for the refusal.
The committee reconvened at 15.48pm and the Planning Officer read out the grounds for refusal:-
1.The proposed development by reason of its layout and relationship to neighbouring properties would have an unacceptable impact on adjacent residential properties contrary to Policy 25 of the adopted North Dorset Local Plan Part 1 (January 2016), and Policy 14 of the emerging Milborne St Andrew Neighbourhood Plan 2018 to 2033 (Final version, May 2019).
2.The proposed development by reason of its design and layout would result in an unacceptable enclave of affordable housing contrary to Policies 8 and 24 of the adopted North Dorset Local Plan Part 1 (January 2016), and Policy 14 of the emerging Milborne St Andrew Neighbourhood Plan 2018 to 2033 (Final version, May 2019).
3.The proposal which is outside the development boundary and on the slope of a hill would have an unacceptable impact on the local landscape character and countryside contrary to Policies 4 and 20 of the adopted North Dorset Local Plan Part 1 (January 2016), and Policy 9 of the emerging Milborne St Andrew Neighbourhood Plan 2018 to 2033 (Final version, May 2019).
It was proposed by Cllr J Andrews, seconded by Cllr V Pothecary:-
That the grounds for refusal be agreed.