Decision Maker: Planning Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Committee considered a report by the Senior Planning Officer (North) (circulated previously).
The Senior Planning Officer (North) (MB) addressed the Committee and advised that the proposed dwelling was not within a rural settlement as the location was deemed to have no community facilities in accordance with planning policy and was within open countryside and therefore the recommendation was for refusal. Although the Authority could not demonstrate a five year land supply the erection of one dwelling had little weight in contributing to the shortfall. Devon County Council remained in support of refusal for the application based on highways safety as there had been five vehicle accidents in the 500 metres around the junction which provided access to the highway.
Matt Steart (agent), Graham Townsend (supporter) and Sam Cockburn (applicant) addressed the Committee.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Senior Planning Officer (North) (MB) advised:
· He was aware of Court/Appeal decisions for cases in Braintree and St Giles at Torrington, but advised that the appeal differed from this application with regards to proximity to services and that this application was located in the open countryside. In relation to the St Giles appeal, the Inspector did make reference to the 5 year housing land supply in that it was much larger than one property but this one property still represented a valuable contribution.
· The definition of what constitutes as ‘prescribed service’ was covered in the Local Plan (part 4.15).
· The nearby facilities at Blakewell Fisheries were not deemed to be a community facility under the Local Plan. It was not a convenience store/shop and not believed to provide a service similar to that of convenience shops. Therefore it did not enable the application to be treated as within a rural settlement.
· A Biodiversity report had not yet been submitted by the applicant despite one being requested as part of the applicant process. The agent had stated that they were not at a position to be able to provide it yet.
· Future proofing of homes was considered under the Local Plan but this was in relation to home extensions and adaptions in the main. This application was for a separate dwelling and would need to be considered on its own merit.
· Nothing had changed in relation to the definition of Rural Settlements within the Local Plan since it was adopted.
· He had not been involved in a previous application for holiday lets but was aware of a barn conversation on the opposite side of the junction or further up the road but they would have been considered based on their own visibility requirements which would have been different to this application.
· The applicants were currently living in the relative’s property on the site. This was an application for a separate dwelling and needed to be considered on that basis.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Highways Officer of Devon County Highways confirmed that:
· the accidents in that area consisted of two accidents within 50 metres of the junction (of which one was serious) and three within 450 metres which was quite a significant cluster. Devon County Council did not apportion blame but recorded the location, nature of the accident and if a vehicle had a defect.
· Although he had not been invited to attend the previous Committee when this application was considered, the five accidents noted had occurred between 2014 and 2019. The accidents had all occurred in close proximity to the junction.
· An opinion of ‘severe’ risk to visibility on a B-road by a Highways Authority should be reason enough to consider the access to not be at a safe level.
· The red line of the site boundary did not extend adequately enough to cover the necessary area to allow the provision of visibility to be safeguarded for the future. There was no guarantee that it could be obtained and secured in perpetuity.
· He could not recall the consultation process for the planning application for the three self-catering units at Blakewell Fisheries in 2018 although he would have expected there to have been some concerns raised in relation to the traffic from the site to that junction.
Councillor Tucker addressed the Committee as Ward Member.
Lead Planning Officer (BP) advised the Committee that the Officer’s recommendations for refusal were set out within the report, however, if it was felt that the application was deemed to be a Local Needs Dwelling then a Section 106 would be required. A financial contribution towards Braunton Special Area of Conservation would also be required through a Section 106 or 111 contribution would be required.
The Senior Planning Officer (North) (MB) advised that the applicants would need to meet set criteria if they were to be able to occupy the dwelling under the Local Needs requirement. One of which could be that they would be required to be employed within the Parish, which they were not.
RESOLVED (9 for, 5 against) that the application be APPROVED for the following reasons subject to the receipt of a Biodiversity report, section 106 agreement being sought for local occupancy and securing a financial contribution towards the Braunton Special Area of Conservation:
(a) On the basis that Blakewell comprised of a cluster of dwellings which formed a rural settlement with community facility;
(b) Was physically separated from an urban settlement;
(c) Met the qualifying criteria in paragraph 13.131 of Policy DM24 in the Joint Local Plan and therefore did not materially conflict with relevant planning policy.
Report author: Matthew Brown
Publication date: 15/02/2021
Date of decision: 10/02/2021
Decided at meeting: 10/02/2021 - Planning Committee