Hybrid planning application comprising the following:
Outline application occupying a total area of 1.44 hectares consisting of a garden centre of up to 6,000 sq. m. (gross external floor area), car parking and, other associated ancillary infrastructure; and
Full planning permission for a petrol filling station and associated shop and drive-thru coffee shop, occupying a total gross floor area of 1,215 sq. m. including the completion of a Toucan crossing on the eastern arm of the Roundswell Roundabout (amended description, plans & Flood risk assessment).
To consider the report by the Senior Planning Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Senior Planning Officer (circulated previously).
The Service Manager (Development Manager) addressed the Committee and advised that:
· The extant planning permission for the site was for the relocation of the St John’s Garden Centre, subject to amendments.
· The application had previously been deferred due to concerns which were
o To see if there was appetite to resolve the highways issues.
o To seek to improve sustainability on site.
o To look at the character and Identity of the proposal.
· In response to these three issues, the Service Manager (Development Manager) confirmed that:
· The applicant team had tried to work with Devon County Council Highways (DCCHW) to come to an alternative solution aside from the extant permission where £200,000 had been paid to deliver a Toucan crossing but DCCHW had provided no evidence to the Planning Authority to consider. The applicant team had provided advice from Queens Counsel regarding this lack of evidence and the implications for the Local Planning Authority in terms of making a decision without sound evidence.
· It was apparent from the previous planning committee meeting that the proposed Garden Centre and fuel station were not giving concerns but that the resulting increase in pedestrians along the route, from the Drive-Thru and retail units, was the key issue.
· The possibility of preventing pedestrians from crossing the A39 had been explored but DCCHW commented that this would require a Stopping-Up Order, for which no certainty could be provided, and could not be a condition on any planning approval.
· This was not a standard fuel station and was the first of its kind on this main route. The emphasis was on electric vehicles. The number of electric charging points provided would increase to 15. There was an emphasis on future electric chargers but there would be a requirement to provide some petrol/diesel initially although this would be on a smaller scale than traditional fuel stations with a much smaller fuel tank.
· The applicants had considered carefully, wooden cladding and greening for the site, albeit there were limited options available. The surrounding developments were commercial, with many having flat roofs. It was not considered out of context when compared with the Node Cowork building on the opposite site. It was considered that a pitched roof would increase the overall mass and bulk.
Richard Fritter (supporter) and Oliver A’Court (supporter) addressed the Committee.
The Corporate and Community Services Officer read a statement from Grant Allen (objector) to the Committee.
David Onions (agent) addressed the Committee.
Councillor Walker (Ward Member for an adjoining ward addressed the Committee).
Councillor Knight (Ward Member for an adjoining ward addressed the Committee).
Paul Young, Highways Officer of DCC Highways addressed the Committee in response to a request from the Committee. He advised the Committee:
· He objected to the application and disagreed with the developers’, consultants’ and Queens Counsel’s findings.
· DCC, the Police Authority and the Parish Councils had raised concerns over the plans.
· The £200,000 paid by the applicant to DCC had been set aside and did not oblige DCC to provide a toucan crossing. The principle for a crossing of that type was considered no longer acceptable.
In response to a question from the Committee, the Service Manager (Development Management) advised that the Heritage Officer had confirmed their conclusion that the development provided ‘less than substantial harm’.
RESOLVED (6 for, 5 against) that the application be approved as recommended by the Senior Planning Officer subject to the arrangements for the discharge of condition 43 being amended to “That prior to the commencement of the development the details of the design of the toucan crossing across the A39 shall be submitted and called-in to the Planning Committee for consideration”.