Agenda item

74775: Land at Stonelands Cross Rackenford Devon

Hybrid planning application to provide an Agricultural-Hub comprising: Area 1: Full Planning Permission for the erection of workshop & storage & distribution uses with ancillary offices, shop & showroom, (sui generis), creation of access and associated works (Phase 1); Area 2: Outline Application for the erection of buildings 1, 2 & 3 for agri-business uses falling under Use Classes Class E (a) retail, Class E (e) medical services, Class E (g) Business, B2 workshop & B8 storage & distribution with appearance & scale to be reserved matters (Phases 2 & 3). Report by Senior Planning Officer (attached).


The Committee considered a report by the Senior Planning Officer (DB) (circulated previously).


Further to the questions raised at the Planning Committee site inspection held on 13 October 2022, the Senior Planning Officer advised the following:


·       The biodiversity gains as set out in the Landscaping Scheme.

·       James Pryce business was currently located in Tiverton and did not have space for expansion, servicing and parking. The business had a wide client base and wished to be located in a more central area on a site that would enable the business to grow.

·       The proposal was to create a rural hub which consisted of typical types of services that were required to be provided in North Devon.

·       The applicant had gone through a sequential test approach to identify the right location and there were no other suitable locations that met their needs currently available on the market.

·       The Highways Officer was present to provide a response in relation to concerns raised on site in relation to the junction to the A361.


Councillor Lucas (Parish Council representative), Pete Grugeon (objector), Suzanna Coffin (objector), Sarah Childs (Parish Council representative) and David Morgans (objector), Jim Pryce (applicant) and Louis Dulling (agent) addressed the Committee.


The Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer read a statement received from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (objector).


Councillor Yabsley declared a personal interest as the Devon County Councillor for this area.


In response to questions, the Senior Planning Officer advised the following:


·       The Local Planning Authority must assess the planning balance in line with the National Planning Policy Framework  (NPPF), taking into account all material considerations.

·       The NPPF supports agricultural businesses.

·       The application constituted a departure from the adopted Local Plan.

·       The approval of this application would not set a precedent as there were specific justification and all future applications would be assessed on their own merits.

·       The technical note referred to on page 132 of the agenda had been published on the Council’s website.

·       No consultation response had been received from Mid Devon District Council.

·       The brownfield site located nearby had not been included within the sequential test and would not be policy compliant due to the location of the development also being in the countryside.

·       There was no set requirement for the radius or information to be provided as part of the sequential test.  It was for the Local Planning Authority to consider.  The sites that had been included were the closest located in North Devon.

·       The proposed conditions would restrict the usages. It was a mixed use site restricted to the rural agricultural sector and not all buildings would be occupied by the applicant.

·       Condition 26 required the applicant to provide an air quality assessment.


In response to questions, the Service Manager (Development Management) advised the following:


·       The location of businesses would normally be sited at the edge of existing settlements such as Pathfields Business Park so that it was in a sustainable location. In the event sites were not suitable or available on the edge of settlement, then applicants were required to go through the sequential test approach, which the applicant had undertaken.

·       The ownership of the land was not a planning consideration.

·       The proposed site was located on a greenfield site, where in an ideal situation it would be located on a brownfield site in more sustainable location, however such a site was not available.

·       There was no policy in place which protects the North Devon Link Road corridor. The site was in designated countryside area and there were policies to safeguard the countryside.

·       The site was not located in a designated landscape and it was considered there was not substantial harm to the countryside.


In response to questions, the Highways Officer (MC) advised the following:


·       In 2013 the traffic movements in this location on the A361 was 1300 vehicles a day and it was anticipated that it would increase to 1500 a day by 2033.  This was the quietest part of the A361.

·       DCC Highways Authority plan was to remove a number of right turn moves along the A361.

·       The Highways Authority could only seek financial contributions to make the development acceptable. There were no schemes in the area or identified need to improve the junction on the A361. There was no other funding contributions sought from other allocated sites.

·       The Highways Authority had originally recommended refusal as the applicant had not submitted a transport assessment and a travel plan which had limited benefit. However, the applicant had since submitted a detailed traffic impact assessment.  The assessment had been analysed and there were no faults identified.  The junction on the A361 worked well and was within capacity.

·       The Yelland Planning Inquiry highlighted the need for evidence to be provided to back up any objections raised. There was no evidence in this area that highway improvements were required.

·       The “usual gap acceptance” from a junction was around 3-4 seconds.

·       Any traffic survey could be carried out, however it was not clear what evidence the survey would show.

·       Drivers of large lorries were professionally qualified and had an understanding of how to drive in conditions such as crossing the A361.

·       The Committees’ suggestion of the provision of a slip road on the C road onto the A361 had not been included within the application and was unsure as to whether it would be necessary to access the site on a day with “normal” traffic movements.

·       Section 106 contributions for improvements at Borners Bridge and other junctions had been sought as part of a long term plan. Any financial contributions sought were required to be paid back to the developer after 10 years if not used, with interest.

·       During the summer period where traffic was queuing back from the Bolham roundabout to the junction, generally speeds would be lower and drivers would then let traffic in and out from the junction.


In response to a question, the agent advised that the scope of the sequential test had been discussed as part of the pre-app process with the Council’s Economic Development team and the reason why the sites in South Molton and Witheridge had been focused upon.


RESOLVED (unanimous) that the application be deferred and considered at the Committee meeting in December 2022 to:


(a)  Enable the area of the sequential test to be widened;

(b)  Request an update to be provided on the Urban Extension (Policy TIV1) by Mid Devon District Council;

(c)  Enable a survey to be undertaken on the junction arrangements and potential financial contributions for highway improvements.


RESOLVED that it being 11.30 a.m. that the meeting be adjourned for a five minute comfort break and reconvened at 11.35 a.m.

Supporting documents: