Venue: This meeting will be livestreamed and can be watched via https://www.youtube.com/user/thurrockcouncil
Contact: Wendy Le, Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 19 March 2020.
Councillor Rice said that in previous Planning Committee meetings, he had asked for details on the number of solicitors available in Thurrock Council that signed off section 106 Agreements. He was aware that one solicitor was available on a weekly basis for this task and was concerned on the delay to section 106 Agreements. Leigh Nicholson, Interim Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Public Protection advised that there were in-house solicitors to deal with section 106 Agreements. However, he would raise the Committee’s concerns with the Assistant Director of Law and Governance.
The minutes of the Planning Committee held on 19 March 2020 was approved as a true and correct record.
Item of Urgent Business
To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There were no items of urgent business.
The Chair stated that the running order of the Agenda would be changed so that item 8 would be considered first due to the number of interested parties listening online.
Declaration of Interests
The Chair declared a pecuniary interest for himself and other Conservative Members sitting on the Committee, on item 7, Langdon Hills Golf and Country Club. He went on to say that the resident speaker, Tony Coughlin, who had spoken on this item at the initial hearing on 13 February, was also the Chair of the Thurrock Conservative party. As the Conservative members on the Committee were a part of the Thurrock Conservative Party, the Chair declared this.
Councillor Byrne raised concerns on the correspondences between Councillor Rice and the Chief Executive of Thurrock Council regarding a date for the reconvened planning committee meeting to discuss the Langdon Hills Golf and Country Club application and felt that this should be a declared interest from Councillor Rice.
Councillor Rice answered that there was no interest to declare as it was within his Councillor rights to email questions about the site.
Declarations of receipt of correspondence and/or any meetings/discussions held relevant to determination of any planning application or enforcement action to be resolved at this meeting
The Chair declared for himself and on behalf of the Committee that there had been correspondences from Peter Harvey (resident) and Hilary Goodban (consultant) in relation to 19/01058/OUT Little Thurrock Marshes.
The Chair declared for himself and on behalf of the Committee that there had been correspondences from Gina Murgatoyd (consultant), a resident and Jason Rischo (Applicant) regarding 19/01662/FUL Langdon Hills Golf and Country Club.
Steve Taylor declared that he had received an email from Margaret Nash (resident) in regards to 19/01662/FUL Langdon Hills Golf and Country Club.
Councillor Lawrence declared that Ward Councillor Allen Mayes, who was also a member of the Conservative Party, had been advising people to vote against 19/01058/OUT Little Thurrock Marshes. As Councillor Lawrence was also a member of the Conservative Party, she declared this interest.
Before the presentation began, Councillor Lawrence requested that a site visit be undertaken before hearing the application and debating it again. The Chair suggested that the Committee hear the officer’s presentation first before deciding on a site visit. Councillor Rice agreed that a site visit should be undertaken and added that a virtual site visit could be undertaken.
Matthew Gallagher, Major Applications Manager, presented the report. In addition to the factual updates on page 131 of the Agenda, there had been additional updates received since the publication of the Agenda:
· An additional 7 letters from local residents that expressed disappointment at the resolution that Committee Members had made on the application’s first hearing and at the idea of a virtual meeting.
· The Local Planning Authority had received a letter on 4 June 2020 from a solicitor representing the adjoining land owner to the west of the site regarding matters of land ownership and access. Officers had concluded that the matter referred only to matters of land ownership and the need for future negotiations regarding linkages across adjoining land for connectivity improvements.
· A letter had been received on 5 June from the Agent which Members had also been included in and the content related to a legal opinion from the Applicant’s legal adviser.
Matthew Gallagher continued on with the presentation and went over the report in the Agenda on pages 129 – 186. He drew attention to the five factors raised by Members on 19 March 2020 as reasons for approving the application contrary to officer’s recommendation. An analysis of the five factors was provided within the report. Officers considered that these matters did not affect the planning considerations and the recommendation to refuse planning permission remained unchanged.
The Committee discussed the option of a site visit and felt that the site visit should be physical as opposed to a virtual site visit. This would enable them to see the site with their own eyes. The Vice-Chair wondered whether a site visit would help the Committee come to a decision with material planning considerations in mind to support their final decision. The Committee felt that seeing the site would help to answer some information regarding ecology that had been in the email from Peter Harvey which had been declared earlier in the meeting.
Councillor Lawrence proposed the site visit and Councillor Rice seconded this.
(Following Chapter 5, Part 3, para. 13.5 of the Constitution, Councillor Churchman could not participate or vote on this item).
For: (6) Councillors Tom Kelly, Mike Fletcher, Sue Sammons, David Potter, Angela Lawrence and Gerard Rice.
Against: (2) Councillors Gary Byrne and Sue Shinnick.
Planning application 19/01058/OUT was deferred until a physical site visit could take place whilst adhering to national government guidelines on social distancing guidance.
Steve Taylor commented on the Local Plan policies map that had been shown on the presentation and suggested that colour key be added to give clarity on the different shaded colours of the map. Matthew Gallagher agreed that ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The report was presented by Chris Purvis, Major Applications Manager. The report was accompanied by a slide show presentation on screen that explained the proposal. Chris Purvis explained the update report and drew attention to the Committee’s five reasons to approve the application when the application was considered at the Planning Committee on 13 February 2020. He stated that at the Planning Committee on 13 February 2020 the Officer’s recommendation was to refuse planning permission for 8 reasons of refusal. Since then, additional information had been provided by the applicant’s planning agent and had been subject to a further consultation process which had revised the reasons of refusal and taken into account the legal advice.
Members were taken through the 5 reasons of approval put forward by Members themselves to approve the application at Planning Committee on 13 February 2020. Chris Purvis explained that these 5 reasons had not addressed the recommended reasons of refusal:
· did not form factors for Very Special Circumstances to address the recommended refusal reason 1 on the principle of development in the Green Belt and impact of the development upon the Green Belt,
· did not address reason 2 on the site’s unsustainable location
· did not address reason 3, which had been revised in light of consultation advice from the Council’s Programme Manager for Health and Social Care to demonstrate that the proposals do not meet the need for housing for the elderly nor the Boroughs identified housing neds for the elderly
· did not address reason 4 as no affordable housing is proposed by the applicant that meets the affordable housing definition as set out in the NPPF
· did not address reason 5 on design grounds and the impact upon the area
· did not address reason 6 on landscape impact
· did not address reason 7 on highway safety matters
The recommended reasons of refusal had been revised and were now reduced from 8 to 7 recommended reasons of refusal that remained the same as the first hearing which were outlined on pages 41 and 42 of the Agenda.
Adding to the presentation, Caroline Robins, Locum Solicitor, said that:
° the legal implications report, which had been endorsed as accurate by Paul Brown QC and which described the decision-making process for Green Belt applications advised what Members could, could not or what had to be taken into account and which planning tests to apply, as well as indicating that some of the reasons for refusal in this case could entail straying into technical territory or questions of law and Thurrock’s Constitution, Chapter 5, Part 3, paragraph 7.5;
° A quote from a QC in that, ‘Members ... view the full minutes text for item 6.