Agenda item

19/00247/FUL Judds Farm, Harrow Lane, Bulphan, Essex, RM14 3RE


Presented by Tom Scriven, Principal Planner, the application sought planning permission to demolish the existing buildings to enable the construction of 8 two-storey houses including associated amenity space, car parking spaces and landscaping. The proposal also included the construction of a detached garage to the north of the site.


Since the publication of the agenda, there had been a few updates:


  • An additional comparative site plan had been submitted which had been incorporated into the Officer’s presentation;
  • Additional information from the Agent on the impact to the willow tree on site which was considered by the Council’s Landscape and Ecology Advisor. They advised that this information resolved their concern regarding the willow tree. Therefore, the wording of the second reason for refusal would be amended to omit the words ‘an adverse impact on the existing willow tree’; and
  • A letter of support from the Agent had been received which had already been assessed in the report.


Officer’s recommendation was to refuse the application for the reasons set out on pages 39 and 40 of the agenda.


With no questions from the Committee, the Chair invited the registered speaker to address the Committee.


Caroline Legg, Agent, presented her statement in support of the application.


The Chair sought clarification on the statement that the proposal would be adhering to the principles of sustainable development and was acceptable in the context of Green Belt as outlined in the NPPF. Tom Scriven explained that this would not necessarily apply if the proposal contradicted with other policies in the NPPF, in this case the Green Belt. Whether the proposal was sustainable or not, it was unlikely to outweigh the harm caused to the Green Belt and that harm had been identified with regard to openness.   


Councillor Rice said the site was previously developed land and that the NPPF allowed for limited infilling in villages which was a reason to depart from Officer’s recommendation of refusal. The proposal would not cause substantial harm to the Green Belt as it would meet housing needs. He went on to remind the Committee of the Wellness Centre close to the application site which had been approved by the Committee recently.


Continuing on, Councillor Rice said that the borough needed executive homes for senior managers who sought good quality accommodation. He also mentioned the borough’s low supply of housing and that the proposed dwellings in the plan would enhance the area. Councillor Rice thought the application should be approved and if it was wrongly decided, then the government office would assess and overturn the decision.


Pointing out the ecology and landscape section in the report, Councillor Byrne asked whether Councillor Rice would have the same opinions after reading this section. Answering that the section had been noted, Councillor Rice said the plan fitted in with the area and that a development was also taking place down the road on China Lane.


Stating that the site was Green Belt, Steve Taylor, Campaign to Protect Rural England Representative, said that Green Belt was a broad 20 miles and at its narrowest part was 5 miles. The proposed plan would severely damage the Green Belt and the application site was not on a road, it was on a lane.


Regarding the NPPF, the Chair said this potentially gave reasons for approving the application. However, using the lack of 5 year housing supply as a reason to approve the application was not ideal as it would be setting a dangerous precedent for developments to go ahead which should not be there. As for the Wellness Centre, the application site had been a derelict pub which had allowed for development to take place. The Chair stated he would be voting for the Officer’s recommendation of refusal.


Councillor Rice proposed an alternative recommendation to approve the application; contrary to Officer’s recommendation. For reasons of:


  • The lack of a 5 year housing supply; and
  • The application site was previously developed land.


The Chair pointed out that parts of the NPPF could not be ‘cherry picked’ and needed to be read as a whole.


Councillor Lawrence seconded Councillor Rice’s proposal to approve the application.


Leigh Nicholson drew the Committee’s attention to paragraph 6.21 of the report and stated that unmet housing needs was not enough to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt. As for previously developed land, the footprint of the proposed plan would extend past the existing footprint of the site, therefore encroaching onto undeveloped land. The proposal failed these tests and therefore constituted inappropriate development in the Green Belt.


The Committee moved on to the vote of Councillor Rice’s alternative recommendation as outlined above.


For: (4) Councillors Angela Lawrence, David Potter, Gerard Rice and Sue Sammons.


Against: (5) Tom Kelly (Chair), Mike Fletcher (Vice-Chair), Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman and Sue Shinnick.


Abstained: (0)


The Chair declared the alternative recommendation lost.


The Chair proposed the Officer’s recommendation of refusing the application which Councillor Byrne seconded. The Committee moved on to the vote.


For: (4) Tom Kelly (Chair), Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman and Sue Shinnick.


Against: (4) Councillors Angela Lawrence, David Potter, Gerard Rice and Sue Sammons.


Abstained: (1) Councillor Mike Fletcher (Vice-Chair).


With a tie in the votes, in line with the Constitution, the Chair used his casting vote to vote for refusal of the application.


Planning application 19/00247/FUL was refused planning permission following Officer’s recommendation.

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