Agenda item

20/00985/FUL Land Adjacent Curling Lane Helleborine and Meesons Lane, Grays, Essex


The report on pages 153 – 174 of the Agenda was presented by Nadia Houghton. Since the publication of the Agenda, there had been two updates. The first update was that the site plan attached to the Committee Report was an inaccurate red line plan but that the application had been considered with the correct red line plan along with all plans submitted with the planning application. The second update related to the Essex Badger Protection Group who had sent their response to the Council stating that they had no objections to the scheme proposed subject to the conditions included in the application.


The Chair questioned whether there was an outcome on the appeal from the previous application for this site yet to which Nadia Houghton confirmed that there was not an outcome yet as the decision was awaited. He questioned why the Applicant had chosen to submit a new application instead. Nadia Houghton advised it was up to the Applicant as to whether a planning application was submitted, and explained that there may have been potential delays in the appeal process due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that submitting another application was an option to the Applicant.


The Vice-Chair noted that the site was not GB and questioned whether Officers had considered that this site was the only open space in the area that had not been built upon. He also pointed out that Chafford Hundred was overdeveloped but the area of this site was not considered overdeveloped by Officers. He was concerned about over cramping in Badgers Dene. Nadia Houghton explained that the site was designated as residential land so there was no consideration for loss of open space. There was an open space which was a children’s recreation play area very close by the site on Meesons Lane. It was considered that the proposal would not result in over cramping with the six proposed dwellings so there were no objections on open space grounds. She also said that each site had to be considered on its own merits and that the current site was on the edge of the estate. The proposal would not be removing any open space in the area and would provide fully compliant garden spaces.


Councillor Lawrence referred to paragraph 6.7 and questioned whether there would be overshadowing. She noted that the design of the proposed dwellings would have ‘yellow and red rustic brick cladding’ which she questioned whether this would be out of character with the area. She also raised concerns on badgers on the site and asked if this had been checked. She pointed out that badgers could not be seen in the day and highlighted her concerns that planning conditions could be changed.


Nadia Houghton explained that the roofs on the proposed dwellings meant the scheme had high ecological credentials and the development as a whole would provide an almost carbon-free development which was unusual. She referred to paragraph 6.7 and said that it was in relation to overshading which related to the panels on the roof that did not require direct sunlight as it functioned on daylight so there were no concerns raised. She explained that the materials for the proposed dwellings were not traditional and that the Applicant had tried to keep these in character with the properties in the area without moving away from their energy efficient credentials and modern construction design. In regards to badgers on the site, she said that the Applicant had produced an updated Ecological Assessment and the Council’s Ecology Advisor had undertaken several visits to the site. There were also no objections from the Essex Badger Protection Group.


Steve Taylor noted that there were trees around the site and within the site, he questioned if these would be removed and whether any trees had a Tree Protection Order (TPO). Nadia Houghton answered that there were no TPOs and that many of the trees on the site would be retained.


Tony Fish, Ward Councillor, read out his statement of objection.

Democratic Services read out the Agent, James Wiley’s statement of support.


The Chair noted that the appeal from the previous application had not reached an outcome yet. He pointed out that the Applicant had taken Members’ comments into consideration at the last application and had put forward a new application with less homes proposed. He thought the development was eco-friendly compared to other recently approved developments and that it had been confirmed that there were no badgers on the site.


Councillor Lawrence said that the Applicant could not compare the site to other recently approved applications as the site was special and treasured by residents living within the area of the site. She noted that the site was not GB but it was not a piece of land that could be built upon now or in a few years’ time and she believed there were badgers on the site. The Vice-Chair noted that the application was an improvement to the previous application with the amenity space issues being resolved. However, he was concerned about the appearance of the proposed dwellings that would be out of character with the area and density issues. He felt the proposed development was a ‘postage stamped’ development that was being shoehorned into the last bit of green space in the area so was against the development. Councillor Shinnick felt the development was small and could still have badgers on the site.


The Chair proposed the Officer’s recommendation for approval but there was no seconder so the Officer’s recommendation was rejected.


The Vice-Chair suggested an alternative motion to refuse the application on the grounds that the development was not in keeping with the character of the area and there were issues of density and an overdevelopment in the area. Regarding the issue of overdevelopment and density, Nadia Houghton explained that the proposed development fully complied with Council policies with regards layout and amenity space provision and consequently the Vice-Chair removed the reason relating to overdevelopment from the motion put forward to refuse the application.


Councillor Lawrence added that she was concerned over the road condition in the site and that the Applicant had not proposed repairing the road. Officers explained that the road was fully adopted and maintained by the highway and the Applicant proposed to include a new turning head that made the road more policy compliant. There had been no suggestion to upgrade the road.


The Vice-Chair proposed the alternative motion to refuse the application for the following reason:


The proposed development would, by virtue of the siting, mass, appearance, detailed design and choice of materials, be likely to result in an incongruous development which would appear out of character with the appearance of residential development in Helleborine and be likely to be harmful to the character of the area and appearance of the street scene.


This was seconded by Councillor Shinnick.


FOR: (6) Councillors Mike Fletcher, Angela Lawrence, David Potter, Gerard Rice, Sue Sammons and Sue Shinnick.


AGAINST: (1) Councillor Tom Kelly.


ABSTAINED: (1) Councillor Gary Byrne.


The application was refused.

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