Presented by Tom Scriven, Principal Planner, the application sought to demolish two agricultural buildings to the north of the site. In place of this, it was proposed that 3 detached, 4 bedroom dwellings would be erected with associated open cart lodges, hardstanding and vehicle access road and landscaping with proposed access to be from Station Road to the south of the site.
The site was on Green Belt and as the site did not constitute previously developed land, this was considered to be inappropriate development on the Green Belt in line with the National Planning Policy Framework. There were also no very special circumstances that would outweigh the harm to the Green Belt. The application was recommended for refusal.
The Chair opened the item up to the Committee for questions.
Noting the cowshed and herding unit within the photos shown in the presentation of the report, Councillor Little queried whether these were considered to be a ‘footprint’ of the site and if it would be a part of the proposals to be built. The Prinicpal Planner answered that the current buildings on the site were not listed and the applicants were relying on the removal of these to enable their planned dwellings to be built.
Steve Taylor, Campaign to Protect Rural England Representative, asked the end date for the solar farm that was located behind the site. The Principal Planner replied that solar farms were given temporary permission on land which was for around 25 years. The solar farm behind the site had been in place around 2015.
The Chair opened the item up to the Committee for debate.
Mentioning the proposed Lower Thames Crossing (LTC), Councillor Rice said the proposed service area for the LTC was proposed to be 1000 yards from Barvills Farm. He went on to say that by central government legislation, Thurrock needed to build 32,000 homes and despite the approved application of the previous item heard (17/01668/OUT Purfleet Centre) that would give 2,850 homes, Thurrock would still be short on the given figure of 32,000. Councillor Rice continued on to say that Thurrock’s land supply was just over a year when it should be 5 years. The proposal of the homes on Barvills Farm should be seized as the proposed LTC service station may be 1000 yards away and from the report, there had been no objections especially noting Natural England and Landscape and Ecology Advisor which would be the case used to allow the Committee to depart from Council policy.
Continuing on, Councillor Rice said that the Committee may need to pass planning applications similar to Barvills Farm and allow building to commence on Green Belt. Homes were needed and this application was proposing 3 dwellings and the Committee had to bear in mind that the proposed LTC service station may be 1000 yards away.
Disagreeing with Councillor Rice’s comments, Councillor Little did not agree with building on the Green Belt and said the figure of 32,000 homes to be built in Thurrock was not a correct figure. Regarding the proposed LTC service station, that was surmise and could or could not happen. Thurrock should protect their Green Belt and although the proposed dwellings were a nice idea, it was the wrong place and the wrong time.
As Ward Councillor for East Tilbury, Councillor Sammons said she would approve this application because there had been a lot of construction work around the area including in a Conservation Area. It was 3 proposed dwellings whereas the current construction work taking place were for more homes.
Agreeing, Councillor Lawrence said the proposed 3 dwellings would improve the area and balance out its character. She went on to say that there was confusion between green fields and Green Belt sites and that as central government looked at the White Paper every year, in 5 years’ time, what was currently Green Belt may not be in the future.
Regarding the cowshed and herding unit, Steve Taylor said the buildings were just cowsheds and was not an opportunity to add on to the existing floor space with its removal. The site was not previously developed land, it was farm land. Referring to the LTC comments, Steve Taylor went on to say that the LTC proposal was irrelevant as it couldn’t be predetermined what may or may not happen. Conservation areas and the Green Belt were two different terms and the consideration of applications within these areas would be different. In this case, the proposal would be harmful to the Green Belt.
The Chair said the Committee needed to consider whether the application would be harmful to the Green Belt and there were many more sites similar to Barvills Farm where applications could potentially be submitted to the Council. The Committee heard just a few of these as some of these needed to come before the Planning Committee. The Chair expressed concern on approving these type of applications on the Green Belt because if it the Committee became consistent in approving, it would be ‘open season’ on Thurrock’s Green Belt.
Councillor Hamilton agreed with the Chair and said Thurrock may end up with no Green Belt. He would not be supporting the application.
Councillor Akinbohun said she would be supporting the application as it would develop the area and provide more housing.
Moving onto the Officer’s recommendation for refusal of the application, this was proposed by the Chair and seconded by Councillor Hamilton. The Chair moved onto the vote.
For: (4) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Councillor Graham Hamilton, Councillor Sue Little and Councillor Sue Shinnick.
Against: (4) Councillors Gerard Rice, David Potter, Sue Sammons and Angela Lawrence.
Abstained: (1) Councillor Akinbohun
With a tie in the votes, the Chair had the casting vote (in accordance with the Constitution Chapter 5, part 2, paragraph 5.2) which was voted for refusal of the application.
Application 19/00219/FUL Barvills Farm, Princess Margaret Road, East Tilbury, RM18 8PA was refused.
(The Planning Committee agreed to suspend standing orders for the rest of the evening to allow the rest of the agenda to be completed).