The Principal Planner, Tom Scriven, outlined the planning application which proposed the demolition of Inglefield and the erection of 6 detached dwellings with associated access road, landscaping and amenity space. The application also proposed side and rear extensions to the host dwelling Silver Springs. The site was located on the Green Belt and a large proportion was currently open garden land. As a result a significant proportion of the site could not be considered to be previously developed land. Even if the site was considered to be previously developed land, it would have a greater impact upon openness than the existing development on the site. Therefore the proposal was considered to be inappropriate development that would cause harm to the openness of the Green Belt. The circumstances put forward with the application were not considered to constitute very special circumstances which would clearly outweigh the harm to openness.
Since the publication of the agenda, an additional letter of objection had been received from a neighbour whilst there had been an additional letter of support from the applicant. The matters raised within the letter of objection had already been covered within the Officer Report. The letter of support was primarily concerned with the weight afforded to the very special circumstances submitted with the application. Having reviewed this letter it was considered that the appropriate weight had been afforded to these circumstances. Therefore, the application was recommended for refusal as set out in the agenda.
The Chair opened the item up to the Committee for questions.
Regarding the current construction, Thames View Farm, that was taking place on the other side of High Road, the Chair questioned how Thames View Farm had been approved for building and why the current application of Silver Springs was recommended for refusal. The Principal Planner explained that Thames View Farm had been identified within the Site Allocations Development Plan Document which was covered in points 6.23 – 6.26 of the report. This was a consideration in the determination of the Thames View Farm application but had never been adopted. As a result this allocation no longer carried any weight. In addition Silver Springs did not fall within this draft allocation and the situation on the two sites was different as Thames Farm was a small holding whilst the Silver Springs site was open garden land.
The Chair questioned if there was an avenue for the applicant to apply for allocation if the application was to be refused. The Principal Planner answered that this was part of the Local Plan process and the case could be put forward that the site could be requested to be released from the Green Belt for allocation in the future Local Plan. This was a process that was outside of the consideration of a planning application. The Chair went on to ask if the applicant could apply immediately or would they have to wait for the revised Local Plan to develop. The Principal Planner said that the consultation on the Local Plan had recently closed but Andrew Millard added that the appropriate way to consider changes to the Green Belt was through the Local Plan process and not through a series of ad hoc planning applications. The current call for sites had closed but sites could still be put forward to the Council for consideration in the Local Plan at any time.
Raising concerns on setting a precedent, Councillor Hamilton said the Committee was already seeing an example of a previously approved application being used to support a similar application on a neighbouring site..
Councillor Lawrence commented that an area near the site did not appear to be Green Belt. Mentioning that she had used Google Earth to view the site, there was a scrap yard 500 yards away from the back of the houses on High Road. The Chair reminded the Committee that green fields should not be confused with Green Belt. The site was within the Green Belt and therefore should be considered against relevant Green Belt policy. Councillor Lawrence went on to say that a row of lovely houses would give a better landscape than the scrap heap that was behind the row of current houses along High Road.
Noting Councillor Lawrence’s comments, Councillor Rice suggested a site visit as the Committee had not been aware of a scrap heap situated within the open garden space. It would be difficult to make a decision without seeing the site and considering the approved building that was taking place on Thames View Farm next door to the site which was the Silver Springs application.
The Chair invited the registered Speakers to address the Committee.
Ward Councillor, Councillor Huelin, presented her statement in objection to the application.
Anthony Davis, a representative for a Resident, presented his statement in objection to the application.
James Willey, the Applicant, presented his statement in support of the application.
The Chair opened the item to the Committee for debate.
Following Councillor Rice’s proposal of the site visit, Councillor Shinnick seconded the site visit. The reasons for the site visit were to enable the Committee to see what was on the proposed site as Google Earth showed a scrap yard 500 yards from the back of the houses and also to view how the site differed to the approved Thames View Farm site.
The Chair moved the Committee onto the vote for a site visit.
For: (8) Councillors Tom Kelly, Gerard Rice, Abbie Akinbohun, David Potter, Sue Sammons, Sue Shinnick, Sue Little and Angela Lawrence.
Against: (1) Councillor Graham Hamilton.
The application 19/00267/FUL Silver Springs, High Road, Fobbing, SS17 9HN was deferred to a later Committee meeting once a site visit had taken place.