The report was presented by Tom Scriven. The application sought planning permission to demolish an existing outbuilding to erect 6 four bed dwellings along with associated hardstanding, two cart lodge style parking areas, vehicle access and landscaping.
There was one update since the publication of the agenda which was:
Officer’s recommendation was for refusal with reasons outlined on pages 61 and 62 of the agenda.
With no questions from the Committee, the Chair invited the registered speakers to address the Committee.
Councillor Johnson, Ward Councillor, presented his statement in objection to the application.
Kieron Lilley, Applicant, presented his statement in support of the application.
The Chair questioned whether there would be an overbearing and a significant loss of light on neighbours. Referring to the presentation slides, Tom Scriven pointed out where plot 5 was situated on the plan. That it would have a 2 storey flank wall which would affect the amenity space of Southover house despite the 11 metre distance. The wall of plot 5 would be seen from the rear garden of Southover.
Pointing out the 11 metre distance, Councillor Lawrence said she received complaints from her residents about extensions that effected their daylight. Therefore, the 11 metre distance was not close and would be unfair to refuse the application on this basis. Tom Scriven pointed out that there were other reasons for refusal. He went on to explain that the impact upon light and overbearing impact of plot 5 formed 1 out of 3 reasons for refusal of the application. Other extensions may be a single storey wall which was different to a 2 storey flank wall that would be right up to the boundary lines of the site.
Referring to Kieron Lilley’s statement, the Vice-Chair sought clarification on whether the site needed very special circumstances or not; as the statement had stated that the site was compliant. Tom Scriven answered that the Applicant had considered the plan to be ‘limited infilling in villages’ as per the NPPF. So the Applicant did not feel very special circumstances was needed as it was not an inappropriate development on the Green Belt. Officers’ view was that it was inappropriate development and drew the Committee’s attention to paragraph 6.5 of the report highlighting that the application site was not within Bulphan’s boundary.
The Chair agreed that the issue of lighting was a good point as this had been a concern on the earlier application, 19/00617/FUL. Councillor Rice suggested that a site visit would give the Committee a better idea of the area.
Steve Taylor pointed out that the lane leading to the application site was a dead end so essentially had one way out. It was also not within walking distance to the local school and as the site was situated within the 5 mile gap of the metropolitan Green Belt, the plan was proposing to build on the Green Belt.
Councillor Lawrence stated that the statistics from the Local Plan indicated that Thurrock would lose around 5 – 10% of its Green Belt for new homes. She went on to say that these homes would be for senior managers and that the borough would need to start building in the area of Bulphan which could bring improvements to the area as well.
The Chair noted Councillor Rice’s proposal for a site visit and asked for a seconder to which there was none. The site visit was rejected.
Councillor Rice pointed out that there was a difference of opinion in whether the application site was part of Bulphan village or not. The Ward Councillor had stated that it was and the Applicant had said there was fly-tipping on the site. He felt the application should be approved as it was ‘limited infilling in villages’ and executive homes were needed. As for the extra burden on the local school, children may not choose to attend that school and could end up attending another school.
Noting the similarity of the next planning application, 19/00287/FUL, to this one, Councillor Byrne pointed out that approving this application would also mean approving the next one. He suggested listening to both applications before going to the vote.
Agreeing on the similarity of both applications, the Chair said each application should be heard and judged on its own merits.
Referring to executive homes, Steve Taylor pointed out that there was a number of nice houses that had been on sale for a year or so which had not been bought. Councillor Rice responded that those homes were plighted because of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. The Chair noted the need for executive homes but agreed with Steve Taylor’s point.
The Vice-Chair pointed out that the fact that the application site was on Green Belt did not emit an automatic ‘no’ from him and building new homes would need to be undertaken somewhere in the borough soon. Accepting Officers’ views, the Vice-Chair went on to say that the application site was on a lane and the proposed homes would be shoe horned at the end which was inappropriate.
Taking a different view, Councillor Lawrence said that the homes were suitable for the area as it looked to be of mid-range prices and had seen more expensive homes built elsewhere. She went on to point out that Arena Essex was Green Belt and that it was a proposed site for building homes. Green Belt sites should be approved for developments as well and not confined to brownfield sites only.
The Chair felt that if the application was approved, there would be little room for Councillors to defend developments on Green Belt or open spaces within their wards and a dangerous precedent would be set.
The Chair proposed the Officer’s recommendation for refusal and was seconded by Councillor Byrne. The Committee moved on to the vote.
For: (6) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Mike Fletcher (Vice-Chair), Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman, David Potter and Sue Shinnick
Against: (3) Councillors Angela Lawrence, Gerard Rice and Sue Sammons.
Planning application 19/00281/FUL was refused planning permission following Officer’s recommendation.