To determine an application for the erection of six affordable dwellings.
Erection of six affordable dwellings (Mr David Ireland).
The Planning Officer presented Planning Application No. SL/2015/1026 which sought full planning permission for six affordable dwellings at the western edge of High Biggins. He advised Members that the application had been presented to the Planning Committee in April 2018 and had been approved by Members, subject to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure the delivery of the affordable housing. He explained that the application had been brought back to Planning Committee as further representations had been received in objection to the increase in the site area and the proposed drainage solution. The Planning Officer displayed plans and photographs which outlined the proposals and he informed Members that the further objections received had highlighted concerns regarding the effect of the development on the borehole, the route of the surface water pipe and the design of the surface water soakaway system and holding tanks. He went on to explain that the Lead Local Flood Authority considered that an infiltration method of disposal was achievable, however the applicant had only provided limited information on the proposed storage facility. The Planning Officer went on to advise Members that legal advice in regard of the borehole had been sought and this was a private issue between the applicant and the borehole owner. He concluded his presentation by reiterating to Members that the borehole was a private matter, the method of drainage was acceptable with the exception of the holding tanks, which would be covered by amended Condition 3, which would also condition surface water management and the disposal of sewage.
Mr David Welsh, a local resident and representing a number of local residents, addressed the Committee and displayed photographs. He stated that he was very concerned about the disruption of the water available to a borehole which supplied 11 dwellings in High Biggins. He explained that the surface water currently fell on a field which sloped towards and fed the borehole and that the field was the application site. Mr Welsh informed Members that he purchased his home in 1996 and took on the responsibility to supply 10 other houses in the hamlet of High Biggins, this was a non-profit enterprise which had been registered with the Inland Revenue. He went on to explain that the water was quality tested annually and it had never failed. Mr Welsh informed Members that South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) reported that they had sought legal advice in respect of the water supply and the borehole and the advice received was that it was a private civil matter between the affected parties. He explained that he had also taken advice and had received contrary information which advised him that SLDC were facilitating the development by granting permission to develop and as a consequence bore a full duty of responsibility. Mr Welsh went on to highlight the issue regarding the removal of surface water which had resulted in a proposal for a drainage culvert under Pitt Lane and which would reduce the water available to the borehole and consequently the supply of water to 11 dwellings. Mr Welsh went on to request a legally binding financial indemnity from SLDC for compensation in the event that the water supply was disrupted. He highlighted concerns regarding the flood risk to already flood prone areas such as Low Biggins and Queen Elizabeth School. He stated that there was no need for affordable housing as the demand was adequately fulfilled by the new Oakfield Development, 600 metres away on the edge of Kirkby Lonsdale, where 27 of the 78 houses would be affordable. Mr Welsh concluded his address by asking Members to apply common sense to an application which had valid objections and legal questions and he informed the committee that should the application be approved there would be a Judicial Review.
Erica Wright, a local resident and on behalf of local residents Mr and Mrs Nichols, addressed the Committee. She informed the Committee that the protracted application had frustrated residents due to the continued lack of information and slow responses from the planning department. There was a genuine concern regarding the approach to affordability which was at loggerheads with what was reported. She clarified to Members that there had in fact been 14 letters of objection and no letters of support. She explained that the Committee was being asked to approve the installation of the surface water drainage system within a large area of open countryside and there was little idea as to the impact of the proposed scheme to the protected limestone pavement, the topography of the existing site and there was nothing in the current application which confirmed the foul water drainage route. She went onto explain that the new site boundary allowed the drainage across Pitt Lane into the adjacent field which contained the lower part of the limestone pavement that extended up to Hutton Roof and there were no detail as to how the pipe would be installed. Cumbria County Council had confirmed that they had not received information regarding the seasonally high ground water level at the proposed soakaway and she stated that the applicant had had three winters to produce the information and failed to do so. Ms Wright went on to explain that the seasonally high groundwater level was critical in assessing the amount of water the site would to be able to filtrate during the winter months, when the ground was sodden, and stated that if the ground was sodden the drainage water would create run off and cause problems elsewhere. She highlighted the existing issues in Low Biggins where water poured out of the field gate below the proposed site, across the A65 flooding the adjacent school buildings. She stated that storms were becoming regular events and without the critical water level information the drainage problem would be pushed down the hill to an area which was already at breaking point. She went on to inform Members that the seasonally high groundwater level detail also related to the proposed height and impact of the filtration soakaway, the base of which had to be one metre above the natural ground water level. In winter months if the water level was just below natural ground level, the soakaway would have to be built up over the existing landscape which meant it could be elevated two metres above the natural ground level and there had been no assessment of the impact of such a manmade feature. She informed Members that approval today would leave outstanding drainage issues to be controlled by conditions which would give locals no further opportunity to comment. Locals would have to live with the flooding and impact implications all of which seemed out of kilter with local and national policy, which demanded local involvement and support. She concluded her address by stating if the Committee was minded to approve the application they must ensure that all six houses were delivered together.
Mr John Moore, a local resident and on behalf of local resident Mr M Wright, addressed the Committee. He informed the Committee, as an architect with over 50 years’ experience, he objected in the strongest possible way to what was proposed and that it represented the worst design, in a rural context, that he had witnessed over the last 50 years and that those with responsibility had to accept the share of shame if the crude and ill-considered piece of planning was allowed to proceed. He stated that given the need to extend the site beyond what was initially intended, the Committee had the opportunity to review the integrity, need, design, opinion and impact of what was proposed. Mr Moore went on to highlight the information delays which had occurred in the earlier application and which, he claimed, caused further confusion and mistrust of the planning officers. He informed Members that following David Cooper’s appointment as South Lakeland District Council’s Development Management Team Leader, it was identified that the previous decision to approve was unsound and Mr Cooper had persuaded the objectors not to pursue a Judicial Review and that the application would be brought back to the Planning Committee. Mr Moore went on to explain that the mistrust was now perpetuated by lack of access to planning officers, unanswered questions and correspondence and he stated that a Judicial Review loomed large again. He informed Members that for the site to have been considered as a rural exception site, it must have satisfied five main issues which it did not and, just as important was the weight of local opinion which was clearly against the development. Mr Moore went on to highlight that the red line application extended the site area by 100% and the surface water drainage solution only kicked the problem into an area prone to flooding. The 300mm diameter pipe from Pitt Lane would deliver a massive volume of additional water to the soakaway system in a valley which already caused discharge and flooding elsewhere and it made no sense to add to an existing problem. He stated that the decision, in April 2018, to approve the application was wrong then and it was wrong now. It was not affordable housing and had the original application included the now extended red line it would have raised different objections. Mr Moore concluded his address by stating what was being considered by the Committee today should only be done in the context of the scheme as a whole, with the initial decision being revisited; that the application was not sustainable as affordable low cost housing and should the Committee accept that it was affordable housing that they should insist that the Section 106 Agreement be extended to include the provision that no dwelling shall be occupied until all six dwellings were completed.
Mr Peter Taylor, a local resident, addressed the Committee on behalf of himself and his wife, Judy Taylor. Mr Taylor stated that they both had serious concerns regarding the application to build six substantial detached houses which were described as affordable. He went on to outline their concerns which included: the fact that High Biggins was a hamlet of approximately 40 residences which had grown organically and that a single development of six houses would be out of scale with the locality and represented an increase of 15%; the proposed housing was described as affordable and was designed for families with children and as such would require access to local facilities in Kirkby Lonsdale and he and his wife felt that the issue of availability, problems of access and impact of road usage had not been properly considered. Mr Taylor outlined the access to High Biggins via narrow lanes with passing places and the volume of current traffic usage particularly at peak times. He went on to state that the addition of six dwellings would add to traffic movements and that the assumptions made by planning officers had been significantly underestimated. He highlighted that High Biggins was not served by public transport and the only accessible footpath ran via a wooded area and field and was often muddy and not suitable for parents with young children and pushchairs. Mr Taylor concluded his address by stating that planners had not properly taken into account the impact of the proposed development on road use and access to local facilities.
Councillor Mike Burchnall, the Deputy Chairman of Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council, addressed the Committee. He explained that at the meeting on 26 April 2018, despite a motion to refuse the application, the Committee resolved to approve the application subject to conditions. Subsequently officers determined that the decision had been unsound, hence today the application was before the Committee for further consideration. He stated that the Council’s Constitution was clear and stated that in such circumstances representations could only be made regarding new information however, it did not state that matters discussed previously could not be reconsidered in light of new information. Councillor Burchnall asked for clarification from the Solicitor and the Planning Officer on a number of issues: He asked if it was lawful for today’s Planning Committee, of which at most seven Members considered the application on 26 April 2018, to only consider the drainage aspects. He went on to state that there appeared to be a change in circumstances in regard of affordable housing since 26 April 2018 and he outlined the discrepancy in the discounted rate figures of 20% of open market value. He stated that Members needed clarity on the nature of affordable housing which was to be offered and confirmation that all six houses would be offered at the current Council rate of £122,683, as otherwise the houses were not affordable and in accordance with Council Policy. He highlighted that the proposed Section 106 Agreement was not clear and if the Committee decided to grant planning permission the Section 106 Agreement should ensure that all six houses would not be built piecemeal.
Mr Kim Tullett, the applicant’s agent, addressed the Committee. He informed Members that there was no affordable housing in High Biggins, the applicant lived in High Biggins and wanted to build the houses for his children and that the delay had caused angst to the applicant and his family. He stated that the houses were for those without money and that it was possible to build affordable housing which was detached and with a garden. Mr Tullett advised Members that the soakaway had been moved due to the concerns of neighbours and that the site was well drained, arable land. He stated that there was no problem regarding the borehole and that the officer recommendation was to approve the application and that conditions would cover all areas of concern raised. He concluded by urging the Committee to grant the application.
In further presenting the report, the Planning Officer informed Members that an additional letter of objection had been received and he outlined the objector’s concerns which echoed those already raised in particular the increase in traffic and heavy traffic movement and the detrimental impact on the borehole water supply.
The Interim Development Management Team Leader responded to concerns raised within the public participation address and to questions raised by Members. He advised Members that despite the change in membership, the Planning Committee remained the relevant decision making body. Members’ attention was drawn to Appendix 2 to the report which was a copy of the minutes of the meeting held on 26 April 2018. The Interim Development Management Team Leader stated that the design, principle, layout and the need for affordable housing were all considered at that meeting and he was comfortable advising Members that the issues for consideration at this Committee Meeting related to the method of surface water drainage and the increased site area. He clarified the guidance on affordable housing and stated that South Lakeland District Council had its own bespoke guidance. He advised Members that it was not possible to condition that all six dwellings be developed at the same time however, if necessary, a completion notice could be served in time following part implementation of the development, if circumstances warranted it.
The Solicitor to the Council advised Members that the Section 106 Agreement had been drafted and it secured the affordable housing price at £122,683 for a three bedroomed house. This figure had been agreed by the applicant. She went on to explain that there was no requirement for the six affordable houses to be built at the same time. However, the planning regime provided mechanisms that could be utilised to ensure the remaining properties were completed.
The Interim Development Management Team Leader, the Planning Officer, the Solicitor and the Solicitor to the Council responded to questions raised by Members. It was confirmed that, subject to submission of further holding tank details to the Local Lead Flood Authority, the proposed drainage system had been accepted. The affordable housing guidance was clarified and Members were advised that the current guidance had been adopted by the Authority. Members were reminded that legal advice in regard of the borehole had been sought and it was a private issue between the applicant and the borehole owner and was not a planning matter.
Members gave consideration to the provision of affordable housing and the housing opportunities currently available to local families and the location of the development.
RESOLVED – That the application be approved subject to the conditions outlined below:-
Note – Councillor Kevin Lancaster requested that his vote against the motion to approve the application be recorded in the minutes.
Condition 1: The development hereby permitted shall begin not later than three years from the date of this decision.
Reason: To comply with the requirements of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended by Section 51 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
Condition 2: The development hereby permitted shall be carried out in accordance with the following approved plans and documents:
• Surface water drainage plan H1023,3,106 dated 29 July 2017.
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3. 102 Issue P02 Proposed site layout plan
• Site Location Plan
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103A Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 1
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103B Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 2
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103C Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 3
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103D Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 4
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103E Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 5
• Drawing Number HT 1023.3 103F Issue P Proposed dwelling house plot 6
Reason: For the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of proper planning.
Condition 3: a) Prior to the commencement of any development a surface water drainage scheme, with evidence of an assessment of the site conditions, shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.
b) No surface water shall discharge to the public sewerage system directly or indirectly.
c) The development shall not be occupied until the surface water management / and disposal of sewage has been implemented in accordance with the approved scheme.
d) Before any dwelling is occupied a validation report (that demonstrates that the drainage scheme has been carried out in accordance with the approved plan) must be submitted to the Local Planning Authority.
e) The approved works shall be retained as such thereafter.
Reason: To ensure adequate provision can be made within the site with the detailed dwellings approved in accordance with Policy CS8.8 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and saved Policy S26 of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Condition 4: a) Prior to the erection of any superstructure full details of both hard and soft landscape works have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The details shall include:-
proposed details of the finishing and rebuilding of the drystone walls:
• proposed finished levels or contours;
• means of enclosure;
• car parking layouts;
• other vehicle and pedestrian access and circulation areas;
• hard surfacing materials;
• minor artefacts and structures (e.g. furniture, play equipment, refuse or other storage units, signs, lighting, etc.);
• communications cables, pipelines etc. indicating lines, manholes, supports); and
• All external lighting. These shall include shall include full details of the location, design, luminance levels, light spillage and hours of use of all external lighting within the site.
Soft landscape works shall include planting plans; written specifications (including cultivation and other operations associated with plant and grass establishment); schedules of plants, noting species, plant sizes and proposed numbers / densities; and an implementation programme and management plan.
b) The agreed scheme shall be carried out as approved to the agreed timetable. Any trees / shrubs which are removed, die, become severely damaged or diseased within five years of their planting shall be replaced in the next planting season with trees / shrubs of similar size and species to those originally required to be planted unless the Local Planning Authority gives written consent to any variation.
Reason These details are required to be approved before the commencement of substantial development to safeguard and enhance the character of the area and secure high quality landscaping in accordance with saved Policy S3 of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Condition 5: a) The development shall be screened by the planting of a suitable hedge/trees and / or bushes on the western boundary of the site the length and location details of which shall first be submitted to and agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority before occupation of building hereby approved.
b) Any trees / shrubs and/or bushes which are removed, die, become severely damaged or diseased within five years of their planting shall be replaced in the next planting season with trees / shrubs of similar size and species to those originally required to be planted unless the Local Planning Authority gives written consent to any variation.
c) The hedgerow and / or bushes shall be permanently retained thereafter.
Reason: To ensure that the character of the area is not adversely affected in accordance with Policy CS1.1 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy.
Condition 6: The development shall not proceed except in accordance with the strategy described in the arboricultural report AH/ALA/180214(2) prepared by Treescape Consultancy Limited and deposited with the Local Planning Authority on 10 November 2015.
Reason: For the avoidance of doubt and to prevent harm to protected trees in accordance with Policies CS8.1 and CS8.2 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and saved Policies C11 and S18 of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Condition 7: Before any dwelling is first occupied visibility splays of 2.4m back from the edge of the highway by the full length of the site shall be provided at the site. The visibility splays shall be retained at all times thereafter with no structure or plants exceeding 1m in height within the splay.
Reason: In the interests of highway safety in accordance with Policy CS10.2 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy.
Condition 8: a) No superstructure shall be erected until samples and details of the materials to be used in the construction of the external surfaces of the development hereby approved have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. For the avoidance of doubt these include the render (including colour), stonework and slate. The stonework details shall include the method of jointing and coursing to be used.
b) Development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.
Reason: To ensure the development is of a high quality design in accordance with Policy CS8.10 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and saved Policy S2 of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Condition 9: a) The external window and door frames shall be constructed of painted timber and recessed from the external wall face by a minimum of 100mm and moreover all the external window frames to be installed shall be constructed in accordance with details and specifications to be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority before any of the superstructure is erected. The submitted details shall include materials detail, cross-sections of the window frames and their method of opening and their colour.
b) The windows shall be installed as approved and retained as such thereafter.
Reason: To ensure the development is of a high quality design in accordance with Policy CS8.10 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and saved Policy S2 of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Condition 10: Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (or any order revoking and re-enacting that Order with or without modification), no development of the type described in Class E Part One of Schedule 2 of that Order shall be undertaken without the express permission of the Local Planning Authority.
Reason: To ensure any outbuildings are sensitive to the edge of settlement character and to ensure that there would be no effect on protected trees adjacent the site.