Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Extension of Prizet Service Station to include drive-thru Costa restaurant, offices, car parking with electric charging points and associated site works (Resubmission of SL/2019/0694) (Simon Hockings)
Note – The Planning Officer’s presentation displayed at the meeting had been circulated to Members and displayed on the Council’s Website on the day before the meeting.
Councillor Michael Cornah declared a non-pecuniary interest in the item by virtue of the fact that he ‘Called In’ the planning application. He explained however, that he was not biased or predetermined and remained connected to the virtual meeting and took part in the discussion and voting on the item.
The Planning Officer presented Planning Application SL/2020/0195 which sought full planning permission for the erection of a drive-thru coffee shop and office block with the provision of a car park comprising 44 spaces and four electric charging points. He displayed plans and photographs which showed the layout of the existing service station and he outlined the proposals for the expansion of the roadside services offer and the addition of an office building and informed Members that both the proposed coffee shop and office building would be single storey with mono-pitch roofs.
The Planning Officer outlined to Members the issues for their consideration that the site was in open countryside, it was remote from the nearest settlement of Kendal and it would be considered as unsustainable development in a rural location. He explained that Policy CS1.1 of the Council’s Core Strategy referred to Sustainable Development Principles, which included the importance of protecting the countryside. The Policy also set out a sequential approach to development in using existing buildings within settlements, other suitable infill opportunities and development of other land, where it was well located in relation to housing, jobs, other services and infrastructure. The Planning Officer explained that the proposal was in a rural location and did not follow the sequential approach. Furthermore Policy CS1.2 set out the Council’s Development Strategy where exceptionally a new development would be permitted in open countryside where there was an essential requirement for a rural location. The proposed coffee shop and office did not essentially have to be located in a rural location and the proposal did not comply with Policy CS7.4 as it represented a stand-alone development with limited linkage to the existing service station. The Planning Officer outlined Policy CS7.2 in relation to the allocation of employment land and informed Members that there was no need for additional employment land, as referred to by the applicant, as the Council’s employment land requirement was met through existing allocations in rural settlements and it had in excess of a five year supply. The Planning Officer went on to outline the proximity of the proposed improved roadside services in relation to nearby roadside services.
The Planning Officer drew Members’ attention to the provision of electric vehicle charging points within the proposal and the fact that the applicant had highlighted the deficiency of rapid electric car charging points along the ‘gateway to the lakes’. The applicant had stated that when travelling north, after Burton-in-Kendal motorway services, there were no rapid charging points until Ambleside. The Planning Officer went on to outline the rapid charging points available in Kendal via a slight detour and stated that there was no reason why the charging facilities could not be placed within the existing site, without the need for a drive thru and an office unit.
The Planning Officer went on to outline the impact on the rural landscape and the impact on biodiversity and stated that there would be significant harm to the rural landscape due to the site being visible when approached from the north. The proposal would be completely open to view and would be elevated above the road and although new planting would be included this would take time to mature. He stated that the net gain of 25 metres of hedgerow and new planting was not considered to be proportionate to the scale of the development and therefore the net gain in biodiversity was not considered to be sufficient and was contrary to Policy DM14.
The Planning Officer informed Members that the applicant had made reference, in his application, to an appeal decision in Baynards Green, Oxfordshire, in support of the proposal. He explained that the Baynards Green proposal was not the same and could not be considered as a material consideration to the proposal before them.
The Planning Officer concluded his presentation by stating that Planning Application SL/2020/0195 was recommended for refusal as the proposed development was: located in the open countryside and would result in unsustainable development in a rural location; its proximity to the road and its elevated nature would be harmful to character of the rural area; and there was insufficient biodiversity gain.
Note – at this point in the proceedings the Chairman requested that the public participant, Mr Matthew Wyatt, the applicant’s agent, be dialled into the meeting to make his representation. The Chairman welcomed Mr Wyatt and informed him that he had three minutes in which to make his address.
Mr Matthew Wyatt, the applicant’s agent, addressed the Committee in support of the application.
Note – at this point in the proceedings the Chairman requested that the public participant, Mr Simon Hockings, the applicant, be dialled into the meeting to make his representation. The Chairman welcomed Mr Hocking and informed him that he had three minutes in which to make his address.
Mr Simon Hockings, the applicant, addressed the Committee in support of the application.
The Planning Officer responded to points raised during public participation.
The Planning Officer responded to questions raised by Members.
Note – at this point in the proceedings the Chairman was advised that Planning Committee Member, Councillor Judy Filmore, Ward Councillor for Ulverston West and representing the Green Party, had become disconnected from the meeting. Councillor Filmore was reconnected and confirmed that she was able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting and that she had not missed any of the presentation or discussion thus far.
The Planning Officer responded to further questions raised by Members.
Members gave consideration to the proposal, in particular the four rapid electric charging points; the impracticalities of and the additional congestion of vehicles accessing the charging points in Kendal; the employment gain with free parking; and that the biodiversity gain had not been fully explored with the applicant. Some Members suggested that it was important to look beyond how the Local Plan had been drafted and to look to the future, although it was accepted that the proposal was contrary to various policies within the Local Plan.
A Member highlighted that that there had been no objections from statutory consultees or from local neighbours and that insufficient weight had been given to the positive benefits of the scheme. The Member requested that a slide from the South Lakeland District Council’s Climate Change Action Plan be displayed and went on to highlight SLDC’s commitment to Climate Change and the statistics outlined within the slide and stated that more weight had to be given to greenhouse effects.
Note – at this point in the proceedings the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist advised the Chairman that there had been a query from a Member regarding the chat facility. The meeting adjourned at 11.19 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 11.30 a.m. when all Members confirmed that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.
The Interim Development Management Team Leader drew Members’ attention to the South Lakeland Development Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework and stated that a decision would have to be made in accordance with the policies contained within the current Development Plan. He stated that the proposal was contrary to the Development Plan and planning law required decision makers to determine applications in line with the Plan, unless other material planning considerations weighed in favour of going against the Plan. Members were focusing on the green credentials of the application as material considerations and, whilst and he acknowledged that times were changing from reliance on internal combustion engine powered vehicles towards electric vehicles, we were not yet at that point. The question to consider was whether the provision of four electric vehicle charging points were of sufficient weight to justify a very substantial form of development in the open countryside in contravention of clear policies in the Development Plan. He stated that the creation of jobs was important which was why the Plan contained specific employment generation policies and allocations in appropriate locations. The Interim Development Management Team Leader reminded Members that it was important to be consistent in the decision making process.
Members gave further consideration to the proposal, in particular the harmful impact of the development. Some Members felt that the harm outweighed the benefits and reiterated that the proposal was contrary to a number of policies. Other Members welcomed the application and the expansion of the site, the addition of four rapid electric vehicle charging points and the creation of jobs. They felt that times were changing and it was important to look to the future, particularly as the Local Plan was coming to an end.
A motion to approve the application was proposed and seconded and a vote was taken on the motion, during which all Planning Committee Members confirmed that they had, without interruption heard the full presentation and discussion on the item.
The motion to approve the application was lost.
A motion to refuse the application was proposed and seconded and a vote was taken on the motion, during which all Planning Committee Members confirmed that they had, without interruption heard the full presentation and discussion on the item and it was
RESOLVED – that planning permission be refused for the following reasons:-
(1) The proposed development is located in the open countryside, remote from the nearest settlement of Kendal and therefore would result in unsustainable development in this rural location. The proposal would therefore be contrary to the aims of Policies CS1.1, CS1.2, CS2, CS7.1, CS7.2 and CS7.4 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and Policies LA1.0 and LA1.1 of the South Lakeland Land Allocations Development Plan Document, and the sustainability aims of the National Planning Policy Framework.
(2) The proposed development, due to its close proximity to the road, its elevated nature and the lack of intervening vegetation will result in a development that is highly visible in the rural landscape and would be harmful to the character of the area. The proposed development is therefore contrary to Policy CS8.10 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy and Policies DM1 and DM2 of the Councils Development Management Policies; and
(3) The proposal to provide 25 metres net gain of hedgerow and new planting of trees in one part of the site does not provide sufficient bio-diversity gain proportionate to the significant size of the development. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy DM4.
Publication date: 10/09/2020
Date of decision: 16/07/2020
Decided at meeting: 16/07/2020 - Planning Committee