Agenda item

Planning Application No. SL/2019/0261 - Land at Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC

To determine an application for change of use of land to a camping site from 1 May to 1 September each year.


Change of use of land to camping site from 1 May to September each year (Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC).


The Planning Officer presented Planning Application No. SL/2018/0261 which sought permission to regularise the use of two areas of the grounds for camping, during the period 1 May to 1 September each year. He drew Members’ attention to late representations which had been circulated prior to the meeting.


The Planning Officer displayed a series of plans and photographs which outlined the proposals and drew Members’ attention to photographs which had been submitted by Mrs Taylor, a local resident. The photographs illustrated unauthorised use of the site for camping, which had raised a number of concerns from locals including the access route to the site, which had been the main source of public opposition to the proposal. He referred to a map of the proposed site and highlighted the areas that would contain the camping and caravanning facilities. He outlined the application as a 30 acre site to the north of Kirkby Lonsdale, accessible via the B6254 and Raygarth. He highlighted the one way access for visitors to the site and used a further aerial photograph to illustrate this. He went on to outline the two proposed sites which would create 126 pitches across two proposed sites labelled Area A and Area B and he highlighted the boundary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNPA) which ran parallel to the Rugby Club’s boundary and which had a dense area of mature trees.


The Planning Officer informed Members of the current unauthorised use of the site for camping at Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC, which were purported to have been undertaken as permitted development over the past two seasons. This was highlighted by photographs taken over the bank holiday weekend by a local resident, which showed that the extent of the camping across the site had spilled over the allocated boundaries on to the club pitches. The Planning Officer informed Members that the Rugby Club had explained that this had been a Camping and Caravanning Club meeting which had been within their permitted development rights. The Planning Officer referred to further photographs which showed a Heavy Goods Vehicle on the access route to the site, along the B6254, in addition to a large vehicle towing a caravan, which further illustrated the access issues. He reminded Members that during the site visit they had also witnessed access issues along Fairbank and Raygarth which was particularly narrow due to lengths of parked cars. The Planning Officer went on to highlight a proposed planning condition which would permit the Planning Department to closely monitor the use of the site and work with Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC to assess the impact of all of the activities across the site and production of a travel plan to help limit these impacts.


The Planning Officer informed Members that the Local Highway Authority, Countryside Access Officer, the Lead Local Flood Authority and Sport England had no objections to the proposal. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) had no concerns to camping on the site, subject to a comprehensive landscaping scheme being agreed and no external lighting in the area and had requested clarification with regard to the area which would be used by caravans. In addition representations received from residents had highlighted several objections with regard to access issues such as heavy traffic in the town centre, children playing on Raygarth, Emergency Vehicles being blocked from reaching their destination and the degradation of the road surface on Raygarth.


The Planning Officer informed Members that the principle of the development was consistent with policies in the Core Strategy and the Development Management Development Plan Document (DMDPD) through promoting tourism. In addition the proposal supported an existing community facility which was viewed as an important community asset. However, he informed Members that unregulated use to date had caused concern amongst local residents particularly in terms of access to the site and impact to local amenity. He informed Members that a regulated temporary permission had the potential to address the key concerns and allow for close monitoring of use and the implementation of a travel plan would monitor initiatives to control vehicular access to the site. In concluding his report the Planning Officer highlighted the Rugby Club’s commitment to work collaboratively with the nearest neighbours and Officers to devise a robust travel plan, and he stated that it was inevitable that people living close to a public site would have a reduced level of amenity and he reiterated that the application was for temporary permission for the 2020 season only.


Shirley Boyd, a local resident, addressed the Planning Committee. She began by informing the Committee that she along with many others living on Raygarth, felt that it had been a safe and quiet place to raise a family. Ms. Boyd informed Members that over the last few years, the situation had got out of control, chaotic and had severely impacted on local amenity, as the Rugby Club had opened the site for unregulated use of the grounds for camping. She moved on to highlight two instances when she had written to the Council to raise concerns over intolerable and consistent levels of traffic, the unsafe highway and inaccurate dates and scale of the site. Ms Boyd informed Members of the availability of the site to recreational organisations, holding a certificate of exemption, and that this had not been investigated in the Officer’s report and therefore the impact of the potential extra numbers had not been considered. Ms Boyd highlighted the phrase “two discrete areas of the grounds” and made reference to the photographs in the presentation which outlined the exceedance of the boundaries by campers. Ms Boyd went on to highlight concern regarding the Local Highway Authority’s assessment of the potential impact of the traffic travelling to the Rugby Club and stated that when the rugby season ended the vehicle type changed to large motorhomes, caravans and cars, all in high volume. Ms Boyd stressed the impact of the site being unsupervised and provided an example from the August Bank Holiday weekend where traffic, dogs barking, open fires, barbeques and persistent noise had caused consistent disruption to local residents. Furthermore she informed Members that the Rugby Club were already advertising for bookings in 2020. Ms Boyd questioned why, during the previous two year period, there had been no attempt to consult with local residents regarding the impacts and to consider a travel plan. In concluding her address, Ms Boyd asked Members to reject the application on the grounds of loss of residential amenity, the lack of highway and traffic planning, safety concerns and the impact of noise.


Joelle Boyd, a local resident, addressed the Committee. She began by highlighting her astonishment at the lack of objections from the Local Highway Authority particularly as she had experienced the impact of the camping and caravanning on Raygarth. Ms Boyd moved on to link the lack of objections to a downplaying of the number of people using the camping facilities at the Rugby Club, as she felt there was a clear issue with the nature and type of traffic given access to the site. She highlighted the problematic access route through the town and informed Members that this was exacerbated by motorhomes and caravans using Fairbank which was usually restricted, due to parked cars, to a single lane which in turn lead to Raygarth, a single track road, with families living on one side and allotment users coming and going on the other side. Ms Boyd explained that she had noticed the difference between the traffic during the rugby season, which consisted of cars and vans, compared to the camping season when motorhomes, caravans, cars and vans used Raygarth to access the site which caused disruption to residents all day long. She stated that due to the location and nature of the route to the site there was no scope to improve the road. Furthermore, Ms Boyd claimed that the size and scale of the application had been downplayed as camping events had often spilled over from the two proposed discrete areas at the site, onto the majority of the site, including the main playing pitches. She informed Members that the documentation in the report had been unreflective of the current operations and as a result she questioned the true nature of the application. Ms Boyd made reference to the YDNPA’s comments which supported camping at the site but considered caravans a different matter. Ms Boyd felt that before the application had been considered by the YDNPA a set of more accurate figures, relating to the number of caravans using the site, should have been provided. Ms Boyd went on to highlight the lack of clarity regarding the 28 day permitted development rights and whether the recreational organisations could stay all year round. She made reference to a letter sent to Members which highlighted the issue of  permitted development rights and reiterated that this and the use of the site by recreational organisations needed to be clarified as it would heavily impact on the number of people who had use of the site. Ms Boyd made reference to several key issues raised in the representations of residents of Raygarth, including traffic and highway safety, parking and noise which all fell under the umbrella of material planning consideration. In concluding her address, Ms Boyd highlighted uncertainties in the application and broader issues which she felt had been contrary to local and national planning framework. She stressed that the proposed one year trial period for the Rugby Club was inappropriate, as camping and caravanning at the site had already been trialled for two years, and had seen a lack of sensible restrictions or safeguarding for residents. This had lead Ms Boyd to feel that the application should be rejected on the grounds that residential amenity was being lost and that rejecting the application may limit and control the future operation of camping and caravanning at the Rugby Club.


Lesley Taylor, a local resident, addressed the Committee. She began by stating that her main objection was to the increase in traffic on Raygarth Road, which was a minor residential road and wholly unsuitable for heavy traffic. Ms Taylor informed Members that the increase in traffic on Raygarth Road was a result of the Rugby Club’s caravanning and camping site and various other functions which continually caused congestion and impacted on the residential area. She explained that a high volume of large vehicles towing caravans, motorhomes and cars congested the road on a regular basis during the camping season. Ms Taylor highlighted the August Bank Holiday weekend, which had seen a high number of visitors camping at the Rugby Club and consequently camping had sprawled over the entire site. Ms Taylor informed Members regarding the frequency of the disruption and chaos caused by events at the Rugby Club and made reference to her concerns over the impact on the quality of life for residents as well as a loss of privacy. Ms Taylor highlighted occasions when Raygarth Road had been gridlocked and questioned how an emergency vehicle would access the site. Furthermore, Ms Taylor added that there had also been an increased risk to the safety of children and residents living on Raygarth. Ms Taylor made reference to the Rugby Club’s transport report, which claimed that the traffic would be no worse than during the rugby season, and stated that for eight months of the year there had been between 250 to 300 cars per weekend, not including everyday traffic to and from the Rugby Club. Ms Taylor added that she felt the numbers provided by the Rugby Club had been estimates and provided no real marker of the actual figures of vehicles visiting the site. Ms Taylor raised concerns regarding the monitoring of the campsite at events such as music and beer festivals and during the weekends and Bank Holidays. In conclusion Ms Taylor informed Members that the site had operated with no planning consent or licence for two years and that the only solution to the problems would be an alternative road to the site which would alleviate the traffic issues on Raygarth. She urged Members to reject the application in order to restore the residential amenity that had been lost in the past two years.


The Planning Officer responded to concerns raised during public participation. He informed Members that the Rugby club had not been in breach of planning law and explained that the application was to formalise the use of the proposed areas for four months, during the 2020 season, and to monitor and understand the impact on residents and to make assessment of the usage. Furthermore, he expressed his understanding of the frustrations of the residents who had experienced two years of unregulated use at the site.


The Planning Officer responded to questions raised by Members. He clarified the 28 day rule with regards to the Rugby Club’s events and reiterated that approval of the temporary consent would support the assessment of the situation and provide vital information that would assist in the decision making process for any future application submitted by the Rugby Club for temporary or permanent permission for camping and caravanning. He informed Members that consideration could be given to removing the permitted development rights in whole or in part, and he undertook to clarify details regarding temporary permission and permitted development rights at the site.


The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist informed Members that Development Management did not currently hold enough information on the range of events that were being held at the site, in particular not enough to make an assessment of the permitted development position on the site.


The Planning Officer responded to further questions and advised that there was an option to remove permitted development rights from the land and for individual applications to be submitted for future events. However, he advised Members that this approach would be too onerous and it would be far more appropriate to approve a temporary permission to monitor the situation during the 2020 season. He informed Members that it would be difficult to restrict and monitor the size of caravans using the site, although the Rugby Club may consider this an option and he explained that the proposed travel plan would include traffic counters which would provide an accurate picture of traffic movements and enable the Council to frame enforceable decisions.


The Interim Development Management Team Leader reminded Members that the Local Highway Authority had considered the application and had raised no objections. He went on to reiterate that the information gathered during the proposed temporary planning permission would support any future decisions and stated that that if Members were to approve the application, permission would run from May to September 2020 and he advised Members that due to limited resources there would be a reliance on local residents to monitor traffic movement and site usage and to provide this information to the Council.


The Planning Officer informed Members that if the proposal was accepted conditions would be agreed prior to the commencement of the 2020 temporary consent and that there were various measure which the applicant could put in place in order to mitigate the impact on residents.


Members gave consideration to the proposal; the unregulated use to date; the impact of increased traffic and the broader amenity issues of local residents; and the need for clarification regarding permitted development rights.


Members felt that a decision on the application should be deferred at this time in order to provide Development Control the opportunity to clarify and provide further information on a number of issues.


RESOLVED – That Planning Application SL/2019/0261 be deferred.

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