There is a very contentious planning application, an amended version of a second application, on a site in the heart of one of our historic villages. It is in a conservation area, surrounded by listed buildings where the village has an adopted neighbourhood plan. The Grade 1 listed church overlooks the site.
The Parish Council oppose this application because the application does not conform to the aspirations and policies within the Neighbourhood Plan. The main priority of parishioners is the preservation of the overall character of the built heritage. The Neighbourhood Plan requires new buildings should “…..respect the local character” and preferably natural traditional building materials and methods should be used. (The proposed two dwellings are contemporary with flat sedum roofs).
Historic England (watchdog of our historic environment) said, in Feb 2018, of the first application:
“… the site in question, sits to the west and is made up of two linear fields that run parallel to the road behind the dwellings. Due to their size and close association to the built environment, it is believed these may have been paddocks for livestock and were potentially connected to the pub.
In recent years, development has occurred to the east in the form of modern bungalows and housing estates. However, these fields act as an indicator of the former rural landscape that characterised the setting of [the village].
A pre-application enquiry has been undertaken with the council, who consider that some form of development may be acceptable on the site. We would highlight the importance of the site as an extant aspect of the former rural setting of the conservation area as well as the contribution it makes in terms of appreciating the former uses of the land and how the development interacted with its rural setting. Therefore, its development would result in some erosion of that quality, which contributes to the significance of the conservation area.”
In spite of this cautionary advice it appears from pre-application correspondence published on EDDC web site that EDDC planners want to facilitate development by ignoring all this, squaring the Councillors and by-passing the DMC.
Applicant’s agent to planning officer e-mail (March 2018):
“We talked about how the application would proceed from this point on, and [X- planning officer] advised that he felt that the team would be supportive of the application, though [sic] that the town council would object as they did before. This would mean that the application would need to go the Chairman’s briefing for delegated approval.
“The process works that when a parish or town council differ in opinion to that of a planning team (planning recommendation report for approval) then the chairman of the planning committee (who meets once a week) would make the decision if the planning report should be followed, and delegated approval is granted, or if it should go to committee [sic].
“The district councillor (Cllr [Y] plus 2 others) will also have a say, though they did not object last time to the two houses, and I [architectural agent for applicant] will be meeting with the Cllr this time to ensure that he understands the application, and the reason for the second application as the district Cllr is allowed to sit in and vote on the delegated chairman’s briefing.”
Historic England continue their concern (May 2018):
“We maintain reservations in respect of the proposal. The orientation of the buildings within the site, their scale and associated ground works to address this issue of height, results in a significant intervention that does not respond to the character and appearance of the conservation area, through the scale and massing of the proposal and its orientation within the plot……..”
And Historic England’s final comment is:
ou could add at the end the final Historic England recommendation:
Your authority should take these representations into account and seek amendments, safeguards or further information as set out in our advice.
Chances of that happening? Owl isn’t taking any bets!