Officers clarified that the Application had been brought to the Planning Committee for consideration at the request of Councillor K. May, Ward Councillor.
Officers presented the report and explained that the application site was a rectangular piece of land accessed off Redhill Place, a cul-de-sac on the western side of Bromsgrove Road, in Hunnington.
The most recent use of the site was a builder’s yard, and the lawfulness of this use had been confirmed by a certificate of lawfulness.
The current proposal was a full planning application for the redevelopment of the site in order to provide two semi-detached three-bedroom dwellings, with associated parking.
The site lay within the Green Belt and therefore the material planning considerations with this application were whether the proposal would constitute inappropriate development within the Green Belt, the impact on the openness of the Green Belt, the sustainability of the location of the site, residential amenity, as well as a number of technical matters.
Paragraph 145 of the NPPF states that the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt should be considered inappropriate, save for a number of exceptions. Most relevant to this proposal were exceptions 145(e) and 145(g), which respectively allowed for limited infilling in villages and for partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land that would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt. Policy BDP4.4(f) and BDP4.4(g) of the Bromsgrove District Plan broadly reiterated these policies within the NPPF.
With regards to limited infilling within a village, the NPPF did not define the term "village". However, Policy BDP2 of the Bromsgrove District Plan (BDP), provided a settlement hierarchy which listed "large" and "small" settlements within the district. Hunnington, the location of the proposal site, was not listed as a settlement within this hierarchy and was not defined by a settlement boundary on the proposals map.
Although there was a cricket club and the former Bluebird Factory to the north of Hunnington, there was a distinct absence of services and facilities that you would reasonably expect to find within a village, namely; shops, pubs, schools or a village hall. Having regard to the particular characteristics of the local area it was therefore concluded that the proposal site did not form part of a village.
In terms of the walls, gates and blockwork storage bay on site, which were included within the certificate, a previous appeal decision in relation to walls and gates confirmed that these types of structures should be considered a building, as Section 336 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990 defined “buildings” to include “any structure or erection”.
Further to the development being inappropriate by definition, the substantial combined footprint of the two dwellings, which would measure 127 square metres and the height of the two dwellings, which would measure 8.6 metres, would have a significant impact on the openness of the Green Belt. As openness was the most important attribute of the Green Belt, substantial harm was attached to this.
Officers further drew Members’ attention to the comments received from Worcestershire County Highways, with regard to ‘Highways and Sustainability of Location’, as detailed on pages 230 and 231 of the main agenda report; and ‘Planning Balance, as detailed on page 234 of the main agenda report.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. O. Rider, Planning Agent addressed the Committee.
The Committee then considered the Application, which had been recommended for refusal by Officers.
Members commented that far more traffic would going into / out of the builder’s yard.
Officers responded to questions from Members with regard to “infill” and in doing so stated that with regards to “infill” that there was no definition of this within the NPPF and also referred to linear frontages, as detailed on page 228 of the main agenda report.
In response to further questions from Members, Officers clarified that Hunnington was not defined in the Bromsgrove District Plan as a settlement/village.
Members commented that several letters of local support had been received.
Some Members were familiar with the area and were not convinced that the site was unstainable.
Whilst Members fully understood and appreciated that Officers were following planning guidance and legislation; they did however debate as to who would be affected by the harm to openness in the Green Belt and its unsustainable location.
Having considered the Officer’s report, the information provided by the public speaker, Members were of the view that the area was sustainable and that there were plenty of nearby facilities, which were also within walking and cycling distance.
Members commented that the design of the dwellings were appropriate and that they believed in the sustainability of the site and that there would not be any harm caused to the openness of the Green Belt.
Members were therefore minded to approve the application.
RESOLVED that Planning Permission be granted, subject to relevant Conditions and Informatives as appropriate: