Officers clarified that the Application had been brought to the Planning Committee for consideration at the request of Councillor A. B. L. English, Ward Councillor.
Officers presented the report and in doing so informed the Committee that, permission was being sought for a double garage measuring approximately 5.3 x 5.7 metres. The garage would have a hipped roof and would be finished in brick and tiles to match the existing bungalow. The garage would be positioned in the front garden of the property.
Policy BPD4 of the District Plan would apply as well as Paragraph 143 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which stated that inappropriate development was by definition harmful and should not be approved except in very special circumstances. Paragraph 145 of the NPPF stated that the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt shall be regarded as inappropriate development except where certain exceptions apply. The garage would not fall within in any of the exceptions set out within either the Framework or Policy BDP4 of the District Plan and would therefore represent inappropriate development within the Green Belt.
Paragraph 133 of the Framework identified that openness was one of the essential characteristics of Green Belts, along with permanence. The Courts had confirmed that the openness of the Green Belt had a spatial aspect as well as a visual aspect. The building would be located in the front garden of the bungalow and would be highly visible from the streetscene. Given its scale, the proposal would be experienced both visually and spatially. As such the proposed development would compromise the openness of the Green Belt, which would be reduced both physically and visually. Whilst the loss of openness would be limited, harm to the Green Belt would occur. This matter carried substantial weight.
Members’ attention was drawn to the Applicant’s agent’s very special circumstances as summarised on pages 12 and 13 of the main agenda report.
The officer’s response to the arguments put forward by the Applicant were detailed on pages 13 and 14 of the main agenda report.
Officers further stated that the proposal conflicted with Policy BDP4 of the District Plan, which amongst other things limited development within the Green Belt. The very special circumstances submitted did not outweigh the harm identified to the Green Belt.
The design of the proposal had been considered against Policy BDP19 and guidance set out in the High Quality Design SPD. Whilst the general design of the proposal may be acceptable, due to the pattern of development locally, the positioning of the garage would consequently appear unduly prominent within the streetscene thereby materially harming the character of the area having an unacceptably adverse impact upon the character of the streetscene.
Alvechurch Neighbourhood Plan referred to proposals reflecting the identity of the local setting, by way of height, scale, spacing and layout, following established building lines and streetscene arrangements for front gardens. Particular reference was made in respect to garages under Policy H4.8j which encouraged garages to be set back from the street frontage. The proposal would conflict with this policy of the Alvechurch Neighbourhood Plan.
Alvechurch Parish Council did not object to the proposal, and whilst there was a joint letter of support from 6 neighbours, there was a letter of objection in respect to the impact of the development on the streetscene and harm to the openness of the Green Belt.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. K. Coombes, the Applicant’s agent addressed the Committee on behalf of the Applicant.
The Committee then considered the Application, which officers had recommended be refused.
In response to Members, officers clarified that the applicant could still implement the garage that had formed part of the approval under reference B/2000/0310. The garages were not like for like, the approved garage was more of a single garage, and whilst it was set forward from the front of the wall of the bungalow, the garage was still attached to the house and set back from the road, restricting its impact on the openness of the Green Belt as well as the streetscene in general.
Some Members questioned as to who would be affected by the proposal. Alvechurch Parish Council had not objected. A joint letter of support from 6 neighbours had also been received and surely, they would be affected by the proposal.
Members also commented that there were similar houses with detached garages, sat in this Green Belt area and that a lot of the vegetation would be retained, which would hide the double garage.
Members were mindful that the application before them did breach the Council’s High Quality Design SPD, as detailed on pages 13 and 14 of the main agenda report and that there were no very special circumstances.
Therefore, Members were minded to refuse planning permission.
RESOLVED that Planning Permission be refused for the reasons, as detailed on pages 14 and 15 of the main agenda report.