Agenda, decisions and draft minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting Using Zoom - You can view the meeting by pasting https://youtu.be/SdMDduH66PQ into your web browser.
Note: You can view the meeting by pasting https://youtu.be/SdMDduH66PQ into your web browser.
Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Louise Clarke.
Declarations of Interest
In accordance with the Council’s current Code of Conduct (as amended 26 February 2015), which includes all the provisions relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI), personal and prejudicial interests, Members are asked to declare any DPI and also any personal interests (and whether or not such personal interests are also “prejudicial”) in relation to any matter on the Agenda for this meeting.
Members are reminded that they need to declare the fact that they are also a member of a County, Town or Parish Council as a Personal Interest. Where you are also a member of Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council within South Somerset you must declare a prejudicial interest in any business on the agenda where there is a financial benefit or gain or advantage to Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council which would be at the cost or to the financial disadvantage of South Somerset District Council.
Planning Applications Referred to the Regulation Committee
The following members of this Committee are also members of the Council’s Regulation Committee:
Councillors Neil Bloomfield, Malcolm Cavill, Adam Dance and Crispin Raikes.
Where planning applications are referred by this Committee to the Regulation Committee for determination, Members of the Regulation Committee can participate and vote on these items at the Area Committee and at Regulation Committee. In these cases the Council’s decision-making process is not complete until the application is determined by the Regulation Committee. Members of the Regulation Committee retain an open mind and will not finalise their position until the Regulation Committee. They will also consider the matter at Regulation Committee as Members of that Committee and not as representatives of the Area Committee.
There were no declarations of interest.
Public Question Time
There were no questions from members of the public.
The Chairman explained at the start of the meeting that this was a consultative meeting and decisions taken would need to be confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer. Voting would be made by a named vote. He also advised that the meeting was being streamed live to YouTube so that members of the pubic could view the meeting.
(Voting: Unanimous in favour)
The Locality Officer introduced the report which asked members to consider the awarding of a grant towards the purchase of the ex-United Reformed Church (URC) in Stoke Sub Hamdon by the Hamdon Community Arts Project (HCAP). He commented that all information was in the report and noted Peter Hulett from the HCAP was also present to answer any questions.
Ward Member, Councillor Mike Hewitson.expressed his support for the project and recommended it for approval. He highlighted that Mr Hulett and his team had significant experience of delivering community projects for Stoke Sub Hamdon. This was a large project that had a number of features for the community, and would be an excellent facility for the village and surrounding area.
During a short discussion, several members expressed their full support for the project and commended the work of Mr Hulett and his team. There were no questions or further discussion. It was proposed to approve the grant as per the officer recommendation, and on being put to the vote was carried unanimously.
The Chairman thanked Mr Hulett and the HCAP for all that they did for the community, and also thanked the Locality Officer for assisting the group to bring the grant forward.
(Voting: Unanimous in favour)
There was no discussion and members were content to note the Forward Plan.
Members noted the schedule of planning applications to be considered at the meeting.
Proposal: Outline application for the erection of 1 No. dwelling with all matters reserved except access.
The Case Officer presented the application as detailed in the agenda report and highlighted the key considerations.
The Agent then addressed members and some of his comments included:
· He and the applicant agreed with the recommendation, approach and conditions detailed in the officer report.
· A similar application had been approved at another location nearby.
· The proposal did not require any hedges to be removed and simple measures could be taken to protect the Ash tree of local concern.
· Income from the self-catering holiday business at Little Norton Mill would part fund the proposal.
Ward member, Councillor Mike Hewitson, noted Little Norton was an isolated settlement and as such he was concerned about the impact on the environment and local area. Whilst the aspirations for virtual meetings were acknowledged, he noted some members of the community were unable to access meetings in such a way, as was the case for the immediate neighbours of this application. He shared with members the relevance of the Ash tree of concern and that it had been planted to commemorate the birth of a family member, and he also commented that:
· he had similar concerns to the Parish Council
· shared the view of the Tree Officer regarding the potential impact on trees
· shared the view of some of the objectors that the proposal was against some policies in the NPPF.
· concerns had been raised locally about highway safety as the junction to the lane was on a sharp bend and farm traffic often used the lane.
During discussion, several members expressed concerns about the proposal including:
· The site is quite a distance from the local shop, possibly almost 2.5km, and there is little pavement.
· The site is in the foothills of the Country Park.
· Feel it is an inappropriate site for such development and not in a sustainable location.
· There have been prior refusals in nearby vicinity.
The Case Officer and Specialist (Development Management) responded to points of detail, including:
· Clarity about the planning permission and appeal on the neighbouring site.
· Distance to the local shop based on SSDC mapping system was approximately 1.2km and confirmed there was little pavement but some street lighting along the route.
· Advice was to omit reference to case law in any planning reason if minded to refuse the application.
At the end of debate it was proposed to refuse the application, contrary to the officer recommendation, on the grounds of sustainability and policy SS2, environment and being against policies EQ2 and EQ5 and also against policies in the NPPF. The Case Officer then suggested the exact wording for the two reasons for refusal, which was agreed by members.
On being put to the vote, the proposal to refuse the application was carried unanimously.
Proposal: Stationing of a twin unit mobile home for use as a permanent agricultural workers dwelling.
The Specialist (Development Management) presented the report as detailed in the agenda, highlighting that the applicant was seeking to make the existing temporary permission for a dwelling to be permanent permission. He explained that the main issues were the principle of the permanent permission and the amount of land in ownership or occupied by the applicant, and hence viability. He highlighted the key considerations and the consequences of refusing the application regarding enforcement.
A representative for the applicant and the agent addressed members in support of the application, and some of their comments included:
· Wrong to not support farmers who lease rather than own land.
· Business and applicant were well supported by the local community.
· Applicant is young and it’s a growing the business, already negotiating leasing further land.
· The land tenanted and stock holding has increased in the last few years.
· The financial need test has been met.
· Officer recommendation is based on the applicant’s tenure of land.
· The building is essential to the business.
Ward member, Councillor Gerard Tucker, commented he was surprised that the officer recommendation was for refusal. The functional need for a dwelling had been met and he noted the business had grown by more than 30% in three years. Whilst a concern to the officer about the amount of land that was leased from multiple owners rather than owned by the applicant, he argued that it could be seen as a strength as if one owner ceased to lease some land then the business could still continue. He felt the proposal met polices and provided local employment. If refused, members would be going against Area+ principles and the Area Chapter of the Council Plan. The financial viability test had also been met and there was a need to not only look at profit but also investment and growth. He supported the application and recommended approval.
During discussion, members expressed their support for the application, and some of the comments made included:
· The applicant had made a go of the business since the temporary permission granted, Have no issue with supporting a permanent dwelling.
· Applicant has done well.
· Often little choice except to rent land nowadays as land prices have increased and owners not wanting to sell land.
· Should be supporting farmers.
It was proposed to approve the application, contrary to the officer recommendation, on the grounds of sustainability and the proposal meeting policies.
In response, the Specialist (Development Management) advised that the justification could refer to the functional and financial need having been adequately met. He also advised if members were minded to approve the application that a condition would be required for an agricultural tie.
In response to a question raised, the Legal Specialist advised that she was not aware of any changes in legislation regarding agricultural ties and she confirmed the tie for this application would be regarding agricultural occupancy. Regarding a question about a specific ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Members noted the report that detailed the planning appeals which have been lodged, dismissed or allowed.