Planning Application 18/02285/FUL - The Heights, Main Road, High Ham.
Proposal: The carrying out of alterations and engineering works to level rear gardens, and formation of a roof terrace. (Part retrospective).
The Specialist (Planning) presented the application as detailed in the agenda noting there had been some significant extensions to the original property. Some concerns and local objections had been raised regarding some elements. He explained to members that the report detailed the items of concern that required planning permission and those that did not. He referred to the roof terrace and proposed privacy screen, and noted from the terrace there were some views over the neighbouring property. Conditions were proposed to address overlooking and to limit the area of the roof that could be used as a terrace.
Members were reminded that many of the works to the property had been carried out under Permitted Development Rights, and this application was only to consider the other elements such as the remodelling of the land, the roof terrace and lower terrace. He highlighted the key considerations and explained his reason for recommending approval.
Two representatives from High Ham Parish Council and one member of the public representing several neighbours, spoke in objection to the application. Some of their comments included:
· Application has been a huge concern to the local community because of its size, scale and impact on residential amenity due to privacy and impact on the landscape. In their opinion the proposal will cause demonstrable harm.
· Disappointed that the application is part retrospective and the poor management of the application by the planning department. It was felt if the application had been better overseen at the start of the process that the roof terrace probably would not have been deemed as acceptable.
· Privacy screens have only materialised following comments at the consultation stage.
· No consultation took place with neighbours or the parish council prior to submission of the application.
· There had been some confusion last year, when the work at the site commenced, about whether planning permission was needed or not.
· Initially told this was permitted development but then realised there would be a rood terrace. Don’t believe everything that’s done or now being proposed is what was initially intended in the original permitted development application
· Have had to raise fence at neighbouring property in order to be able to sit outside without being overlooked.
· Worried about noise from terrace as it’s very close to property boundary.
The applicant then addressed members, some of her comments included:
· They had consulted the planning authority since the start including pre-application, and she felt some of the confusion was due to the parish council not understanding all of the permitted development rules.
· The roof terrace was narrow and came out from the three rear bedrooms, and it was noted a nearby property had a balcony of equal depth.
At the request of the Chairman, the Specialist (Planning) explained in further detail Permitted Development rights and provided an overview of the process applicable to this site. He clarified that the pool house did not require planning permission.
Ward member, Councillor Gerard Tucker, raised a number of comments including that the application had caused stress and upset locally. He commented that the neighbours were probably querying the entire planning process. He refuted some of the comments that had just been made under public representations. The Parish Council took their responsibilities as consultees seriously, and he felt they did understand Permitted Development rights, but they had struggled to understand how the all the works had got this far without challenge. He felt the Transformation process at SSDC had contributed to the problems and highlighted that the report referred to delays with the application process, and he noted meanwhile the works on site had progressed. In his opinion there was a significant impact on the residential amenity of neighbours, particularly regarding overshadowing, privacy and the terrace. He felt not enough consideration had been given even though the officer in his report had acknowledged there would be some overlooking. He did not support the officer recommendation and suggested that if members were minded to approve the application, that it be deferred for further negotiation with the applicant, and to give time for the applicant to address issues regarding privacy and overshadowing.
During a long discussion mixed views were expressed and some of the comments included:
· Don’t feel the design belongs in a rural setting.
· Size and scale of the development is enormous and not in keeping with the area.
· Neighbours have loss of light and privacy
· Don’t feel there’s been proper consultation.
· Neighbours will suffer as a result of the tall screens
· Much of the work done is permitted development
· Don’t feel there will be loss of light
· Have no problem with the split level garden.
· A balcony at a property in Long Load was won on appeal.
· Screens on the terrace will address overlooking
· Difficult to find a planning reason to refuse the application
· Unfortunate for neighbour
· Bottom of garden is now at a higher level than neighbouring properties, and effectively has raised the site
· In visual terms to the neighbours this is like a two storey building.
· Disappointed applicant hasn’t tried to work more with neighbours.
The Specialist responded to points of detail raised during discussion and his comments included:
· To address overlooking issues there was a condition for the privacy screens.
· Clarification of the size of the privacy screens and distance from the boundary.
It was initially proposed to approve the application, as per the officer recommendation, but on being put to the vote this was lost. The votes were 4 in favour of approving the application, 5 against and 2 abstention.
It was subsequently proposed to refuse the application, contrary to the officer recommendation on the grounds of overshadowing, demonstrative harm and loss of visual amenity.
There was a short discussion about whether loss of light should also be included. The Specialist advised members that often when considering a structure near a boundary, potentially there could be loss of light or overshadowing, but sometimes something may not be so harmful in that respect but may have an overbearing impact. If members preferred to not refer to loss of light then reference could be made to overbearing in the reason instead.
The Lead Specialist advised that members needed to focus on what part of the development was of most concern, what the harm was and who it would affect. Listening to the proposal and comments made during discussion he suggested wording for the reason, and this agreed.
The proposal to refuse the application, contrary to the officer recommendation, and for the reason as stated by the lead Officer, was put to the vote and carried 5 votes in favour, 4 against with 2 abstentions.
That planning application 18/02285/FUL be REFUSED, contrary to the officer recommendation, for the following reason:
The privacy screen proposed as part of the proposed roof terrace by virtue of its height, bulk and proximity to the boundary of the site would lead to overshadowing, as well as resulting in an overbearing impact, which will cause unacceptable harm to the residential amenity of the occupiers of Uplands. As such, the proposal is contrary to policy EQ2 of the South Somerset Local Plan 2006 and the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework.
(Voting: 5 in favour of refusal, 4 against, 2 abstentions)
The Lead Specialist explained that as members had resolved to refuse the application, there would be a consequent deliberation about enforcement. Part of the screen and balustrade was in place and therefore could be used as a terrace now. His normal advice in these circumstances was that the applicant had heard the debate, and may consider submitting a revised application or lodging an appeal. He suggested that any enforcement action was held in abeyance pending a discussion between the applicant and planning officers about how they wished to proceed, possibly in consultation with the ward member. He noted for information, that the timescale for lodging an appeal in this circumstance was 12 weeks, and therefore reminded members that actions may not progress quickly.