Agenda item

Planning Application 18/00688/OUT** - Land South of Church Street, Merriott


Application Proposal: Residential development comprising the erection of up to 50 dwelling houses and formation of access


The Area Lead Planner (North & West) updated members with a letter received from a member of the public who was unable to attend the meeting.  Issues raised related to potential harm of overlooking and recent development in the village.


The Area Lead Planner (North & West) presented the report as detailed in the agenda and highlighted the key considerations.  He advised that the application was for outline permission for the erection of up to 50 dwellings and that the access had been removed from the application.  The details of design, layout, property type, numbers etc. would come forward at the reserved matters stage which would be subject to a separate application.


In response to questions, members were informed of the following:


·         The buildings at the top of the site were part of a working farm;

·         The development would not justify a new school.  The requested contribution would go towards Merriott First School which would form part of a legal agreement;

·         There was a bus service available in the village;

·         The Housing Needs Survey was a material consideration and had been approved by the District Council;

·         Due to the Council’s current lack of a 5 year supply of housing, only limited weight could be attached to Policy SS2;

·         It was acceptable for the access to be considered as part of detailed matters;

·         It was confirmed that development had stopped on the Tail Mill site having only sold a few properties.  Some of the more bespoke dwellings on the Moorlands development were taking longer to sell;

·         Acknowledged that Merriott was reaching a position where it was having a fair amount of development.  Members were being asked to assess whether the adverse impact of approval of this scale of development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits;

·         No weight should be given to the indicative plan as the detail could change and was not for consideration at this stage.


The Committee was addressed by the Chairman of Merriott Parish Council in objection to the application.  Comments expressed related to the following: 

·         Merriott Parish Council had already supported four planning applications and if this application were to be approved the number of dwellings would increase to 192.  It was considered that 25% growth was more than enough;

·         The application did not comply with policy;

·         Affordable Housing should be demonstrated locally;

·         The meadow, hedge and verge formed an important part of the streetscene being the only open land visible from the perimeter roads of the village;

·         The application did not demonstrate local support.


A member of the public made comments in objection to the proposal.  Points raised related to:

·         Proposal higher than the HEELA figure;

·         Concerns over the strategic nature of the site;

·         The school being over capacity and implications of a two tier system;

·         The site could be useful for school playing fields;

·         Further developments in the village were on hold;

·         Lack of local infrastructure.

The Applicant’s Agent explained that the local community had been consulted on the application and a leaflet drop was undertaken and comments invited.  He commented that there was a need for residential development throughout the district and at a local level in order to address the five year housing land supply shortfall.  He noted that the site had been previously identified for development through the HEELA process.  The site was accessible, the development sustainable and the principle of residential development in this area was acceptable.  In relation to community objections, issues relating to scale, appearance, density, housing numbers could all be dealt with appropriately through the reserved matters application and the Agent was confident that a high quality development could be achieved that would be attractive to local people.   He confirmed that the development would deliver a footpath link, the need for which had been identified in the Parish Plan and would be of significant public benefit enhancing safety within the village.


Ward Member, Councillor Paul Maxwell commented that the farmland, hedge and bank was an integral part of the streetscene in this part of Merriott and would be obliterated by the proposed development.  He referred to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’s strong objection to the proposal in particular how this rural part of the village connected to the wider landscape and beyond.  He highlighted that the site was a greenfield site and had historically been designated for no development in the Village Plan and the Local Plan.   Reference was made to the site having wildlife, ecological and landscape value.  He noted that Merriott was classed as a rural settlement and 20% growth in a five year period was significant.  He also referred to the Housing Needs Survey indicating low need for housing in the village, and the school being over capacity.  He was unable to support the development due to its scale, unsustainability and not being in accordance with various policies.


During discussion, some members spoke in support of the Officers’ recommendation.  They were not confident that the adverse impact of the development outweighed the benefits and commented that there were insufficient planning reasons to refuse the application which they felt would be difficult to defend on appeal.  One member felt that the development was unsustainable and people would be dependent on the use of cars.  


At the conclusion of the debate, it was proposed and seconded to refer the application to the Regulation Committee with a recommendation that the application be refused for the following reasons:


·         The proposed scheme would result in an unsustainable form of development

·         Unacceptable scale of growth which would undermine the Local Plan

·         Adverse harm to the school

·         Contrary to Policies SD1, SS1, SS2, SS6, TA4, HW1, EQ2, EQ4, Chapters 2, 15 and 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework


On being put to the vote, the proposal to recommend refusal of the application was carried by 5 votes in favour, 4 against and 2 abstentions.



That Planning Application No. 18/00688/OUT** be REFERRED to the Regulation Committee with a recommendation from Area West Committee that the application be refused for the following reason:


The proposed scheme by reason of its siting and location, would result in an unsustainable form of development, at an unacceptable scale which would undermine the Local Plan hierarchical strategy, would create a harmful landscape impact and harmful impact on ecology, and have an adverse impact on Merriott First School by taking it over its capacity. The scheme would therefore be contrary to Policies SD1, SS1, SS2, SS6, TA4, HW1, EQ2, and EQ4 of the South Somerset Local Plan and Chapters 2, 15 and 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework.


(Voting: 5 votes in favour, 4 against and 2 abstentions)


Supporting documents: