Agenda item

Planning Application 18/00001/FUL - The George, Back Street, Winsham


Application Proposal: Alterations to include the change of use of ground floor of dwelling (Use Class C3) to a shop/Post Office (Use Class A1) and café (Use Class A1) and café (Use Class A3).  First floor to be ancillary to shop and café use


The Specialist - Development Management presented the application as set out in the agenda.  He outlined the application site and the surrounding area and advised that there was an existing shop in the village located to the south of the proposed site on Church Street.  He noted that the main consideration related to highway safety.  He advised that the site consisted of a Grade II listed building and with the aid of photographs outlined the proposed alterations to the ground floor including the proposed location of the post office counter, shop, kitchen, café seating area and hard paved area to the rear of the shop.  He noted that some concerns had been raised with regard to the seating area at the rear of the premises and the proximity to the adjoining property and the potential for noise and disturbance and advised that if members were minded to approve the application this element of the scheme could be conditioned.  The Specialist – Development Management explained that there were significant concerns over the siting of the shop on a five-way junction, no off street parking provision being proposed, lack of visibility for vehicles and pedestrians, the possibility of children crossing the road to get to the shop from the Recreation Ground located opposite and an significant increase in use of the substandard Back Street/B3162 junction.  Another concern related to proposed timber planters along the highway potentially exacerbating the restricted visibility.  He recommended that the application be refused for the reasons outlined in the report.


In response to questions, Development Management Officers confirmed the following:


·         SCC Highway Authority were content with the application although it could not be confirmed whether they had made a site visit.

·         All the issues associated with the application should be considered not just those relating to highway safety.

·         Clarified that EP15 required an 18 month marketing assessment to be carried out

·         If permission were to be granted on The George and it started a use as a shop,  Policy EP15 would still need to be satisfied but it could be considered that the 18 month marketing assessment wasn’t needed if there was only one shop in the village.

·         The fire exit would be through the main front door of the premises.  The passageway to the side could only be used with permission from the adjoining neighbour.

·         SSDC’s Highway Consultant had the authority to take a different view from SCC Highway Authority to which SSDC would be responsible for defending that view at appeal and any associated costs.

·         The applicant was made aware of the SSDC Highway Consultant’s concerns at the pre-application stage.

·         Use of the site 50 years ago was considered to be too long ago to be relevant to the current issues.

·         The responsibility of the surface at the front overlapped with the owner of the premises and the Highway Authority.

·         Any structure located on the highway would require a licence from SCC.

·         It was the responsibility of the applicant to submit supporting evidence on potential pedestrian movements in light of the concerns raised by SSDC’s Highway Consultant.

·         The SSDC Highway Consultant reiterated his concerns over the junction being substandard and the potential for pedestrians to walk out of the shop and go straight across the road towards the recreation ground with substandard visibility and the potential for delivery vehicles to turn in and reverse back out.  With the shop being located in this position he could not argue that there would not be a significant intensification of movement in the area.


The Committee was addressed by the Chair of Winsham Parish Council in support of the application.  He commented that the shop provided a vital service to all ages and needs.  Winsham would be a significantly lesser community without this vital asset which held the community together and was an important site for volunteers. The George was located within a prime location in the village and represented a strong link to the past and signpost to the future. He noted that SCC Highway Authority could not support refusal of the application which was in accordance with the Local Plan and Policy EP15. 


The Committee was addressed by seven members of the public in objection to the application.  Some of their comments included:


·         The shop and post office was an asset to the village but The George was an inappropriate and unsafe location.

·         Proposal not supported by a sound business plan.

·         Increase in traffic along a narrow road.

·         No pavements outside The George.

·         No dedicated parking for cars, delivery vans and cyclists.

·         Unsafe for pedestrians and vehicles.

·         The site is not the only option for the relocation of the shop and there were other safer and sustainable locations within the village.

·         Child safety concerns as the shop would be on the opposite side to the school and the recreation ground.

·         Increased use of junction not safe.

·         Limited visibility along the B3162.

·         Concerns over the speed of vehicles passing the site.

·         Proposed planters are unsuitable to prevent pedestrians crossing the road.

·         The village already has a public house providing a community facility.


The Committee was then addressed by five members of the public in support of the application.  Some of their comments included:


·         No evidence to suggest that there would be a significant increase in traffic.

·         Location of the shop will make no difference to the traffic.

·         The delivery lorry manoeuvres would continue regardless of whether the shop is relocated.

·         Early morning delivery vehicles would be able to stop outside The George and turn around in Back Street.

·         No previous collisions or injuries at the junction.

·         Most of the café users would be existing store and post office customers and the level of new traffic would be minimal.

·         A 34 space public car park was being planned further down the road from the shop using S106 monies from a new housing development in the village.

·         Increased use of The George would enhance the heart of the village.

·         Planters would make the junction safer.

·         Social benefits for the community.


The applicant then addressed members, some of her comments included:


·         The post office was key to the rural community particular as more and more branches close.

·         The shop and post office provided employment and volunteering opportunities.

·         The proposal provided a secure solid building in the centre of the village which had been approved by Post Office Authorities.

·         Current lease unlikely to be renewed.

·         Business case produced and funding secured.

·         The highway situation of the proposed location was no more of a risk than the existing.

·         Deliveries would be safer in Back Street compared to the current location in Church Street.

·         Back Street had fewer vehicle movements than Church Street which had been demonstrated by a traffic survey.

·         County Highways supported the application.

·         The George was centrally located, viable, accessible, funded and available.


Ward Member, Councillor Sue Osbourne commented that the shop and post office was key to the rural community and that it was sad that the application had spilt the village.  She referred to the application being finely balanced between unsuitability of the junction and the needs of the community to keep its shop to provide community cohesion and economic services. 


During a long discussion mixed views were expressed and some of the comments raised related to the following:


·         The need to address speed limits and safety for children.

·         No information from the existing owner to suggest that the existing lease would not be renewed.

·         Cannot dismiss highway issues raised by SSDC’s Highway Consultant.

·         Unsuitable and dangerous location for pedestrians and vehicles.

·         Finely balanced application.

·         Duty of care to the safety of the community.

·         Unable to support due to highway safety concerns particularly in relation to the blind corner.

·         2nd fire exit at the back of the property not suitable.

·         Fire exits would be dealt with by Building Regulations.

·         The village pub already provided a café facility.

·         Village Survey figure valid.

·         No evidence to support anything dangerous had occurred.

·         Sad to see that the application had spilt the community.

·         Parish Council support for the application.

·         Planters not substantial enough to stop people stepping out into the road.


At the conclusion of the debate, the Ward Member reiterated her support for the concept of a village shop, post office and café. She referred to the number of people in support of the proposal and in indicating her support for the application made reference to the community accepting the risks.  She requested a condition to address the impact on Dragon House by imposing time restrictions for the outside seating area should the application be approved.  She asked that SSDC provide help and support in the event of the application being refused.


It was initially proposed to approve the application but on being put to the vote this was lost.  The votes in favour of approving the application were 5 in favour and 8 against and 0 abstentions.


It was subsequently proposed and seconded to refuse the application as per the Officer’s recommendation.  On being put to the vote the proposal was carried by 8 votes in favour, 5 votes against and 0 abstentions.



That Planning Application No. 18/00001/FUL be REFUSED as per the Development Management Specialist’s recommendation for the following reason:


01.       The location of the development proposal and the traffic generated by the scheme (including pedestrians, cyclists, private vehicles, and delivery/service vehicles) would lead to an increase in use of the existing Back Street/B3162 Church Street/Western Way/Fore Street junction such that safe and suitable access to and from the site cannot be achieved for all users, and the impact on highway safety would be unacceptable. In addition, the development fails to provide any off-road parking leading to additional on-road parking in and around the aforementioned junction to the detriment of highway safety. Therefore, the proposal would not accord with Policies TA5 and TA6 of the South Somerset Local Plan (2006-2028) and would be contrary to paragraphs 108 and 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2018).


(Voting: 8 in favour, 5 against)



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