Planning Application 21/02654/FUL - Land OS 6300 Longforward Lane, Kingstone
- Meeting of Area West (Informal), Wednesday 19th January 2022 5.30 pm (Item 74.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 74.
Application Proposal: Erection of buildings to store and facilitate the construction of carnival floats
(Having declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the application, Councillor Dave Bulmer left the meeting during consideration of the item).
The Lead Specialist – Built Environment presented the application as outlined in the agenda report. He explained that the proposed site was located between two existing buildings, some recently constructed barns and a former farm building used by another carnival club. Pre-application advice had been sought regarding the appropriateness of the proposed location as well as other sites in the area and officers had recognised the role that carnival clubs played in South Somerset including their future existence and viability. It was acknowledged that by reason of the land values afforded to allocated sites or sites with planning permission, together with the impacts of various permitted development rights relating to residential and commercial re-uses the scope to direct volunteer based activities towards such sites would require them to overcome commercial land value requirements and as such any site suited to a non-commercial user would need to be similar to the proposed and would likely be a greenfield site and not have alternative land values.
The Lead Specialist – Built Environment showed plans of the application site and photographs illustrating the surrounding area, existing barns, access to the site and parking. The building could be delivered in one or equally as a phased approach. The proposed building was a single utilitarian structure and was not dissimilar to the barns located next door. In terms of access, the applicants had produced a Traffic Management Plan to show details of how larger vehicles could turn into the site and move along Park Lane. He stated that the area was already characterised by development and locating a building within that context did not alter the character of the area. The Highway Authority and SSDC Highway Consultant had no objections subject to conditions. He confirmed that Somerset Ecology Services were content that the scheme did not lead to biodiversity harm and the Lead Local Flood Authority had determined the proposal to be acceptable. The proposal was not affected by the phosphates issue and did not trigger a requirement for an Environment Impact Assessment. The Planning Officer’s recommendation was for approval subject to conditions.
In response to questions from Members, the Lead Specialist – Built Environment advised:
· The Traffic Management Plan would cover the size of vehicle movements with smaller vehicles being able to negotiate the roads to the south.
· Condition 22 required a lighting scheme. It could be amended to include criteria about hours, intensity of light and up-lighting.
· The proposed building height was 7.3 metres to the ridge and had a consolidated form. Photographs were shown to illustrate how it would relate to the existing buildings.
· The six tests that conditions were deemed to be lawful.
· The compliance measures likely to be taken particularly in relation to vehicle movements.
· Condition 13 had been requested by the Highway Authority to stop loose gravel going onto the road and was a standard condition. A permeable surface would be used so the parking areas were not hard surface run off environments.
· The Lead Local Flood Authority had been fully engaged in the application process and were content with the information provided.
· Members should consider whether the need to support the Carnival Club Committee was significant and if so accept that some degree of landscape impact was inevitable but if they did not believe that the Carnival Club was something that should be supported this was a building without a justification and there would therefore be a landscape harm.
The Committee was addressed by a member of Kingstone Parish Meeting. His comments included:
· The application was against the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.
· There was no exemption policy in the Local Plan to allow non-profitable organisations, charities or cultural organisations to build in open countryside and in areas not identified for development in the Local Plan.
· The site was located in open countryside and in an unsustainable location.
· There had been no robust consultation with Kingstone Parish Meeting and the proposal did nothing to promote local employment opportunities or meet local housing need.
· There was no option available for public transport, walking or cycling to the site.
· How could a 2000 square foot building in open countryside not have an effect on the quality of the environment?
· The building had sixty roof lights which would promote light pollution and destroy the dark skies.
· What would happen to the building if the carnival failed?
· There was no convincing financial appraisal to make the proposal viable.
· The damage to landscape and the local community would have already been done whatever the future of the carnival.
The Committee was then addressed by a member of Seavington Parish Council. His comments included:
· Road infrastructure surrounding the site was mainly single track with few passing places and unsuitable for a considerable increase in use.
· Visibility splays at main road access junctions were non-compliant.
· Collisions had occurred at the junctions. They were dangerous and would become increasingly unsafe with more traffic.
· Junction to the north not properly assessed.
Four members of the public spoke in objection to the application. Their comments included:
· The building would look like an industrial building with 5 roller-doors and hard surface parking for 85 cars.
· Policy SS2 should be taken into consideration.
· Imposing a huge industrial building in open countryside far from any of the carnival towns that could only be reached by car did not support the Council’s Environmental Strategy.
· Site susceptible to flooding and foul water drainage a concern.
· Given the nature of the geology and pedology in the area, testing should have been undertaken to determine the appropriateness of the site.
· Issues on how to contain water pouring from the roofs of the proposed building.
· Not the right site for this application.
· Access unsuitable. Many of the carnival clubs using the building would not be accessing the site from the south.
· South Somerset Carnival Park Committee had no means of generating revenue.
· If the carnival park failed, the land owner could inherit an industrial estate in the countryside.
· The project was too ambitious to be delivered and was high risk.
Five members of the public spoke in support of the application. Their comments included:
· Some sites currently used by carnival clubs would no longer be available for use.
· The carnival park would secure the future of carnival.
· Carnival was an important part of Somerset's heritage.
· Carnival raised money for local causes and charities.
· Carnival linked generations from the very old to the young.
· Social, economic and cultural benefits for the people involved and the area.
· Carnival encouraged engagement and developed life skills for young people.
The Agent then addressed the Committee. His comments included:
· The Carnival Park Committee would enter into a 25 year lease with the landowner securing the future for carnival in the area.
· A number of grants had been identified suitable for this type of project and they were confident that if the application were approved construction could start later this year.
· No objections had been raised from statutory consultees.
· Carnival floats were regulated and before any movement permitted a vehicle movement order would be submitted and agreed by the Police to further control direction of travel.
Councillor Crispin Raikes, the adjacent Ward Member for Seavington said that he recognised the need for a site for the construction of floats but felt that the proposed site was unsuitable. He referred to the impact on local roads and that the Highway Authority had assumed that most traffic would approach from the south. It had been stated that the majority of traffic would come from the west. He did not believe that the proposal was acceptable and referred to Policy SS2. He said that this was an industrial development in open countryside with a totally inappropriate road system and was not supported by the local community.
The fellow Ward Member for Seavington, Councillor Adam Dance expressed his support for the comments raised by his fellow ward member and said that his biggest concern was the road network.
Ward Member, Councillor Sue Osborne said that this was a very complex and contentious application. She stated that she supported carnival but felt that putting a carnival park of this size and scale away from an urban centre where most of its participants live with no access to public transport, no access to footpaths, completely dark and single track lanes was not in its best interest. She felt that this was the wrong development in the wrong place and also referred to the landscape impact and that Policy SS2 should be taken into consideration. The development did not meet the needs of the local community and they had not been consulted. She said that any development must be proportionate and appropriate to the size of the settlement and community. She felt that the development would have less of an impact in an urban setting where there was access to facilities. She commented that there was no condition to stop anyone from staying overnight, which stated in the report would trigger a phosphates assessment. If the application had come forward as industrial development it would not be recommended for approval on landscape and highway grounds. She did not think that the development would guarantee the survival of carnival and had concerns about the project being completed.
During the discussion, members’ comments included the following:
· Members needed to consider whether there would be significant harm to visual amenity and the landscape character caused by the use, siting, scale, design and materials of the proposed building.
· There was no support from the local community.
· The proposed site was wrong for the development.
· The application did not accord with Planning Policies.
· There were too many issues with the application including highways and landscape.
· Concerns over the increase in traffic and road safety.
· Unable to support due to greenfield location and rural character.
· The development was large and tall and would have an impact on the rural character of the area which was not sufficiently mitigated by the community benefit in this location.
· The existing sites of the carnival club were probably unsustainable and cars were used to access the sites.
· It was not for the Committee to look at what the landowner in the future may or may not do with the land.
· The project was infill of an existing industrial area.
The Lead Specialist – Built Environment responded to a member question regarding the concept of phasing the development. He was not suggesting that the development should be phased by condition but it was an option due to the expense of the building and would be more viable.
In response to comments made, the Lead Specialist - Built Environment advised members of the following:
· Members needed to look at whether the harm was sufficient to outweigh the benefits of the project taking into account the location.
· Taking into account land values, an alternative location was still likely to be a greenfield site.
· Any project that did not meet a local need should be judged against Policy SS1.
· Members needed to clarify reasons why lesser weight should be given to the carnival operation and greater weight to further intensification of built form in this location.
· There were no grounds to object to the proposal on highway safety.
Further comments made by the Ward Member included the following:
· There was no landscape appraisal.
· A significant bund would not be a mitigation and would be an urban intrusion.
· Cumulative impact not taken into consideration.
· Design of the building not suitable for open rural location.
· Development out of proportion with the size of a small parish.
· There was no guarantee that the carnival club would be sustainable in this location.
· Siting a large scale industrial building in an isolated rural setting would change the nature of the setting.
At the conclusion of the debate, it was proposed and seconded to recommend refusal of the application contrary to the Planning Officer’s recommendation on the grounds of:
· A substantial operation that lacked alternative modes of transport to the private car
· Highway Safety
· Sufficient adverse harm to visual amenity and landscape character
· In this location the harm arising from the relationship with the buildings outweighed any benefit from a consolidated carnival club operation.
On being put to the vote the proposal was lost by 5 votes in favour, 6 against and 2 abstentions.
It was subsequently proposed and seconded to recommend approval of the application subject to conditions as per the Planning Officer’s recommendation outlined in the report. On being put to the vote the proposal was carried by 6 votes in favour, 5 votes against and 2 abstentions.
That Area West Committee recommend the Chief Executive APPROVE Planning Application 21/02654/FUL subject to conditions as per the Planning Officer’s recommendation as outlined in the report.
(Voting: 6 in favour, 5 against, 2 abstentions)