Planning Application 22/01441/FUL - Lavington, Furnham Road, Chard, Somerset, TA20 1AX
Application Proposal: Change of use from a dwellinghouse (Use Class C3) to a chiropractic and manual therapy clinic (Use Class E(e))
The Planning Specialist updated members that the site was located within the Somerset Levels and Moors Catchment and not the River Axe as stated in the report although this did not have any bearing on the recommendation outlined in the report.
The Planning Specialist presented the application as outlined in the agenda report and with the aid of a powerpoint presentation proceeded to show the application site and the surrounding area, the existing and proposed floor plans and elevations. The proposal included provision of additional parking spaces to accommodate the proposed use. There would also be minor changes to windows and doors and replacement fascia and guttering. Members were asked to note that there was some advertising proposed to the western gable end and should planning permission be granted this would require advertisement consent and an informative would be imposed to advise the applicant. The Planning Specialist showed a number of photographs illustrating the change in levels on the site and the access. He outlined the key considerations which were principle of development, siting, design and visual impact, impact on residential amenity, access and highway safety and ecology and habitat regulations. He advised that the access was considered to be sub-standard and the application had not demonstrated an ability to achieve the requisite visibility splays on land within the control of the applicant or highways land to allow safe access and egress. The proposal would result in an intensification of a wholly substandard access and would prejudice the safe flow of vehicle traffic along the A358. He therefore recommended that the application be refused.
In response to questions from members, the Planning Specialist advised that:
· The previous application that was refused was for the same proposal as the current application. The reasons for refusal related to the loss of housing and not being able to demonstrate safe and efficient access onto the A358.
· The grassland was in the control of the applicant.
· Vehicles not being able to exit the site in forward gear had not been raised as an issue by Highways however, the Planning Specialist was of the view that vehicles would be able to exit the site in forward gear. The only issue was the inability to achieve requisite visibility splays.
· Officers had come to the view that providing the new use would outweigh the loss of a single dwelling.
· Parking arrangements was not considered to be an issue.
· The applicants operated an existing business in Chard.
· The application was for change of use only. There was no operational development proposed that would increase the risk of flooding.
· A condition could be added to mitigate surface water run off in the car park.
· The garage would be removed.
· The current property had two bedrooms.
· At the present time there were no restrictions on parking at the property.
The Committee was addressed by an objector. Concerns related to the following:
· The entrance and exit onto the A358 from Lavington was extremely difficult to negotiate due to poor visibility on both north and south directions, the cross roads, speed of traffic and rise in the level of the road.
· There had been numerous accidents along the A358.
· Lack of visibility exiting and entering the property to the north and south because the property was below the level of the road.
· Lack of adequate parking and space to manoeuvre around.
· Increased volume of vehicles accessing the property.
· Risk of flooding to neighbouring property.
The Committee was then addressed by a representative on behalf of the applicant and owner of the application site. She advised that there would only be one patient treated at a time with potentially one waiting. This would ensure that there would only be two patients at the clinic at any given time. It also meant that the clinic could run with a maximum of two staff members on site. Adequate parking would be provided, and cars would be able to access the site in forward gear. The proposed opening hours were 8.30am-6.30pm Monday to Friday. This equated to an average of 8 visitors and 2 staff per day. The current use of the site was residential, if the site were to be occupied by a family, the vehicles movements would not be dissimilar to the use associated with the clinic. With regard to comments concerning visibility, there was a written agreement with the neighbours to the right, to lower the wall to increase visibility. Visibility to the left was only affected by an unmaintained grass verge and unmaintained tree overhanging the highway but this would be maintained by a gardener to increase visibility. The proposed change of use would enable the relocation of the business to a better setting, with better access for all whilst staying within the town which meant that people would not have to drive to the clinic located in Taunton.
Ward member, Councillor Garry Shortland referred to the light industrial unit located further up the road which had the same visibility splay that this application was being refused upon. He also commented that the house on the right of Lavington was prepared to lower the wall which would give a far greater visibility splay than the one coming out of the industrial unit. He was of the view that the health provision to Chard provided by the application far outweighed the loss of the residential accommodation.
During the discussion, members made the following comments:
· As the property was a bungalow, the assumption of a family living there was unlikely.
· Queried whether the applicants had looked at alternative accommodation as there must be quite a lot of ground floor business premises available in the area.
· Concerns over road safety.
· Whilst there were health benefits of such a facility and it would stop people driving to Taunton, access to the site was difficult and road safety was a concern.
· The location was not the right place for the business.
· Concerned a similar application was only considered last year and since this time planning policies had not changed.
· Highway safety was paramount.
The Chairman advised that he had spoken to the Planning Officer regarding the lowering of the neighbouring wall and increasing the visibility splay. He had been advised that the works would need to be submitted as a separate application to see if it did fall within the visibility splays recommended by Highways.
A proposal was made to approve the application against the Planning Officer’s recommendation however the proposal did not receive a seconder.
It was subsequently proposed and seconded to refuse the application as per the Planning Officer’s recommendation. On being put to the vote, the application was refused by 8 votes in favour and 1 against.
That Planning Application No. 22/01441/FUL be REFUSED as per the Planning Officer’s recommendation for the following reason:
01. The proposed commercial use of the site would give rise to a degree of intensification, for which the nature of such cannot be adequately or suitably controlled for it to be tantamount to the existing lawful residential use. The site has a substandard access off the A358 and without demonstrating an ability to achieve the requisite visibility splays on land within the control of the applicant or highways land and an overall improvement to the access arrangements, the proposal would compromise highway safety, resulting in an identified severe impact on the local highway network. The application therefore runs contrary to the requirements of South Somerset Local Plan (2006 - 2028) Policy TA5, along with the overarching aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, namely Paragraph 111.
(Voting: 8 in favour, 1 against)