The Chairman introduced the first application of the evening, planning application number 143250, for change of use from holiday park to 9no. retirement homes for the over 50s, at Blyton Ponds, Station Road, Blyton. The Committee heard that there had been an update regarding growth levels, with there now being a growth level of two dwellings in Blyton, compared with the stated ‘zero growth’ in the report. This would alter the excess of properties through this application from an excess of seven properties, down from the stated figure of nine.
The Chairman explained there were two registered speakers for the application, the first being a statement to be read aloud from the Parish Council. The Democratic and Civic Officer read the following statement.
“Unfortunately no one from Blyton Parish Council is able to attend the Planning Committee meeting tonight. However council would like to make written representation.
Blyton Parish Council is not against the application per se but it has grave concerns about the potential of the development to exacerbate flooding in the village. Surface water flooding is already a big problem in Blyton with houses and businesses on the High Street and houses on Station Road having to be pumped out on a number of occasions over the past few years. In fact houses on Station Road in the proximity of the application site have been flooded earlier this year.
Surface water from Station Road drains into the Wash Dyke which runs close by this development and already floods the village higher up on the High Street. The potential of development of this site into permanent residences could pose further problems, for example the addition of hard standing for vehicles and impermeable garden surfaces.
Should the Planning Committee decide to approve this application, Blyton Parish Council requests that conditions be used to eliminate further risk.”
The Chairman invited the second speaker, Mr James Roberts, speaking in support of the application, to address the committee. Mr Roberts made the following statement.
“Thank you Chair and members of the committee. This application essentially seeks to swap 12 holiday lodges for nine permanent homes for people over the age of 50. These homes will be high quality lodges rather than a traditional construction. This development would therefore deliver the type of accommodation which brings wider societal benefits, as it would help provide for the ageing population in West Lindsey.
We are pleased to see that the case officer and consultees have no concerns relating to the technical impacts of the scheme. In particular, it is very clear that the proposal would not have any adverse impacts in relation to flood risk, drainage, highway safety or land contamination. It seems clear the sole issue, which has resulted in the recommendation for refusal, relates to the matter of community support.
Prior to the submission of the application, the applicant contacted the parish council to see whether they would be able to support the proposal. Unfortunately, the parish council would not confirm either way. The applicant was unable to meet and discuss the proposal with members of the local community at the time because COVID restrictions were in place and it was therefore considered the pre application consultation with the parish council would be sufficient.
Following the submission of the application, the applicant has been able to discuss the proposal with local residents. This has been supplemented by posts on Facebook and the Nextdoor website. This consultation exercise has resulted in a significant show of support from the local community.
In terms of formal support, the application has resulted in a total of 62 letters of support compared to three letters of objection. This equates to a level of support in excess of 95%. It is also considered important to know that the primary concern of the three objectors relates to drainage and flood risk. None of the proposed dwellings would be within a flood zone and the scheme has received no objections from the Environment Agency or the lead local flood authority. A poll on the Nextdoor website generated 75 votes, with 92% of people in support, 4% against and 4% no opinion. It is therefore considered that the proposal does have support from a local community as required by the local plan policy.
This application is a sustainable form of development which would not have any adverse impact. The proposal would improve the visual impact of the site, would reduce the amount of built form in the, would help enhance the local sense of community and would support existing local services. There is a shortage of accommodation for older people looking to downsize and stay in Blyton and this proposal would help meet this demand. The existing holiday part usage is no longer viable and this development is the most sensible and productive use for the site. The applicant has now demonstrated an overwhelming level of support from the local community and the proposal is therefore fully policy compliant. I would therefore like to respectfully urge members of the committee to approve this application. Thank you.”
The Chairman thanked the speakers and invited any response from the Planning Officer. He noted that, in response to the comments from the Parish Council with regard to surface water flooding, the proposal would lead to less built up form on the site and, should the Committee be minded to approve, conditions could be imposed relating to the use of permeable surfaces, meaning issues with surface water would not be exacerbated.
The Chairman invited comments from the Committee and there followed significant discussion for what was agreed to be a very finely balanced decision. It was noted that, as the development would exceed the growth levels of Blyton, planning policy stated that pre-application support was needed from the community. It was equally noted that due to the restrictions during the pandemic, community consultation had not been as straightforward as it might have been in previous times. Members were, overall, satisfied with the proposal being built on an existing site and with the provision for over 50s, however, it was acknowledged that policy LP2 was clear in the requirement for community support to be demonstrated at the pre-application stage. Members noted that support had since been forthcoming, however this did not meet the requirement of LP2 of being pre-application.
Having been moved and seconded, the Chairman took the vote and, with a majority vote, it was agreed that planning permission be REFUSED.