Note: Councillor D. Cotton stepped down from the Committee for this item and left the Council Chamber at 6.51 pm.
The Chairman introduced the next item of the meeting, application number 144197, for change of use of existing field to domestic use to grow seasonal fruit and vegetables. After a short presentation on the application, and with no further updates provided by the Planning Officer, the Chairman invited the first speaker, Steve Harper, the applicant for the application, to address the Committee. The applicant made the following statement.
The speaker informed Members in his first point that the application had near unanimous support from the neighbours, the Parish Council, and that none of the statutory bodies had objected to the proposed site that would facilitate the erection of storage, a shed and a greenhouse which was not allowed at the time. The Speaker informed the Committee that these buildings would be inconspicuous and placed in the corner of the plot. The Speaker wanted to grow fruit and vegetables for himself and his family, and was trying to create more biodiversity, which included proposed tree planting, erection of indigenous hedges and the creation of wildlife corridors.
The speaker’s second point was on the report issues raised by the Planning Officer. The Speaker stated that on adjacent streets and fields to the proposed site, there was an industrial site, proposed future homes, a nature reserve and a caravan park with a field lost, which showed that these had all gone through evidence of change of use. Mr Harper hen referenced comments by the Planning Officer in the report.
The speaker concluded his statement that this application was trying to reduce his carbon footprint, focus on self-sustainability, and improve the biodiversity in his property.
The Chairman thanked Mr Harper for his comments, and then invited the second speaker, Rick Poolton, an objector, to address the Committee. The applicant made the following statement.
The speaker said that there was an issue with the applicant’s declaration in the initial application, in box 24 of the application, as he was an elected member, and the way that the public notice of the application had been arranged. The statement then went to say that this application was a ‘Trojan horse’ and referred to the applicant’s history in horticulture. The Speaker stated that only 250 square metres would be needed for an allotment for the desired purpose of the applicant, and referred to that the proposed site was ten times that size, with reference made to it as an ‘industrial scale’.
Mr Poolton informed Members that he had moved to the area due to his medical issues, and stated that the proposed development would increase noise and the pollution would affect his health, and said other neighbours would be affected. The Speaker stated that the application would contravene his human rights, and would contravene Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
The speaker then concluded by saying that the development went against LP55, other planning policies, would affect his health, and that the application was hidden under the sustainability label, with possible foul play, and that the deeds to the applicant’s property prohibited business operations.
Following the comment about the applicant not stating that he was an elected councillor, the Planning Manager informed the Committee that this was as a Parish Councillor of Saxilby with Ingleby Parish Council, and that the applicant is not a West Lindsey District Councillor.
The Chairman then ask the Legal Advisor to respond on the comments from the objector regarding the human rights point. The Legal Adviser drew Members’ attention to the Officer’s report on page 93 of the public report pack, and stated that every Officer did consider the human rights implications for the individuals in each application when considering their recommendations. The Chairman then invited comments from Members of the Committee.
There was debate regarding the growth of fruits and vegetables, and the nature of the application. One comment included that the proposed development would improve the environment, and enhance the landscape. A Member remarked that the desired effect of the application was not similar to a farm. The same Member commented that if the application was to be granted, future development rights should be removed.
In response to a question about it being a horticultural development, Members heard from the Planning Manager that the application was for a change of use to domestic curtilage. This would then have permitted development rights, which allowed for building new domestic outbuildings, on up to 50% of the land without requiring further planning permission. The Members heard that the plans for sheds and outbuildings only came from an indicative layout design and was not necessarily what would be on the site.
A question was posed by a Member regarding who owned the rights to the land, to which the Committee learnt that the entire site was owned by the applicant. In a separate question about the horticulture, Members heard that fruit and vegetables could be grown on agricultural land without planning permission, and that if granted for domestic use would have Class 1E benefits for domestic outbuildings.
The Chairman proposed a site visit in order to help Members better understand the application and the area surrounding the proposed development. He stated that as a former resident, he knew the area and the various activities of the area assuredly.
Note: Councillor D. Cotton returned to the Council Chamber at 7.18 pm.