The final application for consideration was 139273 – Hillcrest Caistor. There were no updates from officers.
The first public speaker was Councillor Jon Wright from Caistor Town Council. He raised the following points:
· There had been commercial decline in Caistor in the recent past;
· Developments such as this application need to spearhead the development of Caistor. Commercial land could fill a large void that is present;
· The change of use would be an alternative to other units on site;
· The development conforms to policies 2 and 6 of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan;
· There was a walking link to existing pedestrian networks and the town centre. The development was within 800 metres of the market place;
· The development was within an existing employment area and included the opportunity for flexible floorspace arrangements;
· There was very little commercial land available in Caistor;
The second speaker was Oliver Lawrence, the applicant. He raised the following points:
· A full independent noise survey had been carried out; as the final occupants were not known a very high internal level of 85 decibels was adopted. 50 decibels had been the level required;
· In the original report, it was noted that the nature of the modern buildings must be considered; the proposed buildings would in fact screen the adjacent property from any noise;
· The scheme had been designed from the outset to have flexible parking with a 2 hour limit. The unit had four parking spaces in front of it, not three as previously reported. Many of the units on site would not have any visitors;
· Concerns around classes overlapping could be addressed by having time gaps written into any lease;
· The previous application on site was submitted by a tenant without including any information that had been agreed with WLDC planning officers around highways and building improvement;
· In excess of £40,000 had been spent on a new pedestrian crossing and a redesign of the site entrance;
· The original applicant of ‘Soul Healthy’ was now emigrating to Australia on the basis of the previously refused application;
· The agent responsible for the letting of the units has had two applications for identical businesses on site.
The final speaker was Councillor Tom Regis, West Lindsey District Councillor who spoke in favour of the application:
· This was a simple change of use for a D2 purpose. Current uses were pretty similar in their terms;
· Growth was being looked for in the economic growth sector;
· Central Lincolnshire needs assessment had noted that there had been an increase in the need for commercial properties;
· When this development was fully let, there would be a net job total increase of 21 jobs.
Note: Following his speech, Councillor Regis left the Chamber.
The Planning Manager then responded to points raised by the public speakers:
· This site was recognised within the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan, and had a design brief as being used as a ‘gateway development’ or a ‘rural enterprise centre’;
· The units on the site had been built out with business use ‘B1’ – the proposal was a change away from this use to D2 – assembly and leisure. In the officer’s opinion, policy 6 of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan would not apply, or if it did, it would have a negative effect of losing 100 square metres of business space.
Following discussions between officers and members, further information was provided:
· The pedestrian crossing had now been delivered;
· The previous refusal did apply to the old metal hangar on site which was in the process of being removed;
· Planning permission did not attach to a person, but to the land use. The permission had been ruled out on other sites for personal reasons;
· The proposed use of the site would be more appropriate closer to the town centre;
· D2 was recognised as a town centre policy use, or edge of town centre. This was the third such application on the site; the approach had previously been to seek a more central location;
· A gym would always fall within a D2 (assembly and leisure) use classification;
· Policies 1,2,3,7,8 of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan were the relevant policies setting the site out for a design brief. This set out the site for two possible uses (gateway development or rural enterprise centre);
· There were 17 units in total, but these were still in the construction phase. These were start up units, and occupancy levels were key;
· A previous applicant was refused a gym on this site, and received a letter from WLDC saying that the business would need to move.
Following these comments, an alternative recommendation of granting permission was moved and seconded, on the grounds of enterprise, and extending permission to business use class D2, relying on policies LP1, LP2 (section 3 market towns), LP3, LP9 (health and wellbeing), and LP24 (point 3 – access to sports facilities, and point d) of the CLLP, and policies 1,2,3,6,7 and 8 of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan.
A vote to take this new recommendation forward was won; therefore the recommendation to refuse permission as per the report, which had also been previously moved and seconded was overturned. It was therefore AGREED to GRANT permission to vary condition 24 of planning permission 135031 granted 14 December 2016 to allow local businesses to use the site under D2.