The Planning Manager introduced planning application 139256 – Kexby, and as an update informed the Committee that following publication of the committee report comments had been received from Kexby Parish Council:
· This application was fundamentally the same as a previously refused application;
· Several issues were raised in response to the 4 previously refused applications on this green wedge site – these issues were still relevant;
· Kexby has now undergone the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan, and had established a working group meeting with Nev Brown of WLDC;
· According to maps produced over several years, the orchard was part of the green wedge;
· As a community Kexby were not against development, but the formation of a Neighbourhood Plan would give residents a say over the form and location of any housing in the village.
The first public speaker to the application was Councillor Ron Gore from Kexby Parish Council. He raised the following points:
· Reference was made to a statement made by Councillor Jessie Milne, with their being a vested interest in there being no building on the green wedge. The Parish Council had no knowledge of any of their members having a vested interest against this application. The opposition to building was a reflection of the views of the local community;
The second speaker was Sara Boland, Managing Director of Influence Environmental, who were agents for the applicant. The following points were raised:
· Work had been carried out by Influence Environmental on the plans at Market Rasen Leisure Centre, where it was agreed by WLDC that there could be development on the green wedge, in part because there was no adverse impact on the green wedge;
· A green wedge was not intended to be a blanket ban on development, and was less restrictive than a nationally designated green belt;
· Policy LP22 of the CLLP provided that development would be permitted in a green wedge provided that development was not contrary, or detrimental to the function and aims of the green wedge, or it was essential for the proposed development to be within the green wedge, and the benefits outweighed the harm;
· It was not a policy requirement for a proposal to meet both of these criteria; Influence Environmental were satisfied that the first part of LP22 had been satisfied;
· The position of the development lay against the existing built form in the green wedge within what was understood to be the settlement of Kexby, and the settlement of Upton. There appeared to be a large space between the two settlements;
· The open character remained intact; should the proposals be agreed, a walker would understand that they were leaving Upton and entering Kexby;
· In terms of landscape, there was no effect on distinct separation, and no key open spaces would be closed down. The proposals were in the built context of Kexby. No visual or physical link would be formed between the two villages, and this was in full accordance with LP22 of the CLLP;
· The proposals were in the development footprint of Kexby, given that established built development extended to the north of the site; this included residential properties and the Village Hall. Therefore the proposal accorded with LP2 of the CLLP;
· In terms of LP4 of the CLLP, it was understood there was a requirement for a further 14 dwellings in Kexby over the plan period. There was a demand for bungalows; nationally in 1987 15% of new homes were bungalows, but in 2018 it was less than 2%;
· This proposal would make an important contribution to housing need;
The third speaker was Bernie Shaw, an objector to the application, local resident and Chairman of Kexby Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. He raised the following points:
· This proposed development had not been instigated by the community, and was not of any community benefit;
· Residents would prefer affordable housing; therefore this was regarded as a speculative opportunity for development;
· The community was now on the 5th application for development on this site; this was a repeat application;
· The site was regarded as being unsuitable due to it being within the green wedge. This site was known locally as ‘The Orchard’ and provided a verdant view out from the village of Kexby;
· The frontages across the bungalows on the corner of Westgate were around 91 metres; this development would reduce this figure to 50%. You would only see bungalows as opposed to the Trent Valley;
· The site had historic value; the settlement break between Upton and Kexby was in the previous West Lindsey Plan;
· There were several contrary statements on various policies of the CLLP, in particular LP22. The community would like managed and controlled growth for the benefit of the community, not just speculative applications;
· The shortage of bungalows was recognised, but the focus had to be on affordable housing;
· This application was regarded as being a contradiction to the CLLP. If the proposal were accepted, it would set a precedent for speculative development on green wedge sites;
· LP2 of the CLLP was there to protect smaller communities from this type of small development;
· There had been a meeting with Neighbourhood Plan officers along with representatives from Upton and Kexby, with a view to a combined Neighbourhood Plan.
The final speaker was Councillor Jessie Milne, Ward Member for the application. She raised the following points:
· She had called this application to Planning Committee as there were a number of issues at stake;
· The development was proposed in a private orchard; by recommending rejection, are officers saying that private land can be controlled?
· The proposed development would sit nearer to the village of Kexby rather than being in open countryside outside of any development;
· LP4 of the CLLP does not stop development absolutely. There were currently no other developments planned for Kexby, and the Neighbourhood Plan was still in its infancy;
· The proposed development would be close to the bus stop, shops and the pub. It would be an opportunity for existing residents to downsize;
· There were a wide range of activities available at the Village Hall;
· LP2 of the CLLP required the provision of an accessible recreational resource. There was already a playing field which this development would have no impact upon;
· There would be no breach of LP22 as the development would not lead to the coalescence of the villages of Upton and Kexby;
· Polices LP1, LP2, LP4, LP10, LP13, LP15, LP22, and LP26 would all be satisfied by this development;
· There were a number of local residents in favour of the application, and a number against.
Note: Following her speech, Councillor Jessie Milne left the Chamber for the remainder of the item.
The Planning Manager responded to some of the points raised by the public speakers:
· The starting point for any decision would be the development plan and the CLLP;
· The extent of the green wedge was not under consideration; the CLLP was clear that the site was within the green wedge. Private land can, and was allocated within the green wedge;
· The test within LP22 of the CLLP was twofold; officers were recommending that criterion b (development being essential) was not engaged as the application was for two market bungalows, and this was supported by paragraph 5.75 of LP22. In terms of criterion a (functions and aims of the green wedge), certain types of development may be acceptable as long as they were not contrary to the functions and aims of the green wedge. Examples of what may be acceptable were listed at paragraph 5.7.4 of LP22; it was not intended for new market housing. However, there was an overall perception that there would be a narrowing of the gap between the development and settlement to one field, with the loss of 0.16ha to development;
· Previous applications on this site had been refused as being contrary to LP22 of the CLLP.
The application was then opened up to comments from Members and Officers. Further points were raised, and listed below:
· The orchard had not previously been developed so would be classified as ‘greenfield wedge’;
· There are not enough bungalows in the District;
· The Plan allowed for 10% village growth. There was a remaining allowance of 14 dwellings in the village, which did not need to be met within the green wedge;
· The green wedge should not be sacrificed for this development, and could set a precedent.
With no further comments from the Committee it was moved, seconded, voted upon and agreed that permission be REFUSED.
Note: Councillor Jessie Milne returned to the Chamber following the conclusion of this item.