|Consideration was given to a report on planning application 15/1790/FUL Land at Manor House Farm, Old Hall and Land South Of Back Lane and East Of Butts Lane, Egglescliffe.|
The application sought planning permission for the creation of 12 dwellings with associated car parking and landscaping, including restoration and extension of the grade II listed Old Hall at land at Manor farm, Egglescliffe.
The main planning considerations of the application were the compliance of the proposal with national and local planning policy, the impacts upon the character and appearance of the area, impact on heritage assets including listed buildings and the Egglescliffe Conservation Area, highway safety, flood risk, ecology and other material planning considerations.
The impacts of the proposal had been considered against national and local planning guidance and the development as proposed was considered to be in line with general planning policies set out in the Development Plan. The proposal was also considered acceptable in terms of highway safety, did not significantly adversely impact on the neighbouring properties and heritage assets including listed building and the character of the conservation area, ecology, archaeology, flooding and was recommended for approval with conditions as set out within the main report.
The consultees that had been notified and the comments that had been received were detailed within the report.
Neighbours were notified and the comments received were detailed within the main report.
With regard to planning policy where an adopted or approved development plan contained relevant policies, Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 required that an application for planning permissions should be determined in accordance with the Development Plan(s) for the area, unless material considerations indicated otherwise. In this case the relevant Development Plan was the Core Strategy Development Plan Document and saved policies of the Stockton on Tees Local Plan
Section 143 of the Localism Act came into force on the 15 Jan 2012 and required the Local Planning Authority to take local finance considerations into account, this section s70(2) Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended required in dealing with such an application [planning application] the authority should have regard to a) the provisions of the development plan, so far as material to the application, b) any local finance considerations, so far as material to the application and c) any other material considerations.
The planning policies that were considered to be relevant to the consideration of the application were contained within the main report.
The Planning Officers report concluded that the proposed development had been considered in the context of the consultee and consultation responses. The impacts of the proposal had been considered against national and local planning guidance and the development as proposed was considered to be in line with general planning policies set out in the Development Plan, was acceptable in terms of highway safety, did not adversely impact on the neighbouring properties and character of the Egglescliffe Conservation Area, Heritage assets including listed buildings and archaeology, ecology, flooding/drainage and was recommended for approval with conditions for the reasons as detailed within the main report.
Objectors were in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
- The application was in conflict with Stockton's own development plan, and in conflict with the heritage requirements of the NPPF.
- The site fell outside the limits of development because it encroached on protected Green Wedge land located within the River Tees Corridor. It also fell within the Tees Heritage Park.
- Egglescliffe was a small village dating back to the eleventh century, located in a largely rural setting. It was a unique almost untouched Georgian Agricultural Settlement. The village was rich with heritage assets, a designated conservation area with 30 listed buildings.
- The application site impinged on the protected Green Wedge area beyond the village boundary and the land was described as having important heritage significance.
- The Applicant had not carried out a landscape or visual assessment, however the Councils own landscape character assessment and its review of Green Wedge land described this part of Egglescliffe as having high landscape value, high visual amenity, high amenity value to the community and low capacity for change. The report stated that development would adversely impact on the historic landscape character of the area, including its rural nature, openness and its role as a strategic gap between the conurbations.
- In relation to the conflict with the NPPF heritage requirements that the development made a positive contribution to the character and distinctiveness of the grade 2 listed old hall buildings, the Applicants design and access statement on this was inadequate. It failed to establish the history of the effected buildings and also describe its heritage significance or the value of their settings. The statement claimed that there was no detailed historical map in existence before the Ordnance Survey first edition in the 1850's, however the buildings did appear on an earlier map of 1841. The statement contained no proper analysis as to the architectural significance of the old hall or its buildings, nor did it contain any evidence as to the artistic significance of the views and its setting.
- The brick farm buildings which were to be converted and demolished were described as having low heritage value yet they pre-dated 1947 and were contained within the curtilage of the farmstead and formed part of the listed building settlement.
- Historic England had stated that the new housing development did not conform to the form detail and density of the existing historic built environment of the village. The intensification of land and increased tarmac formal drives would transform the character of the boundary of the conservation area and would not better reveal or enhance the villages assets.
- The development of the Old Hall would impact and diminish the domestic traditional character of the listed farmstead. The development could substantially harm the heritage assets of Egglescliffe Village.
- Egglescliffe had a historical legacy and was classified as a conservation area. There was a large number of historic buildings, a high percentage of which were listed, and together with a traditional Village Green, 12th Century Church with a number of old memorials were all evidence of visitors.
- A distinction from other areas was the working farm and the location alongside Tees Heritage Park and the Green Wedge of farm land, however what made the village unusual and totally unique was the fact that it was a cul-de-sac with only one road entry and exit point. The Entry and exit point presented problems in relation to traffic management, however this had resulted in a strong sense of identity and community amongst residents. It was the Egglescliffe Community which was believed to be most at threat from further development and expansion of the village.
- An Objector expressed that it was his belief that 12 additional residences and the subsequent potential for further incremental expansion posed a significant risk to the dynamics and the character of the village.
- The development was believed to be inconsistent with a number of policy statements.
- It was felt that if the application was approved it would be detrimental not only to the Egglescliffe community but a lost asset to the future generations of Teessiders.
- The Church Warden of St Johns Church in Egglescliffe addressed the Committee with his concerns in relation to the effect the application would have on the Church and Parish Hall. The Church was a thriving part of the community and was open daily. The Church received many visitors on a daily basis including local people and those who had travelled from overseas. Services were held 6 days a week, with Sundays often having 3. The Church was popular for weddings which were frequently held on any day of the week. Due to the amount of services and events held at the Church a high quantity of people and vehicles would use the route along Butts Lane.
- Parking along Butts Lane and at the front of the Church caused major problems. The Parish Hall was also at the centre of the villages activities and like the Church was used daily.
- Parents would drop off and pick up children, early mornings, lunch times and evenings at the local School, Nursery and Playgroup which were also located on Butts Lane. School children would often cross the busy road on Butts Lane. Additional heavy construction vehicles and traffic in and out of the village would only cause additional problems. These concerns were evidenced in the photographs contained within the SK Transport Planning report of Butts Lane and the area immediately around the entrance to the Church and adjacent dwellings.
-The area was known to become frequently congested and at times completely gridlocked. There were concerns that there was a serious risk of potential injury, and due to traffic issues a delay getting emergency vehicles to accidents. There was evidence of this when the local school had previously held a firework display which had not been repeated due to the concerns of the local Fire Service in relation to access along Butts Lane.
- Under conditions which had to be met by the Applicant, one such condition entitled 'Highway Works', proposed that the Applicant made access for the proposed development to the School via Church Road a more attractive and safer route for pedestrians. Church Road however was a narrow road providing access to approximately 17 homes, the Public House, Stoney Bank Lane, the School and the Parish Hall on Butts Lane and other parts of Egglescliffe. To one side of Church Road was a footpath of sufficient capacity to adequately serve pedestrians the full length of one side of the road. The other side of the road was served by a footpath that ran along approximately 75% of the road. During one residents time in the village of 12 years he was unaware of any incidents or safety concerns for pedestrians using Church Road, it was therefore totally unclear what the Applicant could possibly be planning to accomplish pedestrian safety, or how it could be made more attractive as it was and had remained an attractive road.
- The second condition was that the Applicant would encourage greater use of Stoney Bank Lane. There was a lack of clarity as to what was proposed to be done to accomplish this, or of what benefit this could be to the community. Stoney Bank Lane was already used by residents of Egglescliffe to visit Yarm, or by visitors to Egglescliffe coming from Yarm. This condition therefore would appear to be irrelevant.
- The third condition was that the Applicant was proposed to remove on street car parking by the provision of a dedicated residents car park adjacent to the Old Hall site. The area under consideration to provide resident parking would create considerable restrictions for larger vehicles turning and exiting the site to return through the village. The vehicles would include refuse trucks, delivery vehicles and possibly emergency services.
- An objector expressed that Section 106(S106) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to which the above conditions seemed to apply, failed to meet the requisite legal test under S106, namely that they were:
1) Necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms.
2) Directly related to the development.
3) Fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.
- The development would lead to an incursion to the Green Wedge and into the Tees Heritage Park.
- It was felt that this development was a Trojan Horse to gain access to the North bank of the River Tees and it was expected that more and more applications for dwellings and none dwelling developments would be put forward in and around Egglescliffe. Developments such as new school playing fields for Yarm School and a development for executive homes around Egglescliffe allotments.
- As residents it was fully understood and accepted that when a planning application was brought before the Planning Committee it had to be dealt with in isolation to other on-going or approved applications.
- Residents of Eggelscliffe were trying to protect the future of the green spaces, heritage and the historical nature of the village.
- There were limited if any benefits to the local community from the proposed development which was reflected in the quantity of objections received. The objections indicated the significant concerns that the local community had about the proposals compared to a recently approved application for 8 houses on the same site which did receive local support.
- Historic England in their recent report to the Planning Officer stated that unlike the previous application, the demolition of agricultural buildings was regrettable. Manor House Farm was a fully operational farm that was an integral part of Egglescliffe Village, and to argue that the agricultural buildings proposed for demolition were a redundant site was misleading.
- Due to the difficulties large farm vehicles had gaining access to Manor House Farm through the village, the village green itself had been damaged as large lorries had driven straight across it. The Council had recently repaired the damage and following meetings with Senior Council Officers it was understood that Stockton Borough Council had to undertake a video survey of it. It was felt that this was an acknowledgement from the Council that there was a problem at this location as the roads around Egglescliffe were designed for horses and carts and not the modern day vehicles of today.
- In relation to the 5 year housing supply it was understood that Stockton Borough Council had not yet reached its 5 year supply of available land and an up to date Local Development Plan, however the Committee were urged to take note of the concerns raised by Historic England and the residents of Egglescliffe Village and reject the application.
- In 1967 the Labour Government passed the Civic Amenities Act which allowed for the establishment of the new concept of conservation areas. Over the following 2 years the Villagers in Egglescliffe considered the legislation and decided that the designation of the village as a conservation area would provide a much needed level of protection for the heritage of the village. Accordingly they approached Durham County Council but were told that although the proposal appeared to have merit the Council had insufficient resources at that time to prepare the necessary reports and documentation. The Villagers of Eggelscliffe decided to do it themselves and produced a report which was submitted to Durham County Council and achieved conservation area status in 1971. The designated area included the fields between the cottages and the river to preserve the open views.
- Limited development was proposed only in Church Road and the grounds of Egglescliffe Hall. The report stated that:
1) An essential requisite to preserve the pleasant character of Egglescliffe was to retain the identity of the compact community by the prohibition of any major building works and any drastic changes in the use of land or buildings which would introduce heavy traffic flow through the village.
2) Any large scale development would undoubtedly destroy the identity of Egglescliffe.
- In around 1996 without any consultation with the Villager, Stockton Borough Council unilaterally reduced the extent of the conservation area, removing from it most of the fields around the village. When the Villagers found out about it and objected to it, they were told not to have any concerns as the status of the land as a Green Wedge would provide the village with essentially the same protection as if it was a conservation area. Stockton Borough Council Planning Department let the village down on the issue in 2012 where a proposal for a vast expanse of playing field by the river reached an advanced stage in the approval process. Fortunately the Planning Committee rejected the proposal.
- The Planning department were letting the village down again, and the village looked to the Planning Committee to reject the current proposal.
- A Director from SK Transport Planning addressed the Committee and explained that SK Transport Planning was representing the Egglescliffe Residents Association. During 2012 an application was submitted by Yarm School for the development of land to the South of Egglescliffe Village. The proposals required that all construction vehicles route through Egglescliffe Village. The impact of this was considered in great detail by the applicant, SK Transport Planning and the Council. The application was refused and the first reason for refusal was:
1) In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposed access to the site by construction work traffic and machinery via Egglescliffe Village was unsatisfactory due to the restricted width of the access and proximity to a listed building and further the absence of control over the land or likelihood of gaining control over which the vehicles would be required to pass, therefore the development could not take place.
- The Applicant did not appeal against the decision. All construction vehicles and associated traffic would have had to use Butts Lane as well as negotiating the Village Green and to access the proposed development site. This was the same proposal in terms of access via Butts Lane that the Planning Committee were being asked to consider for the current application.
- SK Transport Planning had made technical representations to the Council which the Committee would have had access to. The work confirmed that large HGV traffic associated with the construction work could not negotiate the narrow heavily parked routes through the village without overrunning footpaths and the Village Green. The traffic would also route past listed buildings and the primary school on Butts Lane. Photographic evidence submitted by SK Transport Planning had been sent to all Committee Members which clearly showed the existing parking and congestion issues that would be created.
- A formal response from the Council and the Applicant had still not been received in relation to addressing all the matters raised in a letter which requested that the Applicant produce a construction management plan for review and sign off before the application was considered. The document should confirm the size, type and frequency of routing of the HGV and construction vehicles. It should have also shown the swept paths of all construction traffic through the village and not just the development site. This would allow the Planning Committee to understand the proposals on the conservation area. Without the document it would simply not be possible to categorically confirm the development would not have an adverse impact on the village and conservation area.
- It was not understood how the Council could arrive at a positive recommendation on traffic and transport grounds and a request was made that the application be refused.
The Applicants Agent was in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation. His comments could be summarised as follows:
- The application was a result of many months work with Architects, Officers of the Council including Highways Officers, Conservation and Heritage Officers. It was important to note that the site already had planning permission granted for 7 dwellings, therefore the application before the Committee was for an alternative scheme with an additional 5 units.
- The scheme had been drawn up and designed by an award winning heritage architect.
- The previous scheme had a number of challenges in respect of its design and configuration, not least the number of habitable rooms with either limited or no external windows.
- The scheme itself restored and enhanced the setting of the Old Hall and was a carefully considered policy compliant scheme.
- The site itself was identified in the Conservation Area Management Plan as a location for infill development.
- The scheme incorporated traditional materials and vernacular design reflecting the agricultural heritage of the area.
- It was highlighted that paragraph 70 of the committee report dealt with matters raised in relation to issues surrounding Green Wedge. Similarly the effect on the Tees Valley Heritage Park was dealt with within paragraph 67.
- In terms of the Farm, both the extant scheme with the benefit of planning permission and the current application provided for the existing farm to remain and continue in operation.
- With regard to Highways, this had been subject to careful assessment prior to the application being submitted. The matter to consider was whether the residual accumulative effect of the scheme was severe. 5 units beyond what had already been permitted could not be considered severe.
- The Highway improvements that were proposed and sought by condition were no different to those which were on the extant consent. Likewise when looking at construction traffic the Construction Management Plan condition applied to the extant planning permission as it did to the newly proposed application.
- A survey would be undertaken both pre and post construction and any defects which may occur would be made good to the highway and/or the Village Green.
- An offsite compound and carpark and delivery location would be provided to avoid adverse effect to the highway network in and around Egglescliffe.
- The highway network already provided access for farm, delivery, removals and refuse vehicles. The network was capable of accommodating the proposed development.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions/make comments on the application and these could be summarised as follows:
- Was there a guarantee that the Old Hall would be repaired and brought up to standard with the development?
- Clarity was sought as to the delivery schedule of materials and that there would be no clashes with school dropping off or picking up times.
- What would become of the previous application which had been granted planning permission for 7 units if the proposal before the Committee was approved for 12 units?
- Was the farm a working farm?
- Further assurance was requested from Officers that there would be no adverse impact to the Tees Heritage Park as stated within the report.
- The application was an additional 5 properties, and opinion was sought from Officers as to which scheme would be preferred if both schemes were approved in relation to preserving the Old Hall. Were the further 5 properties not considered over development?
- The original scheme did not include the demolition of buildings however the new application did which was concerning .
Officers were given the opportunity to address the Committee in response to some of the concerns raised by Members. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
- In relation to the Old Hall it was confirmed that there was a condition attached to the consent requiring the restoration of the Old Hall.
- Officers explained that there would be a comprehensive condition in relation to the movement of vehicles to avoid any conflict with the operations of the local primary school.
- Should the proposal before the Committee gain approval then the site would have 2 consented schemes, however would only be able to choose one albeit at their own discretion.
- The Farm was a working farm however the farm buildings were largely redundant, if converted there would be a need for additional buildings in the future, which was achievable.
- In terms of the Heritage Park, the Green Wedge designation, dealt with within paragraph 70 of the report stated that there was a legal judgement where Green Wedge areas were restricted to the green fingers identified on the Core Strategy Key Diagram. The impact of a scheme on landscape character would still be applied to sites outside of the green fingers, the Green Wedge policy set out in policy CS10(3) could be applied outside of the green fingers. The impact of the scheme however was viewed to be low and therefore there would be no detriment to the Heritage Park or what was the Green Wedge.
- Both the schemes would have to be acceptable as impacts on heritage assets were vastly important considerations. There would be strengths and weaknesses to both schemes. There was not one scheme better than the other, both schemes worked in terms of the conservation area, impact on heritage assets, traffic and all the other material considerations.
- In relation to the demolition of the farm buildings there was a change to the original application as it now included the demolition of buildings around the Old Hall. The Applicant had undertaken further work in terms of the structural stability of those buildings and whether they could they be converted commercially. An assessment was taken in terms of what the replacement would look like and in the view of Officers the scheme did work with the benefits of the proposal outweighing any losses.
A vote then took place and the application was approved.