Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/17/00981/OUT (Ampthill)


Address:       Land north of Clophill Road, Maulden, MK45 2AE


Outline: Erection of 21 dwellings with estate road.


Applicant:     Mrs Cowell and Mrs Donnelly



The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/17/00981/OUT, an outline application for the erection of 21 dwellings with estate road on land north of Clophill Road, Maulden, MK45 2AE.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee’s attention was drawn to additional comments as set out in the Late Sheet.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received representations from Maulden Parish Council, an objector to the application and the agent for the applicant under the public participation scheme.


A Member sought clarification from the Parish Council representative as to whether the draft Neighbourhood Plan had been submitted.  The Parish Council representative replied that nothing had been published.


The Chairman sought clarification from the objector following the latter’s reference to a flood plain.  In response the objector stated that his own land was sodden after rain and the path and local road were virtually unusable because of the mud washed there from Trilley Fields.  The Chairman stated that, whilst acknowledging the comments made, the site did not appear to be within a designated official flood plain.  The objector added that he had been advised by a representative of the Water Board that whilst his own property was not in a flood plain he was as close as was possible.


A Member sought clarification from the applicant’s agent as to whether all of the proposed dwellings would be constructed within five years and, if so, whether he  would accept a condition to that effect.  In response the applicant’s agent advised that a condition could only state when a development should commence.  However, he stated that a small local builder would build the dwellings over a 18 month to two year period and they would be available through a single sales outlet.  Further, as it was an outline application at this stage, there would be a delay for various reasons before building started.  However, the applicant’s agent felt comfortable that the dwellings would still be delivered within a five year period.  In response the Member stated that the Council’s legal advice was that it was acceptable to condition that homes would be delivered within five years.  He acknowledged that this condition had not been tested in court and that it had been introduced before the Council had a five year land supply.  He stressed however, that there would be a condition or directive to this affect if the Committee approved the application to ensure the a contribution to an ongoing five year land supply.  The applicant’s agent stated he had no objection to such a condition being imposed.


A ward Member stated that based on experience he believed that the applicant would attempt to seek a means of withdrawing from the provision of affordable homes in the development on the basis of viability.  He then stated that the application site was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and that any building near it would impact on bio-diversity.  There had been no objection from the Greensand Trust which ran the Greensand Ridge but the Trust had sent letter to him, and probably other Members, expressing concerns.  The Trust was a major partner with the Council in delivering the Greensand Ridge as a Nature Improvement Area which was included in the emerging Local Plan and recognised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  The proposed buffer would not provide any net gain in biodiversity which was an aim in the emerging Local Plan, though little weight could be awarded to the Plan at present, and was reflected in Maulden’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan.  Building near SSSI’s would lead to a loss of biodiversity and local residents did not want to see it affected especially as there was more suitable land available.  He emphasised the detrimental environmental impact of the application and also acknowledged the flooding issues mentioned earlier by the objector.


The ward Member referred to Maulden Parish Council’s partnership with the neighbourhood plan team and other stakeholders and residents and the open meetings with developers and landowner groups on the provision of 150-200 homes.  The Parish Council was aware that small developments would not contribute new amenities to the village but burden those that already existed.  Specific areas of land had already been identified as possible sites for the larger developments which would provide amenities.  Further, local people would retain control over the village and its growth.  Following further comment the ward Member asked that the Committee refuse the application.


A second ward Member referred to the outlook the site provided to local residents and how it also provided a natural nature break.  The Hall End area of Maulden, where the application site was located,  was closer to Clophill than the centre of Maulden and Clophill had only limited facilities.  He referred to planned measures to remove the  current rush hour traffic delays at the A6/A507 roundabout at Clophill and how these would be exacerbated by the presence of an additional 21 homes.  The junction with Clophill Road was dangerous, with traffic often speeding on that road and so it would be difficult for residents to cross.  There were few job opportunities and the local schools were either full or nearly so.  The ward Member referred to previous Application 13/01229/FULL for a summerhouse and how this had been withdrawn because it was regarded as being too close to Maulden Woods.  He stated that flooding occurred, that the application would have a detrimental visual impact and that it would make no contribution to the village.  In conclusion, he asked that if the application was to be approved then the Committee should be mindful of the Parish Council’s request for assistance for recreational and sports facilities.


The planning officer responded to the points raised as follows:


·         With regard to the open space there was no policy designation for the gap and it was simply a field adjacent to a settlement envelope.

·         The Neighbourhood Plan was not yet in draft form and so carried little, if any, weight.

·         Both Clophill and Maulden were large villages and had the services and facilities to accommodate the development so it could not be considered unsustainable.

·         Discussion with Natural England and other bodies had led to a reduction in the buffer distance to Maulden Wood.  The latest guidance figure from Natural England was 15 meters and the application was fully compliant with this given it was a minimum of 20 meters to the rear gardens.  It was considered acceptable by the ecology officer.

·         The indicative plan accompanying the application was only indicative.  The planning officer was confident that a suitable scheme at the Reserved Matters stage could be achieved.

·         The site was in Flood Zone 1 indicating a low risk of flooding and the SUDS officer had no objection subject to conditions.

·         Under the Community Infrastructure Levy regulations it would be unreasonable to ask for any additional contributions given the scale of the development.

·         The possibility of a development on an adjacent site and the previously withdrawn application for a summerhouse carried little or no weight in determining the application before Members.

·         Confirmation that whilst other more suitable sites had been suggested the Committee was required to consider what was before it on the basis of material planning considerations.

·         There was no issue with regard to coalescence and the merging of two towns.  The loss of views was not a material planning consideration and some views would remain of trees.

·         The application was sustainable because Maulden was a large village with services including public transport links and facilities.

·         There was no requirement for any further survey and the information provided was considered acceptable.

·         The applicant had provided an ecological survey and the ecology officer was happy that, with the mitigation measures, there would be net gain, though a decision for ecological enhancements could be added.

·         The application withdrawn in 2013 related to an adjacent site and had no bearing on the application before Members.


In response to comment that residents’ views were not being taken into account the Chairman stated that all views were taken into account but the Committee was required to make its decision based on material planning considerations.


The highways officer responded to the points raised as follows:


·         With regard to the increase in traffic levels the accident records showed that the level of accidents did not justify refusal.

·         With regard to speed levels on Clophill Road he was aware that the Parish Council had a Speed Watch scheme but no details had been provided to him to confirm that a problem existed or what the speeds were.


The Committee considered the application at great length during which the third ward Member set out his views on the application.  He referred to the application site appearing as a potential allocated site in the emerging Local Plan with a larger buffer zone.  He felt there was the opportunity to achieve a better outcome than on the existing adjacent site though he was also aware that a buffer distance of 50 meters would affect the density and hence the layout of the dwellings.  He sought guidance on potential flooding alleviation as flood zone definition could be inaccurate.  Overall, he felt refusal would see the Council struggle at appeal bearing in mind the emerging Local Plan and similar developments.


The following four issues were identified for inclusion as possible conditions or Informatives should the application be approved:


·         The build rate being completed within five years of the receipt of approval.  The planning officer stated that a condition would be more relevant at a time when the Council did not have a five year land supply as it would prevent developers gaining permission and then failing to undertake any building works.  In addition the build rate tended to fluctuate with market conditions.  The Chairman suggested the use of an informative at Outline stage and a condition at Reserved Matters but the planning officer felt it would be difficult to condition even at Reserved Matters.  The Chairman therefore suggested that an Informative on this issue be employed at Outline stage and further consideration be given at Reserved Matters on whether or not to adopt a related condition.

·         A requirement for highways details, including a wearing course, to be submitted.  The Committee noted that the proposed Informative 9 to Item 6 (minute DM/17/122 refers) would include a requirement for such information to be submitted with any Reserved Matters application.    The Committee indicated its support for adopting the Informative for the application before it.  A Member also requested that this Informative be included in all future, larger developments.

·         A requirement for contributions, possibly towards a community fund.  The planning officer felt that, given the small scale of the development and the absence of specific projects, it would be unreasonable to request any additional funding.  A Member stated that any application would have an impact on outdoor sport and community facilities. The Chairman stated that if imposed as a condition it would be regarded as unreasonable.  A second planning officer stated that if it was the will of the Committee to seek contributions to the two areas mentioned above he suggested delegated authority be granted to the officers to hold discussions with the applicant to establish the exact nature of what the contributions would be.  He stressed that the matter needed to be investigated immediately and then a report made back to the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, ward Members and Executive Member of the outcome.  He added that an Informative would not secure the contributions and a condition was inappropriate.  Instead, it would need to form part of the legal agreement.  A Member referred to the annual review of facilities within Communities and that officers were seeking the views of town and parish councils asking what facilities they would like and this formed part of the planning document.  He suggested that officers check to establish if the exercise had been successful in capturing the facilities that the local councils or other bodies wished to see in the area.  The Chairman stated that this mirrored the action suggested by the second planning officer which was accepted as the way forward.

·         The possible conditioning of a 50 meter buffer.  The planning officer suggested an informative be used to ensure that the applicant at Reserved Matters stage strove to increase the buffer distance as shown indicatively in order to stimulate further discussion.  The Chairman stated it could not be a condition because it went against planning policy.  The Member who had raised this issue acknowledged the position and accepted that such issues should be covered prior to the meeting.  He indicated that he was willing to accept it as an Indicative though he did not believe it would prove sufficient.  Another Member suggested inclusion within the landscape agreement to ensure the distance.  The second planning officer stated that increasing the buffer to a specified distance did not give him confidence that the 21 dwellings would then fit on the site.  An informative would set out the Council’s aspirations that the buffer be increased as much as reasonably possible whilst still accommodating the development.

·         A Member asked that the outcome of employing the Informatives be fed back to the Committee to ensure that it was fully aware of what had resulted.  This would provide guidance to Members on what stance to adopt in future.


On being put to the vote 9 Members voted for approval, 2 voted against and 1 abstained.




1          that Planning Application No. CB/17/00981/OUT relating to land north of Clophill Road, Maulden, MK45 2AE be approved as set out in the Schedule attached to these minutes.


2          that delegated authority be granted to the officers to hold immediate discussions with the applicant to establish the nature of possible contributions towards outdoor sport and community facilities and a report on the outcome be made to the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, ward Members and Executive Member. 




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