Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/17/01156/OUT (Ampthill)


Address:       Land east of No 13 Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedford, MK45 2AQ


Outline Application: Residential development on land north off Clophill Road, Maulden including other associated works.


Applicant:     Aldbury Homes



The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No.  CB/17/01156/OUT, an outline application for a residential development including other associated works on land east of no. 13 Clophill Road, Maulden, MK45 2AQ.


Prior to consideration of the application the Chairman reminded the Committee that consideration of this application had been deferred at the meeting held on 3 January 2018.  As a result the applicant had appealed to the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination and the Inspectorate would now determine the application.  However, the Council could still express a view on the application and so the Committee was asked whether it was minded to approve or minded to refuse the application before it.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee’s attention was drawn to additional comments and additional/amended conditions 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 ward Member expressed general concerns on the process by which the Committee was expected to make its decisions.  He referred to the location of the application, the possible large scale development in the same area being considered by the Parish Council and contrasted it to the proposal before Members which would make no contribution to the village.  He stated that the village would continue to be developed as a ribbon development by continual infilling.  He endorsed the views of the Parish Council, which had strongly objected to the application, and commented that the Committee was bound by procedural dogma.


The planning officer responded to the points raised as follows:


·         The plans were illustrative and the officers were certain that they could achieve a satisfactory scheme through Reserved Matters. 

·         Structural damage by the applicant or developer was a matter outside the planning remit and would be dealt with as a legal matter.

·         Only limited weight could be given to the possible designation of the site as an important countryside gap under the emerging Local Plan and adopted policies took precedent.  Under the existing policies there was currently no designation for the site.  He referred to the criteria set out under national policy with regard to the weight which could be awarded to an emerging Local Plan and the policies within it.

·         No S106 contributions had been requested and no individual projects had been identified.  He suggested the Committee might wish to give the officers delegated power to explore this matter further, if the application was approved.

·         The concern was in connection with the loss of identity of village ends rather than the coalescence of settlements.  The indicative plan showed a large area of open space to maintain the individual character of the ends.  He acknowledged there would be harm to the landscape through development and urbanisation but given the level of weight given to housing provision in sustainable locations the benefits outweighed the perceived harm.


A Member welcomed the greater level of information contained in the current report than in the original submitted in January and he referred specifically to the consultees responses and in particular the objection raised by the landscape officer.  He reminded the meeting that the reason for the Committee’s previous deferral of the application was in order to ensure that it did not make wrong or inconsistent decisions on the basis of being able to give appropriate weight to the emerging Local Plan, which had been published on the day of the meeting and the contents of which were unknown.  Further, the concept of important countryside gaps was not new and there were gaps first promulgated by Mid Bedfordshire District Council.  Where the concept had been applied, he felt it would be perverse to not to take them into account and he felt it  vindicated decision to defer.  Despite the work undertaken by the applicant and officers to improve the visible aspects of the scheme he expressed his opposition to the application because the proposed development would take place within an important countryside gap.


A Member stated he was minded to refuse.  His opinion was not based on the emerging Local Plan, and the question of what weight could be applied to it, but to the technical evidence which supported the application.  He stated that there was technical evidence that communities should not be joined up.  He then referred to current Policy DM4 which an Inspector had agreed was enforceable.  The Member explained that another Inspector had made clear that the Policy was not designed to prevent development outside of settlement envelopes as such developments had already been granted but was designed to prevent harm to the countryside.  Based on the landscape officer’s objection the Member believed there would be sufficient harm to the landscape.  The benefits did not outweigh the harm that would be caused by the development, that it would not enhance bio diversity and there would be a loss of visual amenity.  He stressed that he was giving only the lightest of weight to the emerging Local Plan.


A Member expressed concern that little credence was given to the settlement envelopes developed to protect character of villages .  The Council had made it known that it had a 5.9 year land supply and 23,000 houses approved for construction so the Committee did not have to approve every application before it.  He then stated he was very much against changing the settlement envelopes around any of the villages and asked other Members to consider carefully before approving developments outside such envelopes.  The Chairman expressed concern that the Member could prejudice his ability to sit on the Committee if he was against all such applications given that each application should be determined on its individual merits.  The Member responded by accepting the Chairman’s comments but also emphasised that the development of villages outside their settlement envelopes was increasing with the associated impact on their character.  In response another Member suggested that an officer explain to the above Member the background to the appeal decisions arrived at by the Planning Inspectorate with regard to applications for sites outside settlement envelopes, and which the Council was bound to follow, outside the meeting.  The Planning Inspectorate position was that, for an application that was sustainable and where the benefits outweighed the harm, being outside the settlement envelope was not a barrier to approval.


It was moved that the Committee be minded to refuse the application due to the loss of visual amenity, Policy DM4 and the technical evidence before the Committee and this was seconded.


On being put to the vote 12 Members voted in favour of refusal of the application, 0 voted in favour of approval and 0 voted to abstain.




that the Planning Inspectorate be informed that the Development Management Committee was minded to refuse Planning Application No. CB/17/01156/OUT relating to land east of no. 13 Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedford, MK45 2AQ for the reasons as set out in the Schedule attached to these minutes.




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