Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/16/05852/FULL (Shefford)


Address:       Land off Harrow Way, Shefford (nearest postcode SG17 5GG)


Construction of six new dwellings.


Applicant:     Warden Developments Ltd



The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/16/05852/FULL for the construction of six new dwellings on land off Harrow Way, Shefford.


No additional consultation/publicity responses, additional comments or additional/amended conditions were set out in the Late Sheet.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received representations from an objector to the application under the public participation scheme.


A ward Member stated that there had been considerable development in Shefford over the last ten years.  Planning permission had been granted for over 330 homes within the last three years and these were currently under construction.  The impact of the occupants on local services could not, as yet, be fully gauged.  Whilst a large number of these new homes lay within the settlement envelope the application site lay outside the settlement envelope,  and should, he stated, be judged on its merits and against the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Council’s planning policies.  He stated that there was no evidence that the application was sustainable.  Local schools were full and new residents were being offered school places for their children outside Shefford and this would lead to an increased number of car journeys.   Further, the design of the new dwellings was focused on family homes and would, therefore, attract additional families.  The ward Member next referred to the elevated north western part of the site giving rise to overbearing in relation to existing neighbouring properties and resulting in overlooking and overshadowing.  Residents had raised concern regarding the design and layout and the impact on their privacy.  The ward Member stated that there was no evidence that local residents views had been sought on the application prior to its submission and the application site was not in the emerging Local Plan and it would have a detrimental effect when Shefford was struggling to cope with the impact of existing developments.  He asked  that his comments be considered.


(Note: At this point in the proceedings Councillor Brown, as the second ward Member present, withdrew from the seating allocated to Members of the Committee and addressed the meeting from the public speaking point).


The second ward Member, who had called in the application, reiterated some of points already raised.  In particular he commented that approval of the application would set a precedent and encourage future applications to develop on land through to Hitchin Road.  He contrasted the relatively large size of the local population with the relatively small size of Shefford, which also included a flood plain within it.  The ward Member emphasised why the settlement envelope was of such importance to Shefford and should not be breached without full consideration.  He stated that the Council had a five year land supply and so should not encourage backland on backland development in open countryside.  He referred to the lack of school places and to an email, paper copies having been circulated immediately prior to the meeting, from the interim Head of School Organisation, Admissions and Capital Planning to the first ward Member which stated that Children’s Services could not support any housing applications in the Shefford area due to the existing pressure on school places.  The ward Member referred to three applications for town centre sites which would generate 150 dwellings therefore generating further pressure on school places.  Whilst acknowledging that some measures were proposed in the officer recommendation to reduce the impact of loss of privacy on 23 Queen Elizabeth Close no other measures were proposed.  He therefore asked that, if approval was given, permitted development rights be removed from all six properties to prevent additional visual intrusion. The ward Member asked, however, that for the reasons mentioned above the Committee refuse the application.


In response to a comment made by the second ward Member, the Chairman reminded the meeting that all applications were decided on their individual merits.  Further, it was almost impossible for two applications to be identical.  If an application was approved for something similar, but not identical, it did not set a precedent.


The planning officer responded to points raised by the speakers as follows:


·         It was proposed to reduce the final ground levels on site to reduce the further loss of privacy and overbearing and this was set out in the recommended conditions.

·         There had been no objections to the application from the highways team, ecology team and the Internal Drainage Board.

·         The location of a proposed development outside the settlement envelope would not prevent it from receiving approval.

·         The principle of development with regard to the NPPF was set out within the report.

·         The report took the balance that the development was sustainable.  Shefford was a minor service centre and considered a sustainable location.

·         Whilst the full impact of current developments was not yet known the Committee was required to consider each application before it on its merits. 

·         There were under ten dwellings proposed so funding obligations could not be obtained towards improving education provision.

·         Although the application was not included in the emerging Local Plan it was before the Committee for determination.

·         The permitted development rights could be removed if the application was approved and Members supported this measure as a condition.


The Chairman referred to the email from the Head of School Organisation which he said could not be taken in to account because it had only been made available that day.


(Note: In this point in the proceedings Councillor Brown left the Council Chamber and took no further part in the debate or in the vote on this item).


The Committee considered the application and in summary discussed the following:


·         A second planning officer’s statement that no planning application had been refused in Shefford because of the lack of school places.  He was not aware of any being refused in the north of Central Bedfordshire in the past.  He added that, in most cases, it was possible to mitigate the situation by securing a financial contribution from the applicants.  Whilst there were pressures in the Shefford area regarding school places, consideration was being given to how they could be addressed.

·         The above officer’s statement that Children’s Services had not been consulted because the application was for less than ten dwellings.  Whilst the issue of school places was of concern it could not be given weight with regard to the application.  National guidance stated local authorities could not seek contributions from developments of less than ten properties and policy did not, in this case, permit the Council to take account of the impact of cumulative development.

·         A Member’s comment that placing a requirement on the availability of school places would mean the cessation of growth in Central Bedfordshire.  He was not aware of any school in his ward that claimed to have excess places.  However, there were school in the Council’s area which, if given notice, would make places available.  He explained that schools did not want to take on extra staff and find they were not required.  The Member did not think the small number of dwellings concerned could justify refusing the application.

·         The above Member also commented that the application site fitted well with the existing properties, albeit laying outside the settlement envelope, and was sustainable.  Further, the layout had attempted to reduce the impact on existing dwellings.  However, he supported the removal as permitted development rights in order to help preserve the privacy of neighbours.

·         With regard to overlooking and whether the application complied with the Council’s Design Guide the Chairman advised that, with regard to 23 Queen Elizabeth Close the distance involved some 30 metres which was in excess of the Guideline requirement of 21 metres.  The second planning officer stated that the issue of overlooking as a result of the higher ground had been balanced by the greater distance of 9 meters between the development and the existing dwellings.


On being put to the vote 5 Members voted for approval, 5 voted against and 1 abstained.  Given the equal number of votes for and against the Chairman, having abstained, stated that he would make use of his casting vote to vote in favour of approval as he believed the application was not inappropriate and its benefits outweighed any harm.  The motion to approve the application was therefore carried by 1 vote.




that Planning Application No. CB/16/05852/FULL relating to land off Harrow Way, Shefford be approved as set out in the Schedule attached to these minutes.




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