Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/17/04986/FULL (Silsoe and Shillington)


Address:       Land at roundabout at jnct of College Chase and Mander Farm Road, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4QP


Mixed use development including 5 no. mixed use commercial premises (use classes A1, A2, A3, B1(a)), 1 no commercial premises (class B1(A)) and 5 no. residential apartments (use class C3), together with associated parking and access.


Applicant:     GPS Estates Ltd





The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/17/04986/FULL for a mixed use development including 5 no. mixed use commercial premises (use classes A1, A2, A3, B1(a)), 1 no. commercial premises (class B1(a)) and 5 no. residential apartments (use class C3), together with associated parking and access on land at roundabout at junction of College Chase and Mander Farm Road, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4QP.


The Committee noted that a notable difference between the current application and the previously approved scheme was the joining of the two units and the utilisation of the roof space with the addition of dormers.


No additional consultation/publicity responses, additional comments or additional/amended conditions were set out in the Late Sheet.  However, the planning officer advised of a comment from a local resident which had been received that morning.  Concerns had been expressed on the design, the potential for noise and disturbance as a result of the car parking and bus stop location adjacent to the site.  The planning officer responded to the issues raised.


Prior to consideration of the application the Chairman informed the Committee that Silsoe Parish Council had submitted a request to speak at the meeting earlier that morning.  As the request had been submitted after the deadline of 5.00 p.m. the previous day the request had been refused.  However, the Chairman asked the planning officer to respond to most if not all of the points raised by the Parish Council (as set out in the officer’s report) in order to show that consideration had been given to their concerns.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received a representation from the agent for the applicant under the public participation scheme.


A Member sought clarification from the applicant’s agent as to whether any interest had been shown in the provision of an A3 (restaurant) use in the proposed development.  In response the agent explained that the application was for mixed use in order to establish what interest would be forthcoming.  The Member added that the restaurant use would be restricted due to the need to close at 10.00 p.m. (Mondays to Saturdays) and queried whether this restriction would not hinder a restaurant’s appeal.  The applicant’s agent replied that the location was geared towards the daytime and early evening economy rather than as a destination for diners.  He stressed that the restaurant use was only one of the possible commercial uses which could operate from the development and the application sought a flexible consent for this reason.


The ward Member stated that she had intended to speak on behalf of Silsoe Parish Council but would now leave this to the planning officer.  The ward Member then stated that she would focus on her main point which was a design principle.  She referred to the nearby, attractive Miller Homes cottages which had been designed to complement the cottage frontage of the mediaeval High Street and had blended in extremely well.  Turning to the application before Members she stated that the development was larger and higher than the approved scheme with an atrium linking what previously two separate units.  The approved scheme allowed a view of the Miller Homes cottages behind but these would be obscured by a larger, solid and inappropriate building as the introduction to the village.  She asked that the application be referred back to the developer to consider a reduction in height and dormers, restoring the separation of the two units in order to allow the existing, attractive street scene to be retained.  In conclusion the ward Member referred to both the current agenda item and the previously one (minute 155 refers) and queried whether, if a previous application had been approved meant that a future revised application had little chance of succeeding, then there was little reason to consider a revised application.


The planning officer referred to the points raised as follows:


·         The siting and proximity was very much the same as the previous scheme.

·         The building footprint was larger as a central core joined the two units together.  With regard to the height, however, the increase was not significant.  The utilisation of the roof space had been previously agreed hence the requirement for the dormers to allow for that.  The increase in height was around the central core section which she felt did not generate amenity concerns.

·         In comparison with the approved scheme the design had been improved.

·         With regard to the impact on public space the siting was relatively the same and it had no additional bearing or impact on the existing amenity space and amendments had been made in the course of the application to ensure there was no further impact on the nearby orchard.

·         There had been an improvement regarding the elevations compared to the previous application.

·         With regard to there being no proof of demand the application was for a flexible mixed use commercial premises so it would enable a better end use to be realised.

·         There would be a s106 agreement attached to the consent to ensure appropriate marketing was undertaken and there was a commercial uptake.

·         She understood that there was already an end user in mind for, at least, the office so she was confident with regard to there being some uptake.

·         There was a conference centre previously on the site in association with Cranfield University which would have had some degree of traffic movement and she did not think that the proposed development was likely to generate any additional traffic levels.  With regard to the comments on the lack of facilities for delivery vehicles and too little parking she stated that discussions with the highways officer had not revealed reasons to justify refusal on highways grounds.

·         With regard to the absence of external amenity space in the development she stated that the provision of such space was only guidance within the Council’s design guide and it was proposed to provide balcony space for residents’ use.  In addition there was landscaping and a footpath leading to Barton Road and a space there which could be used for amenity purposes.  She stressed that these issues had been identified previously and landscaping opportunities had been developed and improved upon where possible.

·         On the issue of potential for increased noise and disturbance, no particular concerns had been expressed as part of the public consultation.  Further, the commercial unit was relatively distant from the residential element and so she felt it would not be possible to justify refusal on this basis.

·         As part of the refurbishment of the walkway it would be realigned to ensure the retention of trees.

·         Turning to the relationship between the development and adjoining properties she stated that the siting of the former hadn’t changed.  The planning officer added that the development’s height directly adjacent to the existing properties had also not changed.

·         With regard to the impact on the existing character she acknowledged the difference between the existing residential properties and the more contemporary design of the development but the latter’s features, materials and quality would not lead it to be seen as obtrusive or unacceptable.  The Chairman commented on the subjective nature of what constituted good or bad design.


The highways officer referred to the points raised as follows:


·         The suggested parking provision met the Council’s standards and so was acceptable.

·         There was provision for deliveries on the site.

·         There was conference centre on the site previously, permission for a slightly smaller development and the current application did not represent a great intensification of use, only amounting to approximately three trips a day which was relatively insignificant.


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


·         A Member’s comment that this was a beautiful place and that the cottages were very attractive.  She acknowledged that it was unlikely that the application could be refused but expressed disappointment that the proposed development, due to its mass, scale and size, would block, for the existing dwellings, the outlook and was inappropriate for the setting.

·         A Member’s query which sought clarification on the use classes.  In response the planning officer explained that use class A3, as set out in the application, covered a restaurant or café or mixture of both with some degree of drinking.  Class A4 covered public houses and class A5 covered takeaway establishments and these were not included in the application.

·         A Member’s query with regard to how the highways officer had determined that three trips a day would be generated.  In response the highways officer explained that he had been referring to the residential apartments and each would generate three trips a day and had overlooked the commercial units which although would be a little bit more but, nonetheless it was, overall, insignificant in comparison to the site’s previous use as a conference centre.  He added that, on that part of the wider highway network, there were no congestion issues.  

·         A Member referred to the adding of more detail and character to the exterior design of the units and welcomed the use of the roof area as a means of increasing the density of the development.  He also believed that the main structure reflected the design of the old conference centre.  He acknowledged that the cottages and general vista were very attractive and he would leave the site empty if land were not in such short supply.  However, the Member felt the current application was a better development than that permitted and therefore supported its approval.

·         A Member’s request for clarification regarding public accessibility to the whole of the public orchard following public comment that the proposed 1.5m railing would prevent this.  In response the planning officer explained that a number of improvements had been made to the boundary as a result of comments by the tree and landscaping officer in order to ensure that the public access would be maintained.  She stated that the orchard would still be accessible through the development as the proposed 1.5m fence only ran along the back of the retail unit bin area.  Access would not, therefore, be restricted.  Further, she understood that control of the orchard had passed to either the Parish Council or a community group so the clear intention was that public access would be maintained.  Following discussion the Chairman sought clarification from the ward Member on the ownership of the orchard and whether the intention was that it remained open to the public. In response the ward Member stated that the orchard formed an integral part of the developing Neighbourhood Plan for the local community.  The planning officer then clarified the extent of the application site and stated that the public orchard did not form part of it.  In addition, the applicant would have no authority, if the application was approved, to prevent access and the proposed 1.5m railing along the rear edge of the site would not, in any case, do so.  The Vice-Chairman drew the Committee’s attention to the maps provided for the Committee’s site inspection as they clearly illustrated various access points to the orchard.


On being put to the vote 10 members voted for approval, 1 voted against and 1 abstained.




that Planning Application No. CB/17/04986/FULL relating to land at roundabout at junction of College Chase and Mander Farm Road, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4QP be approved as set out in the Schedule attached to these minutes.




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