Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/18/00192/OUT (Arlesey)


Address:       Clifton Farm, Church Street, Clifton, Shefford, SG17 5EX


Outline Planning Application for the residential development of The Paddocks, Clifton Farm Barns Road, Clifton, SG17 5EX with the erection of 7 detached houses and 7 semi-detached/terraced assisted houses.


Applicant:     The Hale Trust





The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/18/00192/OUT, an outline application for the residential development of The Paddocks, Clifton Farm Barns Road, Clifton, SG17 5EX with the erection of 7 detached houses and 7 semi-detached/terraced assisted houses.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committees attention was drawn to the additional consultation/publicity responses and additional comments as set out in the Late Sheet.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received representations from Clifton Parish Council, two objectors and the applicant under the public participation scheme.


In response to an objectors comments the Chairman assured the speaker that the meeting was non political. It was noted that the agent for the applicant who had registered to speak had suffered a bereavement and the applicant spoke as a substitute.


A member asked the applicant to clarify the location of the development with regards to the conservation area. In response the applicant stated that the development was outside the conservation area and the access was within it.


A Member asked the applicant to explain his work with the Parish Council and a reported offer from North Hertfordshire Homes (now known as Settle) for the Affordable Housing as described in his statement. The applicant responded as follows:

·         North Hertfordshire Homes had seen the site and made an written offer subject to planning and had not yet entered in to a contractual agreement.

·         The Hale Trust has historically owned land around Clifton and had retained a right to approve the design of the development. On one occasion the Trust did not retain rights, it caused disappointment within the village.


A Member asked if Aragon still maintained the housing within the Bilberry Road estate and if the access from the estate has been secured. The applicant responded that he did not know who managed the existing housing and that when the land was originally sold to the developers of the Bilberry Road estate, access into the adjoining land was retained by the Trust.


In a ward Members absence from the meeting a statement was read on his behalf by a fellow ward Member, the following points were raised;

·         The development had generated considerable opposition within the village with 78 objections.

·         It would have an impact on the wider infrastructure of the village and the resources in Clifton are limited.

·         Among others, the development goes against policies DM4 and SP7.

·         The development site was not in the Local Plan and would be building in the open countryside with a loss of Grade 2 farm land.

·         There were serious concerns around access to the site, downplayed by the outline application.

·         The social housing element was ring fenced away from the market sale houses and should be pepper-potted across the development as a whole.

·         The access to the west of the site was unsuitable with vision splays only suitable for a 15mph road. This road was well used by vehicles accessing the small car park located at the north end of the road and also by dog walkers, cyclists and pedestrians. This road would need traffic calming measures and additional lighting to reduce risk.

·         The access to the affordable housing was unsuitable and would result in the loss of two car parking spaces to the existing housing, there were concerns that this could lead to issues causing the affordable element not being delivered.

·         Members were urged not to approve the application.


The Planning Officer responded as follows:

·         With regards to the unsustainability of the application, it was noted that it was a departure from policy DM4 but as was set out in the report, Officers also referred to NPPF which requires the Council to decide on sustainability and if it is sustainable, it should be approved without delay.

·         Taking into consideration the issues raised around, schools, doctors and other village infrastructure, it was the Council Officers opinion that the development was sustainable location for development.

·         There has been no objections from the education team and no comments received from the NHS, despite prompts to do so.


The Chairman asked for further explanation around the development not being part of the local plan and to comments surrounding the policies that this development does not meet, specifically DM4 and SP7. The Planning Officer responded:

·         That the development was not included in the emerging Local Plan and advised that only limited weight should be given to that point.

·         He advised that the key considerations boil down to whether the application is a sustainable development and whether or not this would be a high quality development.


The Chair raised that a comment had been made that the decision around this development had been pre-ordained. The Planning Officer did not agree with that statement and reported that the application had followed all the proper processes, including  public consultation and a public meeting. He added Members had come to the meeting open minded and he expected a debate to make up their own minds on the merits or otherwise of the application. When asked about the loss of Grade 2 farm land the Officer responded that the applicant had indicated that it is Grade 3 although Natural England indicates it is Grade 2, there was no definitive answer given.



The Planning Officer was asked about the failure to pepper-pot the affordable housing. The response was to refer members to comments in the Late Sheet from the Housing Development Officer who deemed the cluster of 7 affordable dwellings acceptable.


The Highways officer responded to issues raised about an unsuitable visibility splay on Church Street and the requirement of traffic calming measures.

·         He noted that although Church Street was a 30mph road, the average vehicle speed around this area would be 15mph due to having to enter  round a 90 degree corner, also the condition of the road being unsmooth would help to curtail speeds.

·         If a speed hump was deemed relevant by Members it could be dealt with within the conditions.


The Chairman noted that the responses given may not have satisfied some residents but they were assurances their concerns had not been ignored.


The application was opened up for debate by members starting with comments from a ward Member.


The ward Member stated that although he does engage with residents and Parish Councils, he did not come to Committee with any predetermined position. If that was the case he would have made a declaration and recused himself from discussing the item. He made the Members aware he had asked the lobbyists who had been in touch with him to make all Members aware of any information relating to the application not just himself.


The ward Member continued with the following points:

·         He expressed disappointment in the way the application had been submitted - being outline only with important issues such as access being Reserved Matters.

·         He had concerns about the access from Bilberry Way going through existing car parking spaces with no definitive answer from the speaker on behalf of the applicant to whether they own the access land, without any confirmation he questioned the deliverability of the affordable housing.

·         He asked if there could be an amendment or condition that the affordable element was developed first to ensure benefit to the community.

·         He noted that Clifton has had a huge amount of recent development that have consumed available facilities.

·         He questioned the sustainability of any further development stating it had reached a tipping point to which he was uncomfortable.

·         He felt the development was unsustainable and could not support it.


A Member also voiced concerns over the potential loss of existing visitor parking for access to the affordable site. He questioned if the application was approved would that would affect a condition to supply visitor parking spaces from a previously approved application. Based on that he could not support the application.


The Chair reminded Members that the Committee can only decide on the principle of the application and should not be looking at the access as that would be addressed in Reserve Matters. However, he did ask the Planning Officers to respond to the concerns raised.


The Planning Officer responded with the following:

·         There will be a legal agreement to secure the delivery of the affordable housing.


A Member commented on some of the objectors concerns:

·         On the comments made that infrastructure was limited and local schools are stretched, he stated that schools can be strategically flexible, that if funding is available all schools can alter their pupil number capability.

·         On the comments made that there is no surgery time in the local doctors, he noted that this is a national phenomenon effecting the whole country.

·         With regard to objectors referencing policies DM4 and CS8, it appeared that the application was contrary to those two policies and yet officers had bypassed them. He asked that the officers indicate which policies they are going to stick to as the application did fail on policy grounds and that it should not have been supported at officer level.

·         In the instance of this application the NPPF Policy states that the net gain does outweigh the loss and in going forward with the Local Plan officers should be confident in their policy decisions to avoid the debate.

·         He noted that out of 150 people canvassed all of those objected, but regards to this application he felt the gains outweigh the losses.


A Member added the following in response to the Chairman’s comments on DM4 and comments made by the applicant:

·         He agreed that planning inspectors do waiver on the use of DM4 as DM4 is not designed to protect the settlement envelope but to protect the landscape. As there was windfall provision within the local plan there will be occasions whereby a DM4 site maybe suitable for development if benefits outweigh the harm.

·         He referred to the officers report in which it stated that the ‘tilted balance’ test in Paragraph 14 of the NPPF is not engaged. This should only be engaged when there is no five year land supply.

·         He noted that the applicants agent was wrong in thinking it would be part of a 20% buffer. It would only be enacted if the delivery rate of the five year plan dropped below 80% of what is targeted. He added that he had no doubt that the five year land supply could be maintained.

·         He was re-assured by the fact that there will be a legal agreement that would deal with access and other Reserved Matters. He added he would want an additional item in the agreement that would either move the affordable housing forward or add a trigger point on the market sale to start the affordable, that would ensure the affordable were delivered in a timely fashion.

·         He asked for clarity on the access through to the new affordable homes, although not a planning matter at this point, he stressed its importance.

·         He asked for absolute certainty that within the new development area there would be provision of parking spaces, as close to the existing development as possible, to compensate for the loss of the two visitor spaces being used for access.

·         He added he had no comment on the market sale homes and with regards to the affordable, although it is better to be tenure blind, in reality there maybe clusters of affordable homes and they are seen as easier to manage by providers.

·         With regards to access to the market sale homes, he agreed with the Highways Officers opinion that no traffic calming measures are needed. He added that the lane currently lent itself to slow speeds and he would not want to see the rural aspect of the lane altered.


The Planning Officer responded to the Members points by reiterating that the access is already conditioned as it would be subject to a future planning application for Reserved Matters that would set out access. The majority of the other points can also be controlled by planning conditions.


The Planning Officer responded to a question raised by a ward Member concerning the deliverability of the affordable homes after the market sale has been commenced, the officer reported there would be a legal agreement that would have a trigger point to control the amount of market sale housing being built without delivering the affordable. If the affordable is not bought forward there would be a limit on the amount of market sale housing being provided.


A ward Member moved to reject the application on the basis of non compliance with DM4, SP7, the loss of Grade 2 Farm land, damage to the amenities and the fact it was outside the village envelope.


Before being put to the vote a Member asked why this site was not considered for inclusion in the Local Plan as it would have been large enough to be included. She felt uncomfortable that the site was not assessed as part of the local plan. The Chairman noted that it should not be a planning consideration on this application.


A Member asked for clarity around the building conditions and trigger points of the market sale housing that were discussed earlier.


On being put to the vote for REFUSAL 6 Members voted to refuse the application, 6 voted against refusal and 1 abstained. The Chair used his casting vote against refusal.


On being put to the vote for APPROVAL 6 Members voted to approve the application, 7 voted against approval and 0 abstained.


At this point a pause took place to gather legal advice. It was moved to defer the application one cycle to allow officers to determine if the application could come back in its present form or as an application that may determine access.


On being put to the vote 8 Members voted in favour of deferment, 2 against and 2 abstentions.




That Planning Application No. CB/18/00192/OUT relating to The Paddocks, Clifton Farm Barns Road, Clifton, SG17 5EX be deferred one cycle.


(Note: The schedule originally proposed for the above item is attached for information only).



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