Agenda item

Agenda item

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


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


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


Prior to consideration of the application the Chairman reminded Members that the application had been deferred at the June meeting of the Committee (minute DM/18/31 refers) and the reasons for this.  He added that access still did not form part of the application but the report answered some of the concerns expressed by some Members with regard to that issue.


The legal officer confirmed that Members who had voted on the application in June could fully participate in the debate and vote on the item as various clarifications and additional information had been included in the report before them.  The exception to participation was with regard to any Member of the Committee who had predetermined since the June meeting.


The planning officer introduced his report.  In advance of consideration of the application the Committee’s attention was drawn to additional comments and additional consultation/publicity responses as set out in the Late Sheet.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received representations from Clifton Parish Council, two objectors (sharing the allocated time) and the applicant under the public participation scheme.  The Parish Council representative responded to a request for clarification.


A ward Member commented as follows:


·         There had been very little change since the application was considered last month regarding the principle of development.

·         There had been a successful appeal regarding the Langford Road application site in Henlow.  The ward Member outlined the reasons given by the Planning Inspector in support of his decision with regard to Policies DM4 and CS16.

·         Significant weight should be given by the Committee to the above appeal decision which wasn’t available to the planning officer when the report on the site off Clifton Farm Barns Road was written.

·         The appeal outcome was consistent with Members being able to reject the application as it was inconsistent with the Council’s current planning policies.


The planning officer responded:


·         The report set out a response to the comments raised regarding the infrastructure, the number of vehicles and local healthcare provision.  Clifton was regarded as a sustainable location for development.

·         The NPPF required the Council to boost the supply of housing in a sustainable way and officers felt that the application represented a sustainable development.

·         Given the location of the site its relation to the existing built form and development on three of its four sides the level of impact on the surroundings did not justify refusal.

·         The site was not part of the emerging Local Plan and had not been brought forward but limited weight was given to that Plan and assessment took place against the current Development Plan and its policies.

·         Whilst contrary to Policy DM4 but in the planning balance the development was considered sustainable.

·         The officer consideration of policy DM4 was consistent with the Inspector’s approach in the Henlow application.  The difference was that the Inspector felt there was considerable harm in landscape terms which outweighed the benefits offered whilst, for Clifton, the officers felt the impact was lower, as was the number of dwellings proposed.

·         Given the characteristics of the site and its relationship to the countryside it was not felt that there was a harmful impact from the application so there was no significant conflict with Policy CS16.

·         There were economic and social benefits besides the provision of housing, the visual impact on the landscape was subjective and other consultees had raised no objections.


The highways officer responded:


·         The highways assessment of the application was totally independent of that of the planning officer.

·         Expectation of speeds not exceeding approximately 15 mph on that part Church Road was realistic and no further traffic calming measures were necessary.  The road was of a rural nature and speeds were unlikely to be high.  There were no recorded accidents in that area.

·         Given the probable type of dwellings the related increase in vehicles would only generate a marginal increase in traffic movements and the highway could accommodate that.


The Committee considered the application and, in summary, commented as follows:


·         A second ward Member, who sat on the Committee, stated:


o   Clifton Parish Council had supported the draft Local Plan and had accepted development including ‘windfall’ sites.  However, it was now being expected to accept development on a site which had not come forward under the call for sites and had not been included in the draft Local Plan.  He queried why it had not come forward and expressed concern that the applicant was submitting an application in which all matters were reserved.

o   There was almost no building work at the existing development close to Clifton Farm Barns Road which should have been finished at the end of July.

o   Although 50% of the development would be composed of affordable homes this only totalled seven dwellings.

o   The relevant legal documentation did not guarantee that the proposed eastern access from Bilberry Road would be permitted and, as a result, it was likely that a lengthy court case would arise.  This meant the viability of the development was in doubt and permission should not be granted until access was certain.

o   With regard to the western access off Church Road into Clifton Farm Barns Road he had witnessed the speed of traffic approaching a vehicle waiting to turn into the latter to be in excess of 30 mph and the condition of the road did not deter high speeds as had been claimed.  Vehicles were only likely to travel at 15 mph if turning into Clifton Farm Barns Road.

o   Clifton Farm Barns Road was an existing unadopted road and refuse vehicles were unable to use it.  The report did not indicate that this access would be improved to an adoptable standard so the new residents would join the existing in placing their bins at the junction with Church Street and contribute to an existing issue.  There was insufficient space for a bin shed near the road junction and, further, the area was a Conservation Zone.  Whilst the vision splays were acceptable for traffic travelling at 15 mph they were unsuitable for the actual speed of the traffic.  The situation would be made worse by the placing of more bins on that junction for collection.  The amenity of the existing residents of Clifton Farm barns would be adversely affected.

o   Speed reduction measures were needed in Church Street in relation to the junction with Clifton Farm Barns Road but the area was a Conservation Zone and a working farm (Clifton Bury Farm) lay opposite the Barns.  Any proposed measures should be considered by the Committee first.

o   The Henlow appeal had considered the question of whether the benefits of that application outweighed the harm to the visual impact.  That issue was also applicable to Clifton and the appeal of the physical attractiveness of the countryside in people’s choice of where to live.  Being surrounded on three sides by existing development did not justify building on the land.

o   There was a lack of amenities in the village relating to shopping, health provision and schools which raised issues in relation to sustainability.  The proposed Section 106 contributions would not provide more school places in the village but merely lead to the bussing of children to schools outside the area with vacancies.  He stated that building should not take place if the educational capacity did not exist.

o   In conclusion the ward Member stated that the application had been submitted too early and the outstanding issues, including the access to the site, should have been settled first.


·         The Chairman reminded the meeting that the outline planning application before it was for the principle of development.  Concerns had previously been expressed regarding access and whether its ownership could prevent the development from proceeding.  The Chairman stressed that ownership of the access land was not a material planning consideration.


·         A Member commented:


o   The access issue had been addressed by the highways officer and the Committee did not normally challenge the expertise of its officers unless a higher expertise was available.

o   The Council had met its five year land supply but the government was likely to significantly increase the target figure in the future.  A bulwark against this would be helpful to the Council.

o   With regard to the loss of countryside arising from the application the Member referred to the major loss of Green Belt land in his own ward as a result of growth under the Local Plan.  He suggested that if concern was felt regarding the loss of countryside then the Executive Members should take action to prevent such growth. 

o   Anger had been expressed in his own ward at the growth being undertaken as a result of the Local Plan because local schools were oversubscribed.  As Executive Members had not moved to refute the Local Plan and its support for growth those members  needed to conform to it and apply it as necessary across Central Bedfordshire.

o   Executive Members, by supporting the draft Local Plan, were supporting major growth and could not refuse the application before them, especially given the level of development in his own ward.


·         The second ward Member responded that the Committee did not have properly researched data on vehicle speeds, merely an officer commenting that he did not believe speeding took place.


·         A Member commented:


o   The Council had a statutory obligation to provide an education to children.  The Education team was satisfied with the application and had asked for S106 contributions towards education al provision.

o   The highways officer was satisfied though he (the Member) would wish to add additional informatives or conditions if possible.

o   The Local Plan had a ‘windfall’ element and the Council would need to bring forward sites that were adjacent to a settlement.

o   Policy DM4 did not provide an absolute means by which to reject sites.  At a planning appeal the planning inspector described that Policy as perhaps over prescriptive and that Policy SP7 could be seen as being so.

o   In a few years the Council would face an increase in the number of new homes it was expected to make available annually so small appropriate sites would be encouraged to come forward.


·         A Member commented:


o   The site could have come forward with just seven market sale homes.  As that number was below the necessary threshold figure there would have been no requirement to provide affordable dwellings.

o   The dispersal of the affordable homes had been amended so they now formed an extension to an existing area of such dwellings.  It was a logical and laudable way of providing social housing.

o   The existing building works near the site illustrated the scale of what was happening in the area and the proposed development would not provide any further disbenefit to local residents.

o   He sought confirmation that work was to be undertaken on Clifton Farm Barns Road to enable the road to be adopted.


·         The highways officer responded:


o   An adoptable road layout had been requested from the developer.  An application had subsequently been submitted which included the provision of a footway.  The proposed changes would allow the adoption of Clifton Farm Barns Road and provide a turning area for refuse vehicles, thus removing the need for bin storage at the road junction to Church Street.


·         The legal officer responded:


o   The applicant was entitled to submit either an outline or full planning application.  An outline application could have some or all matters reserved as the application before Members did.

o   The applicant had confirmed that arrangements were in place for an eastern access to the site.  There would normally be a development or other agreement in place to enable such matters to be settled.  That access to the site was therefore not an issue.

o   The NPPF stated that planning permission must be determined in accordance with the Local Plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise.  Whilst the site was not included in the Local Plan she reminded the meeting that the planning officer had set out such material considerations.


·         A Member commented:


o   The issues of sustainability were common to all villages in Central Bedfordshire.

o   Members of the Committee often felt dissatisfied with the highways guidance provided though assessments were based on the Council’s adopted policies.

o   The total number of houses was minimal and the application should be considered on its merits.

o   It was unsatisfactory that the site access did not form part of the application and that there was a clear division between market and affordable homes.  The distribution of affordable homes should have been ‘pepper potted’.

o   The placing of refuse and other bins by the existing residents of Clifton Farm Barns Roade was unattractive and would worsen when the additional homes were built.

o   The Planning Inspectorate was inconsistent in how much weight was awarded to Policy DM4 and it was possible to find appeals which supported whatever viewpoint was held.

o   If the application were to be refused it would have to be based on Policy DM4 as it was difficult to find other reasons to do so.

o   The site should have come forward as part of the Local Plan process and have been properly assessed.  Nonetheless the applicant was entitled to submit the application.

o   The Member indicated that, nonetheless, she would be voting against the application as she disliked it and was prepared to fight at appeal using Policy DM4 as the basis.


·         A Member commented:


o   Expressing concern as to why, two apparently separate applications, clearly divided from each other and with their own proposed accesses, had been submitted together.  If an application for the seven market dwellings had been submitted there would not have been an affordable requirement.  If there had been an application for the affordable dwellings it could have been classed as a rural exception with a local reservations policy which would likely have gained local support.

o   Expressing concern regarding the issues to be determined as reserved matters.  There was a fine balance as to whether the benefit outweighed the harm and it was not possible for the Committee to assess this as there were no details regarding such issues as access, traffic or bin storage.


On being put to the vote 7 Members voted for approval, 4 voted against and 1 abstained.




that Planning Application No. CB/18/00192/OUT relating to Clifton Farm, Church Street, Clifton, Shefford, SG17 5EX be approved as set out in the Schedule attached to these minutes.



Supporting documents: