Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/18/04553/FULL (Heath & Reach)


Address:       North Star Cottage, Watling Street, Hockliffe, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 9PY


Demolition of existing buildings/structures and retention of the pallet operation and ancillary buildings on site (retrospective) and expansion of the operation's facilities.


Applicant:     Direct Pallets Ltd.





The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/18/04553/FULL for demolition of existing buildings/structures and retention of the pallet operation and ancillary buildings on site (retrospective) and expansion of the operations facilities at North Star Cottage, Watling Street, Hockliffe, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 9PY.


In advance of consideration of the application the Committee’s attention was drawn to additional comments as set out in the Late Sheet as well as representations from public speakers.


The public speakers included a representation from the applicant in support from Mr K McBride.


Committee Members discussed the following points:


           Members noted that the Planning officer recommendation of refusal is based on the detrimental impact on the open countryside and openness of the Green Belt caused by the excessive scale and intensive nature of operations proposed. The proposal was considered inappropriate to the Green Belt by the planning officer and that the very special circumstances do not outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.


           The public speaker clarified that the previous site the operation occupied had permission for 8mtr high pallet stacking and the current site now only has 4.5mtrs, in conclusion he needed double the site to store the same number of pallets. He reported that 50% percent of Parcel B (not previously developed land, currently an agricultural field) will be re-landscaped to reduce the impact on the green belt.


           The Ward Member made a verbal representation and noted that pallet yard is a vast improvement to the previous occupation as a salvage yard and that both neighbouring Parish Councils are comfortable with the application.


           A Member stated that on balance he felt that this was a reasonable application when considering the previous use of the site and the pallet height should be allowed at 8mtr height if the application is refused expansion in excess of the previously developed land. It was noted that Local employment and viability of the business will be affected if the application is refused.


           Members expressed that there have been other applications approved in the Green Belt and on balance this is a good application with good access meaning no traffic going through the villages to get to the business and next to a motorway link road, both of which are appropriate for this type of business.


           It was stated that the Tree officer recommended not to approve perennials and deciduous trees would be preferred. The Planning Officer confirmed that Leylandii coverage was put forward by the applicant as an alternative species of which the tree officer is happy with. The Tree Officer understands that there is concerns about no leaf coverage during winter and how this would impact the openness of the green belt. A Member suggested a Yew Tree maybe more suited to the site, but it was noted that the application has to be judged on what has been agreed.


           The Planning Officer stated that the key issue across both parcels of land (A and B) was the height of the palettes at 4mtrs. It was considered inappropriate as in NPPF and would need robust reasons to outweigh the harm. It was reported that the applicant was informed of this within the pre-application advice. In response to this a Member stated he felt that the applicant was given considerable pre-app advice of the conditions that would be imposed and that the proposed industrial use was not in keeping with policy for the Green Belt. In conclusion he stated he would not be supporting the application for approval.


           The application was moved to refuse but had no seconder.


           Members asked to for clarification on the employment opportunities created on the site, it was noted that there would be 69 jobs.


           A Member shared concerns around the impact on the Green Belt but felt that the application boils down to VSC’s (Very Special Circumstances). It was noted that there hasn’t been suitable mitigation of the site at present with large HGVS backed up the fence on the site visit and that it did stick out within the green Belt. The Member stated that if there was mature planting to screen the site Members may have been more comfortable.


           It was noted that the applicant puts forward that traffic would be reduced through surrounding villages and if Members were minded to approve, to seek conditions to prevent lorry movements through any area with a lorry ban, including Leighton Linslade and Dunstable and a traffic management plan conditioned. The Planning Officer responded that a condition would rely on weight restrictions making it more difficult to impose conditions but could put together a traffic management plan.


           Members noted that VSC’s are sometimes subjective and took into consideration that the application does secure the long-term future of the business in turn supporting the local economy, it does make better use of the site but the pallet yard is more visible. It was noted that the VSC’s be subject to Secretary of State approval that the benefit outweighs the harm.


           The application was moved to approve, against the Planning Officers recommendation to refuse, on basis of VSC do existing and outweighing the harm to the Green Belt.


           A Member stated that he doesn’t want to lose a rural business if the reason to refuse would be the expansion into a Parcel B and asked if it would it be possible to have an application for Parcel A only. The Planning Officer responded that she has met with applicant and is willing to work with him to address Parcel A issues (visual intrusion, landscaping to mitigate development into the paddock area) and resubmission could be made for that area of the site. A Member stated they would like to see an application for Parcel A only and supported refusal.


           A Member asked if the business could still continue if the application was refused. The Planning Officer responded that it could, she stated she was keen to retain jobs and the business and willing to work with the applicant to address the issues to avoid progressing to enforcement stage.


           A Member suggested that conditions around landscaping and a transport plan should discussed and approved by members for both parcels A & B should the application be approved.


           Members agreed to move APPROVAL, against officer recommendation, subject to robust traffic plan and landscaping with suitable species that would not be deciduous. Conditions to be approved by Cllr Young, the Chairman and the Ward Member.


On being put to the vote for APPROVAL, 8 voted in favour, 4 against and 1 abstention.




That the Planning Application No. CB/18/04553/FULL at North Star Cottage, Watling Street, Hockliffe, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 9PY, be approved as set out in the schedule attached to these minutes.




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