Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

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Contact: Democratic Services Email: democraticserviceseast@somerset.gov.uk 

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Items
No. Item

148.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutions.

Minutes:

It was noted that Councillor Helen Kay was on a leave of absence and Councillor Michael Dunk was acting as her substitute. Councillor Dawn Denton and Councillor Susannah Hart arrived during agenda item 5 and were not able to take part in the vote for that agenda item.

 

149.

Minutes from the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To approve the minutes from the previous meeting held on 2 April 2024.

Minutes:

The Committee was asked to consider the Minutes of the meeting held on 2 April 2024.

 

Councillor Edric Hobbs proposed and Councillor Bente Height seconded that they be accepted. These Minutes were taken as a true and accurate record and were approved.

 

150.

Declarations of Interest

To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )

Minutes:

Although there was no requirement to do so, Councillor Dawn Denton wished it to be minuted that, regarding Agenda Item 8, she knew the landowner’s brother in a business capacity.

 

Councillor Edric Hobbs declared that regarding Agenda Item 9, he was predetermined and would therefore leave the room during this item and would not take part in any of the debate or vote.

 

151.

Public Question Time

The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

 

For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker.

 

Requests to speak at the meeting at Public Question Time must be made to the Monitoring Officer in writing or by email to democraticservicesteam@somerset.gov.uk  by 5pm on Wednesday 1st May 2024.

Minutes:

There were none.

152.

Planning Application 2024/0289/PAA - Field to the South of Cedarwood House, Holcombe Hill, Shepton Mallet pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To consider an application for the change of use of an agricultural building to a 1no dwellinghouse (Use Class C3) under Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 (as amended). This includes associated operational development.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2024/0289/PAA be REFUSED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation

Votes – 8 votes for, 2 against

 

Minutes:

Change of use of an agricultural building to a 1no dwellinghouse

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Planning Committee for probity reasons as the planning agent was an employee of Somerset Council.

 

The application related to an isolated agricultural building lying within a field to the southwest of a residential property, Cedarwood House. The building was single storey with an earthen floor throughout, and of a lightweight structure. The application sought the change of use of the agricultural building to a larger, 2 storey residential dwelling with parking.

 

The Parish Council had recommended refusal as the development lay outside of the village development line and the proposed entrance could represent a safety hazard to road users.

 

The Officer’s Report concluded that the proposed conversion could not be undertaken without going beyond what could reasonably be considered as a “conversion” and that the works required would go beyond the provisions acceptable under the relevant legislation. It would amount to a “fresh build” and therefore could not be considered as permitted development. Therefore, the recommendation was for refusal.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

The Committee was then addressed by a representative from Holcombe Parish Council. He said the location was unsuitable for the development and that the Parish Council opposed the application.

 

The agent then spoke. She made the following comments:

 

  • The applicants had lived locally for many years and had a successful haulage business.
  • The existing building was redundant.
  • The structural report stated the building was capable of conversion.
  • The proposal did not represent a “fresh build” and all works required would be permitted under the relevant legislation.

 

In the discussion which followed many Members agreed that there appeared to be no reason to go against the recommendation of the Planning Officer. The Team Leader – Development Management reminded Members that the only reason the application was at Committee was for probity reasons and that normally this type of application would have been determined by Planning Officers. 

 

It was proposed by Councillor Edric Hobbs and seconded by Councillor Tony Robbins to refuse the application in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.

 

On being put to the vote the proposal was carried with 8 votes in favour and 2 votes against.

 

RESOLVED

 

That planning application 2024/0289/PAA be REFUSED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation

Votes – 8 votes for, 2 against

 

153.

Planning Application 2024/0315/FUL - Land at Underhill Lane, Ston Easton, Wells pdf icon PDF 755 KB

To consider an application for the demolition of no. 26 and 28 Orchard Vale and development of 54 new homes with open space, landscaping and all associated infrastructure. 

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2024/0315/FUL be APPROVED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.

Votes – 8 votes for, 4 against

 

Minutes:

Demolition of no. 26 and 28 Orchard Vale and development of 54 new homes.

 

The Officer’s Report stated that this application had been referred to the Planning Committee because the proposal represented a departure from the Local Plan and the application was recommended for approval.

 

The Report confirmed that this was a cross boundary application with Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) and there had been detailed discussions with BANES’ Planning Officers during the course of the application. The main part of the application site was within Somerset Council’s area. However, Nos. 26 and 28 Orchard Vale (3-bed social rent dwellings) which were proposed to be demolished to make way for new access, were within BANES’ area. This was subject to separate planning to BANES which had yet to be determined.

 

At Planning Committee in November 2023, a similar application was recommended for approval by Officers, but Members refused permission as the proposal was not considered to constitute sustainable development. This new application was a resubmission and included changes and clarifications to try to overcome the concerns raised by the Planning Committee in November 2023. Following review of the additional information and clarification submitted, the application was deemed to be acceptable in relation to access to services, including schools and medical services. This resubmitted application was concluded to overcome the previous reason for refusal. The increased offer in relation to carbon reduction measures, above policy requirements, further tipped the balance and the application was therefore recommended for approval.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

Before the public speakers, the Legal Advisor reminded Members about the ‘tilted balance’ which must be applied in this case and the Team Leader – Development Manager explained the weighting given to each aspect of the application.

 

There were 2 objectors to the application registered to speak. The first was a Councillor from Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES). Among the points he made were the following:

  • The site is no longer allocated as part of Somerset Council’s Local Plan and will not be included in the revised local plan.
  • With the number of social/affordable housing being built by BANES and Somerset Council the scheme is unnecessary.
  • The applicant has not made the scheme more sustainable and the local GP surgeries are already over-subscribed and the proposed bus would still mean an 11 mile trip for secondary school children, each way.
  • The wildlife will be affected, including protected bats, deer and otters.

 

The second person speaking was unable to connect to the meeting. Her speech was read out by the Committee Officer and included the following points:

 

  • The development will not benefit Midsomer Norton in any way.
  • Midsomer Norton is already stretched regarding schools, doctors and dentist and the roads are chaos.
  • Primary school children will no longer have a safe direct route to school.
  • Somerset Council takes the Council Tax, but Midsomer Norton residents suffer due to the already stretched infrastructure.

 

The Planning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 153.

154.

Planning Application 2023/2088/FUL - The Laurels, Westfield Lane, Draycott pdf icon PDF 159 KB

To consider an application for the replacement of the existing 21-bed residential care home and adjoining land with a new 49-bed care home together with communal, support and staff spaces and associated works.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2023/2088/FUL be APPROVED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.

Votes – 9 votes for, 2 against, 1 abstention

 

Minutes:

Replacement of the existing 21-bed residential care home and adjoining land with a new 49-bed care home

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application was considered to be a departure from the development plan because it lies partly within land allocated within the local plan for housing whereas the application was for care home accommodation.  Nonetheless, the recommendation was to approve. Rodney Stoke Parish Council had objected to the proposal. Therefore, it had been referred to the Planning Committee.

 

The Report explained that the application was for the replacement of an existing 21-bed residential care home and adjoining land on Westfield Lane with a new 49-bed care home together with communal, support and staff spaces and associated works. The lane was  single-track and the Mendip Hills National Landscape was visible to the north of the site.

 

In conclusion, the Officers Report stated that the proposed development would result in significant benefits in terms of additional care home bed spaces and a care home built to contemporary standards. As the application involved housing, the ‘titled balance’ was engaged. Therefore, permission should be granted, unless the harms significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits. As the benefits were considered to be significant and the harms limited, it was recommended that the application be approved.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

The Committee was then addressed by an objector to the proposal. He made the following points:

 

  • No local need had been demonstrated for this larger care home facility.
  • The scale, mass and form of the planned building would be out of context to the local vernacular.
  • There are no significant benefits, and the moderate benefits of the scheme would be outweighed by the harms.
  • Planning should therefore be refused.

 

Next to speak was the applicant’s agent who made the following comments:

 

  • The existing care home is no longer fit for purpose, with room sizes and general amenities for residents and staff falling well below current standards.
  • The proposal will provide an additional 28 beds, contributing well the to the annual need of 40 additional beds identified by Somerset Council.
  • The applicant had responded to the Parish Council’s concerns about car parking capacity by providing an additional 8 spaces at the rear of the property, making 25 overall.
  • The high-quality care home will result in significant benefits and limited, if any, harms.

 

In the discussion which followed some of the comments included:

 

  • Concern about increased traffic in the residential close.
  • The proposal seems too big for the site. Concerns about over-development.
  • The access road appears too small for fire engines which was one of the Parish Council’s concerns.

 

In response to comments made, Officers advised the following:

 

  • There had not been any objections from the Highway Authority  regarding increased traffic and whatever increase there may be would not be severe.
  • The legal requirement for parking provision for this level of development would be 14.2 spaces. The proposal is for 25 which was in response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 154.

155.

Planning Application 2023/2183/FUL - Land to the Southeast of Bradford Road, Rode, Frome pdf icon PDF 465 KB

To consider an application for the construction & operation of a solar photovoltaic farm with battery storage & associated infrastructure, including inverters, security cameras, fencing, access tracks & landscaping.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2023/2183/FUL be DEFERRED for a period of 3 months, contrary to the Officer’s recommendation. The reasons for deferral are for reconsideration of access on Monkley Lane. Also, for reconsideration of the scale of the development in terms of the quantum of the application scheme and its impact on the landscape and heritage assets, in particular the conservation area and listed buildings. A site visit for Planning Committee Members will be arranged.

Votes – 11 votes for, 1 against

Minutes:

Construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic farm

 

The Officer’s Report stated that this application was recommended for approval by Officers but Rode Parish Council had objected. As the application proposed a major development it had to be determined by the Planning Committee.

 

The Report explained that the site was east of the village of Rode and was approximately 74 hectares in size. It was proposed to be in 16 zones and was outside the development limits in open countryside. As well as being close to Rode Conservation Area and a long barrow scheduled monument, there were various listed buildings in proximity to the proposed development. The proposal submitted stated that the solar farm would operate for 40 years, after which time it would be removed and the site returned to agricultural use.

 

The Officer’s Report provided a detailed analysis of each of the planning matters and drew a conclusion on each of these. In the final conclusion, an assessment of each of the benefits and harms was presented in a table and the report stated that all other relevant planning matters had been considered during the life of the application including trees, heritage, drainage, design, amenity, highways, public rights of way, ecology and biodiversity net gain. Subject to the imposition of a suite of planning conditions the application was recommended for approval.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

There were 3 speakers in objection to the application. Among their comments were the following:

 

  • This is a poorly considered project with no support from Natural England, Historic England or the Parish Council.
  • It is a large-scale project which will change the character of the rural area, the setting of the Conservation Area and nearby listed buildings for years to come.
  • It will be more than twice the size of historic Rode village, which has 74 listed buildings.
  • Full capacity can only be reached for a few weeks a year. There will be none produced in the winter or at night. Solar energy is hugely inefficient compared to offshore wind.
  • The Council’s own Conservation Officer has said the proposed landscape mitigation is a poor attempt to conceal the scheme which will not work and queried why the solar farm needs to be located so close to the Conservation Area and village.
  • The scheme should be refused on the grounds of effect on the character and appearance of the village entrance and harm to the setting of the historic assets. This would allow a new scheme to come forward which could be sited further away from the historic village and listed buildings.
  • Concerns regarding access from Monkley Lane due to it being a narrow single-track lane with poor visibility on entering the lane from the A361.
  • There are no passing places, only private residence driveways which are often occupied by parked vehicles.
  • HGV’s will be forced to reverse out onto the busy A361 or reverse 300m down the narrow lane back to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 155.

156.

Planning Application 2023/1855/RE3 - Westway Roundabout, Street pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To consider an application for the erection of advertisement/sponsorship 2no. hoarding signs on roundabout.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2023/1855/RE3 be REFUSED contrary to the Officer’s recommendation, due to concerns regarding highway safety and visual clutter.

Votes – 7 votes for, 3 against

Minutes:

Erection of advertisement 2no. hoarding signs on roundabout

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Planning Committee as the proposal was made by Somerset Council on land owned by the council. The Planning Officer had recommended approval, whereas the Parish Council recommended refusal.

 

The application site was the Westaway Roundabout on the A39, at the at the junction with Gravenshon Way and the Clarks Distribution Centre visitors entrance, within the development limits of Street. The application sought consent to erect two post mounted signs on the roundabout which would be approximately 0.76 metres high by 1 metre wide and not illuminated.

 

Prior to the Planning Officer beginning their presentation to the Committee, Councillor Tony Robbins left the meeting and Councillor Edric Hobbs also left the meeting due to his earlier statement that he was predetermined for this application.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

There were no speakers registered for this application.

 

In the discussion which followed some Members felt the additional signage would be detrimental to highway safety and be visually unattractive. The Highways Officer stated that the application had passed the safety audit and as such there was no safety hazard identified. Other Members felt it would be difficult to defend if the application went to appeal and that they could see no harm with the proposal.

 

Councillor Barry Clarke proposed to refuse the application for reasons of highway safety and visual clutter. This was seconded by Councillor Bente Height. On being put to the vote the proposal was carried with 7 vote for refusal and 3 votes against.

 

RESOLVED

 

That planning application 2023/1855/RE3 be REFUSED contrary to the Officer’s recommendation, due to concerns regarding highway safety and visual clutter.

Votes – 7 votes for, 3 against

157.

Planning Application 2022/1028/FUL - Land adjacent to Sunlea, Fosse Way, Kilmersdon, Frome pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To consider an application for the erection of dwelling and associated access.

Additional documents:

Decision:

This application was withdrawn from the agenda prior to the meeting.

 

Minutes:

This application was withdrawn from the agenda prior to the meeting.

 

158.

Planning Application 2022/2509/FUL - Vicarage Lane, Norton St Philip pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To consider an application for the change of use of agricultural to Use Class C3 Residential. Erection of 1no. single storey dwellinghouse.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Due to an administrative error, this application will be reported back to the next meeting of the Planning East Committee for further consideration. No decision notice has been issued.

Minutes:

Change of use of agricultural to Use Class C3 Residential. Erection of 1no. single storey dwellinghouse.

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Planning Committee as the applicant was a relative of a staff member. Also, the Officer’s recommendation was contrary to that of the Parish Council.

 

The application related to land located outside of the development limits of Norton St Philip. The land is a small holding including fruit and vegetable growing and there is an orchard which is identified as a priority habitat. The site is also within a bat consultation zone and accessed via an unclassified and unconsolidated lane called Vicarage Lane.

 

The Report concluded that the proposal had been submitted as a self-build application but it failed to meet the criteria of Policy DP24 as the site was not part of, or adjacent to the nearest recognisable settlement; the scale of the development exceeded the limitations set out in the policy and the design was not in harmony with the character of the area, or of a suitable design which is appropriate to its location. Accordingly, the proposal would result in an isolated rural dwelling in the countryside where development is strictly controlled. Also, the design and scale of the development failed to reflect the character of the area and thus failed to contribute positively to the maintenance and enhancement of local identity and distinctiveness. Together with the concerns with the siting in an isolated location and failure to meet the tests in terms of the principle of development, it would result in unjustified encroachment into the open countryside that would have a significant harmful impact on the rural character of the area and wider landscape. In conclusion, the Officer’s recommendation was for refusal.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

Councillor Height left the meeting at this point.

 

There was no-one registered to speak on this application.

 

In the discussion which followed Members made the following observations:

 

  • The Parish Council did not oppose the application but were content to leave it to the local authority to make a decision, as long as the application met the requirements of DP24.
  • Unable to see supporting evidence in the Report that the applicant will be off grid.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Adam Boyden and seconded by Councillor Edric Hobbs to refuse the application in accordance with the Officer’s Recommendation. On being put to the vote the proposal was refused with 6 votes in favour, 3 votes against and 1 abstention.

 

RESOLVED

 

That planning application 2022/2509/FUL be REFUSED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.

 

Votes – 6 for, 3 against, 1 abstention

 

NB

Although the members considered the application and reached the decision as set out above, investigations after the meeting clarified that back of house procedure on the application had not been followed correctly, and therefore the application will be presented to the June Committee to be considered afresh. No decision notice was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 158.

159.

Planning Application 2023/2451/FUL - Flats 1-4, 1 Saxon Vale, Frome pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To consider an application for the change of use from four residential flats with C3 use, to C1 (hotel use).

Additional documents:

Decision:

Minutes:

Change of use from four residential flats with C3 use, to C1 (hotel use).

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Planning Committee at the request of the Divisional Member. The application related to 4 flats in a Grade II listed building situated within the development limits of Frome and was for the change of use from residential flats to 8 separate hotel rooms on the first and second floors of the buildings.

 

In conclusion, the report stated that the proposal was acceptable in principle and raised no design, amenity, heritage, highway safety or other concerns. Therefore, the recommendation was for approval.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

There was no-one registered to speak on this application.

 

In the discussion which followed Members made the following comments:

 

  • There are already many Airb&b properties in Frome but flat accommodation for letting is in short supply.
  • The loss of housing would be detrimental to Frome.
  • Frome is an up-and-coming destination and would benefit from more hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation.

 

In response to questions raised, the Planning Officer and Legal Advisor said:

 

  • There is no planning policy that covers change of use to a type of accommodation that may not be required within a town, e.g. bed and breakfast.
  • Members should apply the policies already in place and determine whether there are  material reasons for refusal. Officers have concluded  that there are none.
  • We want to encourage people to come to the district to spend their money to boost the local economy in Frome.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Dawn Denton and seconded by Councillor Susannah Hart to approve the application in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.  On being put to the vote the proposal was carried with 5 votes for, 2 votes against and 2 abstentions.

 

RESOLVED

 

That planning application 2023/2451/FUL be APPROVED in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.

 

Votes – 5 for, 3 against, 1 abstention

 

160.

Planning Application 2024/0056/FUL - Park Farm, Haydon Drove, Haydon, Wells pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider an application for the conversion of a barn to a single dwelling (part retrospective).

Additional documents:

Decision:

That planning application 2023/2451/FUL be APPROVED contrary to the Officer’s recommendation as it was considered that the development did not represent a new build, nor was it considered to be in an unsustainable location. As the impact on the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site could not be assessed due to the lack of sufficient technical information evidencing the level of phosphates generated by the development, delegated authority was given to Officers to grant permission once the appropriate assessment had been concluded and satisfactory mitigation obtained. Officers were also given delegated authority to impose necessary planning conditions and S106 obligations.

Votes – Unanimous

 

Minutes:

Conversion of a barn to a single dwelling

 

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Planning Committee by the Chair, as the Officer had recommended refusal but the Parish Council had recommended approval.

 

The Report continued that the proposal was for the conversion and extension of a barn to a dwelling and was part retrospective. It is located within a small complex which contains an original farmhouse, a holiday apartment and a series of outbuildings. There are also work units to the north of the site, also owned by the applicant.

 

A site visit was undertaken in February 2024 and the inspection of the works  were reflective of a new build rather than a conversion. The building had a new roof which appears to be higher than it was historically, it has new blockwork, floors and steels, in addition to the extension of the footprint and new dormer window. The applicant had not provided any supporting information about the history of the building, a structural survey, an ecological appraisal or any information demonstrating that the development would be phosphate neutral.

 

In conclusion, the Report stated that there was no policy support in the development plan or from the NPPF and the application was recommended for refusal given that the limited benefits in housing supply terms of one additional unit in an unsustainable location was not considered to be significant and/or demonstrably outweigh the very limited benefits.  Also, the proposed development had the potential to adversely affect the integrity of the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site by adding to the concentration of phosphates in an area where they are already excessive.

 

The Planning Officer explained the application to the Committee with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation.

 

There was one speaker registered. He represented the agent for the application and made the following comments:

 

  • There are a number of inaccuracies in the Planning Officer’s report.
  • The original barn was a milking parlour and the proposal is to retain the existing walls.
  • The roof was replaced after the application had been made and is not a new build and is in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
  • There has been no local representation and the Parish Council supports the scheme.
  • 1 extra dwelling will not make any difference to highway safety and would not foster growth in the need to travel as the occupants work from home.

 

The Team Leader – Development Management reminded Members that there were 3 recommended reasons  for refusal in the Officer Report – 1, it is not a sustainable development, 2, it is regarded as a new build and 3, there was no evidence provided by the applicant regarding the effect of phosphates. The third reason could not be overcome until the applicant had submitted further information regarding this. The required phosphate mitigation could then be secured through condition and/or S106 Agreement.

 

Members were keen to find a  positive way forward for this applicant and agreed the location of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 160.

161.

Appeal Decisions Report pdf icon PDF 467 KB

Report of the appeal decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate between 21 March 2024 and 24 April 2024.

Minutes:

The report of decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate between 21 March 2024 and 24 April 2024 was noted.