Agenda item

Planning Application 2022/1618/FUL Duke of Cumberland Inn, Edford Hill, Holcombe, Somerset

To consider an application for the formation of a new overflow car park with associated access and landscaping.

Decision:

That planning application 2022/1618/FUL be APPROVED contrary to the Officer’s recommendation as there would be safer parking provision and the benefits of the scheme outweighed the harms identified in the Officers Report. Delegation of conditions was made to Planning Officers in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair.

Votes – 6 in favour, 3 against and 1 abstention

 

Minutes:

Application for the formation of new overflow car park with associated access and landscaping.

The Officer’s Report stated that the application had been referred to the Committee as the Officer’s recommendation was for refusal and differed from that of the relevant Parish Councils.

The Report continued that whilst the Parish Council supported the scheme, this was subject to the Highway Authority supporting the application which was not the case. The Highway Authority had concluded that the proposal did not demonstrate that safe and suitable access to the site could be achieved for all users of the highway, specifically pedestrians.

The application related to a large parcel of agricultural land to the south of Holcombe off Edford Hill. The land had existing field access which was shared with pedestrians using the public right of way. The application sought full planning permission for the formation of a new overflow car park with associated new access and landscaping to serve the Duke Of Cumberland Inn located approximately 100m to the north of the site.

Both Holcombe and Stoke St. Michael Parish Councils had recommended approval subject to the Highway Authority considering additional pedestrian safety measures. In addition, Stoke St. Michael Parish Council had requested conditions to ensure that:

  • The proposed planting of hedgerows and trees takes place to compensate for the loss of hedgerow at the roadside.
  • Secure barriers would be installed to prevent any nuisance to nearby properties when Holcombe Farm shop was closed.
  • There would be land allocated for village allotments and this was not shown on the plan.

 

There had been 48 letters of support and 3 letters of objection from local residents. The Highways Development Officer had objected on the grounds that the access was unsafe for vehicles and pedestrians. Other consultees had not objected subject to conditions.

The application was recommended for refusal as the impact of the proposal along with its location remote from the Duke of Cumberland Pub would have a significant impact on the character of the area and failed to demonstrate that safe and suitable access to the site could be achieved for all users of the highway. Any benefits brought by the proposal were outweighed by the harms identified.

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. Their comments included:

  • The proposed application contravenes various planning policies.
  • The development would put pedestrians in danger.
  • There was a pinch point in the road and a 40mph speed limit and an incline on each side of the pub. The line of sight was limited.
  • Pedestrians would have to walk on a non-pavemented section of road, often in darkness.

 

The Committee was then addressed by two supporters to the proposal. Their comments included:

  • The business is a valuable community asset and serves many local villages that do not have a similar facility.
  • The café and farm shop was busiest in the daytime, not evening, so pedestrians would mainly be using the car park and walking along the road during daylight hours.
  • Currently people parked on the road where it narrows forcing people to walk into the road. The car park would improve pedestrian safety, not harm it.
  • The business provides employment for younger people in the local area.
  • The business relied on people being able to use their cars to reach it and currently safe parking was very limited. The car park would improve the situation.

 

The Committee was then addressed by a representative of Holcombe Parish Council. Their comments included:

  • There were 3 main issues with the application – viability, road safety and aggravation between the landlord and local residents.
  • The business provides much needed local employment.
  • The existing car park was not large enough and proposed additional car parking was much needed as currently cars park on the road forcing pedestrians to walk into the road.
  • The Parish Council had requested a reduction in speed limit, a dedicated area for drop off and deliveries and street lighting.
  • Please approve with the added conditions.

 

The final speaker was the applicant’s agent who made the following points:

  • The owners had invested significantly in the business so they could continue to run the pub alongside the farm shop and café.
  • The existing parking was inadequate and only had 19 spaces. When busy, the business could accommodate over 200 customers.
  • Visitors were forced to park on the road.
  • The proposed site of the new car park was the only land available to the applicant.
  • The new pedestrian access would be 95m from the pub, and there would be a lighting and planting scheme.

 

In the discussion which followed, some Members felt the proposal would improve pedestrian safety but others felt it would make it more dangerous as it was a narrow stretch of road. Some of the comments included:

  • The applicant had tried hard to find a solution. It was not ideal but street lights and a change of speed limit could make it safer.
  • Why is the car parking site so large and what is the central area by the access driveway being used for?
  • The provision of jobs for local people is very important.
  • The business was thriving but lack of parking deterred people from stopping.
  • People were already parking and walking on the road so provision of a car park would improve safety and not exacerbate the problem, as suggested by Highways Officer.

 

In response to the comments made, Officers advised the following:

  • It was not known what the central area of land will be used for. There was no suggestion that there would be any change of use of this parcel of land.
  • If Members were to approve the application it would infer that the Council considered that the proposed pedestrian access was safe. Currently, visitors walk on the road of their own volition. Approval would endorse an unsafe means of access.
  • A change of speed limit could only happen if a separate Traffic Regulation Order was applied for. It could not be conditioned, nor could the provision of street lighting. 

 

At the conclusion of the debate, Members decided that the site was appropriate and it would not be harmful to the character and appearance of the rural landscape. The benefits of the scheme would outweigh any harms identified in the Officers Report. It was proposed by Councillor Philip Ham and seconded by Councillor Bente Height to approve the application contrary to the Officer’s recommendation.

On being put to the vote the proposal was carried with 6 votes in favour, 3 votes against and 1 abstention.

RESOLVED

That planning application 2022/1618/FUL for the formation of new overflow car park with associated access and landscaping at the Duke of Cumberland Inn, Edford Hill, Holcombebe APPROVED contrary to the Officer’s recommendation as there would be safer parking provision and the benefits of the scheme outweighed the harms identified in the Officers Report. Delegation of conditions to be made to Planning Officers in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair.

Voting – 6 in favour, 3 against and 1 abstention

 

Supporting documents: