Application DM/2020/00875 - Change of use of stable block to self-contained holiday accommodation. Stables, Church Farm, Church Cottage Lane, Wolvesnewton Devauden
We considered the report of the application which was recommended for approval subject to the nine conditions outlined in the report.
The Development Services Manager suggested that should the Committee be minded to approve the application with the condition that a Section 106 legal agreement also be considered to secure the holiday lets and tie them to the farm holding at Church Farm.
The local Member for Devauden attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:
· The local Member is generally in favour of farm diversification and tourist accommodation where appropriate. However, this application has created a lot of controversy.
· The building was built in 1988 and was originally described as a stable. However, the applicant has stated that it was never used for that purpose but for sheep.
· The applicant now lives in Devauden which is the centre of their farming enterprise with this site being an outlying piece of land.
· In 2008, planning permission was granted for a new pitched roof. New double skinned walls with window and door openings were built before 2008 which means that these are now legal even though planning permission was not applied for at that time.
· In 2018, with the walls having legal status, pre-application discussion with Planning officers was held but no application was submitted at that time.
· Last year, a wall was built for cattle handling but not in the position which it was granted planning permission. The wall has not been used for that purpose. The wall encroaches 1.9 metres, at one point, onto the adjoining land. The local Member considers that this building could not have been made lawful had the wall been built in the position for which planning permission was granted.
· The local Member referred to Planning Policy T2 which refers to visitor accommodation. Looking at the exceptions to T2, one of the questions asks is ‘is this an existing and occupied farm property?’ The site does not have a farmhouse. It has the appearance of derelict farm buildings. The site does not have an active farm building.
· The local Member read part B of Planning Policy T2.
· If the walls are over 10 years old they have legal status. However, T2 does not say that consideration should not be given to anything older than 10 years.
· The local Member asked that careful consideration be given to this application and whether it has been done for circumnavigation of the planning regulation.
· There is no reasonable design in the proposed building. It is very utilitarian and is incongruous in policy terms.
· Recently, some trees on the boundary of the site were felled making the site very visible from an adjoining public footpath.
· The local Member does not consider that the proposed development is suitable for conversion under Planning Policy T2 and asked that the Committee considers refusal of the application on this basis.
· Highways Officers have considered the access to be suitable. However, the access is very narrow and if accessed during the hours of darkness it is difficult for vehicles to access. The access is not suitable for quality accommodation.
Councillor A. Williams representing Devauden Community Council, had prepared a video recording which was presented to Planning Committee and the following points were outlined:
· Devauden Community Council tries to balance the need to bring diversity and opportunity into the community versus the amenity to the community at large. However, it was considered that this application fails to achieve this.
· There are a number of well-argued objections from neighbours regarding the suitability of the development as a commercial holiday let and the Community Council agrees with these objections.
· The Community Council has seen better sited and better thought through applications than this proposal.
· Concern was expressed regarding the new access to the proposed development and the upset that its creation has caused.
· It was opposed from the beginning by the Community Council and neighbours but approved as a permitted development.
· It is extremely narrow and compromises access to nearby properties.
· It cannot safely accommodate the raised levels of traffic which would result from the development which would also potentially mix farm machinery with holiday makers.
· The applicant has extended the eastern boundary into adjoining land and diverted an important existing access track around it without the landowner’s permission.
· Devauden Community Council supports the objections to the application and asked the Planning Committee to consider refusal of the application.
Mr. Marlow, objecting to the application, had prepared a video recording which was presented to Planning Committee and the following points were outlined:
· This enterprise was, until recently, a small holding and has only recently been linked to other farming land in the area.
· Church Cottage was linked to these buildings and fields but was sold 20 years ago, so there is no person on site with these buildings. The site is only visited every few days.
· The proposed design is visually unattractive and not an improvement on what is already there.
· The block building which is described as an agricultural building was started as a lean-to shed which 10 years ago was re-roofed to create a pitched roof. Other operations took place involving the creation of a double skinned building with internal block walls. Domestic window reveals are behind the single skin with domestic doors put in place. Plumbing for two toilets was installed, making this building more domestic rather than agricultural.
· The other building is a wooden stable block with attached tack room which is at least 30 years old and dilapidated which would have to be demolished, re-built in block work on the same footprint and then made to look as if it has wooden cladding.
· The proposed access is a narrow track which runs alongside the objectors property is to be shared with the farm and the holiday cottages. This is a narrow track with difficult access. If two vehicles were to meet they would have to reverse 200 metres back to the church as there are no passing places.
· Recently, the objector’s wall was damaged by a vehicle attempting to access the lane which caused damage to their external oil supply line.
· The only traffic that currently travels along this track are visitors to the objector’s property or their neighbour’s property.
· There is an existing access which has been in use for 40 years nearby which has a large gateway into the farmyard and a large gateway into the development site. This would be a superior option if it were continued as the access instead of the narrow track.
· Recently, a number of mature trees were felled along the boundary line which exposes the site to the public footpath and from the other side the site is visible from Wolvesnewton Church and the Cobblers Plain ridge.
· Marlow Vets employs 26 people from the surgery and cares for animals from their home so requires access.
· The objector’s quality of life at home will be seriously impacted by the creation of the dwellings and the increase in traffic that would be generated along the narrow lane.
Mr. S. Leaver, applicant’s agent, had prepared an audio recording which was presented to Planning Committee and the following points were outlined:
· Rights of access to the property and not having public vehicle rights are not material consideration to the application process. However, evidence has been provided confirming that the road leading to the redline site boundary application area is considered a track with public vehicle rights.
· The applicant runs a legitimate farming business and has done for 40 years. The business is run over approximately 179 acres of agricultural land which is farmed in four blocks. There is approximately 40 acres at Church Farm along with a building being proposed for conversion and a larger stock building which is used for over wintering of cattle.
· The applicant also operates a farm business tenancy over 75 acres of a Monmouthshire County Council owned farm. The applicant also farms another 50 acres on grazing licences.
· The applicant has occupied Church Farm since the 1980s with the building for conversion having been erected since 1988.
· The timber building was erected for lambing and has been partitioned for such use with the block work partition later added to provide additional capacity and weatherproofing. The building has been used for lambing for many years but with the farming business having grown and changes in agricultural practices, the applicant now lambs in larger sheds off site. The building is currently under-utilised and used for the storage of equipment and animal feed.
· The intention behind the proposal is to convert the currently under-utilised building in order to create an additional diversified income stream for the farm. Farms are having to diversify in order to generate additional revenue.
· Whilst the farming business will remain the core business, the provision of holiday let income from this building will provide some stability in cash flow for the business during a turbulent economic period.
· The applicant’s agent asked the Planning Committee to consider approval of the application in line with officer recommendation.
Having considered thereport of the application and the views expressed, the application was discussed at length with a number of issues raised regarding the design of the proposal and access to the site.
Following the discussion it was proposed by County Councillor P. Murphy and seconded by County Councillor R. Harris that we be minded to defer consideration of application DM/2020/00875 to a future meeting of Planning Committee to allow officers to explore design amendments with the applicant’s agent to enable the building to have more character; to clarify whether the other access to the east can be used instead of proposed access; require a site layout plan indicating parking provision; explore a refuse storage area and means of enclosure.
Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:
For deferral - 11
Against deferral - 2
Abstentions - 0
The proposition was carried.
We resolved that we be minded to defer consideration of application DM/2020/00875 to a future meeting of Planning Committee to allow officers to explore design amendments with the applicant’s agent to enable the building to have more character; to clarify whether the other access to the east can be used instead of proposed access; require a site layout plan indicating parking provision; explore a refuse storage area and means of enclosure.