Agenda item

Application DM/2019/01300 - Erection of 1 no. replacement detached dwelling. Provision of new access road. Amended domestic curtilage to existing dwelling house and all associated external works. Woodmancote and site of former 8a Highfield Close, off Highfield Road and Highfield Close, Osbaston, Monmouth


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was recommended for approval subject to the conditions outlined in the report.


The local Member for Osbaston had submitted a letter in respect of applications DM/2019/01300 and DM/2021/00182 as identified in late correspondence.  The chair read the letter to the Committee.


Aled Roberts, representing objectors to the proposal, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         Throughout the three-year process there have been numerous legitimate concerns raised. However, during this period there has been no attempt to recognise the concerns or to adapt the proposals. There has been no engagement or consultation from the applicant.


·         For residents of Highfield Close, the key issue is the principle of access. The close is a narrow, substandard road in which two vehicles cannot pass.


·         The proposed two properties are a part of a much larger scheme. The actual scheme is for seven houses to be built off the proposed access. All seven proposed developments have been fully designed but due to phosphates restrictions, five of the proposed developments have not been taken further. They are still indicated on their site plans and a planning consultant has stated that this is a temporary situation.


·         The applicants have placed the development at the top of the field with a view to developing the lower area of the field at some point in the future. There is reference to five properties being allowed off a private drive. Therefore, the impact of development will be exacerbated further. It is considered to be development by stealth.


·         The development will change the character of the close creating a negative impact for neighbours. It was considered that objections to the development, over a number of years, have been ignored.


·         The proposed road impinges upon local residents’ boundaries and will almost turn existing properties into an island.


·         The position of the houses and road, including the ones temporarily ‘switched off’ for the purposes of this application, will cause residents major loss of amenity.


·         The boundary has been shown incorrectly as halfway through an objector’s privet hedge and other neighbours’ boundaries when it is the field fence on the other side.


·         Trees have been shown as being planted on this boundary as a gesture for screening and these are relied upon in terms of the Landscape Officer’s justification. However, it is not possible to plant them on this boundary without trespassing on objectors’ land.  It will be very difficult to maintain due to foliage overhanging onto objectors’ properties. Dealing with this matter as a future condition charge avoids the issue that there is no space to plant the trees.


·         For several years, residents have asked for the proposals to be pushed back up to five metres to provide a suitable landscape buffer and retain existing trees and vegetation along this boundary. This would create a more sympathetic arrangement. However, this has not been undertaken.


·         The replacement dwelling for Woodmancote should be redesigned to keep access off Highfield Road.  The applicant wants to create a sweeping drive to Highfield Close but it was considered that this was unnecessary and compounds the issues raised by local residents.


·         It was considered that objectors’ views have been ignored and there has been a lack of transparency in respect of this application.


The applicant’s agent, John-Rhys Davies, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         The applicant’s vision for the site is for the land to be sensitively developed and is not commercially driven.


·         The applicant has been engaged in two pre-application meetings and has been involved in discussions with officers to create a technically sound scheme in accordance with the Local Development Plan (LDP) policy.


·         The application site is located within the settlement boundary in terms with policies S1 and H1.


·         The intention was to provide more homes on the site but the figure was shown on the layout as being a maximum of seven properties including the replacement of Woodmancote. However, due to the phosphates issue, the application had been altered, as presented to Planning Committee today.


·         The development has not been commercially driven. Rather, the applicant has sought to make a positive contribution to the hometown of Monmouth.  The intention is to provide a high-quality exemplar scheme with the intention of it being a flagship scheme of sensitive, low energy, environmental responsible development.


·         Following officers’ advice regarding access from Highfield Road being inappropriate that applicants purchased property 8a and the course of the access is through Highfield Close.


·         The proposed access runs along parallel to the hedgerow of Highfields Close following the contours of the site.  It will be obscured behind existing hedgerow. Also, taking into account the proposed landscaping, visibility of the access will be further reduced.


·         The access road also serves as a sustainable drainage system, providing a betterment in surface water drainage.


·         The design has been future proofed and is appropriate for two dwellings providing adequate room for turning and passing on the proposed road.


·         The Neighbours’ concerns primarily relate to the proposed access.  There has been no objection from the Highways Department.  Additional vehicle movements are minimal, and any additional homes will be subject to future approval.


·         A proposed shared access is not untypical to the area and will be discreetly located. Distances from existing dwellings are in accordance with the Council’s own supplementary guidance.


·         The proposed development, including the access is not considered to have a significant adverse impact on neighbouring amenity.


·         The applicant’s agent supports the officer recommendation for this application.  The scheme represents a high-quality design and a substantial improvement to the former dwelling. The development complies with the Council’s climate emergency. There will be biodiversity enhancements on the site.


Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:


·         Residents’ concerns relate to visual impact, drainage, and the use of access for potential future development.


·         It was suggested that a condition be added that the vehicles used in the demolition of Woodmancote and the construction of the two new dwellings continue to use the existing entrance on Highfield Road and is then closed once development has finished, reducing the impact on Highfield Close.


·         A suggestion was made for the dwelling to be moved west by a distance of two to three metres to allow a bigger buffer between neighbouring properties which would reduce the visual impact and noise from vehicles using the drive.


·         Residents are concerned about the access being used for future development.  A condition was suggested that the access is to be used only for the two new dwellings.


·         Concern was expressed that a considerable amount of green space was being lost with the proposed property being located further away from the access road.


·         An additional two properties on the site will have a minimal impact on additional vehicle movements in the area.


·         The buildings could be moved to allow for a joint access for both properties off Highfield Road enabling residents to not be disadvantaged.


The Development Management Area Manager responded, as follows:


·         The existing hedgerow will be retained with a swale running from north to south. Compensatory tree planting will be included in the soft and hard landscaping condition.


·         The location of the proposed new dwelling allows for a new safer access road to serve that dwelling. With regard to green space and landscaping, there is some vegetation loss.  However, there is substantial mitigation and compensation for that, which will be managed via conditions.


·         The southern access through Highfield Close is a safer improvement that does not require substantial loss of vegetation.


·         The siting of the proposed dwelling is acceptable in landscape terms and in distance from third party dwellings to the east at Highfield Close.


·         The Local Planning Authority has fully engaged in the planning consultation process.  The case officer has also gone out on site and met with residents to discuss their concerns.


·         In response to a question raised regarding a potential construction route through Woodmancote to the north via Highfield Road, it was considered to be a dangerous and substandard access serving a single dwelling. Officers would not support this route.


·         The stock proof fencing is not the boundary.  The Planning application boundary (red line) is as shown on the plans.


The Highway Development Manager informed the Committee that Woodmancote benefits from an existing access off Highfield Road but is inadequate. The proposed new access can accommodate the increase in traffic movements. Since the original application, Welsh Government has published Common Standards for Highway Development. This encourages the adoption of all residential roads and only accept private drives serving up to a maximum of five dwellings. It was considered that five dwellings can be accommodated via a private shared drive in this location but an unadopted highway and access road cannot be provided to serve any more than that.


In response to a question raised, the Highway Development Manager informed the Committee that the proposed private drive access is for two dwellings. It was noted that the drive turns 90° and the applicant will build this out in excess of five metres providing more room and visibility.


The Head of Planning informed the Committee that any future development at the site would need to be considered on its own merit and be brought to the Planning Committee for consideration.


It was proposed by County Councillor B. Callard and seconded by County Councillor M. Powell that application DM/2019/01300 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report.


Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:


For approval             -           12

Against approval      -           3

Abstentions               -           0


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that application DM/2019/01300 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report.

Supporting documents: