Decision status: Refused
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
WSCC/050/18/BK Erection of replacement dwelling, including acoustic bunds along east, west and side boundaries. Dan Tree Farm, London Road, Bolney, West Sussex, RH17 5QD.
6.1 The Committee considered a report by the Head of Planning Services (copy appended to the signed copy of the minutes). The report was introduced by James Neave, Principal Planner, who gave a presentation on the proposals, details of the consultation and key issues in respect of the application.
6.2 Mr Alan Potter, specialist on waste planning policy on behalf of the applicant, spoke in support of the application. Mr Potter declared that he recently worked with the County Council on annual reports on construction waste management capacity and the formulation of the current WLP. The application is compliant with at least five out of nine criteria of Policy W8 of the WLP: it provides clear benefits; involves only material that cannot be recycled or treated and is suitable for the purpose; does not involve unacceptable impacts on natural resources or other environmental constraints, and does not sterilise mineral reserves. The criterion requiring a genuine need to use waste material is about proposals not being advanced solely on the basis of providing outlets for waste; it should not be construed as a ‘need’. The bund is not a waste development, it is only being heard as such because of the County Council’s insistence that it is. The bund may be constructed of material that is not defined as waste. Regarding criteria for amount of material, the design will minimise the amount used whilst achieving performance in noise mitigation. The applicant was given no opportunity to demonstrate an identified need for disposal of inert waste. The County Council itself predicts an exhaustion of recovery capacity in 2019-20, so the assertion that material could be otherwise managed through recovery is not supported by facts. The application will help meet local needs.
6.3 Mr Peter Radmall, author of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA), spoke in support of the application. Design of the bunds must strike a balance between acoustic mitigation, the natural terrain, ease of construction and proportion of the residential land used. Local topography is already extensively modified, mainly due to the A23 and there is acoustic bunding immediately to the south so engineered landforms are already characteristic in the area and the bund would not be incongruous. Earthworks on the A23 have become densely vegetated and are readily assimilated into the landscape; vegetation on the proposed bund will soften the effect. The current site contributes little to the character of the area. The development will not affect the vegetated boundaries which already screen the site. Development will be most visible during construction. A planting scheme will be agreed. Regarding the AONB Management Plan, the site has no bearing on settlements or routeways, supports neither woodland nor heathland and is not part of any historic field pattern, so does not impact on the character of the High Weald. In terms of natural topography, the bunds may not replicate the natural undulating ridge-line but it remains intact beneath. The development is of modest scale in relation to the size of the AONB, which local exhibits few of its special qualities in this locality.
6.4 Mr Simon Bareham, Director at Lewis and Co Planning, agent for the applicant, spoke in support of the application. Noise from the A23 means neither the house nor garden will achieve satisfactory noise levels in accordance with World Health Organisation guidance. Sealed windows and mechanical ventilation will not achieve noise reduction when using the garden; also, mechanical ventilation would increase energy use. Acoustic bunds would provide a satisfactory residential environment. The bunds do not need to be constructed out of inert waste but it would make more sense to use waste that would otherwise be diverted elsewhere. Bunds would be a visibly superior to acoustic fencing. The Environmental Health Officer recommends approval of the application. Proposals are supported by numerous reports. The recommendation is inconsistent in that the neighbouring site to the south [Bolney Park Farm] has an acoustic bund. The proposed bund is on residential land, is shorter, lower and less than half as wide as the bund to the south and it uses less than half the material, and it would result in a 6dB reduction in noise in the garden. The bund at Bolney Park Farm is on agricultural land and produces a 9dB reduction. The justification for the bund in both applications is to improve acoustic quality.
6.5 Mrs Joy Dennis, local member for Hurstpierpoint and Bolney spoke on the application. The site is higher than the A23, lined with woods and shrubs on the boundary including an Ancient Woodland to the north. The neighbouring site to the south [Bolney Park Farm] is lower and its existing bund forms part of the landscape. However, there are other equestrian centres in the area which don’t have bunds and get more noise. To approve this application would be setting a precedent for other properties on main roads. Bunds are not attractive in the context of the landscape and ancient woodland and it would take a long time for planting to establish. The waste from existing building on the site would form only a small part of the 45,000 tonnes to be imported. It was questioned when a minimal change becomes an overwhelming change.
6.6 In response to speakers, Planning Officers made the following points for the purposes of clarification – further points regarding the bund at Bolney Park Farm are noted in minute 6.7, below:
· The existing planning permission for a dwelling was approved without bunds, indicating the noise environment is acceptable.
· Approved plans of the bund to the south at Bolney Park Farm were shown to the Committee in order to provide context: the slopes are much less steep, bunds are wider, and they follow the linear features of the landscape, including the A23. The current application has much steeper sides, bunds are narrower and on one level. Each development must be considered on its own merits.
6.7 During the debate the Committee raised the points below and clarification was provided by the Planning Officers, where applicable:
Bunds at Bolney Park Farm
Point raised – Clarification was sought regarding the planning policy regime under which bunds at Bolney Park Farm were approved.
Response – The bunds at Bolney Park Farm were approved in 2012 prior to adoption of the current WLP and the policy relating to the deposit of inert waste to land.
Points raised – The fact that the existing planning permission for a dwelling was approved without bunds negates the need to mitigate noise in the interests of residential amenity. This is clearly disposal of waste because the site is not previously worked.
Response – None required.
Impacts on AONB
Points raised – This application is major development and in terms of the AONB it does not meet the exceptional circumstance test. As to whether the development has a significant impact, because vegetation is not always permanent the bunds will be a prominent feature in the landscape when vegetation is sparse.
Response – None required.
6.8. The substantive recommendation, subject to reasons for refusal as set out in Appendix 1, was proposed by Mr Patel and seconded by Lt. Cdr. Atkins and was put to the Committee and refused by a majority.
6.9 Resolved – That planning permission be refused for the reasons set out in Appendix 1 of the report, as agreed by the Committee.
Publication date: 12/08/2019
Date of decision: 09/07/2019
Decided at meeting: 09/07/2019 - Planning Committee