Miss Bell presented the item to Members.
Miss Bell responded to Members’ comments and questions:
With regards to the lighting condition, Miss Bell confirmed correspondence with the applicant on this matter and that it had been confirmed that the polytunnels did not have fixed lighting and operatives used torches when undertaking night-time checks, but suggested that Condition 11 was reworded to ensure that if fixed lighting was necessary in the future, that this would require details to be submitted and approved. With regards to the wildlife corridor, the relevant policy which is in the emerging Local Plan is focused on permanent housing but the ecology officer had been consulted and the only issue would be disturbance of bats from the lighting, which was controlled by Condition 11. On the matter of the planting scheme Miss Bell explained that the applicant had referred to a four metre gap between the hedges which should have been a 400mm gap and the relevant Condition 7 would be updated with the correct information. With regards to litter Miss Bell confirmed that there was a list of requirements in Condition 9 the applicant must follow related to the polythene but a requirement for the disposal of other litter could be added. Miss Bell also confirmed the main access was from Colworth Lane and officers and the highways authority were content with this, and associated movements which were largely already taking place. With regards to the coalescence and landscaping views and the gaps in the hedgerow Miss Bell responded that she could seek confirmation through the condition 7 which areas were enhanced planting and which were new, and confirmed this condition also related to the biodiversity enhancement works. The height of the polytunnels would be 3.6 metres. They were set back from the boundaries and with enhanced planting the views would be filtered and not harmful to the landscape and set back from the main road. Miss Bell explained that Condition 6 related to the Sustainable Urban Drainage System management and maintenance and would require approval in writing. Miss Bell added that the applicant had agreed to use non-plastic recycled plant tubes which would also be added to Condition 7.
With regards to the environmental enhancement area Miss Bell confirmed she would make further checks on the area to be planted and retained as grassland and that when the polythene was removed the land was kept in an appropriate condition for wildlife. Miss Bell added that there was further work to be undertaken for reptile relocation and badger protection fencing. On the matter of the maintenance of polythene Miss Bell considered this was adequately covered by Condition 9. With regards to whether the expansion of the polytunnels was necessary for the business, Miss Bell drew the Members attention to the report which explained that there was an established need for soft fruits and the polytunnels would extend the growing season, reduce the need for pesticide and improve the quality of the fruit, and officers were confident of economic necessity.
Miss Bell further explained that the ecological enhancements were considered appropriate and the environmental officer was content.
In a vote Members agreed the recommendation to permit the application.
Recommendation to Permit agreed.
Members took a ten minute break.