Agenda item

20/02066/OUT Koolbergen, Kelly's Nurseries and Bellfield Nurseries, Bell Lane, Birdham, Chichester, PO20 7HY (approximate start time 9.35am)

Outline Application with all matters reserved apart from access for the erection of 73 dwellings, open space and associated works, Class B1 floorspace and retail floorspace



Defer for further information.



Mr Bushell presented the report to the Committee. He drew the Committee’s attention to the Agenda Update Sheet which detailed a change to the description of the development; amendments to conditions 26 and 27; amendments to the report and noted the additional representations received since the Committee report was published.


Mr Bushell highlighted the site plan to the Committee and presented them with an illustrative layout of the proposed development. He explained that the proposal was for a total of 73 dwellings comprising of; 52 market housing dwellings and 21 affordable housing dwellings. However, he did remind the Committee that the final layout and housing mix was a matter that would be determined as part of the Reserved Matters and therefore may change.


Mr Bushell highlighted the proposed site for the foul water pumping station and advised that it would include a holding tank with 48 hours storage capacity installed as part of the development.


Mr Bushell explained that the application was an Outline application to agree access points onto the site as well as the principle of development when assessed against the criteria in the Interim Position Statement on housing. He highlighted the three vehicular access points from Bell Lane and confirmed that the northern most access point would serve only one property.  In addition he advised the Committee that the Swept Path Analysis demonstrated adequately safe vehicular movement for the Council’s refuse vehicles.


Mr Bushell told the Committee that as part of preliminary work to inform the review of Birdham Neighbourhood Plan in terms of finding potential future housing sites, the site had been ranked as the third most suitable development site, out of 17. Whilst acknowledging objections, Mr Bushell informed the Committee that due to the lack of a five year housing land supply and development plan housing policies being out of date which was a fundamental shift in policy circumstances, it was the officers recommendation to permit the development as the site was viewed as being in a good sustainable location when the NPPF’s ‘Tilted Balance’ was applied.


The Committee received the following representations;

·         Mr Clive Bush – Parish Council representative

·         Mr Pieter Montyn – WSCC Councillor

·         Mrs Lisa Clark – Objector

·         Dr Carolin Cobbold – Objector

·         Mrs Pat Macdonald – Objector


Before the Chairman opened the floor to debate, she invited Mr Whitty to address the Committee and explain what the ‘Tilted Balance’ was and its significance in considering planning applications.


Mr Whitty informed the Committee that the Tilted Balance is a material consideration and advised the Committee that they must take it into account when considering an application. He explained that under paragraph 11(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF); (unless the site is in an area of AONB or other protected location), if a site is considered as being sustainable then the presumption must be in favour of granting permission. If the Committee choose to refuse an application they must clearly demonstrate that they have considered paragraph 11(d) and are able to demonstrate that after applying the tilted balance they believe the adverse implications that may result from the proposed development would significantly outweigh the benefits.


For example, Mr Whitty referred to the Scant Road application which had gone to appeal. In their review of the case the Planning Inspectorate deemed that the Planning Committee, in reaching their decision, had failed to demonstrate that they had either considered or applied paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF, and whilst the applicant had not applied for costs they would have reasonable grounds to do so.


Officers responded to Members’ comments and questions as follows;


As part of his opening statement Mr Barrett distributed to the Committee and members of the public an additional piece of information on waste water.


On the matter of jobs being lost due to the closure of the Bellfield Nursery; Mr Bushell acknowledged the Committee’s concerns, however, he explained that the proposal did offer employment opportunities as part of the proposed retail and employment buildings. The Planning Inspector had taken into consideration the loss of the nursery and the employment it provided as part of the previous appeal and found that this weighed against that proposal. However, Mr Bushell explained that this loss would now need to be considered against the lack of a five year housing supply and when applying the tilted balance the quantum of development and access to local services and amenities offered potentially greater benefits in terms of sustainability. In addition, Mr Whitty explained that when the application had previously been considered there was a five year housing land supply within the District and therefore the loss of employment from the nursery did, in part, outweigh the benefits offered by the development. However, there is now no current five year housing supply within the District and therefore it cannot be assumed that a Planning Inspector would reach the same conclusion as previously.


With regards to the available headroom capacity at Sidlesham Waste Water Treatment Works; Mr Bushell informed the Committee that Southern Water had confirmed that there was sufficient headroom at the facility.


In response to concerns raised over the network capacity for the movement of foul waste; Mr Bushell acknowledged that there were issues with the network; however, a phased approach for development was proposed to allow Southern Water time to undertake works to address the issues.


Mr Bushell confirmed that there was no marketing requirement for the loss of a horticultural site.


On the issue of Affordable Housing; Mr Bushell informed the Committee that there was a general need for affordable housing within the District, and highlighted to the Committee that no objection had been received from the Housing Officer.


On the issue of the surface water drainage ditches, Mr Bushelll confirmed that the illustrative layout had been prepared to show a 3 metre wide maintenance strip around the north, west and southern boundaries of the site. With regards to landscaping Mr Bushell explained that this was already in place along the boundary edge and therefore there was not a requirement for additional landscaping in this area of the development. He confirmed that access to the ditches and their future maintenance was covered under Condition 12 proposed within the report. In addition, Mr Whitty confirmed that if the item where to be deferred this issue could be brought back to the Committee to demonstrate in greater detail and to ensure that provision for the 3m buffer zone could be provided within the quantum of development.


On the matter of biodiversity, Mr Bushell explained that the site had rewilded but was periodically cleared by the developer. He informed the Committee that the main biodiversity gains would be achieved at the boundary edges through gapping up of hedging, tree planting and the creation of features such as bat corridors. Condition 5 of the report set the required mitigation and enhancement measures, which would be considered in further detail as part of the Reserved Matters application. In addition, Mr Whitty explained that whilst further biodiversity requirements are expected to be brought forward through the Environment Bill, only current policy could be applied to the development and the application of planning conditions.


On the issue of the ownership of Bellfield Nursery, Mr Bushell acknowledged that it was in different ownership; however, he reminded the Committee that a letter of confirmation and support for the scheme had been received from the owner of that nursery.


With regards to the Clappers Lane development site, which had been refused by the Committee; Mr Whitty explained the difference between the current application and the Clappers Lane site was evidence. There was substantial evidence from members of the public to show that there were major failings in the foul sewer network and, most significantly, Southern Water acknowledged these failings. On the current application, Southern Water has not raised any issues and there is no evidence to support claims that the development will have a detrimental impact. Southern Water has acknowledged that the network needs improvements and has asked that a phased approach to the development is adopted to allow time for the necessary works to be completed.


With regards to funding Southern Water reinforcement works through infrastructure charges; Mr Whitty confirmed that it was standard practice for off site development works to be funded through contributions. He explained the Interim Policy Statement (IPS) tries to ensure that sites requiring the least amount of work are brought forward first. Mr Whitty advised that there was a condition included within the report that prevented any site occupancy, until the drainage scheme had been approved.


On the matter of the impact of development on the A27; Mr Whitty acknowledged concerns raised by the Committee, however, he advised that the statutory consultee National Highways (formerly Highways England) had raised no objection to the development. There is no evidence to demonstrate that this development will have a significant impact upon the network and the impact of cumulative development would be addressed through the Local Plan. Mr Whitty stressed that unless significant adverse impacts could be demonstrated when applying the tilted balance the recommendation must be in favour to permit.


With regards to when the response from National Highways was received, Mr Whitty explained that he did not have the exact date to hand, but confirmed that the response did predate their announcement that the A27 scheme of mitigation was undeliverable.


On the matter of school provision, Mr Whitty acknowledged concerns regarding school places and the potential impact to communities if children were dispersed to different schools. However, he reminded the Committee that the issue of school provision was the responsibility of the WSCC Education service; they had not provided any comment on the application, but officers could approach them again to ask for comment.


In response to concerns raised by the Committee regarding the impact the development would have in respect of maintaining the local character, and the importance of the horticultural industry within the area; Mr Whitty agreed with the comments made and acknowledged that similar concerns had been included within the reasons for the previous refusal. However, what had not been demonstrated by the Committee was how their concerns impacted upon the tilted balance and how those concerns could tip the balance away from the overriding importance which the government attached to the delivery of houses.


On the issue of considering the impact of cumulative development; Mr Whitty acknowledged the Committee’s concerns but advised that a hypothesis of anticipated development could not be presented to a Planning Inspector as evidence. Consideration could only be given to the impact of developments already permitted.


Following the debate, Mr Brisbane proposed to defer the application so that further information may be sought to address concerns raised by Committee members during their debate. He proposed that further information and attendance at Committee be requested from; Southern Water and National Highways (formally Highways England) particularly regarding cumulative impact.


Mr Brisbane agreed to include within his proposal the request to also seek further information regarding the proposed 3m buffer and how it would enable the quantum of proposed development to be accommodated on the site; a request for the attendance and further information from WSCC highways and to seek a response from WSCC Education.


This proposal was seconded by Mr Potter


In response to the proposal Mr Whitty caveated that National Highways would not model proposed development and reiterated that the only way of managing the cumulative impact on the highway network was through the Local Plan.


In response to the question of whether outside bodies could be invited to attend the Committee meeting, Mr Whitty confirmed that officers would invite them to attend but they were under no obligation to attend.



In a vote the Committee agreed the recommendation to defer for further information.


Recommendation; Defer for further information from; Southern Water; National Highways (formally Highways England); WSCC Highways, WSCC Education and for further information regarding 3m buffer zone.



*Members took a ten minute break.


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