[NOTE: In accordance with the procedure for public speaking at Planning Committee, Mr Graham Cundy attended the meeting and spoke in objection to the application and Ms karen Tipper spoke in support.]
The Committee considered an application for outline Planning Application for the demolition of existing vehicle garage for MOT and servicing (including showroom) and the erection of up to 11no. dwellings with all matters reserved except access.
Cllr R Leach, Ward Councillor, commented that the site was in a conservation area and part of the village of St Johns. Councillor R Leach understood that some development was expected on this site as it was part of the Site Allocations DPD, but asked for some clarification on this. Three key concerns had been raised by residents which included the proposed density of the development which was for up to eleven units in a fairly small space and that there were no buildings of this height in St Johns village. Another concern was the highway risks with the proposed access point onto the mini roundabout and decreased visibility with the development on the currently open forecourt. There was also concern regarding parking, which did not seem to take account of visitor parking. Residents were very concerned that this could set a precedent in the area and similar development could follow.
Following a question the Planning Officer confirmed that Surrey County Council had not raised any objection to highway safety.
Many Members of the Committee asked for clarification on why this application had come forward as an outline application and wanted assurance that approval of this would not leave them in a position where they had to approve subsequent applications for the site on the reserved matters. The Planning Officer explained that these type of application were not common, but sometimes an outline application was used to find out if an application was possible on site. For this application the reserved matters were appearance, landscape, layout and scale, and it was confirmed that the Planning Committee could refuse the reserved matters application if they were not happy with these elements. The Development Manager confirmed that the only elements before the Committee to consider at this time was the access and whether the principal of eleven units on this site was acceptable. The Committee heard that the Site Allocations DPD policy did state that this site could yield at least eleven dwellings. The Site Allocations DPD had gone through a thorough examination process and the outcome was that this was an allocated site for at least eleven dwellings.
Following a question regarding the current vehicle access the Planning Officer confirmed that there were dropped kerbs on both roads, but the main access was from St Johns Road, which was where the proposed access was.
Condition 5 on the outline application stated ‘up to’ eleven units, so if approved the applicant could not come back with more units than this on the site.
The Committee questioned whether the reserved matters application would automatically come back to the Planning Committee or whether the decision would be delegated. The Development Manager confirmed that normally those reserved matters would be subject to a delegated decision, however any Councillor had the option to call this application before the Planning Committee. The Committee thought it imperative that the reserved matters application must come back to the Planning Committee. The Development Manager confirmed that he could use his discretion to ensure this was brought back. It would be automatically brought back to the planning Committee if it was called in by a Councillor.
It was noted that the number of parking spaces would be agreed at reserved matters stage.
Following a question the Planning Officer clarified that further conditions could be added on at the reserved matters stage and that there would be further opportunity for public representations to be made.
Some Members commented that there was not a major planning reason to refuse this, but it felt uncomfortable to approve it. Members commented that from experience they knew that once things like this were in place, it was easier to progress. Members were concerned that the applicant had submitted an outline application in order to get a ‘foot in the door’.
The Chairman queried whether the applicant had put forward the addition of a pedestrian crossing and it was confirmed by the Planning Officer that Conditions 16 – 22 were all highways related, which included a pedestrian crossing.
The Committee were reminded that if they refused this without good planning reason it would likely be taken to Appeal, and if lost, costs awarded.
In accordance with Standing Orders, the Chairman deemed that a division should be taken on the recommendation in the report. The votes for and against approval of the application were recorded as follows.
In favour: Cllrs T Aziz, S Greentree, C Martin, L Morales (Chairman) and S Mukherjee.
Against: Cllrs S Dorsett, D Jordan, S Oades and T Spenser.
Present but not voting: Cllrs G Cosnahan
The application was therefore approved.
That outline planning permission be GRANTED subject to conditions and Section 106 Agreement.