Agenda item

21/P/01306 - Land at Effingham Lodge Farm, Lower Road, Effingham, Leatherhead, KT24 5JP

Minutes:

The Committee considered the hybrid planning application for outline planning permission (only access to be considered) for the erection of 4 self-build dwellings on land at 408-410 Lower Road, Effingham following demolition of all existing buildings; and full planning permission for the erection of 110 dwellings, with access, parking, community assets, landscaping, and associated works on land at Effingham Lodge Farm, Lower Road, Effingham.

 

Prior to consideration of the application, the following persons addressed the

Committee in accordance with Public Speaking Procedure Rules 3(b):

 

·         Cllr Bronwen Roscoe (On behalf of Effingham Parish Council) (to object) (in person);

·         Mr Ian Smith (Vice-Chairman of Effingham Resident’s Association) (to object) (in person);

·         Mr John Rhodes OBE, Quod – Planning Consultant on behalf of the applicant (In Support) (online) and;

·         Ms Rhona Barnfield, The Howard Partnership Trust – on behalf of Howard of Effingham School (In Support) (in person)

 

The Committee received a presentation from the planning officer, John Busher.  The Committee noted the supplementary late sheets which detailed some corrections, additional information and late representations.  The Committee were also reminded that Mr Anthony Lee (Viability Consultant) was online in order to answer any queries.  The application was a hybrid planning application for part outline consent for 114 dwellings and open space on land to the north of Effingham.  Whilst the proposal was a separate planning application, it was also linked to the Howard of Effingham enabling proposal which was allowed on appeal by the Secretary of State in 2018.  The construction of 295 dwellings on three sites within the village would fund the construction of a new and expanded secondary school.  The appeal proposal was no longer viable, therefore the additional 114 dwellings proposed through this application was now required to make the scheme viable again.  The current proposal consisted of three sites, this site where 110 of the 114 dwellings would be located, a smaller site for outline planning permission for four detached dwellings and a new area of open space fronting onto Lower Road.  All three parcels of land were located within the Green Belt and were outside of the Effingham Conservation Area.  However, the parcel of land for outline planning permission did not adjoin the boundary of the Conservation Area.  A number of residential pockets were located along Effingham Common Road.  The largest parcel of land to the north would have 110 dwellings with the proposed access from Effingham Common Road and would use the spine road, approved at appeal.  The proposed four detached self and custom build houses would result in the demolition of two existing detached properties which currently occupied the site but were vacant and derelict and had been for some time.  The village green would also be located at the entrance to the wider development fronting onto Lower Road.      

 

The main residential site that would accommodate 110 dwellings would lead to two parcels of development with 40 apartments and 70 dwellings of which 19 per cent would be affordable which equated to 22 units.  Three apartment blocks would comprise of a mix of two and three storey buildings.  The proposed dwellings were a mix of terraces, semi-detached and detached properties.  The site would front onto the open space south of Thornet Wood and would include a linear path that would run through the centre of the site.

 

 

The area of open space would include a mixed fruit community orchard, a grass amenity area in the centre, a new hedge and tree planting and a new natural children’s play area.  Community growing gardens which were essentially allotments would also be provided and included sheds and composting facilities.

 

The three storey apartment blocks, planning officers believed were not excessively high and compared to other three-storey blocks already approved onsite at appeal.  The new village green would be surrounded by trees on all sides and a specimen oak planted in the middle.  There would also be a small path located around the perimeter of the open space as well as some benches.  The self and custom build properties would front onto Lower Road and would replace the existing two detached properties and would be accessed from the appeal proposal.  Planning officers were content that the four dwellings could be accommodated on the site and that access arrangements were acceptable.  The exact layout and design of the scheme would of course be considered at reserved matters stage.

 

The Committee noted that the appeal scheme approved by the Secretary of State was no longer viable and that in the current situation the replacement school could not be delivered.  Since the appeal was determined, the cost of delivering the scheme had significantly increased.  There was no prospect of public sector subsidies on the scale required and therefore the only feasible remedy to the lack of viability was to increase the number of houses which were necessary to pay for the school.  The scheme proposed an additional 114 dwellings which would meet most of the new deficit and rendered the scheme and replacement school as viable again.  This had also been independently verified by the Council and via the applicant’s own viability assessment. 

 

This proposal was inextricably linked to the appeal scheme and as such, planning officers had carried out a thorough examination of the Inspector and Secretary of State’s decision.  Planning officers had concluded that there were numerous harms arising from the proposal which were acknowledged both as a whole and combined with the appeal proposal did weigh against the scheme.  This included substantial weight given to the harm to the Green Belt and designated heritage assets and harm caused to the character of the area as well as the lack of the required number of self-build dwellings.  However, conversely the provision of a new modern purpose-built school with increased pupil spaces and dedicated special education needs facility would attract very substantial weight in favour of the proposal.  Significant weight was also afforded to the sustainability and energy improvements which were being offered by the applicant and secured by condition as well as the provision of new areas of public open space and gardens which would benefit the village more generally.  Planning officers considered that the benefits of the scheme did clearly and demonstrably outweigh the identified harm and as such the application was recommended for approval subject to a S106 Agreement.

 

In response to comments made by the public speakers, the planning officer, John Busher confirmed that the current application was separate and self-contained but that the appeal decision was also an important material consideration.  Planning officers had therefore undertaken a balancing exercise in reflecting the change in circumstances in the appeal scheme and the existing application.  In terms of housing need, the Council had a 7.1-year housing supply currently which was very healthy, however, despite that, the government had tasked local authorities with increasing housing availability overall and such provisions should therefore be given significant weight.  The need for the new school had been confirmed by the Surrey County Council Education Authority who supported the rebuilding of the Howard of Effingham School.

 

The Chairman permitted Councillor Liz Hogger to speak for five minutes in her capacity as Ward Councillor.  The Committee noted the key argument put forward was that whether the increased construction costs which affected the viability of the appeal scheme constituted very special circumstances for this development in the Green Belt.  The school architects Scott Brownrigg, who gave evidence at the public enquiry stated that the cost of building a new 2000 place school was 38 million pounds which had now gone up to 53.5 million pounds.  The Committee noted concerns raised whether the school was over-specified or if it was more expensive than you would expect for a normal state school.  Could more cost-effective options be explored, as looked at in the public inquiry, for delivering the improved facilities without needing additional homes in the Green Belt in order to pay for it.  The Committee also noted questions over whether the additional 400 places were required given that since the appeal a number of new schools had already been built and or extended.  In addition, with the five-year housing land supply, the extra home were arguably significant rather than substantial.  The proposed development also represented substantial harm to be caused to the Green Belt, causing a loss of openness and encroachment onto the countryside as well as substantial harm caused to the Effingham Conservation Area and harm caused to the character and appearance of the village.  The provision of affordable homes, at 19% was also concerning as well as the impact upon Thornet Wood.

 

The Committee discussed the application and noted comments that it was enabling development which had been supported by a viability assessment.  The proposed development in the Green Belt was disappointing but acknowledged that the balancing exercise undertaken found in favour of the development proceeding.

 

The Committee also noted remaining concerns regarding the change in costs in construction which had occurred over a relatively short space of time.  The rapid increase in house prices over the last two-three years had in particular affected the viability equation and would in turn affect how much money the developer would receive from the current proposal.  The Committee noted that they should look at this application in isolation from the school.  However, they were being advised that the two were inextricably linked.  Were additional school places required when the demand was falling overall, and school place numbers had generally increased elsewhere.

 

In response to comments made so far, the planning officer, John Busher confirmed that the Committee had to consider the application before it.  There was not an option for a remodelled application with fewer houses. The newly proposed school was in fact 15sqm smaller than the school that was originally approved by the Secretary of State.  Through various different reserved matters applications, planning officers had sought to reduce the spread and number of buildings and so the applicant had combined the sixth form centre with the sports hall as well as made some changes to the layout and design of the school so to try to save costs at an early stage.  The County Council also had not objected to the proposal and were consulted on the number of places proposed.

 

The Committee considered that a key question for the Viability Consultant, was what were their findings, having factored in the rise in property prices as opposed to the costs of building the school.  The Viability Consultant confirmed that values and costs were looked at that would be achievable as of today.  The issue in the assessment was that the school construction costs had increased and had been assessed by a QS School Advisor in Construction and the costs identified were in fact noted to be slightly light as certain items had been excluded from those costs.  Therefore, the amount of money made by the additional housing proposed was the minimum necessary to deliver the school.  There was no other money available in the scheme to do this.

 

The Committee noted further comments from the planning officer, John Busher that this application was inextricably linked to the school as it was enabling the school’s construction and had been included in the planning balance. 

 

The Committee noted concerns raised that the additional school places were not fundamentally necessary given the education authority was not paying for them.  Surely the education authority would be paying for the additional spaces if they were desperately needed.  The green belt harm had therefore significantly increased as the benefits afforded by the additional school places were not generated from a place of need. 

 

The Committee also asked what the diversity of the school places would look like when considering the very low percentage of affordable home provision at 19% and large uplift in school places from 600 to 2000.   The Committee also noted concerns raised regarding the play space and its impact upon the ancient woodland. 

 

In response to comments made by the Committee that there could be further houses built at a later date, the planning officer, John Busher confirmed that if that were to happen, then that would be subject to a separate planning application and was not for consideration now.  It was also confirmed that the school pupils would come from the local catchment area, and it was not known how many pupils would come from affordable homes.  The Council’s Ecologist and Tree Officer had also assessed the application and were happy with the relationship between the play area and ancient woodland. 

 

The Committee considered that the very special circumstances put forward did not outweigh the very significant harm that would be caused to the Green Belt by virtue of the size of the development and its location.  The openness of the countryside would be damaged and create an overbearing form of development particularly when viewed from Effingham Common Road harming the character and appearance of the area. 

 

A motion was moved and seconded to approve the application subject to a S106 which was lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECORDED VOTE LIST

 

 

COUNCILLOR

FOR

AGAINST

ABSTAIN

1

Cllr Jon Askew

 

X

 

2

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

 

X

 

3

Cllr Will Salmon

 

X

 

4

Cllr Fiona White

X

 

 

5

Cllr Chris Barrass

 

X

 

6

Cllr Colin Cross

 

X

 

7

Cllr Maddy Redpath

X

 

 

8

Cllr Deborah Seabrook

X

 

 

9

Cllr Liz Hogger

 

X

 

10

Cllr Paul Spooner

X

 

 

11

Cllr Ruth Brothwell

X

 

 

12

Cllr Pauline Searle

 

X

 

13

Cllr Angela Gunning

X

 

 

 

TOTALS

6

7

0

 

A subsequent motion was moved and seconded to refuse the application which was carried.

 

RECORDED VOTE LIST

 

 

COUNCILLOR

FOR

AGAINST

ABSTAIN

1

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

X

 

 

2

Cllr Pauline Searle

X

 

 

3

Cllr Colin Cross

X

 

 

4

Cllr Will Salmon

X

 

 

5

Cllr Ruth Brothwell

X

 

 

6

Cllr Jon Askew

X

 

 

7

Cllr Deborah Seabrook

 

X

 

8

Cllr Paul Spooner

 

X

 

9

Cllr Angela Gunning

 

X

 

10

Cllr Liz Hogger

X

 

 

11

Cllr Chris Barrass

X

 

 

12

Cllr Maddy Redpath

 

X

 

13

Cllr Fiona White

 

 

X

 

TOTALS

8

4

1

 

In conclusion, having taken account of the representations received in relation to the application, the Committee

 

RESOLVED to refuse application 21/P/01306 for the following reasons:

 

1.    The proposal represents inappropriate development within the Green Belt which is harmful by definition. In addition, due to the quantum of development and its location, the proposal would result in a harmful loss of openness to the Green Belt and would result in further encroachment into the countryside, thereby conflicting with the purposes of including land within the Green Belt. The case for very special circumstances has been considered, however, the benefits of this proposal are not considered to clearly outweigh the inherent harm to the green belt (and any other harm). As such, the proposal is contrary to policy P2 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan Strategy and Sites, policies ENP-G1 and ENP-G5 of the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan and chapter 13 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

2.    Taking into account the rural character of the surroundings, the proposal would represent an overly urban form of development which would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area, including the prominent views of the development from Effingham Common Road. The proposal is therefore contrary to policy D1 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan Strategy and Sites, policy ENP-G2 of the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan, chapter 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework and the National Design Guide.

 

3.    The site lies within the 400m to 5km zone of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA). In the absence of a completed planning obligation, the Local Planning Authority is not satisfied that there will be no likely significant effect on the Special Protection Area and, in the absence of an appropriate assessment, is unable to satisfy itself that this proposal, either alone or in combination with other development, would not have an adverse effect on the integrity of the Special Protection Area and the relevant Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As such the development is contrary to the objectives of saved policy NE4 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan 2003 (as saved by CLG Direction on 24/09/07), policy P5 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites and conflicts with saved policy NRM6 of the South East Plan 2009. For the same reasons the development would fail to meet the requirements of Regulation 63 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 as amended, and as the development does not meet the requirements of Regulation 64 the Local Planning Authority must refuse to grant planning permission.

 

4.    In the absence of a completed planning obligation the development fails to mitigate its impact on infrastructure provision. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

 

· the delivery of 22 affordable housing units;

· provision of SAMM contributions;

· secure SANG land to mitigate the impact of the development on the TBHSPA;

· contribution towards Police infrastructure;

· contribution towards early years education projects;

· contribution towards health care infrastructure;

· contribution towards but not limited to, the Digital Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) bus service and enhancements of the existing local public bus service as required;

· a contribution towards the 'Lower Road/Effingham Common Road Traffic Calming' scheme;

· a Travel Plan auditing fee;

· secure triggers which prohibit the commencement of the development until certain circumstances are met (these may be tied to the construction of the replacement school and/or the already approved residential phase on Lodge Farm); and

· securing the provision, maintenance and management of the open space areas proposed through the planning application, including the new village green area, the natural play area, community growing gardens, amenity space and a community orchard. Accordingly, the proposal is contrary to policies ID1 and ID3 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites (LPSS) 2015-2034, the Council's Planning Contributions SPD 2017 and the NPPF.

 

 

 

 

 

Informatives:

1. This decision relates expressly to drawing(s):

 

 

 

No.

Drawing / Document Title

 

 

01023C_S01

Site Location Plan

01023C_MP02

Illustrative Masterplan

 

 

01023C_S01

Site Sections - Sheet 1

01023C_S02

Site Sections - Sheet 2

01023C_S03

Site Sections - Sheet 3

01023C_S04

Site Sections - Sheet 4

01023C_S05

Site Sections - Sheet 5

 

 

01023C_001A

Plot 1 - Elevations

01023C_001C

Plot 1 - Plans

01023C_002A

Plot 2 - Elevations

01023C_002B

Plot 2 - Plans

01023C_003A

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01023C_003B

Plot 3 - Plans

01023C_004A

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01023C_004B

Plot 4 - Plans

01023C_005A

Plot 5-6 - Elevations 1

01023C_005B

Plot 5-6 - Elevations 2

01023C_006A

Plot 5-6 - Plans 1

01023C_006B

Plot 5-6 - Plans 2

01023C_007A

Plot 7-8 - Elevations 1

01023C_007B

Plot 7-8 - Elevations 2

01023C_008A

Plot 7-8 - Plans 1

01023C_008B

Plot 7-8 - Plans 2

01023C_009A

Plot 9 - Elevations

01023C_009B

Plot 9 - Plans

01023C_010A

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01023C_010B

Plot 10 - Plans

01023C_011A

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01023C_011B

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01023C_012A

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01023C_012B

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01023C_013A

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01023C_013B

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01023C_014A

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01023C_014B

Plot 14 - Plans

01023C_015A

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01023C_015B

Plot 15 - Plans

01023C_016A

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01023C_016B

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01023C_017

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01023C_019A

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01023C_019B

Plot 19-20 - Elevations 2

01023C_020A

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01023C_020B

Plot 19-20 - Plans 2

01023C_021A

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01023C_021B

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01023C_022A

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01023C_022B

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01023C_023A

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01023C_024A

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01023C_025A

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01023C_026B

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01023C_027A

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01023C_027B

Plot 27 - Plans

01023C_028

Plot 29-30 - Elevations1

01023C_029

Plot 29-30 - Elevations1

01023C_030

Plot 29-30 - Plans

01023C_031A

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01023C_031B

Plot 31-32 - Elevations 2

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01023C_033

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01023C_034

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01023C_036

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01023C_037

Plot 36-39 - Elevations 2

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Plot 36-39 - Plans

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01023C_041

Plot 40-41 - Plans

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Plot 42-47 - Elevations 1

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Plot 42-47 - Elevations 2

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Plot 42-47 - Plans 1

01023C_045

Plot 42-47 - Plans 2

01023C_048

Plot 48-53 - Elevations 1

01023C_049

Plot 48-53 - Elevations 2

01023C_050

Plot 48-53 - Plans 1

01023C_051

Plot 48-53 - Plans 2

01023C_054A

Plot 54 - Elevations

01023C_054B

Plot 54 - Plans

01023C_055A

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01023C_055B

Plot 55 - Plans

01023C_056A

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01023C_057A

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01023C_057B

Plot 57 - Plans

01023C_058A

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01023C_058B

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01023C_063B

Plot 63 - Elevations 2

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Plot 63 - Plans

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01023C_064B

Plot 64 - Plans

01023C_065

Plot 65-67 - Elevations

01023C_066

Plot 65-67 - Plans

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Plot 68-69 - Elevations

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01023C_070

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01023C_072

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01023C_073

Plot 72-79 - Elevations 2

01023C_074

Plot 72-79 - Plans 1

01023C_075

Plot 72-79 - Plans 2

01023C_080A

Plot 80 - Elevations

01023C_080B

Plot 80 - Plans

 

01023C_081A

Plot 81-82 - Elevations 1

01023C_081B

Plot 81-82 - Elevations 2

01023C_082

Plot 81-82 - Plans

01023C_083A

Plot 83 - Elevations

01023C_083B

Plot 83 - Plans

01023C_084

Plot 84-91 - Elevations 1

01023C_085

Plot 84-91 - Elevations 2

01023C_086

Plot 84-91 - Plans 1

01023C_087

Plot 84-91 - Plans 2

01023C_092

Plot 92-94 - Elevations

01023C_093

Plot 92-94 - Plans

01023C_095

Plot 95-106 - Elevations 1

01023C_096

Plot 95-106 - Elevations 2

01023C_097

Plot 95-106 - Plans 1

01023C_098

Plot 95-106 - Plans 2

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Plot 95-106 - Plans 3

01023C_107A

Plot 107-108 - Elevations 1

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Plot 107-108 - Elevations 2

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Plot 107-108 - Plans 1

01023C_108B

Plot 107-108 - Plans 2

01023C_109

Plot 109-110 - Elevations 1

01023C_110

Plot 109-110 - Plans

1581-002E

ThornetWood Community Open Space

1581-003D

ResidentialLandscape Masterplan

1581-004E

VillageGreen Landscape Plan

 

2. This statement is provided in accordance with Article 35(2) of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.

Guildford Borough Council seek to take a positive and proactive approach to

development proposals. We work with applicants in a positive and proactive

manner by:

 

?? Offering a pre application advice service

?? Where pre-application advice has been sought and that advice has been

followed we will advise applicants/agents of any further issues arising during the course of the application

?? Where possible officers will seek minor amendments to overcome issues

identified at an early stage in the application process

 

However, Guildford Borough Council will generally not engage in unnecessary

negotiation for fundamentally unacceptable proposals or where significant changes to an application is required.

 

In this case pre-application advice was sought before submission and the applicant addressed some concerns raised before submission. However, the Local Planning Authority found that the submitted scheme was not acceptable and permission was therefore refused.

 

   

      

Supporting documents: