Agenda item

21/P/02454 - Land between Smugglers End and Merlins, Smugglers Way, The Sands, Farnham, GU10 1LW


Prior to the consideration of this application, the Chairman wished to make an announcement and stated that the Council had received communication from the National Casework Unit within the Department from Levelling Up, Housing and Communities advising that they have been contacted about calling in the application which would mean the determination falls to the Secretary of State.  The unit are currently considering this request and have asked that the Council do not make a formal decision on this application until they have advised of their decision on this request.  This decision is expected in the next few days.

This remains an informal request only and is not a holding direction and has not paused the determination period of the application.  Therefore, Councillors are able to consider the planning merits during the planning committee meeting as they would any other application.  Whatever the outcome the decision would not be processed until a further response has been received from the Department.

The Committee considered the above-mentioned full application for erection of a single dwelling and attached garage on land between Smugglers End and Merlins, Smugglers Way. 


Prior to consideration of the application, the following persons addressed the Committee in accordance with Public Speaking Procedure Rules 3(b):


·         Mr Jack Jordan (to object);

·         Mr Matthew Keane (Applicant) (In Support) and;

·         Mr Michael Conoley (Agent) (In Support)


The Committee received a presentation from the planning officer, Becky Souter.  The Committee noted the supplementary late sheets which included an update on the impact on trees and vegetation as well as amendment to the wording of condition 5.  A similar application for the site was presented to the Planning Committee in September 2021 and refused.  The current application related to a parcel of land within the village of the sands, located to the south of Smugglers End and to the north of Merlin’s which was formed of residential dwellings adjoining the site.  The site was located within the Green Belt and formed part of the Surrey Hills AONB and AGLV.  The site was predominantly surrounded by residential properties, to the east was the Barley Mow pub and its associated facilities.  The application proposed the construction of a 5-bedroom detached 2-storey dwelling with attached single garage and new vehicular access from Smugglers Way.  The development would be concentrated in the northern half of the site so to minimise its visibility in the wider area and to avoid a group of trees that were subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).  The pattern of development changed from fairly close-knit in this area to more sporadic and dominated by larger properties in significant plots as you move away from the village.  The application site was located within the Green Belt and new dwellings were permitted in the Green Belt if they fell under the limited infilling within villages exceptions test.  The test the proposal therefore needed to meet was whether the site was within a village and substantially surrounded by built development.  In the planning officer’s view, the site was substantially surrounded by other built form and did form part of the gap within a continuous frontage.  The matter of whether a new dwelling could constitute limited infilling in this location had been debated previously in September 2021 when the Committee concluded that the development would not be harmful in the Green Belt.






The number of first floor windows were limited and only one was present to serve a bathroom which would be obscure glazed to limit any impact on neighbouring privacy.  With regard to the proposed street scene, the land level rose to the south and as such the neighbouring property Merlin’s was sat on much higher land.  Owing to these land levels and the height of the dwelling this would represent a gradual step up in the height of the building.  The revised scheme had reduced the scale and bulk of the dwelling and removed the detached garage in order to overcome the previous reason for refusal which related to the positioning of a detached garage and to the scale, bulk and design of the dwelling.  Since the planning committee site visit that was undertaken last year, the neighbours at Smugglers had constructed a garage which was significantly bulkier and quite prominent in the streetscene compared to how it was previously.  The proposed dwelling would be set well away from this property occupying the northern end of the site with the trees subject to a TPO to be retained.  Due to the proposed positioning of the dwelling and its scale and design, the proposal would not have any materially harmful impact on views from this location where the site was most likely to be viewed from publicly.


In conclusion, the proposal was found to be acceptable and represented an appropriate form of development in this location which had been sensitively designed to respect its surroundings and the character of the local area.  The application was therefore recommended for approval subject to conditions.


In response to comments made by the public speakers, The Head of Place, confirmed that there was a separate application being considered at appeal.  However, regardless of that fact, the Committee had to determine the application before it.


The Chairman permitted the Ward Councillor, Tony Rooth to speak for three minutes.  The Committee noted concerns raised that the proposal did not qualify as limited infilling.  Neither Policy P2 or the NPPF paragraph 149 specified what the gap was constituted of.  The site frontage was approximately 100 metres wide and was therefore clearly not a small gap in a continuous built-up frontage.  The Committee also noted concerns raised in relation to the impact upon trees and vegetation.  Whilst TPO’s had been confirmed on 13 of the trees in March 2022, it appeared that the layout and positioning of the site was actually closer to the TPO trees in the present application.


The Head of Place, Dan Ledger confirmed that with regard to limited infilling it was important to note the wording of the NPPF in defining what was and wasn’t appropriate development in the Green Belt.  Paragraph 149 of the NPPF stated that the local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt and then listed exceptions to this and limited infilling in the villages was one of those exceptions.  It was for the determining authority to consider whether it constituted limited infilling in the Green Belt.  This reason was additionally not given previously when the Committee refused a similar application for this site in September 2021.  With regard to the effect of the development on the TPO’d trees, the Council’s Tree Officer had assessed the site and was content that the development would not harm those trees. 


The Committee considered the application and noted points raised that the proposal did represent limited infilling.  Previously the Committee had been concerned regarding the detached garage and its effect upon the surrounding views.  However, the applicant had worked with officers to address those concerns and that the proposal did meet the Green Belt tests on balance.


The Committee requested clarification on the gross external floor area and whether it included the garage.  The planning officer confirmed that a reduction in floor area had been achieved across the whole site.  The side element had been removed to accommodate the garage.


The Committee noted continued concerns raised regarding infilling and whether the proposal represented a continuous built-up frontage.  The Committee was reminded by the Chairman that this issue was not given as a reason in relation to the previous refusal and the Council had to remain consistent.


The Committee noted comments that it had to look at each application according to its own merits.  The Committee considered if the application should be refused given the sites location in the AONB.  The small gap was estimated to be some 48 metres long which was therefore surely not small.  In addition, concerns were raised regarding the general bulk of the building, not just the garage which should be taken into account.


The Committee considered overall that the applicant had taken on board the concerns raised when the application had previously been refused in September 2021.  The applicant had reduced the scale, bulk, height and footprint of the proposed scheme.  In addition, the garage was now attached to the dwelling, positioned on the northern elevation.


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










Fiona White





Angela Gunning





Colin Cross





Chris Barrass





Chris Blow





Angela Goodwin





Pauline Searle





Marsha Moseley





Maddy Redpath





Jon Askew





Guida Esteves





Ruth Brothwell





Paul Spooner





Liz Hogger











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


RESOLVED to approve application 21/P/02454 subject to the conditions and reasons as detailed in the report.





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