Agenda item

21/P/01997 - Laurel Bank Cottage, Seale Lane, Seale, Farnham, GU10 1LD


The Committee considered the above-mentioned full application for demolition of existing garage, proposed relocation of the front door with porch, side extension and raising of roof to provide pitch roof all round.


The Committee received a joint presentation for this application and 22/P/00203 from the planning officer, Ben Mitchell.  The Committee noted that the application was for the demolition of an existing garage with the relocation of the porch, single side extension and alterations to the roof.  There was also a retrospective application, 22/P/00203 for the retention of a front rear side boundary wall and gates.  Both application were recommended for approval.  The site was located along Seale Lane and was within the Green Belt, outside of an identified settlement boundary.  The site was also with the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and AGLV.


With regard to application 21/P/01997 for alterations to the bungalow, the side extension extended for 0.1 metres on the side elevation of the dwelling and included the formation of a hipped roof with a new porch.  The scale and design of the proposed development would be a fairly typical bungalow development.  The surrounding area was characterised by varying dwelling types with a mixed character of both bungalows and two storey dwellings utilising a variety of materials.  The site was bounded by tall mature vegetation.  The single storey dwelling was adjacent to two storey dwellings which would be taller in overall height than the proposed bungalow. 


In relation to application 22/P/00203, which was for the retention of the boundary wall.  The boundary wall extended along the front western side and part of the rear of the site.  The majority of the wall was between 1.82 metres in height with piers which extend to 2.1 metres in height.  The entire wall used a light wash brick material.  The County Highway Authority had not raised any concerns.  Planting had been proposed adjacent to the front wall and would be secured by condition.  The majority of the wall within the application did not appear to be significantly taller than the previous fencing and would rise to a maximum of 4.8 metres and was a retaining wall that accounted for the subsidence of the adjacent bank. The design and scale of the wall was not considered to be out of keeping with the plot and residential dwelling. 


The Chairman permitted Councillor Tony Rooth to speak in his capacity as Ward Councillor for three minutes.  The property was within the Green Belt and AONB and under Policy P2 of the Local Plan inappropriate development was not permitted in the Green Belt unless very special circumstances could be demonstrated.  The building already represented a 119% uplift on the original building and would become even more inappropriate if extended to 161% uplift.  As proposed in this application, the officer report clearly stated that the proposed development with the previous additions would result in inappropriate development in the Green Belt which was unacceptable in principle and harmful by definition to the Green Belt.  The applicant had put forward no very special circumstances, however, the officer finds that although the application would not normally be considered acceptable, the removal of permitted development rights would represent a very special circumstance which would clearly outweigh the harm by reason of inappropriateness to the Green Belt.  The Committee noted comments that it should question whether the removal of permitted development rights constituted very special circumstances in this case.  In addition to Local Plan Policy P2, there was saved Local Plan Policy 2003 which specified that a presumption against extensions to dwellings resulted in disproportionate additions.  Taking into account the size of the original development, the 2003 Policy applied because it resulted in disproportionate additions on the size of the original development.


The Interim Head of Place, Dan Ledger clarified in response to comments made by the ward Councillor that policy H9 from the 2003 plan was superseded by policy P2 of the 2019 local plan, so it was not a policy that could be relied upon for decision making.  Whilst the officer report did acknowledge that the proposal represented inappropriate development it was for the Committee to consider whether it was outweighed by the reasons put forward.      Caution was also stressed against phrases such as even more inappropriate development.  The test in the NPPF was whether it was inappropriate or not.


The Committee discussed the application and noted that the officer’s technical knowledge would need to be relied on with respect to whether very special circumstances were weighed against the removal of permitted development rights.  Discomfort was also expressed at citing percentage increases and that when looking at the property in its setting and the circumstances and nature of that development it looked like a relatively straight forward modest extension. 


The Committee was also concerned that it was being asked to approve an application when the officer had stated in the report that the proposal was unacceptable in principle and harmful by definition to the Green Belt.  The scheme was also justified by planning officers in stating in their report that the development could occur under classes A, AA, B and D under permitted development rights.  Owing to concerns over what could happen in the future onsite, it put the Committee in a difficult situation.  In terms of volume, the roof was considerably higher than the current situation and left room for something to be built in the future.


Was the Committee being asked to vote on this as an alternative of what might happen in the future?  The Committee requested legal clarification on this point.  The Legal Advisor, James Tong confirmed that the application recommended for approval could be approved under permitted development without the need for applying for full planning permission.  The issue was whether the officer’s recommendation to remove permitted development rights, amounting to very special circumstances would alleviate the issues concerned with the Green Belt.  The issue for members was whether or not those special circumstances, with the removal of permitted development rights was sufficient to consider the application.   





The Committee requested clarification that it was being asked to vote on this application as it stood and not on something that might happen in the future. 


The Legal Advisor, James Tong confirmed that was correct, with the removal of permitted development rights.


The Interim Head of Place, Dan Ledger further clarified that members should refer to page 31 of the agenda.  With these types of applications there was often a preceding application which may set out a certificate of lawful development which was not the case here.  Planning officers had however gone into the history of the site which did set out that given the large sections of rear and side elevations that still existed, there was considerable potential for the dwelling to be extended beyond its current envelope.  In addition to the recent changes to permitted development regulations which allow extensions to come forward along with other changes to the scheme, officers felt that given the containment that would result from the extension, keeping it within a modest rectangular form, whilst there was an increase in roof height to a hipped roof, appropriate for the size of the building that was preferable to other changes which could occur.  Comments were also made with regard to what could happen within the roofspace.  That was very different when considering what may or may not happen in the future and what may then need to be applied for should this be built out.  If further additions on the resulting roof form were required a further grant of planning permission would need to be sought.       


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










Pauline Searle





Ramsey Nagaty





Ruth Brothwell





Bob McShee





Angela Gunning





Fiona White





Chris Barrass





Maddy Redpath





Jon Askew





Angela Goodwin





David Bilbe










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


RESOLVED to approve application 21/P/01997 subject to the reasons and conditions as detailed in the report.

Supporting documents: