Agenda item

22/P/01757 - Gravetts Lane, Tangley Lane, Worplesdon, Guildford, GU3 3JY


The Committee considered the above-mentioned full application for demolition and replacement of Gravetts Lane Stables with nine residential units with associated parking and amenity space. 


Whilst this application qualified for speakers owing to the number of representations received, nobody had registered to speak.


The Committee received a presentation from the Senior Planning Officer, Lisa Botha.  The site was located within the Green Belt, was covered by an Article 4 Direction and was also located within the 400 metre to 5km buffer zone of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).  The site was located to the north of Tangley Lane and comprised of a number of buildings, sand school and hardstanding.  A further three buildings were located further to the west which would also be demolished as part of the proposal. 


The development had been designed to take the appearance of a converted farm complex set around a courtyard so to respect its transitional location and the boundary between the Green Belt and the urban area and to respect its rural setting.  The access to the site was located to the south, with a terrace of three properties and two parking spaces each.  Car parking spaces were also located on the opposite side of the road.  A bin and cycle store was proposed underneath a canopy.  A turning head for the refuse vehicles was planned giving enough space to turn onsite and move out in forward gear.


In summary, the proposal represented inappropriate development within the Green Belt due to the height of the proposed dwellings and the location of plots 1 and 3.  However, it was considered that very special circumstances existed that clearly outweighed the identified harm.  No harm was identified to the character of the area, and it was considered that the proposed development would be appropriately rural in character in the transition between the urban area and the Green Belt.  The dwellings were considered to be well designed and would provide a mix of property types to reflect the identified need in the borough.  No harm to neighbouring amenity would occur due to the separation distances to neighbouring dwellings.  Existing vehicle access to the site would be utilised and upgraded and sufficient parking would be provided onsite for any future occupants as well as visitors.  No objection was raised to the proposed development in terms of impact on trees with regard to biodiversity and ecology.


A number of conditions had been added together with the biodiversity enhancements also secured by condition.  Sustainability measures had also been considered as part of the proposed development and conditions recommended to secure these.  The proposal was therefore considered by officers to be acceptable, subject to the completion of a unilateral agreement which would be sought to secure the necessary financial contributions in order to mitigate the impact of the proposed development on the integrity of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).  The proposed development was therefore recommended for approval.   


The Committee discussed the application and noted comments that the proposed development would be an improvement upon what currently existed.  Given there was a village located nearby, it was queried why the site was not identified as a brownfield site rather than Green Belt.  The Committee noted further comments regarding the benefit of replacing the existing buildings with much needed housing. 


However, the development was nevertheless proposed on Green Belt land which was by definition inappropriate.  By permitting such a development to take place would set a precedent for future applications submitted.  The Committee agreed that the very special circumstances identified in the officer’s report to outweigh the proposed development in the Green Belt were unconvincing.  The proposal represented a significant extension of the built-up area.  The environmental benefits afforded by the scheme purportedly increasing biodiversity were questioned given the biodiversity that already existed onsite in the Green Belt land.  The scheme was not perceived as one which would significantly contribute towards meeting the housing need in the borough.  The small economic benefit of having builders onsite would only be provided in the short-term.  Crucially, the Green Belt had to be preserved.     


The Committee also noted that there appeared to be two access point into the neighbouring fields and that by leaving access available, development would occur cumulatively by extending the urban area into the Green Belt.  The Committee also noted that given only 9 houses were proposed, the developer was not obliged to provide affordable housing.  


The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that the site was not agricultural and if it was it wouldn’t benefit from the NPPF exemption for a development on previously developed land such as a brownfield site.  The proposal had to be assessed against the very special circumstances afforded by the scheme weighed against the inappropriate form of development in the Green Belt.  It was confirmed that the original application submitted was for x10 dwellings.  Planning officers worked with the applicant to reduce the footprint of the buildings, a reduction in the volume of the development across the site and a reduction in the hard surfacing as well.  Plots 1-3 were in a part of the site that was currently undeveloped, but it would take away volume and footprint from the higher points on the site which were more visible and bring it into a location closer to existing development.  Access to the neighbouring field would need to be retained for legal reasons so that the horses that lived there could be tended to.  If any further applications came forward, access would be assessed as part of that process.  The area was also hard surfaced currently where the existing buildings were and therefore the additional planting proposed would enhance the land along with the removal of the hard surfacing.  The buildings were not open either and therefore no bats would be roosting. 


The Committee noted comments that the Green Belt could be built on if the very special circumstances that existed were strong and valid to counter the impact of such a development.  Planning officers were satisfied that no harm had been identified to the character of the area nor would the development harm neighbouring amenities.  In addition, the existing vehicle access would be utilised and upgraded.  No objection to the development had been raised with regard to the impact on trees. Mitigation was also in place in terms of the S106 and SANGs funding contribution.  


The Committee nevertheless agreed that the special circumstances did not outweigh the harm caused by the development to the Green Belt.


The Committee debated the reasons to refuse the application which was carried and voted by a show of hands, 8:2, with 2 abstensions.


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










Cllr Jason Fenwick





Cllr Stephen Hives





Cllr Bilal Akhtar





Cllr James Jones





Cllr Lizzie Griffiths





Cllr Howard Smith





Cllr Gillian Harwood





Cllr David Bilbé





Cllr Yves de Contades





Cllr Richard Mills





Cllr Vanessa King





Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price





Cllr Cait Taylor










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


RESOLVED to refuse application 22/P/01757 for the following reason:


There have been insufficient special circumstances demonstrated and therefore the proposed development would be an inappropriate form of development which was harmful to the Green Belt as well as impacting upon the openness of the Green Belt.  As such, the proposal is contrary to Policy P2 of the Local Plan and paragraph 154 of the NPPF.







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