Agenda item

22/P/01306 - Land at the former Highlands Nurseries, Portsmouth Road, Ripley, GU23 6EY


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


·        Mr Callum Evans (to object);

·        Mr Frederick Trodd (to object);

·        Councillor Rowland Cornell (Ripley Parish Council) (in support) and;

·        Mr Adam Constantinou (Agent) (in support)


The Committee considered the above-mentioned application for erection of 25 no. affordable dwellings, with vehicular and

pedestrian access, public open space, car parking, tree works

and landscaping. (As amended by plans received on 25.10.23

and 01.11.23).


The Committee received a presentation from the Senior Planning Officer, John Busher.  The Committee noted the supplementary late sheets, specifically that Surrey County Council had withdrawn their requirement for primary and secondary years contributions.  They were now only seeking a £26,000 contribution towards early years education.  A few minor amendments had also been made to conditions with the addition of two informatives.  Two late letters of objections were also sent directly to councillors, one of those objections included a number of photographs taken from the rear garden of one of the neighbouring properties, which had superimposed images of the proposed dwellings.  Planning Officers wanted members to look at the images with a huge degree of caution as they did not accurately depict the dwellings as they are proposed.  No information was available as to whether they had been accurately scaled or if the heights were acceptable for their positions.


The application site was located on the western side of Portsmouth Road to the south of Ripley village.  The site is located within the Green Belt and was formerly a horticultural nursery and currently vacant and overgrown with trees and vegetation.  Residential properties were located to the north, two detached properties to the south and a ribbon of development on the other side of Portsmouth Road.   To the west was farmland known as Highlands Farm. The site was covered by an Area Tree Preservation Order (TPO) which was made in 2001 and covered all mature oak and ash trees. 

The proposal sought permission for 25 affordable dwellings which were to be secured as affordable rent.  In normal circumstances the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt was considered to be inappropriate development.  However, the NPPF listed a number of exceptions, such as providing limited affordable housing for local community needs.  Guildford also had it own policy on rural exception homes, policy H3, and officers felt that the proposal was an appropriate form of development in the Green Belt.


The existing access would be utilised and widened from Portsmouth Road.  The dwellings proposed would observe the established building line fronting onto Portsmouth Road.  The existing mature trees on the front boundary of the site would be retained and the dwellings well screened from views in the street scene.  A total of 47 parking spaces would be provided onsite and 12 of those were proposed to be constructed in grass crete so to soften the appearance of the parking area.  A footpath ran along the southern edge of the access road and provided access for pedestrians.  Open space and a children’s play space area was also proposed.  An attenuation basin, which in certain weather conditions would be useable for play and recreation as well.


The houses proposed were comprised of red brick and the elevations had timber cladding so to break up the design and provide some interest and variation.  The properties were a mix of semi-detached houses and apartments.  It was the officers view that the proposed dwellings fitted in well with the existing character, height and scale of the buildings currently on Portsmouth Road and were not overly cramped in any way.


Plots 6 to 8 had a separation distance with Broom House of between 13.7 and 14.5 metres.  The proposed dwellings were set so far back there would not be any harmful impact or loss of amenity to the residents of Broom House or any of the other surrounding properties.


In summary, the site was located in the Green Belt and the proposed development would provide 25 affordable homes for affordable rent.  As such, the application falls to be considered against the rural exception site policies at a local and national level.  The proposal was considered to be an inappropriate form of development in the Green Belt.  However, it would meet a large, identified need for affordable homes that currently exists in the borough.  The proposal was well designed and was in keeping with the scale and context of surrounding existing properties.  Each dwelling would be provided with significant private amenity space in the form of rear gardens and policy compliant communal amenity space and play space was also provided onsite.  No unacceptable harm had been identified to the residential amenities of surrounding properties and no objections had been raised by the statutory consultees.  Therefore, subject to the conditions as set out in the agenda as well as amended through the late sheets, the application was recommended for approval.     


The Committee discussed the application and noted concerns raised regarding the potential for flooding on the site.  It was noted that approval would need to be sought from Thames Water so the site could discharge to a public sewer.  However, it was unclear what would happen to any surface water.  In addition, concern was expressed for the wildlife and conditions were required to ensure their protection. 


The Committee also noted support for rural exception sites and that Ripley Parish Council did endorse this proposal.  Concern was raised that given there was no draft S106 agreement, how would the affordable homes be secured in perpetuity.  In terms of the proposal meeting the SHMA needs and the Lovelace Neighbourhood Plan, the proposal was for 40% affordable and the SHMA and Lovelace Neighbourhood Plan asked for 25% affordable homes which represented an imbalance.  A lot more was also needed to be included in the conditions regarding the preservation of biodiversity.  Lastly, the education for early years funding needed to invest in the immediate location of the development so to mitigate its effects, otherwise the monies go into a big pot that is otherwise unspent by Surrey County Council.


The Joint Assistant Director for Planning, Claire Upton-Brown clarified that Thames Water would not grant a discharge licence until there was planning permission in place.  The Committee was also reminded of comments from Surrey Wildlife Trust who were recommending conditions attached to the planning permission should it be granted.  These would address the issues around the impact upon species resulting from the proposal.   Finally, it was confirmed that the recommendation, which was normal practice, was to delegate authority to enable a S106 to be completed.  It was not normal practice to have a fully drafted S106 in advance of planning applications coming to committee. The S106 would however include securing this as affordable housing in perpetuity.  The Committee was also advised against submitting a reason for refusal based on biodiversity net gain when this was not a mandatory requirement.


The Committee noted comments that the proposal for affordable homes was of great need to the community of Ripley overall and was supported by the Parish Council.  The development was well designed in a cul-de-sac and the issues raised so far could be adequately dealt with by condition.  The Committee queried the deliverability of the scheme and was confirmed by planning officers that there was no evidence base in relation to this scheme regarding viability or lack of deliverability.  The Committee also received confirmation that the early years funding would be directed locally via the S106.


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









Vanessa King





David Bilbé





Joanne Shaw





Yves de Contades





Patrick Oven





Dominique Williams





Howard Smith





Richard Mills





Bilal Akhtar





Cait Taylor





Stephen Hives





Gillian Harwood





Catherine Young










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


RESOLVED to approve application 22/P/01306 subject to conditions, amended conditions as detailed in the supplementary late sheets and contributions secured through a Section 106 towards: education. Highways and Thames Basin Heath SPA mitigation.  


(i)                That delegated authority is granted to the Assistant Director of Planning Development to grant planning permission and make minor amendments to the wording of conditions subject to the applicant entering a Section 106 Agreement to secure:


·        SANGs (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) contribution;

·        education contributions;

·        SAMM (Strategic Access Management and Monitoring) contribution;

·        Free and unfettered access to the development to all;

·        Highways contribution;

·        Maintenance and management of the open space and play space;

·        Tenure of the affordable units to be affordable rented in perpetuity and to be provided to those with a local link to Ripley Parish; and

·        BNG monitoring in perpetuity.


(ii)              If, after 12 months has elapsed since the resolution of the Planning Committee to grant planning permission, the s.106 agreement is not completed then the application may be refused on the basis that the necessary mitigations to offset the impact of the development cannot be secured.



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