Agenda item

24/P/00308 - Orchard Walls, Beech Avenue, Effingham


The Committee considered the above-mentioned full application for erection of metal gates and railings at entrance into development.  The application had been referred to the Planning Committee by the Executive Head of Planning and Development.


The Committee received a presentation from the Senior Planning Officer, Victoria Bates.  The Committee noted the supplementary late sheets where an additional condition had been proposed to secure landscaping.  The applicant had also submitted an additional drawing showing the proposed streetscene elevation.  An appeal decision had been included for the Committee’s information.  Lastly, the parish council had submitted an additional letter which elaborated upon some of the points they had originally raised.  


The application sought planning permission for the erection of metal gates and railings at the entrance into the development of Orchard Walls, Beech Avenue in Effingham.  The application site was located on the north side of Beech Avenue, close to Effingham Village which was inset from the Green Belt.  The site consisted of the entrance to a cul de sac of eight dwellings which were currently being constructed pursuant to planning permission 23/P/00136. 


The site was located outside of the Effingham Conservation Area.  The development in the cul-de-sac was more suburban in character and quite different in terms of the pattern of development within the historic core of Effingham village.  The site was formerly occupied by a single dwelling set within a large garden that was accessed off Beech Avenue which was fronting onto the Conservation Area.  Whilst the dwellings themselves were visible from the Conservation Area, the new access and proposed gates were very much viewed in the context of the Beech Close street scene.


The development was still under construction and some landscaping had been planted out.  Additional landscaping was proposed as part of this scheme adjacent to the gates.  Beech hedging was a characteristic boundary treatment in this area and new beech hedging had been recently planted along Orchard Walls. 




The proposal had been reviewed by the County Highway Authority who had advised that there would be no adverse impact upon highway safety.  Objections had been raised by the Parish Council and third parties in relation to the proposals impact on the setting of the Effingham Conservation Area and on the surrounding area, particularly the boundary treatments along Beech Close.


The Committee was referred to an application which the Council had refused earlier this year.  Planning officers considered it to be similar to the current proposal – 23/P/01779 and was in relation to entrance gates that were allowed at appeal.  The Inspector concluded as part of that appeal that the development had a very private feel already due to the narrowness of the access and considered that it made a very limited contribution in terms of the opportunity for social interactions or promoting social cohesion.  In allowing the appeal, the Inspector acknowledged that the creation of gated communities did not represent good design, however, given the circumstances of the site, the Inspector felt that the addition of the gates  would not materially increase the perception that this was a private development.  The Committee noted that there were some similarities and differences between the two sites and that each application must be considered according to its own merits. 


In conclusion, whilst it was recognised that the proposal would introduce gates which were not already a feature of the Beech Avenue street scene, on balance it was considered that in their own right they would not have an unacceptable detrimental impact on the character of Beech Close or on the setting of the Effingham Conservation Area.  The application was therefore recommended for approval subject to the conditions and reasons as set out in the agenda.  


The Chairperson permitted Councillor Merel Rehorst-Smith to speak in her capacity as Ward Councillor for three minutes.  The Committee noted concerns raised that reference to different applications that involved gated developments was inappropriate and not related to this specific example.  The Committee noted that Effingham was a rural village that valued the interaction of people in the community, especially close neighbours and was also an area of low crime.  The gates proposed would prevent the friendly interaction and create barriers.  The Committee was asked to consider refusing the application owing to its social divisiveness.  Paragraph 96 of the NPPF set out that planning decisions should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places which promote social interaction, including opportunities for meeting people who might not otherwise meet.  The National Design Guide 2021 expanded on this, emphasising that good design promoted social inclusion.  Beech Close had always been a welcoming tight-knit community and a physical barrier between the new houses and Beech Close would create a gated enclave and would not be in accordance with paragraph 96 of the National Design Guide.  It would also impact upon the setting of the Conservation Area.  The metal railings were also contrary to the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan as they were not in keeping with the traditional boundary treatment.  


The Committee discussed the application and queried why the Joint Assistant Director for Planning had called this to the Planning Committee to be considered.  It was confirmed that this had happened owing to the significant interest caused by the application in the local community and therefore the Assistant Director for Planning had used her delegated powers to enable the views of the community to be shared with the Committee. 


The Committee received clarification that if a resident were arriving in their car, they would have a fob which activated the gates on approach.  If you were part of the emergency services, postal worker or a visitor there would be a delay, but the gates would open.  There was a functional relationship between residents and how they would interact with the outside and visitors coming in.  Whilst it presented a physical barrier, it would not prevent people from entering or exiting the site. 


The Committee agreed that the gates were not needed from a security point of view given the low levels of crime in the area.  The gates sent a message of social exclusion which was not in character with the village and unacceptable in the street scene.  The Committee did not support the proposal.


The Committee voted by a show of hands 12:1 abstension for each reason for refusal (as detailed below).


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









Joanne Shaw





David Bilbé





Richard Mills





Stephen Hives





Patrick Oven





Dominique Williams





Cait Taylor





Gillian Harwood





Howard Smith





Vanessa King





Yves de Contades





Catherine Young





Bilal Akhtar











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


RESOLVED to refuse application 24/P/00308 for the following reasons:


1.     The proposed gates would result in an unacceptable feature in the street scene, introducing a physical barrier that would segregate the Orchard Walls development from the surrounding community, contrary to Policy D1 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites 2015-2034, Policy D4 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Development Management Policies 2023 and Policy ENP-G2 of the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan 2016 – 2030 and the objectives of paragraph 96 of the National Planning Policy Framework (December 2023) and the National Design Guide (2021).


2.     The proposed gates would detract from the character of the adjoining conservation area, contrary to Policy D20 of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Development Management Policies 2023 and Policy ENP-G2 of the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan 2016 – 2030.




1. This decision relates expressly to drawing(s) AAL-24-113-P01 Rev B received on 9 May 2024 and AAL-24-113-P02 received on 21 May 2024.


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 in certain circumstances · 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 officers worked with the applicant to secure the submission of additional information to support the application, however, the Local Planning Authority considers that the harm social cohesion and the setting of the adjoining conservation area warrants refusal of planning permission and the application has been determined on the basis of the amended application.

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