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Agenda item

DM/18/01388/FPA - Land to Rear of Heather Cottage, Snaisgill, Middleton-in-Teesdale

Erection of detached double garage, including associated change of use, hardstanding and alterations to stone boundary walls


The Committee considered a report of the Assistant Planning Officer with regards to an application for a detached double garage, including associated change of use, hardstanding and alterations to stone boundary walls on Land to the rear of Heather Cottage, Snaisgill, Middleton-in-Teesdale (for copy see file of minutes).


The Principal Planning Officer gave a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, aerial photograph, elevations, site layout and photographs of the site.


Councillor R Bell, local Member, had submitted a written statement which was read to the Committee.  He was in support of the application and confirmed that the original application had been improved at some cost, to address previous concerns.  He did not consider the application would adversely affect the AONB as it was in a secluded area and only visible from an access lane and it had been designed with appropriate materials.  It would enable cars to be parked off the lane which would improve access for neighbours and emergency services.


Councillor Henderson, local Member, confirmed that he had visited the site and viewed the plans and there would not be much difference in terms of what was already on site.  The applicant wanted to retain a lot of the trees and there would be no detriment to the view or the AONB.  There was only one parking space on Snaisgill Road and this application would ensure the area was improved.


The Applicant, Mr Ingall, spoke in support of the application and gave background to the purchase and restoration of the house.  He confirmed that he had a shared drive and there was an urgent need for additional parking as it was often blocked and if visitors called, that impacted on neighbours.  He had consulted neighbours, before employing an Agent and also engaged with a tree specialist to minimise the impact of the development.  Residents were in favour of the plans as the application would enhance the neighbourhood.


The Agent, J Lavender, confirmed that in November when the original application was refused, the reason cited was that it would cause harm to the landscape of the AONB, which was not the intention of the Applicant, who had relocated to live in the area because of its status.  The intrusion referred to in the report was an area of scrub which the Applicant intended to purchase to erect a garage.  Any intrusion had been reduced and an arboricultural report had been produced to ensure the appropriate protection of trees.  The arrangement of the development was the easiest with regards to manoeuvring and provided other parking spaces.  There was no impact on the AONB and no objections from the Landscape Officer.  The issue, in his opinion, boiled down to a wholly subjective assessment of the impact of the angle of the building.  Mr Lavender advised that there had been no consultation response from the AONB partnership and should the Officers advice have been taken, the position of the garage would have reverted back to the previous location that was refused.  This application was the most practical and workable solution and he suggested inaccuracies in the report.


Councillor Shuttleworth advised that the guidelines for development within an AONB were not compulsory and there was no problem with the design of the building.  He moved a recommendation to approve the application, against the Officers recommendation.


Councillor Richardson referred to the photographs of the site and confirmed that there was clearly not enough room for two vehicles to pass in the lane.  The area had been established before the use of motor vehicles and considering the development of technology since the erection of the cottage, he considered that the application should be approved.  He seconded the recommendation to approve.


Councillor Tinsley queried whether the issue of alignment was discussed prior to the application submission and asked for comments from the Principal DM Engineer, who advised that the orientation of the building was to facilitate practicality of manoeuvring, however an alternative angle would make no difference.  He referred to comments made regarding the rural location and confirmed that additional parking in the area was desirable and therefore there was no objection to the proposal from Highways.


The Principal Planning Officer confirmed the dimensions of the building to Councillor Tinsley who confirmed that the size of the building was such that it was restricted as a garage and there could be no possibility of the building being put to a different use.  Councillor Tinsley then questioned the rationale behind disregarding the advice of the Planning Officer with regards to the orientation of the building.  He explained that it was the character of the AONB for buildings to be orientated either parallel or perpendicular to each other. The proposed building was disjointed to the other buildings and he agreed with the conclusion in the report and moved the recommendation to refuse.


Councillor Atkinson confirmed that he was also surprised that there were no objections other than the orientation of the building, although he did not see it causing much harm and he noted that the Applicant had went to a lot of trouble to mitigate the reasons for refusal since the previous application.


Councillor Clare confirmed that the principle and design of the development was accepted, however, that was only part of the proposal and the layout and overall scale of the development was questionable and it was clear that this was the only reason for refusal.  He could not agree with those who wanted to overturn the Planning Officer’s recommendation as the Committee had a role in protecting the AONB.  He agreed with Councillor Tinsley and he also questioned the rationale behind the Applicants decision to stick with the layout proposed.  He asked the Committee to consider deferment of the application as this would enable the Applicant to liaise with the Planning Authority and revise the plan with the intention of it having approval granted.


Councillor Tinsley removed his proposal to refuse and seconded the motion to defer the application as he considered this to be in the best interests of the applicant.


The Chairman commented that the application was contrary to purpose of the AONB which was to conserve and enhance the area.


Councillor Shuttleworth noted that the Committee were under no obligation to accept the AONB guidelines and the Framework did not include any specific reference to AONBs in the NPPF and the Teesdale Local Plan Policies had expired.


The Solicitor confirmed that there was a motion to approve the application which had been seconded, but as there was also a motion to defer which had also been seconded, it would be sensible to consider the proposed deferment first.  Members debated whether the proposal to defer the application should be considered first. Councillor Shuttleworth was of the view that it should not, whereas Councillor Clare thought that it should.  Councillor Clare explained that if the motion to approve was lost, then the application would be refused which would mean that the applicant would have to go back to the original application process.


Councillor McGaun felt that there was no solid reason for refusal and considered the building design and materials sympathetic to the area, however he queried the reason for the angle of the building.


Councillor Zair requested that the Agent be allowed to confirm the reason for the design of the building and why the Officers advice regarding the angle could not be taken.


Mr Lavender confirmed that the position of the building would allow the easiest manoeuvrability, however he advised that the suggestion of reverting back to the Officers preferred position was more intrusive and an additional 4m into the Countryside.


The Chairman having indicated that he would take the approval motion first, a vote was taken on that motion, which was lost and it was therefore;




That the application be REFUSED for the reasons outlined in the report.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
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