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Agenda item

DM/17/01963/FPA - Land To The South Of Nursery Gardens, Thorpe Road, Easington

Erection of 98 no. two-storey 2, 3 and 4 bedroom semi and detached dwellings with associated works (Revised Plans 18th May 2018).


The Principal Planning Officer, Henry Jones, gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes).  Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site.  The Principal Planning Officer, HJ advised that Members of the Committee had visited the site and were familiar with the location and setting.  The application was the erection of 98 no. two-storey 2,3- and 4-bedroom semi and detached dwellings with associated works (revised plans) and was recommended for refusal.


The Principal Planning Officer, HJ noted that area of land that the application referred to had Easington Village to the north, Easington Colliery to the north-east, the A19 to the west and A1086 and Peterlee to the south.  Members were asked to note the intervening fields between Peterlee and the application site, where there was an extant permission for development starting at Low Hills for a total of 950 dwellings.


Members noted that it was proposed for a single access point to the application site, midway along the site from Thorpe Road.  It was added that it was proposed 98 properties were all two, three and four bedroom and that there was also proposed landscaping to the periphery and south of the site, however, there was not significant areas of open green space within the site itself.  The Principal Planning Officer, HJ noted that the house types proposed were fairly standard, with 12 variations, though a lack of distinctiveness was noted as a concern.


The Principal Planning Officer, HJ advised that in terms of statutory consultees, Easington Village Parish Council objected to application as it was in conflict with both national and local plan policies.  It was added that the Council’s Spatial Policy Team objected in terms of impact upon the “green wedge” separating Easington Village and Peterlee, Policy 6 of the Easington District Local Plan.  Members noted that the Landscape Section objected to the application noting incursion into the countryside and coalescence of the settlements of Peterlee and Easington Village. 



The Committee were informed that the Ecology Section had objected to the application on the basis that the development would be likely to harm the Durham Coast Special Area of Conservation and Northumbria Special Protection Area and no acceptable mitigation proposals had been provided.  The Principal Planning Officer, HJ added that there were also objections from the Design and Conservation Section in terms of a lack of protection of existing landscape features and their integration into the proposed scheme.  It was explained that the Drainage Section had objected as there was no incorporation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDs), contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  The Principal Planning Officer, HJ noted that the Arboricultural Officer objected to the application in terms of loss of hedgerows and structural planting loss.  It was added that other internal consultees had not listed any objections subject to conditions and appropriate Section 106 Legal Agreements.


The Principal Planning Officer, HJ noted that there had been 95 letters of objection to the application and a 684-signature petition against the application.  Members noted that the Local Member for Parliament, Grahame Morris M.P. had submitted objections, as had the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.  It was noted that a summary of those objections was set out within the report.


The Committee were referred to the report noting that NPPF Paragraph 11 presumption in favour of development was not considered to be engaged, as there was likely harm to European Protected Sites which disengages it, there were conflicts with the saved Easington District Local Plan and NPPF and therefore the application was recommended for refusal.  The Principal Planning Officer, HJ requested delegated authority to amend refusal reason two, to be more precise on the ecology related refusal reason due to the considered harms to European Protected Sites.  He added that as there had been an amended plan with changes to proposed driveway lengths which the Highway Authority were satisfied with and therefore refusal reason six should be removed.


The Chairman thanked the Principal Planning Officer, HJ and asked Local Members, Councillors D Boyes and A Surtees to speak in relation to the application.


Councillor D Boyes thanked the Chairman and noted that both Local Members were speaking in objection to the application.  He explained that there were a number of reasons why the application was contrary to local and nation plan policies, as set out within the Officer’s report, including in terms of not making effective use of land, climate, conservation of the natural and historic environment.  Councillor D Boyes noted he had over 10 years of experience in sitting on various planning Committees and noted that he had not seen this level of objection to an application.  He reiterated that Policy 6 in relation to a strategic gap was even more important in the context of the large development at Low Hills, as explained by the Officer, and that he did not wish for Easington to be subsumed into Peterlee.





Councillor D Boyes noted the historical context of Easington Village, a village over 1,000 years old, mentioned within the Doomsday Book.  He added that while new developments were necessary, he explained that there was already around 1,200 homes in the pipeline for Easington, stoically accepted by residents, and that any more would be disproportionate.


Councillor A Surtees thanked the Chairman and reiterated that she was speaking on behalf of residents and in objection to the application.  She noted the reasons as set out within the report, noting reason six no longer being used.  Councillor A Surtees noted that there would be impact upon the village in terms of traffic, pressures on schools, health services and that, with overdevelopment, the individual identity of Easington village would be lost.  She noted the points made in terms of the coalescence of the Peterlee and Easington Village should the application be approved and noted that there were numerous objections from statutory and internal consultees in terms of landscape, design, ecology, EU protected sites, drainage and a lack of affordable housing. 


Councillor A Surtees noted the large amount of objections from members of the public and highlighted the number of polices from the Easington District Local Plan and NPPF that the application was contrary to.  She agreed with the assessment made by Councillor D Boyes in terms of the number of properties already agreed from the Easington area, noting if all that were in the pipeline were agreed then this would double the number of properties in the village.  She reiterated the point made that Easington was an ancient settlement, likely predating the tenth century, noting two Grade 1 Listed Buildings within the village.  She concluded that the settlement boundary needed to be protected and that she would ask that the Committee agree with the Officer’s recommendation for refusal.


The Chairman thanked the Local Members and asked the Chairman of Easington Village Parish Council, Councillor Len Morton to speak on behalf of the Parish Council.


Parish Councillor L Morton noted that at the meeting of the Parish Council that had looked at this application there had been over 100 people in attendance, a record amount.  He noted that this spoke volumes as regards the local sentiment and added that at that meeting there was unanimous opposition to the application.  He mirrored the comments made by Councillor D Boyes in that there was no opposition to housing or modernisation, however, a line needed to be drawn and that there needed to be a clear separation between the village of Easington and the town of Peterlee.  He added that the application would result in a loss of attractive green space and important habitat, noting a burn running along the edge of the site. 


Parish Councillor L Morton added that residents did not want all concrete and tarmac and that the application was contrary to Easington District Local Plan Policies 3 and 6.  He added that the density of the proposals was also in question, noting it did not seem feasible.  He concluded by asking that the Committee consider: the need to maintain the separate village character of Easington; the context of the number of already approved sites for development; and the potential loss of green boundary to the village; and to refuse the application.     


The Chairman thanked Parish Councillor L Morton and noted there were no further registered speakers.  She asked the Committee for their comments and questions on the application.


Councillor M Davinson noted that he had sat on planning committees for a while and he felt that in this case the developer had done half a job given there was less information than would be expected, the application was in the “green wedge”, and was without any assessment in terms of affordable housing or SuDs.  He noted he agreed with the recommendation within the Officer’s report and proposed that the application be refused.


Councillor J Clark noted she was appalled that there was not a SuDs suggested for the site, with the site having a steep slope in the area towards the A19.  She noted she seconded Councillor M Davinson in terms of refusal.




That the application be REFUSED.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714