Erection of 1 detached, 3-storey house with integral garages
The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer regarding an application for the erection of 1 detached three storey house with integral garages at Crawley Edge, Crawleyside Bank, Crawleyside (for copy see file of Minutes).
T Burnham, Senior Planning Officer gave a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, aerial photograph, site photographs, proposed site layout and proposed elevations. Members of the Committee had visited the site and were familiar with the location and setting.
Councillor Shuttleworth, local Member, apologised for his absence and asked that the following be read to the Committee:
I would like to support the application for approval and my reasons are that it meets all the targets for low carbon usage, and is situated within the village curtilage of Crawleyside, a five minute walk from Stanhope.
Mr P Newbold, agent for the applicant addressed the Committee. The dwelling proposed for the site had the highest possible sustainability credentials with both the owners and the designer being former winners of national awards for eco-homes. This exemplary new dwelling would be only the second Band A passive house in County Durham and very close to a zero-carbon home. The design and the sustainability credentials were exceptional by both local and national standards and the applicants’ current home would be released to the market where there was a recognised demand for high quality, detached homes.
Since the application to develop this residential site was refused in September 2016, there had been some significant changes in attitudes to rural housing developments and to sustainable transport arrangements, both public and private. Subtle changes in the wording of Para 78 in the NPPF 2018 give more emphasis to the encouragement of developments in one village which may support services in a nearby village. There was an inevitable and regrettable decline in public transport services in rural areas, due to subsidy cuts, and the scheduled bus services in Weardale did not currently provide a comprehensive and viable alternative to private car use. It was acknowledged that, in rural areas, there was a greater reliance on the private motor car but within ten years most vehicles would be electric and there may be no bus service at all in Upper Weardale. This proposed dwelling would be exceptionally energy-efficient as well as being equipped to embrace sustainably sourced vehicle charging technology.
The location of the site was on the edge of the hamlet of Crawleyside, an established residential area which was within half a mile of Stanhope. It was described as isolated in the previous planning refusal, solely because it was more than 400 metres from the nearest stop on a scheduled bus service. This definition of the applicants’ site’s location had been refuted in writing by the Leader of Durham County Council. In the Braintree DC Appeal Court judgement in March 2018, the meaning of the term isolated in relation to its use in NPPF had been clarified and its previous interpretation declared as being incorrect. This decision also acknowledged that sustainable transport options were likely to be more limited in rural areas. Mr Newbold considered that the proposals were sustainable, in the broadest sense of the word and provided the applicants with an opportunity to provide, for themselves, an exceptional, energy-efficient, accessible, new home. Mr Newbold asked the Committee to approve the application.
The Senior Planning Officer informed the Committee that bus and other services were available in Stanhope but it was a walk up a steep hill from Stanhope to the development site. The Planning Inspector relating to the previous application, had noted that this route had a steep incline which would be a deterrent for pedestrian and cycle movements Within that appeal the Planning Inspector had also concluded that the Dial-a-Ride bus service could not be considered as a suitable alternative to a reliance on the private car due to the relative convenience of
these modes of transport. The Senior Planning Officer noted that while it would be preferred for every house to be built to a passive house standard, the issue in this application was the site location and the implications of its location, in relation to sustainable development.
Councillor Tucker noted that the proposed welling would use the same access as that used by the current dwelling and asked whether this had caused any issues. The Senior Planning Officer replied that the same highways access would be used for the two dwellings but this had substandard visibility and was below the standard for modern developments. The highways refusal reason had been introduced due to the lower threshold relating to highways safety that had been introduced in the revised NPPF.
Councillor Richardson informed the Committee that this would be a dwelling in a rural situation and it was not considered to be sustainable because there were no shops or other facilities and was not near to a bus route. However it was near to Stanhope which had facilities, and most dwellings in rural locations needed their own transport, yet this did not mean they were not sustainable. While he was not in favour of the proposed design of the dwelling, Councillor Richardson informed the Committee he would support approval of it.
Councillor Tucker informed the Committee that there was already a property on the site, the residents had a vehicle and had used this access for 30 years. The site was in the countryside and traffic levels were not high. Stanhope was near for amenities and Councillor Tucker supported Councillor Richardson that the application should be approved.
Councillor Clarke informed the Committee that he would not expect public objections to such a proposed development because it was in a remote location. Access to the site was on a steep road which was well used, including by articulated lorries, which were observed on the site visit. Although the house was a good, innovative design there were other considerations to take into account and an application on the same site had been previously considered by the Planning Inspector on appeal and had been refused. There was nothing new in this application.
Moved by Councillor Richardson, seconded by Councillor Tucker that the application be approved on the grounds that the use of a private vehicle to access the dwelling was acceptable because of the nature of the area and the proposed highways access was currently used by an existing dwelling.
Upon a vote being taken there was an equality of votes, therefore upon the Chairman using his casting vote, the motion was defeated.
Moved by Councillor Clarke, Seconded by Councillor Brown that the application be refused for the reasons stated in the report.
Upon a vote being taken there was an equality of votes, therefore upon the Chairman using his casting vote, it was
That the application be refused for the reasons contained in the report.