The Committee considered a report of the Principal Planning Officer which consisted of a two-storey extension to the side of the dwelling at 83 Brackenbeds Close, Pelton (for copy see file of minutes).
The Principal Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, site photographs and the existing and proposed layout plans for the property.
The Chair thanked the Principal Planning Officer for her presentation and asked Parish Councillor Mr Hann to address the Committee.
Parish Councillor Hann thanked the Committee for the opportunity to represent the objecting views of Pelton Parish Council in relation to the planning application as agreed at the Parish Council meeting on 26 February 2020.
Parish Councillor Hann explained that Pelton Parish Council had been contacted by a resident who was concerned about the impact of the planning application if it were to be approved. The resident felt that the two-storey extension that was proposed to be built to the side of the neighbouring property would lead to a significant reduction in light on a room which was used as an office on a full-time basis throughout the week. He felt that the site photograph of the front of the properties showed that the proposed extension would further obscure the window.
Parish Councillor Hann highlighted that the Parish Council were concerned that the economic impact of the proposed application should be considered, alongside the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of the resident if there was a greater reduction of natural light.
Parish Councillor Hann noted that there was apprehension that the proposed application would also reduce the distance between the two detached properties and encroach on the resident’s space. He acknowledged that Pelton Parish Council had considered the points raised and were aware that the application form showed that no pre-planning advice had been sought by the applicant. Mr Hann thanked the Committee for considering the matters he had raised regarding the application.
Councillor Wood, local ward Member addressed the Committee to object to the planning application due to the potential implications on the resident of 81 Brackenbeds Close who didn’t feel they could participate in the meeting. He explained that this was the first time in calling an application to committee and did so purely down to the unique issues presented in the circumstances relating to the reduction in light.
Councillor Wood noted that over the last couple of months due to the Covid 19 pandemic most people had experienced working from home with the prospect of getting back to some kind of normal in the future but for the resident of 81 Brackenbeds working from home was the norm and the proposed extension would further significantly reduce the amount of natural light to their single and permanent place or work.
Councillor Wood confirmed that the large bush to the front of the property that had been referred to within the report that had impacted on light into the office had now been removed for that reason. He mentioned that the report stated that the first-floor extension above the garage would have minimal impact on the natural light to the window but due to the layout of the houses in the street he believed that a second-floor extension would not have a minimal impact. He noted that even in Winter months the window was exposed to natural light which would be lessened from earlier in the day if the extension went ahead.
Councillor Wood felt that the application should be refused on the grounds that policy HP11 in the local plan and the NPPF (National Planning and Policy Framework) were there to protect against the loss of light in the development of an extension. He queried why the new Residential Amenity Standards Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) had not been applied. He noted that the SDP set out rules for property extensions that ensured that they should be subordinate to the host dwelling and that they should give consideration to the general design as not to have a negative impact to the amenities to an adjacent property to protect against over dominance, loss of privacy and the loss of day light. He felt had this been applied it would have given significant weight to the decision instead the report only focused on the separation distance between the two properties.
Councillor Wood proposed that the application also be refused on the grounds that the SPD would have shown that the extension was not a good model and should be set back by one metre, that it was not subordinate to the host dwelling and the design was not in keeping with the environment. He added that the application was inconsistent with the local plan and the NPPF. He declared that the resident had a right to a light airy space to be able to run their business at home and without this it would have a negative impact on the resident to run their business and pay their mortgage.
The Principal Planning Officer stressed that existing arrangements and the layout of the properties meant that the window had already been significantly impacted upon by loss of light. She felt that the second storey extension would not significantly make the loss of light any worse which would not warrant refusal of the application. She informed the Committee that the SPD had been considered but it was difficult to apply as all estates were different and the dissimilar types of properties and the layout of the estate had added further complications.
In addition the Principal Planning Officer noted that the proposed extension was well designed, blended in well with the surrounding area and the principle in the SPD to set the extension back by one metre would not make any significant difference to the window which also would not necessitate a refusal. She also added that there were other extensions in the estate therefore no amendments to the application would be required.
The Solicitor clarified that material planning considerations focused on protecting the public interest and the report stated that economic interests would not normally be a planning consideration but it would be for the Committee to assess the impact of the overbearing and overshadowing loss of light.
The Chair thanked Speakers and Officers and asked the Committee for any questions or comments.
Councillor Shield wanted to know if there were any properties elsewhere in the area that had also experienced similar issues that would have set a precedent.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that the SPD was very new and had only been implemented in the last few months. She acknowledged it was very different to the policies previously applied in the Chester le Street area. She confirmed that there were no extensions on the estate that would be comparable to the proposed application.
Councillor Ivan Jewell could not comprehend that the neighbouring property who were now objecting had built an extension with a window and it was this extension that was now an issue for the neighbours building their second storey extension. He felt that it was the extension with the window that was causing the issue with the proposed application.
The Principal Planning Officer explained that the original extension with the window had been built by the previous occupants of the objector’s property. She noted that the objector would have been aware of the layout when they bought the property and deciding to use the room as an office that included restricted light and close proximity to the neighbouring garage.
The Solicitor reminded Members that they had to assess the application that had been presented to the Committee in terms of what was existing and not whether the extension predated the application.
Councillor Tucker was reshown the photograph of the property showing where the office was in relation to the garage at the side of the property. She was informed that the bush at the front of the property in the photograph that had been obscuring light had been removed. Councillor Tucker wanted to know if the removal of the bush had improved the amount of light into the office or whether there had been no significant change.
The Principal Planning Officer deemed that consideration was needed to be given to how the extension would adversely affect the amenity of the resident and light to the window regardless of the tree.
Councillor Tucker asked if further measurements of light had been taken without the bush to see if there had been any material change in sunlight to the room to determine whether there had been an impact or not.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that Planning Officers had the view that there would be no significant impact made by the bush due to the existing arrangements. She commented that the office window was at the end of an almost tunnel due to the position of both properties where the light would be limited and not more restricted should the planning application be approved.
Councillor Bainbridge was concerned regarding the distance between the two properties and wondered if the measurement would be a significant distance to have at present.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that the distance between the two properties was not an issue as the building line had already been established by the existing garage and therefore did not require to be in set as stated in the SPD.
Councillor Bell left the meeting.
Councillor Boyes proposed approval of the application and was seconded by Councillor Bainbridge.
Upon a roll call of members by the Solicitor to ascertain their voting intentions it was
That the application be APPROVED subject to conditions in the report.