Demolition and rebuilding of grain store/dryer building for use as a single dwelling; installation of package treatment plant (partly retrospective)
The Committee considered a report of the Planning Officer regarding an application for the Demolition and rebuilding of grain store/dryer building for use as a single dwelling; installation of package treatment plant (partly retrospective) at Barn 5, The Granary, Hollin Hall East, Ford Dike Lane, Gainford, Darlington (for copy see file of minutes).
The Principal Planning Officer gave a detailed presentation which included a site location plan, aerial photographs and photographs of the site.
Councillor Rowlandson, Local Member, spoke in support of the application. He found it strange that part of the development was up for refusal when there had been major changes to other parts of the development and barn 5 was part of the curtilage of the main house. He continued that there was no reason as to why it should be left out and it would be extremely disappointing for the Nicholls’ not to be able to continue their plan to retire. Although the materials used were not what the Conservation Officer required, this could be agreed with a condition and he hoped that the Committee would look in favour of approving the application.
Mr Nicholls, the Applicant, addressed the Committee on behalf of himself and his wife. They had purchased Barn 5 with the intention of retiring after 30 years of farming. The roof had been removed and followed by a period of heavy rain, the walls had been damaged. The builder suggested the building be dismantled and rebuilt using the same material, for health and safety reasons. Upon inspection, an Enforcement Officer requested work to cease immediately and confirmed that a new application would need to be submitted. Mr and Mr Nicholls had not appreciated that they would need to submit a further application and he described an honest mistake which he said had been difficult to correct as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic due to being unable to get advice on the situation.
Mr Nicholls suggested that the proposed plans showed a building which was virtually the same as the former barn conversion. He was aware that there were some concerns raised with regards to the stonework, however it was still in its raw state, yet to be pointed and finished. The Conservation Officer had approved the stonework for the rest of the site and the stone from the original building would be reused with any additional stone crafted by the same stonemason supplying the rest of the development and inline with the rest of the development. Barn 5 was a necessary part of the overall development and without it, the bin store would look severely disconnected from the rest of the site and the new builds would stick out very prominently.
Mr Nicholls confirmed that with benefit of hindsight he and his wife would have acted differently, but they had no knowledge of planning regulations. They were desperate to stay in Teesdale and it had taken them four years to find a property that was appropriate for the needs of their daughter. Living in Gainford would be lifeline for her and enable her to use the bus service into town and continue to access her support network.
Mr Nicholls said that they could not overemphasise the importance of the development, they had no alternative options as all of their savings were tied to this development. He understood that formal action could proceed but hoped that after taking all into account all of the circumstances, the Committee would approve the application.
Councillor Tinsley asked the Planning Officer to summarise the current planning status in comparison to what had been approved. The Principal Planning Officer confirmed that the original permission was for a conversion, yet the building had now been demolished. Since the conversion could no longer take place, the new application was to seek permission, partly retrospective, to build what was essentially a new dwelling as a wider part of the scheme. In response to a further question from Councillor Tinsley with regards to whether there was any significant differences between the two buildings, the Principal Planning Officer confirmed that they would appear similar, however planning policy allowed for conversions but not new builds.
Councillor Brown empathised as the parent of a daughter with similar needs to the Mr and Mrs Nicholls’ daughter. She considered NPPF 9, that planning policies should be an active guide yet local services should be taken into account. She could not see any adverse impacts that significantly outweighed the benefits and in noted that exceptional circumstances were allowed in Teesdale Policy H9. Despite the recommendation of the Planning Officer, Councillor Brown moved that the application be approved.
Councillor Shuttleworth was disappointed that the report had concluded this to be an unsustainable location. There were a number of applications that he was aware of that planning officers also considered unsustainable, one in particular near to the A68 which had been approved by North Planning.
Councillor Shuttleworth suggested there should be consistency across the County and noted that the site was five minutes away from Ingleton, despite being described as unsustainable. He seconded the motion to approve.
Councillor Jewell confirmed that he found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that there was permission to convert the building to a residential dwelling, yet the reason for refusal was that the property was unsustainable and would require use of a motor vehicle to travel. The end result was the same yet one was sustainable and one was not.
The Principal Planning Officer confirmed that with regards to the conversion, Officers would not have deemed the location to be sustainable, but that the benefits of converting the building and securing the heritage asset would outweigh the issues with regards to the location. He highlighted the conflict in local and national policies but Members were entitled to take their own view and come to a rounded decision.
Councillor Atkinson had listened to the debate and read the report, which was similar to recent application that had been approved by the Committee. It seemed that this was a genuine mistake, the Nicholls’ were not professionals and with regards to the concerns of the Conservation Officer, this was not the finished product.
In response to a question from Councillor Maitland, Mr Nicholls confirmed that the stone from the former barn was being reused. Mr Nicholls had indicated that he would work with the Conservation Officer should the application be approved, to ensure that the stonework was in keeping with the rest of the development and the in response to a question from the Chair, the Principal Planning Officer recommended a condition was secured.
The Planning and Development Solicitor confirmed that there had been a proposal from Councillor Brown, seconded by Councillor Shuttleworth, to approve the application. The grounds of which were that the adverse impacts of the development did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme, however she recommended that conditions be agreed by Officers in conjunction with Chair and Vice Chair. Councillors Brown and Shuttleworth agreed to amend the motion with the inclusion of conditions agreed by Officers.
Councillor Richardson confirmed that he had visited the site which was within his ward and he endorsed what Councillor Rowlandson had said and was prepared to support the application.
That the application be APPROVED, subject to conditions delegated to Officers and agreed in conjunction with the Chair and Vice-Chair.