Agenda item

DM/20/00712/FPA - Land to the south of West Pelton Primary School, West Pelton

Erection of one detached two storey dwelling, eight glamping pods, new site entrance and works including a vertical axis wind turbine, play area, protective fence and land forming.


The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer which sought approval for the erection of a single bespoke architect designed 4 bed dwelling and eight ‘glamping pods.


The Senior Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, site photographs and the proposed layout of the site.


Councillor D Wood, local Member addressed the committee to speak in objection to the application. Councillor Wood noted that he was a Local Authority School Governor at West Pelton school however several of the school governors including the chair had already raised concerns about this through the planning portal.


He went on to state that that since the original application was submitted the goal posts had moved significantly due to the adoption of the County Durham Plan. Original reasons for the application being called in were due to the proximity of the site to West Pelton Primary School and its proposed location outside of the traditional boundary of the village. Concerns were also highlighted regarding access to the site, which had resulted in a number of objections from nearby residents.


He further noted that the application originally was submitted without any consultation with the school or with local residents and at the time of the original application being made it was also done so without any pre application advice from Planning Officers. The lack of pre consultation had made it much more difficult in terms of the local community to address the issues and the application was subsequently withdrawn following objections. It was evident from this application however that there had been work undertaken with planning officers to mitigate some of the concerns that had been raised and whilst those mitigations have been put in place to address the access arrangements, significant objections remain to the development of this site mainly due to its location and proximity to the neighbouring school.


Further concerns outstanding as a local member related to issues with water supply and drainage, noting that there were existing drainage issues downhill of the site which in his view could be exacerbated by the development.


Furthermore he commented that if the single property on the site were considered without the glamping pod element it was his view that even under the County Durham Plan this would likely constitute ribbon development between the villages of West Pelton and Grange villa and would be unlikely to be recommended for approval. By including the glamping element the application becomes more palatable in planning terms however he stressed the significant level of objections from local residents and also the fact that the development of this site was deemed by County Council officers to be an encroachment into the open countryside beyond natural and defensible boundaries. Considering the points made he asked the committee to refuse the application.


Mrs S Clements, Applicant addressed the committee to speak in support of the application. She advised that this was an exciting retirement plan for her and her husband, which was a passion project which could prosper. The facilities to be provided on site were consistent with views expressed by Visit County Durham and would provide a welcome uplift to surrounding businesses.


She advised that whilst she acknowledged concerns regarding the proximity to the school, a heavily plated buffer would be installed on the boundary to minimise visual impact for both the school and the guests of the glamping pods. She further added that it was within their interests to ensure that they adhered to their own management plan and that guests adhered to onsite rules.


She also noted that there would be no means of noise creating activity on site and it would not be open to group bookings, which would further provide assurance to neighbours. Each of the units would be completely self-contained and this restricted movement around the site.


Regarding the dwelling, she added that his was of passive design in a strategic placement on site, reducing the visibility of the property. She further advised that a wind turbine would be installed to provide their own energy and this should be promoted.


Regarding the highway concerns raised, the Principal DM Engineer advised that as this site was to be used for holiday guests, trips in and out of the site would be usually during off-peak times of the day. The access met highways standards with good visibility.


Councillor Boyd commented that whilst she sympathised with the school and their concerns, and furthermore felt that the dwelling was not in fitting with its surroundings, she did appreciate that there was numerous tourism attractions in the area and accommodation of this nature would be welcomed by visitors.


Councillor Shield asked what assurances could be provided that the site would be managed correctly and in accordance with the conditions listed. He further asked whether if the application had been for a dwelling only would this of been considered acceptable given that it was outside the curtilage of the nearest residential area.


Councillor Bell commented that he felt the scheme was brilliant, the applicant had overcome the initial concerns raised by planners, whilst acknowledging that local members did still have some concerns. He felt that the site would help to support the local economy and was in a sustainable location.


Councillor Tucker noted that given the small number of pods to be provided on site this caused some concerns for the long-term financial stability of the business and if it were to fail, then the house would be able to remain. In response the Senior Planning Officer advised that the business had intended to put in place a low-cost entry start as business viability was important to them.


Councillor Bell Moved that the application be approved subject to the conditions listed in the report. Seconded by Councillor Milburn.


Resolved: That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions as listed within the report.


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