West Berkshire Council

Agenda item

Application No. & Parish: 10/01259/HOUSE, Bradfield

Proposal:

Two storey rear extension, single storey side extension and double garage to replace single garage and car port.

Location:

The Firs, Tutts Clump, RG7 6JU

Applicant:

Mr and Mrs Poole

Recommendation:

To DELEGATE to the Head of Planning and Countryside to REFUSE PLANNING PERMISSION.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 4(1)) concerning Planning Application 10/01259/HOUSE in respect of a two storey rear extension, single storey side extension and double garage to replace single garage and car port.

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, Mr Russell Poole and Ms Kate Cooper, applicant and agent, addressed the Committee on this application.

Mr Poole in addressing the Committee raised the following points:

·                    He had lived in the village for 9 years and had always admired the house in question. 

·                    When originally viewed a year ago, the house was in a poor condition due to the previous extension.

·                    Planning Officers were consulted on the possibility of a further extension to update the property so that it could become his family home.  He was formally informed that permission would not automatically be granted and any planning application would be considered on its own merits.  However, a nearby property had been granted planning permission in similar circumstances.

·                    More recently a verbal indication had been given by Planning that the proposed scheme would be acceptable.  However, only a week ago he was advised that this was not the case and the matter would be determined at Committee.  This meant that an early return from holiday was necessary. 

Ms Cooper in addressing the Committee raised the following points:

·                    The original building was a charming house with attractive period detail.  It had very private grounds which were concealed from neighbouring properties. 

·                    A poor rear extension constructed in the 1990’s did not compliment the original building.  The interior space was also poorly planned. 

·                    The property was purchased with the aim of resurrecting its original charms and to transform this moderately sized dwelling with an improved extension. 

·                    The application needed to be evaluated on its own merits and even with the extension the property would only cover a small proportion of the overall plot. 

·                    The view from the highway would not be affected and the street scene would be protected. 

·                    There was already permission for a new garage and it was in fact planned to have a smaller garage than the existing one.

Members questioned when the pre application advice was originally received and Mr Poole advised that this was in February 2010, prior to the purchase of the property.  Mr Poole did recognise that there was a risk that the proposed extension would not be approved, but felt it was a risk worth taking.  The indication that the application would likely be approved was given verbally on 16 July 2010. 

Councillor Graham Pask, speaking as Ward Member, made the following points:

·                    He wanted to make the Committee aware of his concerns.

·                    He had some sympathy with the applicants and the proposal as the application, at an earlier stage, was indicated as likely to be recommended for approval.

·                    There were a number of considerations to take into account.  He supported limiting the size of extensions, but greater emphasis was generally given to the merits of the proposal and plot size rather than the percentage increase of the dwelling.

·                    Policy considerations were named as one reason for the changed Officer Recommendation, but this (a Development Control practice note) was brought into being after the application was submitted.  There was a responsibility to adhere to planning policy but there were, in some cases, extenuating circumstances to consider. 

·                    The existing dwelling was unsympathetic to the rear, but the original frontage had not been and would not be altered.  The side extension would however be visible from the front. 

·                    This would enlarge the property, but would also make it more habitable. 

In considering the above application a view was given by a Member that the original extension was disproportionate, but the application under consideration was a modest increase to the existing property which would lead to much needed improvement. 

Officers were then questioned on the weight that should be given to the proposed reasons for refusal, namely a disproportionate extension and unacceptable design.  David Pearson responded by making the following points:

·                    Both reasons for refusal were strongly supported by Planning Officers. 

·                    Consideration needed to be given to policy.  Design needed to be considered on principle as well as on its impact.  The quality design statement supported OVS2 in saying that extensions should be subservient.  An increased extension and garage did not accord with this. 

·                    Planning policy had evolved to prevent incremental extensions which could have a cumulative impact. 

·                    This application proposed an overall increase of 25% to the existing house and, if approved, this could be against the strategic aims of the policy. 

Councillor Alan Law, speaking as a Member of the Planning Policy Task Group, advised that the Development Control practice note referred to was not a major consideration in respect of this application.  The issue of incremental extensions was already explicitly covered in ENV24 and SPG04 and these had been in existence for some time.  These set a limit of a 100% increase as a result of extensions and this application was four times the size of the original.

As this was contrary to policy and could set a precedent, Councillor Law proposed to accept Officers Recommendation and refuse planning permission.  This was seconded by Councillor Richard Crumly.

On the matter of setting a precedent, David Pearson advised that this was not easy to determine as each application had to be considered on its own planning merits.  However, reference could always be drawn to other similar decisions and could be taken into account by Planning Inspectors. 

There was still some support for the application among Members as it was felt that there was no impact to the front of the dwelling, the extension (which was all to the rear on a large plot) would bring about improvement both to the house and the garage and there were no issues of overlooking.

David Pearson then made the following points to clarify some of the uncertainty around pre-application advice and the status of the Development Control practice note referred to:

·                    No formal decision or contact was made with the applicant to inform them that the application would be approved. 

·                    Officers were non-committal in providing pre-application advice and to inform applicants that their application would be considered on its own merits was acceptable.

·                    While the views of the Planning Policy Task Group were taken into account, the Officer Recommendation would have stood irrespective of this guidance note. 

RESOLVED that the Head of Planning and Countryside be authorised to refuse planning permission for the following reasons:

Disproportionate

1.         The application site is located in designated countryside and within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The existing dwelling has already been substantially extended.  The proposed extension would increase the size of the dwelling by approximately 26% (in terms of floor space and volume) over the existing dwelling, and thus 259% (floor space) and 226% (volume) over the original dwelling.  It would therefore further increase the amount of physical intrusion within this sensitive location and result in an extended dwelling disproportionate in size to the original, contrary to Policy ENV.24 of the West Berkshire District Local Plan (Saved Policies 2007). The increased size of the replacement garage would also serve to exacerbate this negative impact on the surrounding area.

Unacceptable Design

2.         The existing extensions to the dwelling are not subservient to the original house and the proposed further increases in their size would significantly add to the domination of the original house by extensions. The proposal fails to demonstrate high quality design and is therefore contrary to the provision of policy OVS.2 of the West Berkshire District Local Plan (Saved Policies 2007), the general guidance of design contained in PPS 1 and the specific guidance on the design of extension contained in West Berkshire Council’s ‘Quality Design’ SPD.

Supporting documents: