Description of application – Demolition of existing dwellinghouse and stables (29 stables), removal of mobile home, other buildings/structures, hard surfacing and trees. Erection of replacement dwellinghouse, stable block (10 stables) and enlargement of field (in place of existing hard surfacing) with comprehensive landscaping scheme.
The Development Management Area Team Leader (East) reported that revised plans had been received on 21st November 2022, which mainly related to the height of the new building. An addendum report summarising the changes, and copy of the revised plans, had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting.
Oral representations in support of the application were received at the meeting. The agent gave the following responses to Members’ questions:
· If permission were to be granted, the applicants would accept a condition that the concrete and stables be removed before the construction of the house commenced. They would also consider accepting the removal of Permitted Development (PD) rights relating to anything that constrained the openness of the greenbelt.
· The footprint of the building was to increase by 28 sqm. This remained the same in the revised plans, however the height of the building had been lowered.
Oral representations from visiting Ward Member Councillor Alexa Michael were also received at the meeting. In response to questions, the Development Management Area Team Leader (East) advised that:
· The height of the dwelling house had been reduced by 0.5m.
· The floorspace of the dwelling house would remain as set out in the officer’s report.
Councillor Michael stated that she was not keen on built development situated in the greenbelt – if this proposal was for an entirely new house, rather than the demolition of an existing dwelling and construction of a replacement, she would be urging Members to refuse the application. However this was not as straight forward. The proposed dwelling house was much larger, with floorspace increasing from 190 sqm to 440 sqm – but set against this, the application also proposed a significant reduction in the built development across the site. There would be a reduction in the built coverage from 600 sqm to 173 sqm and the 1,305 sqm of land covered by hardstanding would be returned to greenfield – green grass should be seen on greenbelt land.
Councillor Michael noted that the openness of the greenbelt was also affected and measured by the height of built development, however there had been an application for a hay store permitted on the site in 1998. This allowed a one-storey dwelling to be turned into a two-storey dwelling, and therefore the principle of an increased height had been set. The applicants had looked to reduce the eaves height and it was a judgement call for Members to decide if this was sufficient. On a site-wide basis there would be an overall reduced to the built coverage by 177 sqm, however if the stables were assessed separately the dwelling house may be felt to be too tall and therefore detrimental to the openness of the greenbelt. If Members felt the latter was the case, they may wish to consider a deferral to allow the applicant to reduce the size and height of the house further.
Councillor Fawthrop said that normally he would refuse an application of this size in the greenbelt, however there were some gains such as the removal of 1,305 sqm of hardstanding. This would be beneficial, not just to the greenbelt, but the environment as a whole. A reduction in the stable block could be offset against the increase to the dwelling house. It was noted that the Agent had said the applicant would agree to removing the stable blocks and hardstanding first, which could be conditioned, and they were happy for the removal of PD rights that could be detrimental to the greenbelt. Councillor Fawthrop moved that the application be approved as he considered that, on this occasion, the benefits equated to very special circumstances.
The Chairman said that he took a contrary view and was opposed to the increase in residential property within the greenbelt. Balanced against that was the reduction of the number of stables and hardstanding, however this was felt to be a reduction of surplus resources which could be easily afforded on this particular application. The Chairman moved that the application be refused for the grounds stated in the officer’s report.
Councillor Rowlands noted that the application had its benefits, but there were lots of disadvantages. The officer recommendation stated a reason for refusal was that the development would be contrary to Policy 49 of the Bromley Local Plan – if this application was approved it would set a precedent for others. Councillor Rowlands seconded the motion for refusal.
Councillor Brock agreed with the conditions suggested by Councillor Fawthrop and seconded the motion for approval.
The Vice Chairman said that it was important, when looking at the greenbelt as a whole, to protect what the policies stood for. It was considered that the proposals would impact the openness of the greenbelt and should be reused as per the officer recommendation.
Councillor Bainbridge noted that applications should each be considered on their own merits. There were significant advantages to this application, and it was deemed acceptable on the conditions suggested by Councillor Fawthrop.
In response to questions, the Development Management Area Team Leader (East) advised that PD rights could be removed for fences, structures and caravans to protect a newly established green areas as much as possible. A landscaping strategy could also be implemented if the application were to be granted. Planning permission would be required for any unauthorised development on the land but it was hard to enforce these rules. A structure could be built with retrospective permission, if applied for. With regards to offsetting a newly established green area against loss of the greenbelt, it was noted that it was a fine balance, and they would be looking at the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land – officers had come to the conclusion that there was a benefit from the loss of the stables and hardstanding, but considered that the openness would be harmed by the dwelling, which they felt was too large.
The Motion for refusal was put to a vote and CARRIED on the Chairman’s casting vote.
Members having considered the report and representations, RESOLVED that PERMISSION BE REFUSED as recommended, for the reasons set out in the report of the Assistant Director, Planning.