Planning applications

Information courtesy of South Somerset District Council
Updated  22 April 2014 

14/00268/FUL 15 Foxcombe Lane, Horsington ,BA8 0DS,  Alterations and extension to provide new home office with room over and construction of rear entrance porch GR:368393/122964)

14/00401/AGN Land At Grove Farm House, Lower Cheriton Lane, North Cheriton, Proposal Agricultural storage barn (GR:369865/125845)

14/00246/COL  Feltham Farm, Marshbarn Farm Lane, BA8 0EN, Application for lawful development certificate for the existing use of Felthams Farmhouse without compliance with Condition 6 ( occupancy restriction) of planning permission 872615. (GR 371936/124608)

13/05062/FUL  2 Pear Tree Cottage, South Cheriton, BA8 0BH, Two storey rear extension. (GR 369643/124830) PERMITTED

For more information click here

Slades Hill Appeal allowed

The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for a mixed-use development consisting of up to 75 dwellings (including affordable dwellings), 675 sqm employment space, 230 sqm multi-purpose community building, access, school expansion area, public open space and allotments.

We will write more when we have had time to digest this – Ed

Download the Inspector’s decision in full
Slades Hill Appeal decision

Other links
Slades Hill-A murky tale
Sarah Webb’s evidence to the appeal
Response from local councillors
Slades Hill Development appeal
SSDC Planning details
Slades Hill development protest site
South Somerset’s planning nightmare
Wincanton planning problems

Slades Hill Templecombe – a murky tale

The Blog looks in detail at the planning  process for this controversial development, which is murky, to say the least. The Planning Inspector’s decision is awaited in a few weeks.

“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made” – so said the American poet  John Godfrey Saxe (and not the frequently mis-attributed Count Otto von Bismark). The same applies to the planning process, especially as we begin to learn more about the Mead planning application to build 100 houses on a field in Templecombe.

Templecombe is not Horsington, so why is the Blog bothered? Well, Templecombe is perilously close to Horsington, we intermarry, drink in each others pubs, and use the station frequently.  What happens in Templecombe could happen in Horsington. There is a new planning regime, and we need to come to terms with it.

The Developer
Mead Realisations describes itself as a land development and “property enabling company”, which buys ‘problem’ land i.e. land that does not have planning permission, has access problems and possibly contaminated soil. MRL uses a team of  consultants to work through the problems, before it either develops land with other major developers, or alternatively, sells it to them.

They are no strangers to planning controversy, and employ a very slick and professional planning consultant. You may have seen Derek Mead on the local news as he is a key player in the long running attempts at redevelopment of the Tropicana in Western Super Mare. He is also a North Somerset Councillor!

The South Somerset District Council
Your local authority. Lib Dem. Band D Council Tax £1447.25, the most expensive in Somerset.

Local planning authorities were given a 12 month transition period to ensure their plans were compliant with the new NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework). This expired at the end of March 2013

SSDC produced a local plan setting out a detailed picture of projected land use until 2028. The plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on 21 January 2013. So far so good.

If you search the SSDC website (and you have to know where to look), it tells you the Secretary of State’s Inspector expressed concern over several areas of the SSDC’s plan, and in effect rejected it. The Council spun this as a positive, saying they were “pleased that the Inspector has agreed in principle to the suspension or pause so the Council can address his concerns”

But the fact remains is that currently South Somerset has no local plan. Many of the planning assumptions which the SSDC relies on to approve or reject planning applications are out of date, or inaccurate, as the Mead planning appeal revealed.

It will be several months, and several hundred thousand pounds of council taxpayers’ money before a new plan is in place, assuming the inspector accepts it next time round.

This puts South Somerset residents at the mercy of opportunistic developers like Mead, because, in the absence of policy, there is a presumption in favour of development.

The law states “where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out of date,  the authority should consider granting permission unless there are significant and demonstrable adverse impacts.

History of the Slades Hill site
The site was put forward for 70 houses in the 2006 Local Plan, but the Inspector found that the site was unsustainable, so the allocation was deleted. Mead unsuccessfully challenged this in the High Court.

In August 2012 Mead submitted an outline application for a development of up to 100 dwellings, retail unit, employment area, community building, area for potential school expansion, public open space, and allotments, together with new road access.

Mead say they went to considerable lengths to consult with the planning department and local residents. There was an exhibition in the village hall, and Mead published an 84-page document summarising the reactions to the development.

However, according to local resident Sarah Webb, who gave evidence at the appeal, the consultation process was badly flawed.

  •  Initially only the very local residents were invited to the village hall consultation in late 2011.
  • A number of invitations to the exhibition arrived on the day of the consultation, and some the day after
  • The development went to appeal on non determination. The developer then requested a revised application for 70 houses be considered at the Planning Inquiry although this application was still in consultation.
  • There was no consultation of a number of people in the village who will be directly affected by the development, including those people who stand to lose the amenity of parking outside their house if the plan goes ahead.

A well-attended Templecombe Parish Council extraordinary meeting in September 2012 objected strongly to the development.

However, the SSDC – Area East did not reject the application. It simply did not decide because it didn’t have the information from SSDC Planning Department to be able to make an informed decision within the required timescale. Mead therefore appealed against “non-determination”, and a date was set for a hearing. Only after the appeal was made did the application come to Area East and it was then unanimously voted for refusal but by then it was too late.

What was clear from the outset was that the residents of Templecombe were against it for various logical reasons – size, scale, access, need, pressure on local services, effect on property prices, traffic increase etc. The Parish Council was against it. The SSDC was against it. The Planning Department recommended refusal.

But then in August 2013 Mead issued a second application, this time for 75 homes, and no retail element but an increased allocation of employment land to replace the retail element and 25 houses -so there was no change to the size of the development.

This was discussed at a poorly attended ordinary Parish Council meeting in September 2013, and was item 5.6 on the agenda. Only 2 parish councillors and the chairman voted for it, and the rest of the village was not consulted. Yet at the hearing, Mead’s consultant Ian Jewson plainly stated that local people, led by the parish council, supported the revised application. No-one contradicted this.

We also understand, but this is not confirmed, that the owner of the land, a parish councillor, attended the Parish Council meeting in September 2013,  including during the voting.  He didn’t vote but was allowed to stay.

SSDC Area East have still not had this revised application to consider so the developers have undermined the democratic process of considering planning applications in this area.

The Appeal hearing, held in Wincanton at the end of September, was not publicised on either the SSDC’s or the Planning Inspectorate’s websites. The Blog only found out about it when the editor rang the council wondering if a hearing had been fixed, only to be told he had just 4 minutes to get there!

The Planning Inspectorate website still indicates no hearing date, and is still inviting comments. So much for open public administration.

Local people, and our Councillors Willam Wallace and Tim Inglefield gave evidence to the appeal. They commented “We are certain that the planners have done a diligent job in reviewing all the objections raised.  However, they must interpret such objections within the law and precedent of planning regulations.  Often local objections are made on grounds outside the planning regime for reasons which cannot be used as formal objections within the legislation.  Knowledge of some of the detail often defeats even your ward councillors!

“Our prime duty is to ensure that the concerns of our parishioners are heard in the right court and are sensibly and responsibly considered.  We separately may have our own views which may differ from the Parish Council or even perhaps with some of the parishioners themselves, but our aim in such circumstances is to work for the good of the ward and in the best general interest.”

The Inspector is now considering the matter.

It will be a travesty of justice and democracy if this development goes ahead against the strong objections of local people and the opposition of the local authority.

We shall see.

Apologies for such a long story, but it’s complicated and important -Ed
Sarah Webb’s evidence to the appeal
Response from local councillors
Slades Hill Development appeal
SSDC Planning details
Slades Hill development protest site
South Somerset’s planning nightmare
Wincanton planning problems

More about Slades Hill

The Blog has received a post from William Wallace, district councillor for Blackmore Vale

Following your report regarding the Templecombe, Slades Hill application for 100 houses etc., both Tim Inglefield and William Wallace made extensive representations to the Inspector of the planning appeal in writing and indeed William was able to attend the winding up on Friday afternoon. These can be long ,drawn out and not very exciting affairs but we await the results with interest.   Good point about poor access to the website at SSDC . –I will look into it. –Regards – William Wallace. County Councillor and District Councillor for the Blackmore Vale.

The point was not poor access to the SSDC website, but that there was no indication that the planning appeal was on, and therefore no opportunity for interested parties to attend. -Ed

Original post, and links to other planning posts
Wincanton planning chaos

Damp squib at the Battle of Slades Hill

It was going to fireworks between the SSDC and an opportunistic developer, Mead Realisations, over a controversial housing development at Templecombe, but the appeal before the planning inspector at Churchlands, Wincanton  on Friday 27 September, turned out to be a very  low key and incredibly polite debate between opposing barristers.
At stake are plans for a housing estate at Slades Hill, Templecombe, a mile down the road from Horsington.

It is difficult to find out what is going on, as the Council’s website does not appear to be up to date with the documentation. Even worse, there is no mention of the appeal hearing date and venue anywhere on the SSDC website, which may explain why only the Blog, the Mayor of Wincanton and a lady from Templecombe were there to witness the proceedings. A poor show. No doubt deputy heads will roll.

Slades Hill, Templecombe
The proposed development site at Slades Hill Templecombe. Railway line at the bottom, Thales to the right

A year ago Mead asked for outline permission for 100 houses on a 16 acre site. The proposal included a retail unit, employment space, public open space, allotments and an area for school expansion.

The SSDC failed to deliver a decision, and so Mead launched an appeal.

The Council’s case
The council believes the appeal should be dismissed on the basis of the development’s adverse impact on highways safety and on the grounds of unsustainable development out of scale with the character of Templecombe and its status within the hierarchy of settlements in the District. What this means is that Templecombe, despite its railway station and Thales, is small fry, and there are better, more appropriate places to develop.

The developer’s case
The Developer claims the council has acted unreasonably in refusing permission and that the reasons for refusal are unjustified. However, just in case the Council is right, they have amended their development to just 75 homes and taken out the retail provision. The Parish Council seem to have gone along with this.

At the same time, the Council and the developer have agreed terms for what is called a “Section 106 Agreement”. This is the list of things the developer will do for the community if he gets permission – affordable housing, play areas, financial contribution to education, sports pitch etc etc.

So while counsel on huge fees argue the intricacies of the finer points of planning law, the audience is  left wondering what the real argument is about and what deals are being done behind closed doors.

What is clear is that (a) the SSDC has lost a point or two (and maybe even the argument) by not having robust planning policies and procedures in place and that (b)planning law is now so complex that lowly citizens like ourselves will have to put up with whatever the bureaucrats and planners want to foist upon us. So much for the much trumpeted concept of localism.

The Inspector’s decision is not expected for another few weeks, and at the hearing there was no sense from this master of impartiality which way he will go.

We will tell you more as soon as the decision is announced.

Response from local councillors
SSDC Planning details
Slades Hill development protest site
South Somerset’s planning nightmare
Wincanton planning problems

The blog stirs and wakes up to a planning nightmare.

There’s a bit of a nip in the air in the mornings, a sharp reminder that this wonderful summer is slowly drawing to a close. Time for the blog to wake from its summer torpor and see what has been going on. Is there anything worth reporting?

Well yes actually. While we have all been snoozing in our hammocks, a Government inspector has ruled that LibDem South Somerset District Council’s much heralded Local Plan (formerly the pretentiously titled “core strategy”), has been ruled as “unsound”. As a consequence, the Council has decided to suspend the plan for another 7-8 months so that it can address the inspector’s concerns.

You would have thought that having spent £2.5 million of your money compiling the plan, they might have got it right. But heigh ho, apparently only 30 per cent of submitted plans get through first time round, so that’s all right then. Another £350,000 to sort out the unsound elements and the council is back in business – allowing more unsightly developments like the jungle-like eyesore KFC/pub and hotel complex at Wincanton and the creation of hundreds of homes, windfarms and solar farms on greenfield agricultural sites in Templecombe,  East Coker and elsewhere in the district.

The local plan is not the usual piece of bureaucratic tomfoolery. It is a blueprint for how the area will be developed between now and 2028.

Under the Government’s planning laws there is a presumption in favour of development in local authority areas which do not have an approved local plan.

With no local authority elections due until 2015, we have to rely on the Conservative opposition to ensure the plans are what the locality wants and needs, are sufficiently rigorous to pass the Inspector’s scrutiny. Can they do it? Or will we be overrun by tatty housing and ill-considered speculative energy projects?

See also:
http://www.wincantonwindow.co.uk/2.7m-wasted-so-far-and-counting.htm
http://www.centralsomersetgazette.co.uk/Local-Plan-evidence-good/story-19620083-detail/story.html
http://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/latest-news/july-2013/district-council-backs-temporary-pause-to-local-plan/
Slades Hill, Templecombe development

 

Parish Council discusses Templecombe development

Outline planning permission is being sought for a 100- unit housing estate with associated retail unit, employment area, community building, area for potential school expansion, public open space, allotments, together with new access, at Slades Hill, Templecombe, near  the border with Horsington.

The 6.57 hectare site (16 and a quarter acres) lies to the east of the A 357 at Slades Hill, and surrounds an existing housing development, Blackmoor Vale Close. The site also borders the Thales site and the School.

The council’s website has plenty of objections, which may be summarised as “Templecombe does not need this development, it will alter the character of the village considerably, and there are plenty of other similar developments in Wincanton, Sherborne and Yeovil”

The proposed development has been on the cards for some 10 years, and a previous application in 2005 was withdrawn.

Horsington Parish Council discussed it at the last meeting on Thursday 13 September, and it will be interesting to hear what they said.

The Blog gives the scheme a resounding “NO”.

More details

Slades Hill development
The site of the proposed housing development at Templecombe

We understand the Horsington Parish Council also dislikes the proposal, and is sending a couple of representatives as observers to a meeting with planning officers to discuss the scheme. We will keep you informed -Ed

Stop Press: The Templecombe protesters website is    www.sladeshilldevelopment.co.uk

Silton wind farm back on the agenda

Actually, it never went away. The public enquiry resumes on 18 September at Sturminster Newton at 9.30 am.

You can catch up on the latest development and arguements here

Slate or tile? It’s important (apparently)

Many of us were surprised to learn that even the parish church needs to apply for planning permission, even for alterations.

The Blog’s planning applications section reveals that they want to change the external roof covering on the south aisle from clay tiles to Welsh slate. The reason for the change is that the existing roof  has too shallow a pitch for clay tiles, and is therefore vulnerable to water penetration. Slate tiles will provide better protection, according to the consultants employed by the church.

Horsington Parish Council discussed this application at their last meeting.   Surprisingly, Two Councillors were in favour, but three Councillors were opposed. One abstained because he/she felt that they needed further information.

The meeting recognised that the roof needs repairing but one Councillor, who has experience in roofing, reported that there are tiles on the market that are suitable for roofs with a pitch down to 15 degrees, and the council felt that this option should be investigated before the option of replacing the tiles with slates is taken.

Relations between the church and the parish council are said to be “strained”. Oh dear.

Solar panels near Cheritons/ Holton

The Blog's helicopter captured this view of the proposed Solar Park. The A 303 runs across the picture, with Wincanton in the background. The A357 is away beyond the left of the picture. (Click to see full size)

A 5MW “solar park” has been proposed at Higher Hatherleigh Farm, Grove Lane, about 1 km (0.62 of a mile) south of Wincanton alongside the old S&D railway line adjoining the Wincanton sewage farm .

The solar panels will be in some 33 rows about 3 metres off ground – virtually invisible from any road, but very visible from vantage points like Cucklington or the Monarch’s Way.

The 29 acre installation will generate enough energy to power around 1450 two-bedroom homes. The proposal is for the scheme to last for 25 years, during which time animals like sheep can graze between the panels, thereby preserving an element of agricultural use.

According to the solar power feed in tariff calculator on the Parker Energy website, such a system will cost in the region of £394, 000 and pay back its investment in under 13 years. The total profit over 25 years (when the current scheme ends) will be in the region of £591,000, a return of 6%.

Hatherleigh Farm lies in neighboring Holton Parish. There have been a number of objections, including from the Holton Heritage Trust, which states that the proposal will cause huge damage to the highly valued landscape of the Blackmore Vale. Although the Trust has previously supported planning applications for rooftop panels, it is strongly opposed to panel generation parks in open countryside.

They point out that the proposal goes against the Holton Plan, which has been approved by the council.

Blog comment: The Council is in a difficult position. Solar energy is a good thing, and preferred to 400 ft wind turbines. But if they permit this one, than every landowner in the area will think it worth having a go. With reluctance, we say no, simply because we would not like to see a precedent created- Ed