Andrew Morrison, Senior Planning Officer, introduced the report which sought planning permission for the erection of 1 no. detached 2 storey dwelling and 1 no. detached 3 storey dwelling (with landscape gardens), within a walled Victorian garden at land to the rear of 5 High Street, East Grinstead. He drew attention to the Agenda Update Sheet which revised the eastern site boundary to reflect the true position of the boundary. He noted that the application site sits just outside the boundary of the East Grinstead conservation area. He explained that Officers do not consider the visual impact of the proposal to be acceptable, including a harmful impact upon the setting of the conservation area and adjacent listed building. He also explained that Officers furthermore consider the impact upon neighbouring amenity and future occupier amenity to be unacceptable.
Councillor Julie Mockford, East Grinstead Town Council, spoke in favour of the application.
Paul Carter, agent of the applicant, spoke in favour of the application.
Luke Mosley, local resident, spoke in favour of the application.
Several Members commended the design of the proposal.
A Member noted that the Conservation Officer raised an objection to the application. She sought clarification on the degree of harm to the conservation area.
Nick Rogers, Business Unit Leader for Development Management, drew attention to the Conservation Officer’s comments which considered the proposal to have less than substantial harm to the conservation area and adjacent listed building.
Tom Clark, Solicitor to the Council, added that less than substantial harm should be given considerable weight.
A Member raised his concerns over the impact on the conservation area and listed buildings. He believed that the committee should give the impact considerable weight.
A Member enquired whether the development could be seen from East Grinstead War Memorial.
The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that the development can only be seen from the street scene if viewed through the gap between the buildings for the access point.
The Chairman believed the design to be bold however felt that the development is too large for the small area for which it is planned.
A Member drew attention to National Planning Policy Framework Paragraph.195d which detailed that less than substantial harm might be outweighed if the site is brought back into use and believed that the application should be recommended for approval.
The Business Unit Leader for Development Management advised that there were four strong reasons to refuse the application; harmful effect on listed building and conservation area; significant harm to the residential amenities of existing residents due to loss of outlook and privacy, significant harm to amenities of future residents resulting from lack of privacy and; no Section 106 agreement in relation to the Ashdown Forest. He added that the Council can demonstrate a five-year land supply and that officers do not feel that the harm outweighs the limited benefits of the development.
A Member enquired whether there have been any objections to the application.
The Senior Planning Officer explained that the neighbouring properties 11b, 11c and 11d have raised objections to the application.
Councillor N Mockford proposed to move to the recommendation to approve the application as he felt that the benefits of improving the site outweigh any harm of development. This was seconded by Councillor E Matthews as he believed the current site is visually harmful to the surrounding area.
The Chairman moved to the recommendation to approve the application which was agreed with 5 votes in favour of the application and 4 against.
That planning permission be approved subject to competition of a satisfactory S.106 Legal Agreement and planning conditions to be agreed with the Chairman of the Committee.
Reason for granting planning permission
The committee considered that the development would enhance the character of the conservation area because of the design of the proposed buildings and condition of the application site, it would not cause significant harm to the amenities of exiting residents nor would it cause significant harm to the amenities of future residents through lack of privacy. It was thus in accordance with policies DP26 and DP34 and DP35 of the District Plan and EG3 and EG4 of the East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan.