Andrew Clarke, Senior Planning Officer, introduced the report which sought retrospective planning permission for the retention of a single dwelling for a period of one year which has been constructed within an area of woodland within a rural location. The development has been completed and occupied without planning permission and represents a breach of planning control. He drew attention to the Agenda Update Sheet which detailed additional comments from West Sussex County Council whom reject the proposal over the safety of the access to the application site. Officers have raised their concerns over the retention and ecology of the ancient woodland and do not feel that personal circumstances outweigh. The planning harm of the development,
David Collins, agent of the applicant, spoke in favour of the application.
Edward Matthews, Ward Member for Copthorne and Worth, spoke in favour of the application. He expressed his concerns over the welfare of the applicant’s mother and felt that it is an exceptional case. He did not believe that any harm could come of granting temporary planning permission and asked the committee to look at the application with a compassionate eye.
A number of Members agreed with Councillor Matthews and felt that the committee should grant permission based on humanitarian grounds.
A Member raised his concerns about granting temporary permission to the application as if it were to be extended at a later stage then it might set a precedent for permanent permission. He felt that there should be a 6 month review process with another 6 month notice period for enforcement as enforcement action would not necessarily have to be carried out immediately. He sought legal advice from the Solicitor of the Council.
Tom Clark, Solicitor to the Council, explained the potential risks of granting temporary planning permission and confirmed that enforcement action does not have to be carried out immediately.
A Member suggested that the committee formally ask that the enforcement action be carried out in 6 months from the committee’s decision and then conducted after 6 months instead of granting temporary permission for a year. He added that he is no rush to carry out the enforcement action however he is hesitant of granting permission on the application.
Nick Rogers, Business Unit Leader for Development Management, outlined that, the development of a dwelling in the countryside was clearly contrary to the Council’s planning policy, effect on ancient woodland, which had been strengthened in the new NPPF, and concerns of safety of the site’s access. He advised that it was possible to postpone any enforcement action and monitor the situation as requested by a Member.
The Chairman wished for it to be noted that the Committee requests for enforcement action to be carried out at the direction of the Business Unit Leader for Development Management based on the discussion of the application in this Committee. The Chairman took Members to the recommendation to refuse the application which was agreed unanimously.
That planning permission be refused for the reason as laid out in Appendix A.