Agenda item

PL.2023.00424: Land at Washpool, Swindon, SN5 3PN

Demolition of various outbuildings and the erection of a 3-bedroomed detached dwelling and associated works (revised resubmission).


Public Participation


·       Mr Gary Llewellyn - spoke in support of the application.

·       Cllr Sally Westwood – Lydiard Millicent Parish Council – spoke in opposition to the application.


Senior Planning Officer, Olivia Tresise, introduced a report which recommended that the application for the demolition of various outbuildings and the erection of a three bedroomed detached dwelling with associated works, be granted. Key details were stated to include the principle of development, highway safety, flood risk and residential amenity.


Attention was drawn to the location of the proposed development in open countryside, outside of the settlement boundary defined in the Wiltshire Core Strategy. However, the site had been previously developed, was not in a conservation area and was adjacent to a residential area. The Senior Planning Officer explained that, as Wiltshire Council was unable to demonstrate a five-year land supply, the proposed development was not found to be contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It was noted that the addition of a dwelling would contribute to improving the supply of housing, there was expected to be some economic benefit from construction and the proposal would make use of an existing access to a public highway.


Members of the Committee then had the opportunity to ask technical questions of the Senior Planning Officer.


Clarification was sought about the impact on the access arrangements for the garages to the north of the site if the proposed development was approved. It was confirmed that the garage doors faced the proposed development site, but that their access arrangements should not be impacted, as they did not currently have access rights over the proposed development site. The proposed development would use the access used by the existing industrial site.


When asked about whether Grampian conditions had been imposed, preventing the start of development until off-site works had been completed, to preserve access for the garages, the Development Management Team Leader stated that this would fall more towards a civil matter. He noted that there were likely to be fewer trips to the proposed residential dwelling than the existing industrial site.


A query was raised in relation to the ‘golden thread’ through the NPPF, an assumption that planning be granted unless there were reasons against and whether this had been broken. It was queried whether, as the site fell within Flood Zone 2 (medium risk) and Flood Zone 3a (high risk), a sequential test had been undertaken to demonstrate that there was no other suitable site for development.


In response, the Senior Planning Officer noted that she did not believe that there had been a sequential test but noted that the Applicant had submitted a flood risk assessment. The Solicitor providing legal advice highlighted that no technical objections had been raised in relation to flooding within the report.


The Committee Member who had raised the initial query then sought further assurance about the requirement for a sequential test, citing a case relating to Aylesbury Vale Crematorium, which had gone to judicial review. His understanding was that the requirement for a sequential test would not be determined by whether the land had been previously developed. The meeting was then adjourned between 2:49pm and 2:57pm to allow for further investigation.


Upon the resumption of the meeting, the Development Management Team Leader, Adrian Walker, confirmed that a sequential and exceptions test had been submitted in support of the application, with potential alternative sites being discounted for specific reasons. When asked about whether the search area for alternative sites could just be in Washpool, or whether it needed to be Wiltshire wide, the Development Management Team Leader observed that it would never be Wiltshire wide but should be a reasonable distance. He reiterated that the report had been looked at by a flooding officer, who had agreed with the assessment.


The member of the public then had the opportunity to present their views to the Committee as listed above. He highlighted that all of the reasons for refusing an original application in 2018 had been addressed. He also noted that there were no Highway objections, access to garages was a civil matter and the Applicant would be happy to meet with garage owners. 


The member of Lydiard Millicent Parish Council then had the opportunity to present their views to the Committee as listed above, explaining that they felt the proposed development did not comply with Lydiard Millicent’s Neighbourhood Plan.


The Unitary Division Member, Cllr Steve Bucknell, then had the chance to present his views to the Committee, raising concerns about the access arrangements, highway safety and ecology. He argued that limited weight should be given to the sequential survey, believing that it had been prepared by a flooding expert rather than a professional planner. He felt that the scope of the sequential survey was too narrow and should have included a wider area of land beyond Washpool.


Following these comments, it was clarified for the Committee that the sequential survey was prepared by a chartered planner. Cllr Bucknell acknowledged this clarification and withdrew his comments about the survey not being prepared by a professional planner. He apologised for any offence caused by his characterisation of the survey. He wished for it to be minuted that the quality of the survey was not in doubt and the Committee was aware that the sequential report had been produced by a suitably qualified professional.


Cllr Bucknell then proposed, seconded by Cllr Gavin Grant, that the application be refused contrary to officer recommendation.


A debate followed where issues such as highway safety, the geographical area covered by the sequential survey, road safety, the settlement boundary, Lydiard Millicent Neighbourhood Plan, five-year land supply and flooding were discussed. 


It was then:




To REFUSE to grant planning permission for the demolition of various outbuildings and the erection of a three bedroomed detached dwelling with associated works.




1      Core Policy 1 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy identifies the Settlement Strategy in Wiltshire and directs development at a strategic level to the most suitable, sustainable location, while Core Policy 2 seeks to deliver such Settlement Strategy in the most sustainable manner. The proposal is situated outside the settlement boundary of Lydiard Millicent and in the open countryside. Given that the proposal is to erect a market housing outside the settlement boundary of Lydiard Millicent, it would not meet the exception as set out in Core Policy 44 (Rural exceptions sites) of the adopted Core Strategy which allows for affordable housing as exceptions to Core Policies 1 and 2.


Core Policy 48 supports proposals for residential development to meet the accommodation needs required to enable workers to live at or in the immediate vicinity of their place of works in the interests of agriculture or forestry or other employment essential to the countryside. By virtue of its nature, the proposal would not fall within any of these criteria.


Furthermore, Policy LM1 of the Lydiard Millicent Neighbourhood Plan (2018-2036) Made May 2021 also seeks to limit development in Lydiard Millicent to infill development within the built area of Lydiard Millicent to accord with Core Policies 1 and 2 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy would be supported, provided it has full regard to the following design principles. Infill is defined as the filling of a small gap within the village that is only large enough for not more than a few dwellings, generally only one dwelling. The application site is a triangular parcel of land outside the village of Lydiard Millicent. The site is bounded by a block of garages to the north and an unnamed watercourse to the south. Therefore, due to its location, surrounding natural features and the built form adjacent to the site, the proposal is not considered as an infill development to Lydiard Millicent.


The proposal therefore fails to comply with Policies CP1, CP2, CP44, CP48 and CP57 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy Adopted January 2015 and Paragraph 80 of the National Planning Policy Framework September 2023.



2      Core Policy 60 and 61 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy requires new development to be located and designed to reduce the need to travel particularly by private car, and to encourage the use of sustainable transport alternatives. The proposal, by virtue of its location adjacent to a narrow lane, the absence of lit footway connecting to the bus stop nearby, the proposed would very likely to encourage future residents and visitors to use private vehicles. Therefore, the proposal is contrary to Core Policies CP1, CP2, CP60 and CP61 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy Adopted January 2015, National Planning Policy Framework (September 2023).



3      Paragraph 159 of the National Planning Policy Framework September 2023 states that inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk (whether existing or future). Paragraph 161-163 of the NPPF states that all plans should apply a sequential, risk- based approach to the location of development – taking into account all sources of flood risk and the current and future impacts of climate change. The aim of the sequential test is to steer new development to areas with the lowest risk of flooding from any source. Development should not be allocated or permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower risk of flooding. If it is not possible for development to be located in areas with a lower risk of flooding (taking into account wider sustainable development objectives), the exception test may have to be applied.


The application site is in Flood Zone 2 & 3. Whilst the Sequential and Exception Test Assessment have been submitted with the proposal, it is considered that there is inadequate evidence to demonstrate that no sites with a lower risk of flooding are available in the area for the provision of a new dwelling. As such, the proposal would


be contrary to the above-mentioned paragraphs of the National Planning Policy Framework September 2023, and Core Policy CP67 (Flood Risk) of the Wiltshire Core Strategy (Adopted January 2015).



4      Core Policy 57 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy (Adopted January 2015) requires high standard of design in all development. Development is expected to create a strong sense of place through drawings on the local context and being complementary to the locality. Paragraph (vii) of Policy CP57 requires new development to demonstrate the proposal will make a positive contribution to the character of Wiltshire through having regard to the compatibility of adjoining buildings and uses, the impact on the amenities of existing occupants, and ensuring that appropriate levels of amenity are achievable within the development itself.


The proposed dwelling, by virtue of its location, proximity to the adjacent garages and the existing access, the absence of turning and manoeuvring space within the site, would adversely impact upon the users of the garages. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policies CP57 (vii), 60 and 61 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy (Adopted January 2015), the National Planning Policy Framework September 2023.

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