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Disclosures of Interest
In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.
The following disclosures of interests were made:
The Planning Code of Conduct requires that councillors who have been lobbied, received correspondence, or been approached by an interested party regarding any planning matter should declare this at the meeting which discusses the matter. Councillors should declare if they have been lobbied at this point in the meeting.
The following lobbying declarations were made by councillors:-
Councillor Burrett had been lobbied but expressed no views on application CR/2021/0243/FUL.
Councillor A Belben had been lobbied by Councillor T Belben but expressed no views on application CR/2021/0243/FUL.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Planning Committee held on 31 August 2021.
The minutes of the meeting of the Planning Committee held on 31 August 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
To consider report PES/377of the Head of Economy and Planning.
RECOMMENDATION to REFUSE.
The Committee considered report PES/377 of the Head of Economy and Planning which proposed as follows:
Material change of use of land to a gypsy and traveller site for 2 pitches each with 3 caravans and associated operational development (hardstanding, access track, shared package treatment plant, amenity blocks, sheds, kennel/dog run and post and rail fencing) - retrospective.
Councillors Ali, A Belben, Burrett, Jaggard, Mwagale, Raja, and P Smith declared they had visited the site.
The Principal Planning Officer provided a verbal summation of the application, which sought retrospective permission for a change of use of a 0.23 hectare area of former paddock/woodland to a gypsy and traveller site, which was already occupied. The Officer updated the Committee that several corrections and clarifications to report PES/377 were required as follows:
· The first sentence of paragraph 5.10 was to be corrected to read ‘Whilst accepting they form part of an established Gypsy/Traveller family related to most of the larger traveller families across Kent, Oxford and the UK, further information does indicate links to Horsham, Mole Valley and the wider Irish Traveller community in Crawley.’
· Paragraphs 5.16 and 5.17 were to have the word ‘deliverable’ replaced by ‘developable’ in relation to the allocated Local Plan gypsy/traveller site.
· The first sentence of paragraph 7.1 was to be amended to read ‘The Council is currently able to demonstrate a 5 year land supply of developable gypsy/traveller pitches within the borough, although weight needs to be given to the applicants’ needs as the site is not currently deliverable’.
The Committee was updated that no response was received from the Ecology Officer, so it was taken that there had been no objection to the application. The Planning Officer also explained that a further letter had been received from the agent commenting on the officer report – the agent’s letter was read out in full with the omission of some personal details. The correspondence queried a number of matters in the report and raised issues including the lack of consideration of temporary permission for the site, the levels of noise caused by passing aircraft, the Council’s 5 year supply of gypsy and traveller pitches, the potential flood risk at the site, and the personal circumstances of the applicants.
Robert Biggs (a neighbour of the site) spoke in objection to the application on behalf of Radford Road Neighbourhood Watch. Matters raised included:
· Noise disturbance to neighbours of the site and harm to visual amenity, as the development was not considered to be in keeping with the local area. The value of neighbouring properties had decreased.
· The development had impacted the local flood risk. Drainage at the site was poor and there was a history of flooding in the area, and there was a blocked culvert nearby.
· The environmental impact - trees were removed, wildlife (including protected species) may have been displaced, the hardstanding may have been laid improperly, and the site was in an area of archaeological interest.
· Access, damage, and ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider report PES/389 of the Head of Economy and Planning.
The Committee considered report PES/389 of the Head of Economy and Planning. The report summarised all the Section 106 (S106) monies received, spent and committed to project schemes between quarter 4 of the financial year 2020/21 and quarter 2 of 2021/22.
Following a question from a Committee member regarding the frequency of the S106 update reports, the Head of Economy and Planning confirmed that the reports were previously considered by the Committee quarterly, but since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, officers’ workloads had increased. The reports were therefore less frequent but it was hoped that they would soon return to the Committee on a quarterly basis.
The Chair welcomed the £55,000 in open space contributions provisionally allocated to the Wakehams Green playground, which was in need of refurbishment.
That the update on S106 monies received, spent and committed between quarter 4 of 2020/21 and quarter 2 of 2021/22 was noted.
Update on Water Neutrality
At the request of the Chair, the Head of Economy and Planning provided an update following Natural England’s position statement on water neutrality. It was heard that consultants had recently been appointed by the Council to assess the water usage of planning applications. A number of previously permitted applications were to be re-considered by the Planning Committee with new elements tackling the water neutrality issue, which were likely to be ready for the next Committee meeting in January 2022.