Agenda item

49776/001 - Land at Lynch Hill, Mill Lane, Alton

Tanvale Holdings Ltd

 

Outline application - Development of up to 7ha of employment floorspace (use classes B1a (office), B1c (light industrial), B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) with associated access (submitted for detailed approval), and green infrastructure. (Access only to be considered) (additional information received on 08/05/2017, 26/05/2017 and 10/11/2017).

 

Minutes:

Outline application - Development of up to 7ha of employment floorspace (use classes B1a (office), B1c (light industrial), B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) with associated access (submitted for detailed approval), and green infrastructure. (Access only to be considered) (additional information received on 08/05/2017, 26/05/2017 and 10/11/2017).

 

The Principal Planning Officer introduced the application for which outline planning permission was sought for the development of 7ha of employment land.  Access and the principle of development were the only matters for consideration.  The application related to an allocated employment site which had come forward as part of the Council’s adopted District Local Plan: Housing and Employments Allocations, April 2016.  As such, the principle of development was acceptable.

 

Current access to the site was via an unmade track from Waterbrook Road.  This land was not under the ownership of the applicant; therefore, the proposed new access was onto Montecchio Way via a new T-junction with a visibility splay of 2.4m from the carriageway and 72m in each direction.  Some scrub vegetation was to be removed in order to create the visibility lines.  The Highway Authority had raised no objection on highway safety and capacity grounds, with the access width being great enough to allow HGVs to pass.

 

Whilst the Landscape Officer had concerns that the proposal would have a moderate landscape impact, officers concluded it to be outweighed by the significant benefits resulting from the deliverability of the allocated employment site.

 

The recommendation was for permission.

 

The committee was addressed by the following deputees:

 

(1)          Mr Lock spoke on behalf of objectors to the application.

 

As set out in appendix 7 attached to these minutes.

 

(2)          Cllr Hicks spoke on behalf of Alton Town Council.

 

As set out in appendix 8 attached to these minutes.

 

(3)          Cllr Salisbury spoke on behalf of Binsted Parish Council.

 

As set out in appendix 9 attached to these minutes.

 

(4)          Mr Warren spoke as the agent for the application.

 

·                     The applicant had worked with EHDC and Hampshire Highways over the past 18 months.  All potential accesses had been assessed and this was the only option that was both viable and deliverable;

·                     It had been demonstrated that access off Montecchio Way was technically sound;

·                     If the application was approved, the landowner was likely to sell to the developer which could open up future opportunities; and

·                     This was an opportunity for much need employment land.

 

(5)          The Democratic Services Assistant read aloud a deputation provided by Cllr Carter, the local ward councillor.

 

As set out in Appendix 10 attached to these minutes.

 

The Head of Planning had listened to the concerns raised during the representations regarding the proposed access.  He and the Principal Planning Officer had met with officials from Hampshire Highways at the site.  The Highways Authority confirmed that in their considered opinion, the proposed access was safe and acceptable.  When pressed, the Highways Authority had said that they would not defend EHDC should the application go to appeal.  A highways representative had been asked to attend the meeting of the Planning Committee but was unable to do so.

 

The committee discussed the application and expressed concerns regarding highway safety issues and the impact the proposal would have on the landscape.

 

It was pointed out that the speed limit along Montecchio Way was 40mph which would require a visibility splay of 90m.  The Principal Planning Officer advised that the applicant had undertaken a high speed assessment and found that vehicles travelled approximately 36mph in each direction which had reduced the visibility splay to 72m.

 

The Head of Planning commented on the committee’s access concerns and stated that the site had been allocated in the Development Plan.  It could potentially provide significant employment for Alton.  He disagreed with some comments made that viability was immaterial.  A site needed to be viable and deliverable otherwise it would not come forward.  An access needed to be deliverable in order to make the site deliverable.  The applicant had put forward an alternative access to that in the draft document and the Local Plan Examiner had left the access possibilities open for the site for future consideration on their merits.

 

In terms of the impact the proposal would have on the landscape, some councillors felt that the proposal would create a visible scar of development in the countryside, outside the Settlement Policy Boundary and next to a key landscape feature, the Hangers.  It would undermine the landscape setting of the town.

 

In response to a question raised, it was confirmed that a condition could be added to approve lighting.

 

The committee voted on the officer’s recommendation for permission.

 

Following the vote, the recommendation was declared LOST, 4 Councillors voting FOR permission, 6 Councillors voting AGAINST permission and no Councillors ABSTAINING from voting.

 

The committee agreed that an informative note be added that access to the site from Waterbrook Road was preferable.

 

Cllr Joy proposed the following reason for refusal.

 

The proposed access to the allocated employment site would cause significant harm to the verdant gateway to the town, by reason of the loss of vegetation and cutting into the hillside, that would have an urbanising impact on the countryside. This would fail to protect and enhance local distinctiveness and have an adverse impact on the town's setting in the wider landscape, contrary to Policy CP20 of the East Hampshire District Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy.

 

This was seconded by Cllr Williams.

 

Following the vote, the recommendation was declared CARRIED, 7 Councillors voting FOR refusal, no Councillors voting AGAINST refusal and 3 Councillors ABSTAINING from voting.

Supporting documents: