Change of use of land to 8 no. pitch traveller site with associated new access at The Woodyard, Derby Road, Homesford, Matlock.
The Development Manager gave a presentation showing details of the application and photographs of the site and surroundings.
The Committee visited the site prior to the meeting to allow Members to appreciate the proposal in the context of its surroundings.
In accordance with the procedure for public participation, Mr John Youatt (Agent), Dr Siobhan Spencer MBE (Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group) and Mr Roger Yarwood (Local Resident) spoke in support of the application. Mr Stephen Walton and Mr Richard Walsh (Local Resident) spoke against the application.
Consultation responses were set out in section 5 of the report and supplementary late representations received after the Agenda publication.
Following publication of the agenda:
1. An email from the agent has been received, with an attached statement from the WHS (undated) which sets parameters for possible development of the site Conservation and Planning Panel. Within this document it is advised that the Conservation and Planning Panel would not object to a use on the site that conformed to the aspirations of the WHS management plan, e.g. eco-tourism, and also reintroduced the wooded character of its surroundings. It is stated that this does not mean:
- Screen hedge planting
- Extensive earth works
- Intrusive signage.
Small lodges, e.g. 3m x 5m to the rear of the site (i.e. as far from the road as possible), in a dark recessive colour, in a broad leaf woodland setting may be acceptable. Trees would be planted to look ‘scattered’ and not formally ‘regimented’ to give the impression of natural woodland.
That agent advises that the Council must recognise the established use is worse than do nothing. They state that its choice is between lodges or travellers’ pitches, which are in part an economic activity.
DVMWHS Conservation and Planning Panel is not a statutory consultee and the guidance paper issued by the Panel was done so in exceptional circumstances. The Panel meeting was also held on the 25th November 2015, prior to the findings of the appeal inspector in respect of application 15/00642/FUL for an 8 pitch Traveller site at The Woodyard and the assessment of the impact of the development on the DVMWHS, a designated heritage asset.
Notwithstanding the above, the nature of development described by the panel was such that the site would enhance the broadleaved woodland setting of this part of the WHS, particularly in views from the turnpike road. The development applied for is more extensive in terms of site coverage and offers little opportunity to introduced broadleaved tree planting.
2. In addressing the officer’s report the agent also makes the following comments:
In 2014 the DDCC corporate committee resolved to adopt the Woodyard as its preferred site of 16, as a permanent site for travellers. It tested it against criteria and spent £1000s, concluding it was viable. The committee decided to adopt the Woodyard on a majority. The council has subverted that decision ever since. An application was approved for 3 temporary pitches for 3 years. It’s valid until the first occupation. It breached the resolution, the need and policy and is financially unviable.
Since then the Council has pursued 4 sites: - Rowsley; Watery Lane (Ashbourne); Clifton; and Tansley. All have failed. It might be at risk of a fine in the high court for failing to provide, as before. So, we are now in the Aberdeen scenario. In that case, the Inspector ruled that the failure to supply carried overwhelming weight over other considerations.
WHS agreed that the existence of the uncontrolled use classes B1 and B8 and an ugly shed, demanded a new use, subject to conditions. WHS recommended an ecotourism use - some lodges. Travellers’ sites are almost always in the countryside. Roger Yarwood will tell you that the Woodyard is among the most sustainable sites in his nation-wide experience. The site is only 3km from Cromford, by road, bus, footpath and train.
You will see on your site visit that the site is not at risk of flooding or of adding to flood risk downstream. It’s an inaccurate map. The site stands high above the river and is protected from road water by kerbs. The previous appeal is irrelevant now. Relied on a site no longer available and a bad report in other ways anyway. It relied on the Watery Lane site - a rubbish tip with badger setts, needed for the bypass.
The existing approval has already drawn the planning balance against their objections. My clients ask that on site visit you note poor environmental conditions in Homesford – photos to follow. The Highway Authority approves. Please note that the A6 is much quieter from 1800 hrs to 0600. DDDC has specified a 2 m fence and we propose a site manager’s pitch. We recommend a public site so that the council can ensure appropriate tenants and behaviour.
In terms of valuation / viability, the going rate for permanent pitches is circa £30k per pitch. A tough call for your budget. But Government has recognised that… In relation to funding, although DDDC have missed the deadline, we recommend a bid now. We know the scheme will be extended, and by applying now you would join the queue. DCC has told me it has spent £70k since 2014. DDDC has not answered yet but will be as much again at least. The need is growing. To conclude, please approve the Woodyard for travellers and apply for the grant.
The above points have been addressed in the officer’s report and appropriate weight applied to the criteria in Policy HC6 of the Adopted Derbyshire Dales Local Plan (2017) and guidance contained in the PPTS (2015) in assessing the appropriateness of the development in planning terms. With regard to the last paragraph, although the site is not required to be in a local authority’s ownership at the time an application is made, officers understanding is that it will need to be eventually leased or owned by a local authority to benefit from the funding that is available to ensure value for money and deliverability. The application has been presented to the Local Planning Authority by the land owner without agreement on any lease or transfer of the site to the District Council.
3. The Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Group have made the following additional comments:
The families cannot undertake another winter on what is an unsuitable site. They consider that the age, medical and educational needs of families is a material consideration in this case.
Officers appreciate the needs of the families it has a duty to provide sites for, however, the unsustainable location of the site and impact the DVMWHS weighs significantly against the development in this case.
It was moved by Councillor Garry Purdy, seconded by Councillor Richard FitzHerbert and
That planning permission be REFUSED in line with the Officers recommendations as set out in the report.
The Chairman declared the motion CARRIED.