To consider the attached report.
The Principal Planning Officer presented a report for a retrospective planning application concerning a single storey front extension that had been built along the full width of one side of the existing building at 1 Bushey Lea in Chipping Ongar.
The Principal Planning Officer informed the Committee that this application had been considered by Area Planning Sub-Committee East on 4 April 2018 with a recommendation to rant/refuse. However, the application had been referred to this Committee for a decision without a further recommendation. This application had originally been ‘called in’ by Cllr Keska.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that Bushey Lea was a small lane directly off Ongar High Street, and was within the Ongar conservation area. The lane acted as a transition from the High Street and Conservation Area to the countryside beyond with open fields at the end of the lane. The application site contained a modest link detached two-storey cottage, which did not benefit from any private amenity space to the rear of the property due to the shape of the plot. Planning permission was granted for the demolition of the existing single-storey extension and outbuildings and its replacement with a two storey side extension as well as a small front projection.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that the application proposed to retain the extension as built, with a single storey front projecting element now crossing the width of the property at part 1 metre, part 1.5 metres deep in line with the ‘set back’ of the side extension, with a slate tiled roof. Both the front and side elevations were clad in a composite material weatherboarding with a wood grain effect and finished in cream, similar in tone to the rear of the adjoining property at 38 High Street. The two storey side element remained at 5.5 metres wide by 4.6 metres deep. As part of the proposal, revised drawings had been submitted in line with the Conservation Officer’s comments proposing the removal of UPVC soffit boards and the correction of some cladding around the windows in the Western side elevation, in order to make the proposal appear more appropriate to the character and appearance of the Ongar conservation area.
The Principal Planning Officer reported that the Conservation Officer had raised concerns about the UPVC double doors, as in normal circumstances within the conservation area, these doors would be of a timber construction with a thinner profile. However, the applicant had provided evidence to show that the doors were fitted by Thames Water in order to mitigate against flood risk, as the property had suffered from ‘black water’ flooding on a number of occasions. In the light of this evidence, the retention of the UPVC was on balance considered acceptable and the harm caused to the conservation area was minor. In respect of the cladding used for the extension, composite weatherboard was not the type of material expected to be used within the conservation area. However, the brickwork was not considered to be of any particular merit and on balance, the composite cladding, which featured a wood grain texture, was considered acceptable. The Conservation Officer had raised strong concerns about the use of white UPVC for the window surrounds and fascias; however, it was proposed to replace the fascias with the composite cladding used for the rest of the building, which would have no adverse effect on the conservation area.
The Principal Planning Officer explained that the proposal was not visible from the habitable rooms of any neighbouring properties and did not have any significant impact on neighbouring amenity. The neighbouring property had raised concerns about the ownership of the land on which parts of the extension had been built; however, this was a civil matter and could not be addressed as part of the planning application.
The Principal Planning Officer informed the Committee that, consequently, Planning Officers had concluded the development, with the proposed amendments, would not detract from the character and appearance of the conservation area. Accordingly, the proposal complied with the guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework and with relevant Local Plan policies. Therefore, it was recommended that planning permission be granted.
The Committee noted the summary of representations received in respect of this application, including an objection for the neighbouring property and no objection from the Town Council. The Committee heard from an Objector and the Applicant’s Agent before proceeding to debate the application.
Cllr Keska informed the Committee that this application had been referred from Area Planning Sub-Committee East by way of a minority reference, and emphasised his genuine concern that the Applicant had obtained his planning permission but then proceeded to build something completely different. Cllr Pond reminded the Committee that its statutory duty was to consider whether the setting of the conservation area was enhanced by this application.
Cllr Brady felt that the plastic French Windows were completely out of character with the area, that the French Windows should be set back, and the right hand section of the extension should be removed. Cllr Brady added that the extension should have been built as per the pland previously approved and that it was unacceptable for the applicant to build something completely different from what was originally granted. Thus, Cllr Brady could not support this application.
However, Cllr Philip opined that the Committee should only be concerned with this extension and whether it was acceptable or not in terms of planning policy. The Councillor stated that he did not like retrospective planning applications, but that the Committee had to treat this application like a normal planning application, and in that context there were no reasons to refuse this planning application.
(1) That planning application EPF/2891/17 at 1 Bushey Lea in Chipping Ongar be granted permission, subject to the following condition:
1. The amendments shown in the approved drawings shall be carried out within three months of the date of this approval.