Tetlow King Planning overcome Ancient Woodland concerns to secure permission for 89 dwellings in Maidstone

July 3, 2019 10:44 am Published by

In June 2019 Tetlow King Planning (TKP) secured Reserved Matters consent for 89 dwellings on a site within the countryside and adjacent to an area of Ancient Woodland, through which a new access road is to be created.

The original outline consent was refused by the local authority but approved on appeal in November 2015 prior to TKP taking on the scheme. Importantly at this appeal the Inspector accepted the principle of creating a vehicular access through Ancient Woodland to serve the site noting that:

“The loss of some trees and soil under the access roads is regrettable and constitutes harm, but this small loss is outweighed by the benefits of management to the overall area of AW.”

Following a review of the scheme a full application for 115 dwellings was submitted to the council in January 2018 adopting the same parameters established through the outline but allowing for more units as a result of rationalising the individual sizes of the properties. Initially the application was to be reported to the planning committee in August 2018 with a recommendation for approval, however following the release of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (July 2018) the application was deferred and taken to the following committee in September 2018. Due to the changes within the Framework relating to Ancient Woodland (enshrined at paragraph 175) the recommendation of officers was to refuse the application. Despite demonstrating that the outline scheme was still capable of implementation the application was refused in accordance with officer recommendation due to potential impact on the Ancient Woodland and the location of the site within the countryside.

The refusal of the application in early September 2018 meant that in order to preserve the development a full Reserved Matters application had to be submitted prior to 30 November 2018 otherwise the permission would expire. As a result of a combined effort from the consultant team the Reserved Matters application for 89 dwellings was prepared and submitted on 17 October 2018 and validated on 22 October, a full month before the outline was due to expire. 

Following an intense period of negotiation and revision, the scheme was presented to the planning committee in May 2019 with an officer recommendation for approval. Iain Warner, Director at the Kent office, presented at the meeting on behalf of the applicant and set out that through working closely with officers all issues had been addressed and the scheme was in full compliance with the outline consent. Following a relatively brief discussion of the merits of the case (including clarification on how to consider implications on Ancient Woodland), the council voted by majority to approve the scheme subject to several informatives and minor revisions to details. One informative related to the preference for removing the provision of a biomass boiler as part of the development (a previous criticism of the 115 unit scheme that failed to make provision for this) in preference for alternative on-site renewable energy methods due to the perceived issues with such boilers.

The consultant team included Ubique Architects; Bioscan (ecology); Odyssey (drainage and transport); Lloyd Bore and Decimus design (landscape). Special mention goes to Andy Moger, Associate Director, in pulling together a major submission within a brief period of just 6 weeks post refusal of the full application – an unusual request and timeframe but of critical importance to the client given the implications of failing to achieve this deadline.