36 Apartments in the Green Belt replacing a single storey dwelling and outbuildings approved under delegated powers by Thurrock Council

April 19, 2021 1:06 pm Published by

Tetlow King Planning are delighted to have been able to assist our client, Montana Property Development Company Ltd, with their proposals to demolish an existing bungalow with associated stable buildings and other outbuildings to facilitate the development of 36 apartments within three 4-storey buildings on a site in Thurrock.

The fact that the site fell within the Metropolitan Green Belt, albeit surrounded by development on all sides including a substantial Amazon Fulfilment Centre to the north, meant that Very Special Circumstances had to be identified. The site was also identified within an employment zone under the adopted local plan as part of an urban extension to the surrounding employment area.

The council assessed the scheme and agreed that due to the size of the site it was not well suited to the type of operator attracted to the employment area and therefore its loss would not prejudice the wider employment approach identified in the plan.

Turning to the Green Belt, the council identified that the development was inappropriate given that while PDL the development would have a greater impact on openness than the previous use, and the scheme was therefore not within any of the exceptions laid out in paragraph 145 of the NPPF or the corresponding development management policy. Given the scale of development the loss of openness was clear and weighed against the proposals. The council deemed that the scheme would increase the unrestricted sprawl of development and would also conflict with purpose (e) of paragraph 145 by reason of the site only being identified for employment use not residential (noting that this approach differed to that set out during the pre-app phase). However, it was accepted that the scheme would not result in the merging of town, would not result in further encroachment into the countryside or have aby impact to the setting and special character of historic towns.

Turning to the VSC case the council accepted that: (i) the lack of a 5-year housing supply would amount to a significant benefit; (ii) the identification of the site as being suitable for employment initially but now proposed for residential was of some weight; (iii) the site had been identified as being suitable for release from the Green Belt as part of the evidence base to the emerging local plan and therefore afforded weight in favour; and (iv) the site was in a sustainable location that was of weight in support. The sum of these benefits was found to be sufficient to outweigh the harm in principle as required under paragraph 144.

The landscape impacts of the scheme were addressed through a comprehensive LVIA prepared by John-Paul Friend of LVIA ltd, whilst the architecture was dealt with by Laurence Mineham of Ubique Architects. Although there were various amendments to detailed elements of the scheme the application passed without the need for any substantive amendments which is some achievement given the Green Belt designation and the scale of the proposed development compared to the existing scale on site.

Iain Warner, Director of TKP West Malling office commented

“This scheme just demonstrates the value of engaging in pre-app on sites like this to understand the principle constraints for a scheme, and then working with a team of experts to ensure that every angle of the scheme is well covered. To be able to demonstrate limited harm in landscape terms for such a proposal is always a challenge but, in this case, the LVIA addressed all the council’s concerns enabling them to support the application and determine by way of delegated authority. This was a great outcome. Despite the scheme clearly being substantially greater in mass and scale than the existing development, the new accommodation was sensitively designed to be in keeping with its surroundings, as acknowledged by the officer in the delegated report.”