Bell Cornwell has successfully gained planning permission for a five-bedroom dwelling on the edge of Marsh Baldon, South Oxfordshire. The location is within the Green Belt and will replace a commercial building on previously developed land.
The site owners currently grow Christmas trees in the adjoining field and sell them from the existing commercial buildings every winter. Their intention is to continue to run the family Christmas tree business from a new building closer to where the trees grow all year round utilising the existing site access. The proposed house will be retained by the same family for their own use.
Following the submission of a planning application, the local planning authority were initially concerned that the proposal would not accord with Saved Economic Policy E6 which seeks to prevent the loss of employment sites. However, Bell Cornwell was able to successfully argue that a condition put in place on a planning permission following an appeal on the site in 1998, was too restrictive for any future occupier to reasonably acquire the site. The restriction meant the site could only be used for the manufacturing of paving slabs, kerbstones, garden ornaments and sundry items.
On balance, while the Council’s Case Officer considered that, whilst a marketing exercise of the site for 12 months would ordinarily be necessary, they accepted the submission of an independent Economic Report which demonstrated that sufficient B1(a) employment space within a 5-mile radius could fulfil any local commercial need.
The Parish Council commented on the application. They acknowledged that the proposed development would be set back from the road, well screened and an improvement to the site while providing a residential property for a local family. However, alongside the positive comments, they also raised an objection to the scheme. Their concerns related to a perceived harm to the local gap between Marsh Baldon and the neighbouring village of Nuneham, as they felt it would set a precedent and go against the objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan. Their objection would have required a recommendation for approval from the Case Officer to be reported to the Planning Committee for a decision.
Following further dialogue with the Case Officer and submission of the Economic Report, the Parish Council subsequently updated their response bu removing the objection and left the decision to be dealt with under delegated powers.
Like many local authorities, South Oxfordshire has the issue of high-cost housing with a disparity between income levels and housing costs. This scheme is beneficial in that it will provide a housing solution on a site close to two small settlements and will improve the sites visual appearance and openness within the Green Belt.
The planning application was approved via a delegated decision following the Parish Council’s change in position. The Council’s view was that the development would be acceptable in terms of its impact on the character of the existing building and surrounding area and in terms of its relationship with neighbouring properties.
For more information on this project please contact Principal Planner, Alex Mitchell.