Erection of up to 6 holiday units with associated landscaping.
Cllr Simon Christopher rejoined the meeting and was in the Chair.
Cllr Louie O'Leary moved to the public seating area. Following public participation he left the room during consideration of this application.
The Senior Planning Officer introduced the outline application for the erection of up to 6 holiday units with associated landscaping.
Members were shown a location plan with the site adjacent to the Defined Development Boundary (DDB); an aerial photo with outline of the site and neighbouring properties at Bowleaze Coveway and Waterside Holiday Park; an indicative site plan showing how 6 holiday units could be accommodated on the site and indicative elevations showing what the units could look like. Retention of an ecological corridor to the east of the site was protected by way of condition.
A number of photos were shown from the field gate into the site, further towards the holiday park, looking back at the site and No 61 Bowleaze Coveway, looking down the road in the other direction with the Riviera Hotel in the background, the other existing field gate and relationship of the site to No 61 Bowleaze.
An update sheet circulated to the Committee at the meeting included proposed amendments to condition 5 (due to a typographical error) to change the date from 31/01/2023 to 31/01/2030 in the interests of ground stability.
A further 3 consultation responses had been received since the writing of the report, however, the issues raised had been covered in the report.
Derek Brown, of the neighbouring property, stated that at the time his home had been built the planning authority wanted to protect the buffer zone between his home and the holiday camp. Most of the windows in his home faced the application site and would lead to a lack of privacy. Further concerns included road safety, the lack of a reception area and parking, late night noise and closure during the winter months. Speed bumps and crossing points had been put in place at the holiday park due to traffic concerns and having units at the application site would detract from these measures.
Cllr Tony Ferrari, Dorset Council Ward Member for Littlemoor and Preston, stated that Weymouth Town Council Planning Committee had objected to this application. He highlighted significant erosion in that area; the creation of water run offs in unpredictable areas due to the development; the need to preserve the existing biodiversity corridor to ensure its effectiveness; and the impact of the development in moving pedestrian traffic further up the hill in between parked cars when there were traffic crossings at the holiday park.
Cllr Louie O'Leary, Dorset Council Ward Member for Littlemoor and Preston read a statement on behalf of neighbouring residents Mr & Mrs Sharp. They were concerned about surface water drainage, the lack of a reception to deal with issues such as late night noise disturbance, the inappropriateness of the development close to a Band G council tax area, the importance of the green space between the residential area and the holiday park and the viability of the 6 huts. Turning to his own comments, Cllr O'Leary advised that he had spoken against the application at the Weymouth Town Council Planning Committee when it was refused on the grounds of landslip and that No 61 Bowleaze Coveway would look down on the huts due to its height. This proposal did not meet a housing demand and previous applications had been refused due to the unsuitability of that ground that existed as a buffer between the residential and commercial properties. He therefore urged the Committee to refuse the application.
Laura Ashworth, the Agent, stated that the original application had been submitted in May 2019 and that all issues had been addressed. Comments made by Natural England had been taken out of context and there would be no adverse impact on Portland. She explained that this was a sensitive low impact scheme that delivered high quality holiday accommodation close to tourist facilities that made use of this site and that the proposal would not result in significant harm to neighbours in terms of noise and amenity.
Cllr Louie O'Leary withdrew from the meeting at this juncture.
The Area Lead clarified that the site was not in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), that the indicative drawings would not necessarily represent the end style of the units and that Weymouth Town Council had not objected to the proposal when first consulted on this application.
Members raised concerns in a number of areas, including
· stability of the road due to cliff erosion and the impact of this proposal should an alternative route from Bowleaze be required;
· the Biodiversity Mitigation and Enhancement Plan in the context of the declaration of a climate and ecological emergency by the Council and comments made by Natural England;
· the impact of water run off on neighbouring properties;
Members were informed that the Highway Authority had not objected to the application. Comments had been received from the Technical Services Team in relation to land slippage, resulting in the advice to allow temporary consent. At the end of the 10 year period a further permission could be sought which would be considered on its own merits and not set a precedent for further development. Water run off would be subject to a planning condition.
The main concern of Natural England was to preserve the ecological corridor and they were content that the impact would be acceptable subject to the revised Biodiversity Mitigation and Enhancement Plan. Whilst appreciating that part of the green space would be lost, there remained an extensive area of green space in that location.
It was confirmed that the applicant had agreed to the conditions, including the 10 year timescale.
Members remained concerned about pedestrian safety due to the high level of traffic movements created by the turning point at the holiday park and were mindful that this proposal moved pedestrian traffic to a point further up the hill where traffic speeds were greatest. They were reminded that no objection had been raised by the Highway Officer and that only the most severe highway impacts could be given as a reason for refusal.
Following further debate, the Committee came to the view that the benefits of this application did not necessarily outweigh the concerns. Members considered that mixing residential with holiday lets outside the DBB to be inappropriate and that the holiday lets would not be in keeping with the neighbouring residential properties. Members were concerned about the reduction in the greenspace between no. 61 Bowleaze Coveway and Waterside Holiday Park and the impact on views of the site and its surroundings.
A 5 minute adjournment was taken in order to formulate appropriate wording of a reason for refusal, following which, that reason was read aloud and supported by the Committee:-
"The proposed development would adversely erode the existing green space between no. 61 Bowleaze Coveway and Waterside Holiday Park to the detriment of views of the site from Bowleaze Coveway and Weymouth Bay and would adversely impact the visual amenity of the area contrary to policy ENV1 of the West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan (2015)."
Proposed by Cllr David Shortell, seconded by Susan Cocking.
Decision: That the application be refused for the reason outlined in the appendix to these minutes.