Minute of Meeting of the Ross and Cromarty Planning Committee commencing on Site at Land to South of The Hutt, Drynie Park North, Muir of Ord on Tuesday, 15th August 2006 at 10.30 am.
Mr A Anderson
Mr B Barclay
Mr D W Briggs
Mr D J Chisholm
Mr J R Connell
Mr R W Durham
Mr R Macintyre
Mrs V MacIver
Mrs A MacLean
Mrs I McCallum
Mr M Macmillan
Mr A Rhind
Officers in attendance:
Jim Farquhar, Area Planning and Building Standards Manager
Jim Yuill, Principal Engineer, TEC Services
Susan Blease, Solicitor/Clerk
Cheryl Thomson, Administrative Assistant
(Mrs V MacIver in the Chair)
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr D Alston, Mr E C Mackinnon, Mrs M E Paterson, Mr A Torrance, Mrs J Urquhart and Mrs C A Wilson.
2.1 Erection of a single Chalet (Outline) at Land to South of The Hutt, Drynie Park North, Muir of Ord by Mr and Mrs Rollo.
(Application Ref No 06/00115/OUTRC)
The Committee inspected the site at 10.30 am on 15th August 2006, the inspection being led by the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager. The Principal Engineer, the Solicitor/Clerk and the Administrative Assistant were also present.
Mr Rollo, the applicant, and his mother Mrs Rollo attended the inspection.
The hearing commenced at 11.30 am in the Ross Suite, Victoria Park, Dingwall, with the same parties in attendance. Mr Stuart Bates, an objector, was also present.
The Chairman welcomed the parties to the meeting. The applicant, Mr Rollo confirmed that he would present his own submissions. Mr Bates, an objector confirmed that he wished to speak. It was noted that no representation had been made by the Community Council.
The Chairman then outlined the hearings procedure, notes on which had been previously circulated.
There was circulated Report No RC-142-06 by the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager. The Report recommended that the application be refused, for the following reasons:-
1. This application conflicts with Policy G2 (structure Plan) in respect of significant impact on residential amenity in that it does not achieve 200 metres separation from existing neighbouring houses and thus does not comply with spacing and density as expected in this open rural countryside.
2. The applicant has under his control land that would be more suited being separated an appropriate distance from neighbouring property and being less intrusive and less demanding on its effect on good agricultural land.
3. If approved this development will set a precedent for the development of chalet/holiday home development on land that does not respect current spacing and density between buildings and on land that is currently good agricultural land in use at the present time and thus will erode sustainability principles and objectives contained in Council Policies.
The Area Planning and Building Standards Manager outlined the application, the policies applicable to the site and the key material considerations in determining the application.
Mr Rollo then addressed the meeting. He advised the Committee that he had no intention to carry out any further developments of this nature in the area. He confirmed that the proposed chalet would be used solely for holiday accommodation.
With regard to the detailed design of the chalet, he confirmed that it would be single storey and designed to compliment the existing properties but screened by trees to enhance privacy. He proposed to use a full range of renewable energy sources by installing a ground source heat pump, solar panels and, possibly, a wind turbine. The chalet would be specifically designed for wheelchair users and be fully DDA compliant. He believed that this would be of added benefit to the general area, as the nearest holiday chalets specifically designed for wheelchair users were located in the Drumnadrochit area.
He indicated that only a small proportion of the field would be used and the specific site could be anywhere in the field, as far away from the Petries’ property as possible. He intended that the exterior finish would compliment the existing properties.
With regard to the suggestion in the report that the alternative site identified by the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager was more suitable, that alternative site was less conducive to use of renewable energy sources as there would be less sunlight (as a result of adjacent woodland) and less wind. He conceded, however, that if that site were brought out of the corner of the garden ground and further up the garden, it would not have less sunlight. A ground source heat pump and solar panels would still work.
Finally, Mr Rollo advised that he would happy to accept an additional condition that would restrict him from selling the chalet for a period of 10 years and he confirmed that the position of the house within the field was entirely flexible at this stage.
Mr Bates then addressed the meeting. He indicated that his objection was nothing personal. He had lived in Drynie Park for 21 years and in this time had seen bigger and bigger houses and outbuildings had springing up around the area. This had reached a point where his privacy, quality of life and the wider rural environment were being significantly adversely affected.
In his opinion, this corner of Drynie Park was already over-developed. The site of Mr & Mrs Rollo’s proposed development was on a high ground at the top of Drynie Park North and would be extremely visible. At present to the Rollos and the Petries large houses and outbuildings dominated the skyline and he felt that this application would set a precedent for further development in the area. He also questioned whether the road could accommodate additional traffic safely.
Finally, he advised that he had fenced off a strip on his land and planted trees along it in order to provide some privacy, but if the Committee were minded to approve the application then he would welcome a requirement that the applicants plant additional trees around their site. However, he felt that the proposed chalet would be better positioned on the alternative site suggested by the Area Planning and Building Standards Manager as it would have less impact in that alternative location.
Mr Rollo was then given the opportunity to reply to any points raised. He indicated that he would welcome any tree planting programme that was suggested and was dubious about the comment raised by Mr Bates that the chalet would evade privacy in the area.
There being no further questions by members, the Chairman thanked the parties for their submissions and asked them to confirm whether they were satisfied with the way in which the hearing had been conducted. All parties confirmed that they were satisfied with the conduct of the hearing.
The Principal Engineer advised that he understood Mr Bates’ concern about the roads in Drynie Park being able to cope with further traffic, but he nonetheless could not object on roads grounds as there were in fact three different routes available to reach the site and it was not the type of development which would generate unsuitable traffic once the construction phase was completed.
The Area Planning and Building Standards Manager then presented his report and recommendation. He advised that this development was to be measured against Background policies BP 2 and BP 3 and was to be assessed on whether it had an impact on individual and community residential amenity, impact on landscape and scenery and on whether it demonstrated sensitive siting.
In light of the applicants’ statement that he had no intentions to develop any further development, the Area Planning and Building Control Manager recommended that if the Committee were minded to approve the application then the applicant should enter into a Section 75 Agreement which would restrict any further development on the land and also enter in a legal agreement which would restrict the applicant from selling the chalet for a period of 10 years.
He welcomed the concept of providing holiday accommodation suitable for people with disabilities, although by its nature disabled accommodation would have a larger footprint so sensitive siting was required. He also welcomed the proposal to use sustainable energy sources. At the end of the day, however, assessment of the application came down to whether the proposed location in an open field was acceptable. While policy supported the provision of tourist accommodation in the countryside, the siting of chalets required to be as high quality as the siting of any other permitted building and the same sequential approach to site selection should as apply as to a new house in the countryside. This meant looking first at brownfield sites, spoiled land, existing buildings available for conversion and only if none of these were available looking at previously undeveloped sites. And if looking at undeveloped sites, the aim should be to select sites with the least impact on amenity, landscape and environment.
He then referred the Committee to the recommended reasons for refusal set out in his report and invited the Committee to refuse the application for those three reasons.
Following debate, the Committee agreed to REFUSE the application for the reasons stated in the Report.
They further agreed that representation should be made to the Director of Planning and Development that more detailed policy guidelines on application of structure plan policy T3 and site selection criteria for holiday accommodation should be formulated to guide future applicants and assist in the assessment of their applications.
The meeting ended at 12.05 pm.