16/0862/OUT - Outline planning application for the erection of 1no dwelling (with access for consideration)
At the meeting of the Lafford Sub-Committee last night, I understand that permission was granted to allow construction for a single storey dwelling on the former tennis court land to the rear of the Village Hall.
Initially, the debate appeared to be heading for a refusal, with no person speaking in support of the application. However, following an intervention by the Chair of the meeting, who said she appeared to be the only one in favour of the application, furthermore expressing a fear that if they refused the application and it went to appeal they would lose, the subsequent vote tied at 8 'For' and 8 'Against'. With the Chair having a casting vote, the motion was then passed. Following a further intervention at the Chair's prompting, a vote to restrict the construction of the dwelling to a single storey building passed with 9 votes 'For' to 7 'Against'.
I have commented in these blog pages before, that I feel North Kesteven have an endemic risk-averse culture where planning decisions are concerned... and this only reinforces my opinion on this matter.
In view of the applicant having historic intentions to develop the wider site behind the Village Hall, it will be very interesting now to see if further applications are submitted. With this particular permission being granted, it rather sets a precedent for accepting 'backland form of development' within this village, encouraging others to submit speculative applications too.
I believe it is this very aspect that should have dictated a refusal under planning legislation, as per the planning officer's recommendation. It would have been useful to go to appeal, to see if the refusal was upheld by the Inspector. Just like many other legal cases, sometimes it is better to get a higher opinion for future guidance and clarity, especially when there was such a close vote on this important point of principle.
This is the link to the full transcript recording of the meeting.
Having now listened to the Nocton application in full, I think this was handled in quite an amateurish manner for what is, after all, a formal local government planning meeting.
To be specific with my criticism, the Chair didn't appear to be fully abreast of democratic planning process (by asking a non-planning related question of the Parish Council representative), nor with the relevant procedure (when a tied vote emerged). Furthermore, I was rather surprised at the absence of confident public speaking from particular Council members.
If this is the limit of detailed debate about a contentious application expected in a planning meeting, it leaves a lot to be desired and doesn't instil a great deal of confidence in the decisions from Lafford Committee at North Kesteven District Council.