The installation and use of an office building and welfare building ancillary to the permitted waste operations at Elm Nursery and the erection of 6 x CCTV cameras on columns, 2 x fuel storage tanks, 2 x open storage bays, 1 x electricity generator, and 1 x fuel storage container (part retrospective)
Jessica Darvill (Planning Officer)
The Local Member, Will Forster, joined the meeting virtually and made the following comments:
1. Noted that there had been one local objection to the proposal and so it was not very controversial within his division.
2. Highlighted that the committee previously gave permission for the site due to very special circumstances as the site was within the Green Belt.
3. The Member said that the proposal was for a relatively small-scale wood chipping plant however Member should consider the inclusion of a condition to include parameters to prevent the site from becoming unacceptable in the area.
4. Stated that the proposal included various aspects and asked that Members carefully consider whether they were appropriate within the Green Belt.
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Chairman introduced the item. The Planning Officer provided Members with a brief overview of the proposal which was for the installation and use of an office building and welfare building ancillary to the permitted waste operations at Elm Nursery and the erection of 6 x CCTV cameras on columns, 2 x fuel storage tanks, 2 x open storage bays, 1 x electricity generator, and 1 x fuel storage container (part retrospective). Full details of the proposal, including photographs and plans presented to Members, could be found from page 335 of the agenda.
2. In regards to Figure 6 of the photographs presented to the committee, a Member raised concern with the layout of the bricks and stated that she believed that it would be in breach of Condition 11 and 13 of the report. The Member further stated that they were concerned that a retrospective planning application which included the storage of fuels on site was showing evidence of fuel being stored in an inappropriate way. Furthermore, the Member requested that Condition 13 of the report was strengthened to match Condition 15 of the previous report considered. In response, officers stated that she believed the fuel tank storage area had been built in accordance with the Environmental Agency’s requirements and that the Environmental Agency had raised no objection to the proposal. The Member stated that they did not believe the storage area had been installed as designed and suggested that consideration of the application be deferred to allow members to visit the site. Officers stated that they did not have access to the material provided by the Environmental Agency related to design of the fuel storage area.
3. A Member and the legal representation at the meeting acknowledged that an application being retrospective could not be a reason for refusal. Further to this, the Member noted a response to a concern on page 282 of the report regarding whether there were very special circumstances within the green belt and stated that Members should consider whether very special circumstances were observed. Officers responded that the location of the welfare facilities and fuel tanks needed to be included on site to prevent additional movement of vehicles and personnel.
4. In regard to the requested hours of operation, officers explained Condition 4 of the planning permission allowed for entry 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the permitted hours of operation and that it was being requested that this be increased to one hour.
5. In response to a Member’s comment on the flooding shown in the photographs taken on site, officers explained that the photographs were taken in January which was during a time of surface water drainage issues due to recent heavy rainfall. The Environmental Agency had stated that it was a high risk area and that Woking Flood Authority and the Surrey Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) team had raised no objections to the proposal. Members noted that soak away scheme was also being brought forward as part of the current application.
6. In regard to the proposal to defer the application to allow a site visit to be scheduled, a Member stated that they supported the proposal.
7. A Member stated that they had no objections to the application and that any potential breaches of conditions could be dealt with at a later date.
8. A Member stated that they felt a site visit was necessary to further consider whether there were very special circumstances to build the additional welfare facilities within the green belt location.
9. The Chairman proposed that the application be deferred to allow members to visit the site prior to making a decision which received six votes for, five against and zero abstentions.
Actions / further information to be provided:
The Committee agreed to the defer the application to allow a Member site visit to be undertaken.