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The Chairman welcomed everyone present and went through some general housekeeping arrangements for the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs J L Fleming and R H Siddall.
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7 September 2022, (copy enclosed).
RESOLVED by assent that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7 September 2022 be approved and confirmed.
Disclosure of Interest
To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registrable interests and Non-Registrable Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraph 9 and Appendix B of the Code of Conduct for Members.
(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).
Councillor Durham declared an other registrable interest as a member of Essex County Council, as statutory consultees and in the interest of openness and transparency he advised he was aware of the applicant when involved in the golf business as a business acquaintance only.
To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery (copy enclosed, Members’ Update to be circulated)*.
A Members’ Update had been circulated prior to the meeting that detailed comments from the Council’s Ecology Consultant, representations from internal consultees and interested parties together with an additional reason for refusal on ecology grounds.
Following the Officer’s presentation, the Agent, Mr O’Toole addressed the Committee. The Chairman then opened the discussion.
Councillor Durham opened the discussion by saying he had called-in the application as he felt there were adequate reasons to bring this to Committee. He raised several points, that the application was a natural infill with the village and the settlement boundary ran along two sides of the development; the site was in a sustainable location 475 metres from the nearest bus stop on the A414, main transport to Maldon and the current business, that of a golf driving range, was no longer viable due to its length.
Furthermore, it was not a valid tourism operation with no significant employment opportunities and in terms of ecology objections mown grass and the ball collecting machine inhibited survival of any species. He concluded by saying that the Parish Council and neighbours had no objections, the proposed housing mix was appropriate and said he would like to hear from officers what impact the application would have on the 5YHLS.
In response to issues raised Officers provided the following information:-
· That in terms of sustainability the bus service was very limited particularly as a means to get to work and accessed via unlit footpaths. The nearest village was one of the smaller ones in the District with no facilities;
· That there was no evidence as to the viability of the business or use for other tourist, sport or community related facilities, which should be explored prior to planning use;
· That in terms of ecology the surrounding hedges and trees within the site could contain protected species and the species could use the site for migration at night;
· That the Call for Sites deemed this unsuitable for development and if houses were built without facilities this would create a dangerous precedent for all small villages across the District;
· That planning policy required evidence of marketing to be submitted with applications on previously developed land that have been used for employment, community, tourist or leisure purposes and none had been submitted with this application;
· That given the number of units there was no real benefit to the 5YHLS, with no contributions towards, health, education and transport. It was further noted that to base a decision on affordable housing only would also create a dangerous precedent, particularly where the oversupply in ... view the full minutes text for item 282.