Agenda item


Reserved Matters application for appearance, scale, layout and landscaping for 2no. dwellings on approved planning application 20/00385/OUT

Greenfield House, Hepscott, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 6LH



Reserved Matters application for appearance, scale, layout and landscaping for 2no. dwellings on approved planning application 20/00385/OUT 

Greenfield House, Hepscott, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 6LH 


There were no questions in relation to the site visit videos which had been circulated in advance of the meeting.


R Soulsby, Planning Officer introduced the application to the Committee with the aid of a power point presentation.  He advised that one further objection had been received from a neighbour concerning the loss of privacy, removal of trees, flooding, ecological impacts and illegal works being undertaken on site without planning permission.  Members were reminded that the application was for reserved matters only in relation to appearance, landscaping, layout and scale of the development.


S Ashmore addressed the Committee speaking in objection to the application. Her comments included the following:-


·       Her concern related to bats.  She had contacted her local Councillor regarding a court case where Bellway had been fined over £600,000 for destroying a breeding site or resting place of a European protected species.  All bats were a protected species in the UK and there was a parallel with Greenfield House where a roof had been removed destroying a maternal bat roost, 25 plus mature trees demolished thus destroying habitat. This was on the 13 December 2020. The Director of Planning had stated he was aware of the Greenwich Court case and was looking into it.

·       The Planner said that enforcement action was currently underway and on the 17 May 2021 the Director of Planning said he would get an update for her.

·       On 8 June 2021 she asked if a Natural England European Protected Species Development Licence been applied for and was advised to contact Natural England for confirmation.

·       She had also asked if 5 bat boxes had been erected, to which the response had been, not that I am aware of, and advised that the applicant had not submitted this condition for discharge and the enforcement team were monitoring the site.

·       Along with 3 bat boxes to be provided, these were all pre-commencement conditions as outlined in Condition 9.

·       In answer to her question if bat friendly treatment had been used on the new wooden fence and was a permit from the Environment Agency sought for work close to the river, she had been advised that they were unsure if bat friendly treatment had been used on the boundary fence, however the fence had not formed part of the planning approval and would likely have been undertaken under permitted development rights afforded to the property.

·       She had questioned if lighting adhered to external lighting recommended in accordance with Bats and Lighting in the UK 2018. The response had been that all the works had been undertaken on an existing dwelling and did not form part of the outline permission.


PA Colver also addressed the Committee speaking in objection to the application.  Her comments included the following:-


·       She was objecting as the immediate neighbour as the proposed properties were enormous and would dwarf the existing neighbouring properties.

·       The properties would overlook her house and gardens and whilst there would be some leaf cover in the summer to screen her property, in the  winter and spring they would be completely exposed.

·       She requested that the overall bulk of the properties be reduced to the original height of Greenfields prior to the roof being raised which also matched her property.

·       She requested that obscure glazing be provided in the south facing windows of plot 3 as recommended in Condition 3 of the planning report for the balcony on plot 1 and east and west facing elevations. Or that the building on plot 3 be rotated so that the windows faced east/west not north/south.  If the south facing windows on plot 3 were not changed then they would lose their privacy and amenity as neighbours.


Councillor P Ashmore addressed the Committee speaking on behalf of Hepscott Parish Council.  His comments included the following:-


·       He questioned if the application was legally valid and if the associated outline planning application was valid.  The LPA had an overriding legal duty to protect bats and he quoted the case Regina V Cheshire East Borough Council.   It was a criminal act to destroy a maternal bat roost and it was the LPA duty to protect such roosts.  The LPA was aware of the maternal bat roost in Greenfield House in October 2019, nearly two years ago.  It formed part of the outline planning application.  The bat roost was knowingly destroyed, a criminal act, therefore the LPA failed in its duty and the application was therefore invalid. 

·       He asked for the legality of both the reserved matters and outline applications.

·       In July 2020 outline permission was granted for the demolition of Greenfield House and for the erection of 3 large houses.  The reserved matters application sought permission for the building of 2 new houses and the original Greenfields House to be retained and renovated.  This made a difference to the whole development, its mass, scale, flood risk etc.

·       The reserved matters application flowed directly from the outline application and references it.  But it was not legally the same outline application that was granted.

·       The Parish Council objected very strongly to the scale of the 2 proposed houses, they exceeded 10m in height and were 3 times the footprint of the existing Greenfield House.

·       Plot 3 was only 8m away from Burnbrae, the neighbouring property giving serious overlooking, privacy and amenity issues.  Plot 1 overlooked the back garden of Burnbrae only 13m away.  The appearance of the houses as they had windows everywhere.  The south facing aspect of plot 3 faced Burnbrae only 8m away who would face a line of windows 25m across. 

·       The layout was squashed in because of the size of the houses with plot 3 coming within 2m of the main road and the new houses were positioned at the highest part of the site and would dominate the houses to the north.

·       The Parish Council opposed the application for the reasons outlined and if the application was to be approved it must have the privacy aspects properly addressed and the scale and massing reduced to the equivalent of the existing Greenfield House to be acceptable to the neighbourhood.


H Wafer addressed the Committee speaking in support of the application.  Her comments included the following information:-


·       The proposed development sought to provide 2 additional dwellings on the site.  The LPA had granted outline permission for the scheme in 2020 and therefore the principle of residential development on the site was acceptable and in accordance with relevant planning policies.

·       The reserved matters application before the Committee provided details of design, scale and layout, and had been amended in line with recommendations made by the Planning Officer and was now recommended for approval.

·       Technical matters had all been addressed and subject to conditions there were no objections from statutory consultees other than from  Hepscott Parish Council.

·       Hepscott was characterised by large, detached houses and garden spaces and the application reflected the general character of the area and the 2 storey buildings would not be out of keeping with their surroundings.

·       The materials proposed reflect the surrounding area and once constructed would be in keeping with the appearance of the village.

·       The site would provide high quality new housing in a sustainable location.

·       It was understood that the Parish Council and residents had concerns regarding the scale and design of the proposed dwellings, however following consultation with the case officer the scale of the 2 new properties had been reduced.  Whilst the application would see an increase in development with the 2 new dwellings the site had been designed to provide sufficient separation distances between the existing and new properties.

·       In respect of concerns regarding works carried out at the existing Greenfield House without permission, the applicant was seeking to rectify this and wished the Committee to note that the works to the roof had been undertaken on advice that the roof was rotten and dangerous.  The works at Greenfield house were the subject of a different application and were not part of the application before the Committee today.

·       In respect of the Bats on the site, it should be noted that the applicant had reported themselves to the relevant authorities.

·       The proposal had been assessed against local and national policies and subject to conditions had been recommended for approval by the case officer. 

·       There was no sound reason to refuse the application and she asked that the Committee granted the application.


Councillor Dickinson left the meeting at 5.06pm


In response to questions from Members of the Committee the following information was noted:-


·       The main impacts of the proposed development looked at were on Burnbrae, Maple Lodge and the impacts to the properties to the north, although the separation distances to those properties were considerable in terms of privacy impact.  A condition was recommended to be attached in respect of obscure glazing to be provided on the east and west facing windows of plot 3 to protect the amenity of Greenfield House and Burnbrae.  A further condition was recommended to be attached in respect of obscure glazing to be provided on the balcony of the rear elevation of plot 1 and subject to these conditions there were no overlooking concerns.

·       The initial outline application in 2020 was for up to 3 dwellings and included the demolition of the existing property.  The applicant had decided to retain the existing dwelling and provide 2 new dwellings as part of the reserved matters.  The outline permission had been granted for 3 properties however if the applicant had wished to increase the numbers then a new application would have been required.  Attempts had been made to address the scale and massing of the proposed dwellings to make them acceptable and they were in line with other large properties in the area. The 3 properties were accepted as a reasonable interpretation of style of development in Hepscott.

·       Bat legislation in this Country was in force and was relevant.  A bat survey had been attached to the application and the County Ecologist had not objected to the application.

·       In relation to the existing breach of condition in relation to bats, the LPA was satisfied that the applicant had followed up and been involved with the regulator outside of the Council.  There was no question of the validity of the condition and the issue had been resolved subject to conditions.


Councillor Wearmouth proposed acceptance of the recommendation to approve the application as outlined in the report which was seconded by Councillor Dunn.


Members in debating the application considered that whilst there may not be the distance between the dwellings as would be usual in the area and as there would be conditions attached to any permission granted in relation to obscure glazing there was nothing policy wise which would give reason to reject the application.


A vote was taken as follows: FOR 6; AGAINST 0; ABSTENSION 4.


RESOLVED that the application be GRANTED for the reasons and with the conditions as outlined in the report.


Supporting documents: