Rocklands Private Caravan Park, Rocklands Lane, Hastings
Discharge of Condition 4 (details of the planting scheme and soft landscaping), 6 (archaeological monitoring), 7 (foul and surface water drainage scheme) and 8 (external colour scheme) of Appeal A ref. APP/B1415/C/15/3029007 – (EN/15/00028)
52 letters of objection and 1 petition received.
The Principal Planner, Ms Roots, presented this report for the discharge of condition 4 (details of the planting scheme and soft landscaping), part of condition 6 (archaeological monitoring) and 7 (foul and surface water drainage scheme).
The site is located within the Highway Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Hastings Historic Core Archaeological Notification Area (ANA) and Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) Impact Risk Zone (IRZ).
Public comments received on or after 10July, since the publication of the Planning Committee Agenda:
· Petition and further comments from Save Ecclesbourne Glen Campaign Group received on 12, 14 and 16 July 2017.
· Revised Archaeologist consultation comment received on 19 July 2017
· Revised planting scheme received on 20 July 2017.
Members were informed of several updates to the report:-
· 2nd petition from same petitioner – focuses on discharge of condition 4, the proposed planting scheme. Issues already covered from previous objections
· 3 additional objections from 1 organisation relating to planting scheme and officer report.
· Maintain that report is accurate and clarify that members have opportunity to read all objections and summarised only in officer’s report
· Landscaping conditions requires details to be submitted and approved within 3 months of the date of decision
· Government guidance advises enforcement action to be taken only if unlikely to be granted planning permission
· With this in mind, not considered reasonable or proportionate to take enforcement action on a technical breach of condition until the matter discussed at Committee and a decision reached
· Revised planting plan dated July 2017 - amended details on:
Oak tree planting depths (30cm)
No planting mounds proposed
Removal of section related to gradients and planting of whips (not relevant, and existing soil levels maintained)
· Confirmation from County Archaeologist 14 July that further to amended landscaping plan being received – confirm works are unlikely to disturb any significant archaeological remains
· Amendment to page 39 of agenda (last sentence on page) Refers to situation prior to the inclusion of additional oak trees within the same area as holly whips although Historic England have been consulted on this and raise no objection
· Amended recommendation:
The discharge of conditions 4, 6 and 7 are based on the following information: Planting Schedule & Planting Maintenance and Establishment Specification (The Mayhew Consultancy Ltd, July 2017. Remainder of recommendation as set out in report
Members were shown plans and photographs of the application site.
The Principal Planner advised that Condition 8 (external colour scheme) of Appeal A ref. APP/B1415/C/15/3029007, (EN/15/00028) was discharged through delegated authority on 8 September 2016. Condition 6 was partly discharged at the Planning Committee meeting on 16 November 2016 in relation to the Written Scheme of Investigation. On 8 February 2017 the Planning Committee resolved to defer part 2 of condition 6 in relation to the written record of archaeological works undertaken, to take account of any potential changes to the drainage layout, and the impact this could have on archaeology. She advised that the matter had been resolved and all outstanding conditions were recommended for discharging at the same time.
The Principal Planner advised that there had been some criticism of the report which she said was inaccurate. She also said the landscaping condition attached to the Inspector’s decision requires details of the landscaping scheme to be submitted to and approved within 3 months of the date of the decision. The landscaping scheme was originally submitted within 3 months, although it hasn’t been approved. Government Guidance states that enforcement action can only be taken if it is likely that permission would be granted. Given the decision has not been made, she said the Council does not believe it is reasonable or proportionate to take out enforcement action at this stage on what is a technical breach until the matter has been discussed and decision reached at this meeting.
She said several revised planting plans have been received. A more recent plan received in July 2017 which showed the same planting as the previous submission, the only difference is tree planting depths, making them smaller, no planting mounds were proposed and the section on gradient and planting width was removed, which wasn’t relevant. The new landscaping scheme that was uploaded in July on the Planning Portal is the main one, but it doesn’t change the essence of planting that has been consulted on with the relevant authorities and discussed in the report.
The Principal Planner clarified that on page 39 of the officer’s report “No new planting will occur within the Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM)”. This she said was based on the second landscaping scheme (for holly planting), and was amended to include English Oak trees on that boundary. The County Archaeologist and Historic England have been consulted and have no objection. The recommendation in the report will be updated to show the planting date is July and not June. In response to the High Weald unit comments, the applicant has added more oak trees in amongst the holly at the bottom of the site. Additional planting will be added to protect the north east area of the site.
Regarding drainage, she said there had been a lot of negotiations and work between Southern Water and the applicant since their objection regarding new connections to the sewer. Southern Water is now confident the proposals are acceptable and they are happy to allow the connection. In terms of surface water she said the site as a whole was effected by surface water flooding. As a result of the new holiday let building there is a reduction in surface water run-off, when compared to what was previously there.
The Chair advised the committee the applicant would not be attending and therefore was not present to speak.
Mr Bob Okines, petitioner, spoke against the application, he said the report states the caravan park is screened by protected woodland which is not the case now. The view of the entire site has been opened up by landslide and by progressive thinning and removal of trees over the last decade or so. The report also states the AONB unit have no objections to the proposals, this he said is not entirely true and they agree that a long term solution is more important than a short term fix. He asked members to ask Mr Davidson how tall the new trees are going to grow during the next 3 to five years. At a previous committee meeting he said the committee were advised it was going to take many years for the trees to reach a suitable height. Furthermore, the Planning Inspectorate has recommended the planting scheme include semi-mature specimens. He said the girth should be 20cm for an oak tree to be classified as semi-mature. All of the proposed oak trees are at 8cm to 10cm in girth.
He said he did not understand why Mr Wilken (Borough Arboriculturalist) has agreed the current proposal is now acceptable. Proposals to the north of the building will only shield the view of the building from the caravan park and does not accord with the Planning Inspector’s wishes that screening should be placed in the north east. The planting scheme does nothing to shield the view from Ecclesbourne Glen and Ecclesbourne Meadow. The holly at the south of the building will take many years to mature and will thicken the hedge row, but have no effect on the view. If you are minded to discharge the conditions we ask that the planting schedule meets the requirements and expectations of the Planning Inspector to screen building from all angles, and a TPO condition to protect the new trees for their future protection.He said the discharge of the drainage condition reconfirms the applicant’s consultant has used the fact that the area is not suitable for soakaways as a lever to allow Southern Water to change their mind over land commissioned for use as a combined sewer. He said there was a typo in the officer’s report relating to the height of the trees which states the trees will be planted at height of 8 to 10cm, he said he had not seen any reference to actual height of proposed trees in all the documentation apart from this reference. The height of the trees and perceived height relative to the building is one of the most important considerations. We ask Mr Davidson how tall are the proposed trees, not the girth.
Councillor Bacon, Ward Councillor for Old Hastings, was present and spoke against the application. He raised his concerns regarding the surrounding area. Hastings Country Park, he said, is in an AONB and is in a prestigious location of biodiversity management and one of our greatest assets to residents and tourists alike. Hastings Borough Council and we as councillors do have the responsibility to maintain and protect the stunning views and serenity of the Country Park, remembering at the centre of this the natural and not man made beauty of this area. Already due to landslips we have lost the footpaths around Ecclesbourne Glen, this has caused further visual exposure to Rocklands Caravan Park and the controversial building which does not enhance the area. It is our obligation as custodians of the Country Park to rectify this by ensuring sufficient planting is in place to screen the caravan park and bunker alike. He went on to say the proposed scheme does not provide screening of the building and caravan park which currently dominates the views of this area. He thanked the Save Ecclesbourne Glen Group for updating him and members with the photos of the current site. He expressed concern that the revised planting scheme was submitted at such short notice and although consultees have been notified, he questioned whether consultees had reviewed this properly. Friends of Hastings Country Park have commented and they also do oppose the discharge of conditions from the comments made.
The Planning Services Manager clarified the actual wording the Planning Inspector used with regard to Condition 4. He never said the building should not be visible, he is saying he wants details of screening and that’s what we have done. The screening is to the north east of building. There is no mention in the requirements that he had for soft landscaping that the trees be semi-mature. Because of the location it is exposed to weather conditions. If you were to plant a tree that was slightly more mature you would find that after a few years it wouldn’t thrive and might die. For a tree to properly survive it has to be planted from a very young age so it can grow in that condition and mature and strengthen. She said that if we plant semi-mature trees in the long term it is not an effective solution.
The Principal Planner explained the AONB unit and what happened with their objections. She said they originally objected to the application and then they objected to the type of trees and to the holly not providing enough screening. In response to that, the additional oaks were proposed and we explained they would be small to start with and they pointed out that they were more concerned with the long term effectiveness of that screening than short term and they referred to the expertise of our Borough Arboriculturalist. In respect of that they were happy with the location of the trees and the additional planting. In terms of holly on Council Land, it was picked up in the beginning, in the recommendation it does clearly state in the report that they will be asked to enter into an agreement with HBC. It has been covered. Regarding the screening of caravan park as a whole, the Inspector’s decision relates to the holiday let building and not the whole caravan park.
Mr Davidson said the question was not about mature trees, but what trees will survive in that hostile environment. He said it would be better to grow smaller trees that will grow bigger.
Councillor Dowling proposed a motion to approve the application as set out in the resolution below subject to the amendment of the date of the planting scheme to July 2017. This was seconded by Councillor Roberts.
RESOLVED – by (7 votes to 2 against) that the following conditions be fully discharged:
Condition 4 (details of the planting scheme and soft landscaping)
"Details of the planting and soft landscaping scheme to the north-east of the building and on the south and west boundaries shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority within 3 months of the date of this decision. The details shall include indications of all existing trees and hedgerows on the land including details of those to be retained, together with measures for their protection in the course of development. New soft landscaping details shall include planting plans; written specifications (including cultivation and other operations associated with plant and grass establishment); schedule of plants, noting species, plant sizes and proposed numbers/densities where appropriate together with an implementation programme"
Condition 6 (archaeological monitoring)
“No further groundworks required to complete the development shall take place until the implementation of a programme of archaeological works has been secured in accordance with a written scheme of investigation submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. A written record of any archaeological works undertaken shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority within 3 months of the completion of any archaeological investigation unless an alternative timescale for submission of the report is first agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.”
Condition 7 (foul and surface water drainage scheme)
“A foul and surface water drainage scheme submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority shall be implemented in accordance with the approved details prior to first occupation”.
The discharge of conditions 4, 6 and 7 are based on the following information:
· Planting Schedule & Planting Maintenance and Establishment Specification (The Mayhew Consultancy Ltd, July 2017)
· Drainage Layout Plan (Drawing: 11.396/03E)
· Written Scheme of Investigation for Archaeological Monitoring (Archaeology South-East, August 2016)
· Archaeological Watching Brief Report (Archaeology South-East, December 2016)
The applicant is advised that should changes to the scheme, not currently identified in the application, be made in light of any subsequent revisions to drainage or relevant ground works that may occur through the building regulation process, conditions 6 and 7 will no longer be deemed to be discharge and a further application will be required.
The applicant is also advised that they will need to enter into an agreement with Hastings Borough Council to enter and carry out landscaping works on land within their ownership.
The committee took a five minute comfort break.
- MAP_HS_CD_16_00655_Rocklands, item 11c PDF 282 KB
- HS-CD-16-00655 Rocklands Private Caravan Park, item 11c PDF 156 KB