Waverley’s coins spent on protecting a fountain?
A planning officer explains below why she is calling for a deferment of a proposed extension to No 7 Mare Lane, Hascombe. Application WA/2021/0306. The owners wanted to build a larger extension to the above property, but after a legal challenge in the High Court, that permission was quashed as “unlawful. Last night, with officers backing a revised application, was to have been considered for the property in Hascombe’s village centre in the Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and close to the famous Hascombe Fountain, a Grade 11 heritage feature.
After Keystone Law challenged the council on behalf of neighbours, Waverley accepted that it had not correctly considered the impact on the listed heritage asset (the fountain). Several other grounds of the claim ultimately did not need to be tested in court owing to the council’s concession on that single issue. However, Keystone Law also criticised the officer’s assessment of the impact on the Green Belt, and in particular, the council’s view that “very special circumstances” (‘VSC’) existed even though the size of the extension greatly exceeded what is normally regarded as proportionate in policy terms.
Waverley Officers believed there were/are (VSC) for this reason.
…. it is material that the proposal would improve the accommodation on offer within the rural settlement boundary, thereby reducing pressure to develop new, modern housing in rural locations to meet current lifestyle needs.”
However, Keystone claimed if allowed – it could drive a coach and horses through Wavelrey’s planning policy not to increase extensions by more than 40%.
This could apply to just about any proposal to extend a dwelling within the area. We believe that this assessment – if it is now adopted by committee members – unwittingly creates a significant adverse precedent.
It makes it impossibly difficult for the Council to resist similar proposals for outsized extensions which drives the proverbial ‘coach and horses’ through the well-intentioned policy aim that such proposals should increase the dwelling volume by no more than 40% unless VSC genuinely exist.
In this regard it must be appreciated that the Council has a legal duty to act consistently in the way it decides other similar planning proposals. It cannot simply treat the importance of this decision as being limited to its own set of facts. It will reverberate in terms of how other similar decisions in the administrative district would need to be decided if that decision-making is to remain lawful.
Committee members should also be aware that in this case the applicants (a young couple without any children) have not advanced any specific reasons for wanting to increase the size of the property. They do not live in the property and purchased it only recently, but if the accommodation was unsuitable for their personal needs, then it ithen it is appropriate to ask, why indeed did they buy it?
Here’s what Alfold’s Cllr Kevin Deans had to say about the recommendation to defer the application last night. Cllr Deanus never misses an opportunity to criticise council officers under the leadership of the administration, of which he is no longer a part.
However, Waverley Solicitor Barry Devlin, explained the reasons for the deferment, saying the council had only yesterday received important information which its barrister would need to consider.
According to Keystone Law, when the neighbours at No 6 sought a small garden room extension in 2015 officer concluded that although there would be no harm, the ‘visibility’ from the fountain was a stated reason for refusal.v Information that the council’s barrister must consider.
Letter from the neighbour.document 8450411 ____________________________________________