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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 18/02/2003

Eastern 8

Major applications or those giving rise to substantial local controversy.

Background Papers (DoP&D)

Unless stated otherwise there are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D (5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to any of the following reports.

The Fairhaven Group
Change of use of land to provide showmen’s quarters; ancillary works including landscaping, hardsurfacing and alterations to access on land off Horsham Road, Alfold (as amplified by letters received 5.6.01, 20.6.01 and 17.8.01)
Grid Reference:E: 502960 N: 137880
Ward:Alfold and Dunsfold
Development Plan:Rural Area, AGLV (outside settlement boundary – Replacement Local Plan)
Highway Authority:Proposal is unacceptable in its present form for transportation reasons. It may be possible to recommend suitable conditions if the application were amended to include a ghosted right turn facility on Horsham Road (A281).
Drainage Authority:Environment Agency: Recommends conditions
Parish Council:Alfold Parish Council - Strongly object to this application on the basis:-
(a) it is completely contrary to the policy set out in the New Draft Local Plan and the 1993 existing Local Plan;
(b) it is also contrary to the landscape policy;
(c) it will also be contrary to the Surrey Structure Plan for development in the countryside;
(d) the land itself is agricultural land, therefore, with the presumption against such development;
(e) the application glosses over highway issue, not only would the access be onto a busy fast moving road but the only access to the road system in a northerly direction would be through Bramley village which would be both harmful to the environment and dangerous.
Consultations:Surrey County Council Strategy – Objection for the following reasons:-
      1. the proposals are contrary to Policy PE3, as continued by Review Policy LO5, and guidance contained in PPG7 for the protection of countryside for its own sake;

      2. the proposals are contrary to Policy PE7, as continued by Policy SE6, concerning the protection of landscape related to an AONB and AGLV;
      3. the proposals fail to satisfy the criteria justifying a Travelling Showmen's site under Circular 22/91 referring to the physical characteristics and locational suitability of a site;
      4. the proposals are for the development of a site in a rural area, remote from any settlement and totally dependent on private vehicles for access to services and facilities, contrary to Structure Plan Review Policy LO1 and guidance given in PPG13.
Surrey Police - Suggested the need for adequate lighting and fencing to create a secure and safe environment. Potential for conflict between the showmen and the existing gypsy site should be considered as realistic, therefore to make the site as secure and safe as possible is essential.
Council for the Protection of Rural England - Objects most strongly.
Representations:48 Letters of objection, including one letter representing 26 properties within the area, on the following grounds:-
      1. visual impact upon the landscape;
      2. noise from machinery;
      3. pollution of water courses;
      4. light pollution;
      5. serious hazard to highway safety;
      6. inappropriate use of land;
      7. over loading of local amenities and facilities;
      8. already very large gypsy site within locality;
      9. uncontrolled and straying dogs;
      10. overlooking;
      11. already three showmen's sites within Borough;
      12. level of proposed provision does not meet the level of fairground activity within the area;
      13. concentration of mobile homes in the Stovolds Hill area;
      14. no justification to grant.
One letter of support from the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.

Relevant History

WA89/1742Erection of 21,500 square feet glass house, provision of revised vehicular access and ancillary parking area
Withdrawn 4.4.90

Description of Site/Background

The site extends to some 12.14 hectares (30 acres). It is situated in open countryside beyond the Green Belt and within an Area of Great Landscape Value and is overlooked by more elevated Green Belt land and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the north.

The site is only partially screened by hedges and trees. The area is undeveloped and agricultural in nature, although the application site would appear not to have been actively farmed for a number of years.

The Proposal

Permission is sought for the change of use of the land from agriculture to provide showmen's quarters, including the formation of a new vehicular access off the A281, hard surfacing and landscaping. The site would provide for 46 travelling showmen's pitches and an area for retired showmen.

Submissions in Support

The applicants' agent states that there is considerable need for additional permanent accommodation for Travelling Showmen:-

"The plight of Showpeople, in general terms, has occurred owing to the strong traditions of their business and family lifestyle, which has remained largely unchanged for generations, and has in recent times made them increasingly out of step with modern development trends. This in turn has led to serious problems in securing appropriate permanent accommodation, particularly as they find it difficult to compete in the property market against more conventional and profitable development uses."

The applicants, known as the Fairhaven Group, comprise 39 families.

absence of a Local Plan policy for Travelling Showpeople both in the adopted (1993) and the emerging Local Plan in circumstances where the presence of Travelling Showpeople is widely known and accepted.

accordance with the criteria set out in Circular 22/91.

comprehensive and sympathetic additional landscaping as part of the overall scheme so as to effectively avoid and mitigate against visual encroachment into the open countryside.

overriding need for the facilities within the Region.

lack of alternative available sites within the entire wider South-West Region.

potential homelessness of many Travelling Showpeople and their families.

ability to accommodate a significant number of Showmen's families on one site and therefore address a large concentration of need evident in the South West (of the London conurbation).

Relevant Policies
PE3 - Rural Area beyond the Green Belt
RU5 – Agricultural Land and Buildings
PE7 - Landscape protection
MT2 - Traffic generation

Surrey Structure Plan Deposit Draft 2001
LO1 – Location of new development
LO5 – Protection of the countryside
SE6 – Landscape protection
DN2 – Movement implications of development

Waverley Borough Local Plan 1993
GB2 - Rural Area beyond the Green Belt
RE1 - Landscape protection
MV4 – Provision of satisfactory highway works
MV8 – Highway design standards

Waverley Borough Replacement Local Plan Deposit Draft 1999
C2 – Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt
C3 – Landscape protection
D2 – Compatibility of uses
M1 – The Location of Development
M2 – Movement implications of development

The site is located within the Rural Area beyond the Green Belt and within a designated Area of Great Landscape Value. Within this area there is a requirement to protect the countryside for its own sake and to protect and enhance the character of the landscape.

Circular 22/91 requires local planning authorities to consider Showmen’s needs in preparing their development plans. Existing and required sites should be identified, based on an assessment of need. The Circular states that preferred sites should be flat, with good vehicular access and reasonably convenient to schools and community facilities, and with proper consideration of the potential nuisance to neighbours. Sites adjacent to urban areas are likely to be more likely to be appropriate and care is to be taken to avoid encroachment into open countryside.

The House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee report on Travelling Fairs, June 2000, concluded that, as a generality, proper consideration had not been given to the needs of Showmen during the development plan process. As a result the Committee recommended greater attention to the assessment of need and the identification of sites where required.

Applications must be determined in accordance with policies of the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. There are two Travelling Showmen sites in the Borough. As these provide for the known needs of Travelling Showmen in Waverley, it has not been considered necessary, as part of the

Replacement Local Plan, to include additional sites. The Replacement Local Plan (Deposit Draft) states that proposals for new sites or for additional development on the existing sites will only be acceptable where they are consistent with the policies within the development plan.

Main Planning Issues

The principal planning issues are:-

1. Principle of proposed development and demonstration of need

2. Impact upon the landscape and character of the area.

3. Impact upon neighbouring amenity

4. Highway issues.

1. Principle of development and demonstration of need

The site is located with the Rural Area beyond the Green Belt, within open countryside outside of any settlement boundary. Policies within the Development Plan and guidance contained within PPG7 seek to protect the countryside for its own sake. Paragraph 3.19 of the Replacement Local Plan (Deposit Draft) sets out the types of development that may be acceptable within the countryside. The proposals as set out in this application fall outside of this list of “acceptable” development. Given that the site is not allocated for a Travelling Showmen’s site and is contrary to the policies of restraint within the countryside, it is necessary for the applicants to demonstrate that there is a case of overriding need to justify the proposed development.

In an attempt to provide this justification the agent has submitted the following information:

1. a copy of a standard survey letter requesting advice on the availability of land for a possible Showmen’s site and sent to a list of 156 estate agents and 59 local planning authorities in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire and London. The agent argues that despite 38 responses from local planning authorities and 3 from estate agents the search failed to identify a single suitable site.

2. 30 letters from a mixture of showmen and owners of showmen sites stating that either their existing accommodation is inadequate or that they can no longer remain at their existing sites. The sites to which the letters referred are located as follows: Rickmansworth; Hanworth, Middlesex; Redhill; Southend; Feltham; Debham, Bucks; Bracknell; Bristol; Egham; Hounslow; Chichester; Dorking; Newchapel; Chertsey; Bedford; Birmingham; Tilbury; Watlington, Oxon; Biggleswade, Bucks.

It is officers’ opinion that the evidence of need that has been provided is inadequate to justify the scale or location of the proposed development. Whilst it would appear that some attempt has been made to seek alternative sites within the South of England, it is considered that these attempts are superficial, and do not include a justification as to why the site as proposed is the correct location. Moreover, there is no analysis of the criteria for selecting and assessing sites nor is there any assessment of other sites that have been

investigated, why they have been rejected and how this site will meet the needs of local showpeople. The list of existing sites given above are clearly some distance from the application site, with the nearest being over 15 miles/25 km away. No correspondence has been received from showpeople living within the vicinity of the site or within the Borough. It is difficult therefore to understand how the proposed site could be justified to meet the needs of showpeople within the area.

The site criteria indicated under Circular 22/91, referring to the required physical characteristics of a site in terms of flatness, setting and closeness to community facilities are also only partially complied with. In particular, the site is not well served by utility services, and there is no indication of the capacity of local schools and community facilities to accommodate the demands of an expanding number of families. Whilst it is acknowledged that occupation would be characterised by a high element of travelling, the site would be permanent and a number of units would be in permanent occupation.

In view of the position with regard to the assessment of alternative sites, and the lack of compliance with site criteria contained in Circular 22/91, the case for an exception is not proven.

2. Impact upon landscape character

The site lies within an Area of Great Landscape Value where there is a requirement for development to protect and enhance the landscape character of the area. Given the scale of the proposal and the landscape designation of the area, officers have obtained independent specialist advice on the impact of the proposal upon the landscape. The report received considered the landscape character of the area, impacts upon both near and distant views, and the impact of lighting and noise. The report concluded the following:-

“The proposed development of the land off Alfold Lane for Showmen's Permanent Quarters would introduce a substantial new development out of scale and character with the surrounding rural landscape. The development would result in the loss of 12 hectares of open, agricultural land and would be detrimental to the character and distinctiveness of the local rural landscape.

Landscape proposals associated with the proposals are inadequate in that they would not create a strong overall landscape structure and do not reflect the character of local hedges and woodland.

Near views to the site are restricted to relatively short sections of public highway, the bridleway to the south of the site and an estimated 8 properties. Visual impacts from these viewpoints would be significant in the short term until planting matures. In the long term it is felt likely that views over the site would remain from sections of Brighton Road, Hawkins Farm and properties on the bridleway at Hall Place Farm. The proposed development would always be highly visible in any distant views south from the AONB around Hascombe Hill and the Nore.

On the assumption that some form of lighting would be required on the site, this would introduce a substantial new night time visual impact.

In conclusion, therefore, it is felt that the proposed Showmen's Permanent Quarters would have a significant detrimental impact on local landscape character, due primarily to the scale of the proposed development and the inadequate attention paid to landscape issues. Visual impacts would remain even after planting matures in near views over the site from locations around Hawkins Farm to the south west and in distant views from Hascombe Hill to the north. Any lighting on the site would also introduce a substantial new night time visual impact”.

It is officers’ opinion that, given the advice received, the proposal would result in demonstrable harm to the visual amenities of the area and the landscape character of the AGLV.

3. Impact upon neighbouring amenity

It is officers’ opinion that the form of the proposed development, in terms of single storey structures, would not directly harm the amenity of neighbouring properties in terms of overlooking, loss of privacy or overbearance. Concern has been raised with regard to noise pollution and impact upon neighbouring properties. However, it is the opinion of the Environmental Health Officer that appropriate conditions could be attached to any permission to restrict the hours when construction works take place and when machinery could be tested and operated. Whilst it is accepted that noise levels within the area would increase, it is considered that with appropriate conditioning and given the distance to the nearest dwellings, it is officers view that the proposal would not cause demonstrable harm.

4. Highway Issues

Access to the site would be at the point of the existing field access. The County Highway Authority's view is that there would be no objection to the proposal if it can be demonstrated that an acceptable ghosted right hand turn can be provided at the junction with the A281. Whilst the agent claims that an acceptable junction design can be achieved, no details or plans have been provided. Without such details it is not possible for the County Highway Authority to confirm whether such a junction can be accommodated within the highway and therefore object to the proposal.

Review Policy LO1 states that new development should be located primarily within existing urban areas except where some limited development may support rural settlements and the countryside. Development should achieve a more sustainable pattern of development and allow for increased access by non-car modes of transport, in accordance with Government guidance given in PPG13 (Transport). The site is located in a wholly rural area and there is no access by public transport or facilities for walking. The site would be dependant on access by private vehicle for all domestic, work-related and education etc. activities. The proposals are therefore contrary to the requirements of Review Policy LO1 and guidance contained in PPG13.


The proposal represents unacceptable large scale development within the countryside in an unsustainable location and one which fails the tests of Circular 22/91, for which adequate justification has not been provided. The proposal would cause demonstrable harm to the visual amenities of the area and the landscape character of the AGLV. The applicant has failed to demonstrate that an acceptable road junction can be achieved and that there is therefore a highway objection.


That permission be REFUSED for the following reasons:-

1. Standard Countryside Beyond the Green Belt (R1.2)

2. Standard AGLV (R1.4)

3. Standard Detriment to Character and Amenity (R2.10) - *(character and appearance of the area) *(PE7)(SE6)(RE1)(C3)

4. In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposal fails to satisfy the criteria justifying a Travelling Showmen’s site under Circular 22/91 referring to the physical characteristics and locational suitability of the site and would therefore be contrary to Policy PE3 of the Surrey Structure Plan 1994, Policy LO5 of the Surrey Structure Plan (Deposit Draft) 2001, Policy GB2 of the Waverley Borough Local Plan 1993 and Policy C2 of the Waverley Borough Replacement Local Plan (Deposit Draft) 1999.

5. The proposals are for the development of a site is a rural area, remote from any settlement and totally dependent on private vehicles for access to services and facilities, contrary to Surrey Structure Plan Deposit Draft 2001 Policy LO1 and guidance given in PPG13 concerning the sustainability of development.
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