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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 08/04/2003

PART I - Reports containing recommendations for decision by the Committee


Your Sub-Committee has considered applications for planning permission, as listed in the agenda for the meetings held on 26th February and 26th March 2003, and has dealt with these in accordance with the approved Scheme of Delegation. The following application is referred to this Committee for consideration:-

R E Frost
Erection of a tree-house on land at Thorncombe Park, Thorncombe Street, Bramley
Grid Reference:E: 500117 N: 142944
Development Plan:MGB, AONB, AGLV outside settlement
Highway Authority:No requirements
Drainage Authority:No requirements
Parish Council:No objection

Description of Site/Background

The application site is located approximately 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) from the Snowdenham Lane junction with the A281 in the centre of the village of Bramley.

The Thorncombe Estate is approximately 130 hectares (320 acres) in area and comprises some 81 hectares (200 acres) of permanent pasture, with 45 hectares (110 acres) woodland. The land also includes lakes, residential curtilage and the farm complex.

The main house, which is the subject of this application, is accessed directly from Thorncombe Street, to the west of the house. The long access drive is set within a parkland setting and crosses over the ornamental ponds.

The Proposal

The application proposes the erection of a tree house within the extensive garden area serving the house. The tree house would be built around the boughs of a significant Ash tree situated on the south side of the entrance drive and to the west of the ornamental ponds and the house some 130 metres away.

The tree house would have a floor area of 40.7 square metres and is raised up from the ground by 4.3 metres (to the base). The tree house would be circular in plan form, with a conical timber roof built around the boughs, timber tiled side elevations interspersed with timber-framed windows. A timber veranda would face towards the house and lake.

It is proposed to use the building for recreational purposes of the house and estate.

Submissions in Support

The applicant’s agent has submitted a full planning statement in support of the proposal. The statement sets out in detail the development, the relevant policy context, the need for the development and consideration of the impact of the proposal.

The main arguments can be summarised as follows:-

The proposal represents very minor development set within extensive grounds.

The tree house is of comparatively minor width, depth and height to that of the tree.

The materials to be used are totally in keeping with the character of the area and its setting.

The development would not affect the character of the landscape. It is in a well-treed location and set within the valley floor, and would not be a publicly prominent or visible building.

The proposal would represent an attractive addition to the property and will not affect the openness of the Green Belt and argue the development constitutes very special circumstances for which permission should be granted.

Relevant Policies

Surrey Structure Plan 1994 – Policies PE2 and PE7

Surrey Structure Plan (Deposit Draft) 2002 – Policies LO4 and SE8

Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002 – Policies C1 and C3 (RD3)

Main Planning Issues

Whether the proposal represents appropriate development in the Green Belt and, if not, whether very special circumstances exist to be sufficient to set aside the normal policies of restraint.

The impact of the development on the character and appearance of the landscape and estate parkland setting.

The likely effect of the development, if any, on the health and stability of the Ash tree.

Issue 1 – Green Belt

PPG Note 2 sets out the Government’s policy regarding the role of Green Belts and the restraint on new development, with the exception of specified categories of development considered appropriate. It also looks to ensure that the openness and visual amenities of the Green Belt should not be harmed. Development Plan policies go on to state that all development which takes place must be acceptable in terms of the layout, scale, impact, height, form and siting.

The proposal represents a form of residentially-related development which is inappropriate by definition. As such, very special circumstances are needed to justify the development if it is to be supported.

In your officers’ view, the proposal would represent a significant sized structure and erode the openness of the Green Belt. However, in the context of the built form which currently exists on the Thorncombe Street Estate and its setting, it is not felt that the proposal would appear overlarge or out of keeping. Indeed, it could be argued that such a structure is in keeping with such a setting.

Issue 2 – Landscape

As the site falls within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the requirement is to ensure that new development maintains and enhances the landscape character.

In your officers’ view, the proposal is located within a well-treed location and would not be visible from outside the Thorncombe Park Estate. It is also considered that the design and materials would be appropriate to its rural location and setting.

Issue 3 – Health and stability of tree

The Ash tree is estimated at 30 metres in height with a crown spread of 15 metres. The Borough Council’s Arboricultural Officer has reported that the tree is not outstanding in its own right, just part of the setting. It is not considered that its loss (if ever) would be particularly noticeable and whilst some harm would be caused to the tree, this is likely to be limited.


Whilst this type of development is inappropriate in the Green Belt, having regard to the details of the proposal and its estate parkland setting, it is considered that an exception to policy could be made in this case. It is not considered that the proposal would cause material harm to the landscape or the general amenities of the area.

If permitted, the proposal would represent a departure from the Development Plan and therefore it would need to be referred to the Government Office for the South East (GOSE).

Your Sub-Committee accordingly


1. Standard materials : no variation (4.6)

2. The building hereby permitted shall only be used for recreational purposes ancillary to the existing use of the dwelling known as Thorncombe Park as a single family dwelling and for no other purpose, including habitable accommodation.


1. Standard (RC4) - *(the character and amenities of the area) *(PE2 and PE7) *(LO4 and SE8) *(C1 and C3)

2. Standard (RC8) - *(having regard to the restrictive policies of the area) *(PE2) *(LO4) *(C1)

PART II – Matters reported in detail for the information of the Committee

There are no matters falling within this category.

PART III – Brief summaries of other matters dealt with

Background Papers

The background papers relating to the following report items are as specified in the agenda for the meetings of the Eastern Area Development Control Sub-Committee.


B.1 Appeals Lodged

WA02/1591Outline application for the erection of two dwellings on land to the rear of Fairfield and Aysgarth, Horsham Road, Cranleigh
WA02/1123Erection of a first floor extension following demolition of existing conservatory/greenhouse at Grafham Farm Cottage, Horsham Road, Bramley
WA02/152XOutline application for the erection of a single-storey dwelling on land adjacent to Taylors Farmhouse, The Common, Cranleigh
WA02/1704Outline application for the erection of three new dwellings and associated garages on land at Guildford Road, Cranleigh
WA02/1752 & WA02/1753Change of use of land to provide a new vehicular access drive at Wonersh Hill, Cranleigh Road, Wonersh

B.2 Appeal Decisions

WA02/0168Erection of extensions and alterations following demolition of existing garage at Mellstock, Barnett Lane, Wonersh
WA02/0771Erection of four detached dwellings (details pursuant to WA00/1418) on land to the rear of Crossways, Wanborough Lane, Cranleigh

B.3 Inquiry Arrangements

Your Sub-Committee has noted information on Public Inquiry Arrangements for its Planning Appeals.

C. Enforcement Action - Current Situation

Your Sub-Committee has noted a report on the current situation regarding enforcement and related action previously authorised.

comms/devcon/2002-03/071 34937