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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 07/06/2005

Eastern 9

25TH MAY 2005



Your Sub-Committee, at its meeting on 25th May 2005, elected Mr R H Worby as its Chairman and Mr D R Gallacher as its Vice-Chairman for the current Council year.

PART l – Reports containing recommendations for decision by the Committee


Your Sub-Committee has considered applications for planning permission as listed in the agenda for the meeting held on 25th May 2005 and has dealt with these in accordance with the approved Scheme of Delegation. The following application was referred to this Committee for consideration.

WA/2005/0509Erection of an extension and alterations to the Naylor building; erection of single storey classroom building to replace existing portable classrooms at Hurtwood House School, Hurtwood House, Radnor Road, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking
Hurtwood House School
Grid Reference:E: 510056 N: 142682
Parish :Ewhurst
Ward :Ewhurst
Development Plan :Green Belt, AONB, AGLV
Highway Authority :No requirements
Drainage Authority: No requirements
Surrey Hills AONB Officer: No objection as there is no significant adverse impact on the AONB.
Ewhurst Parish Council:The Council had no objection to this application and was happy to support it.
Representations:None received

Relevant History

WA/2004/0647Erection of an extension to an existing school building to provide additional teaching and examination accommodation.
WA/2003/1131Erection of a first floor extension at theatre complex.
Full Permission
WA/2002/1156Erection of an extension to classroom block.
Full Permission

WA/2000/1131Variation of Condition 1 of WA99/18798 to allow siting of portable classrooms for a further temporary period.
Temporary Permission
WA/2001/0583Erection of a detached building of 1127 square metres to provide a media studies centre).
Appeal Dismissed
WA/1999/1879Siting of portable classrooms for a temporary period.
Temporary Permission

The School has been the subject of a number of proposals for extensions and new buildings. There is an existing planning obligation completed in 1996 that fixes the school roll at a maximum of 287 pupils. A Planning Appeal was dismissed in August 2002 for a new media centre and classrooms because of the unacceptable impact on the AONB landscape and MGB.

Description of Site/Background

The school site is located in the Green Belt, AONB and AGLV outside a settlement off Holmbury Road on a steeply sloping site. The principal school buildings are in two groups of buildings on two levels. The buildings are located centrally within the site although on two levels. The main school buildings are found on the higher level and a drama hall and some classrooms are also sited on the lower level. The school caters for sixth form pupils only and is a fully residential establishment although the boarding houses remain predominantly outside the site and pupils are bussed to the school via mini-buses.

The Proposal

The application includes a two-storey extension to a building known as Naylor building of approximately 530 square metres. The extension to the Naylor building includes a school hall on the ground floor with an examination hall above. The extension to the Naylor building would measure 15 metres in width and 18.5 metres in depth. The building would be the same width as the remainder of Naylor building. The proposal also includes the retention of a single storey classroom block of approximately 320 square metres that replaced temporary "portakabin" type structures which stood on this site and were permitted in 2001. The new classroom block provides 6 new classrooms, one of which would double as a dance studio. The classroom block is a single storey timber clad pitched roof structure measuring 21 metres in length and 18.5 metres in width.

Applicants Submissions in Support

The school was established in 1970 moving to its present site in 1974. The school is unique in two major respects; firstly that it is the only fully residential school specialising entirely in the sixth form and secondly because of its pre-eminence in the fields of creative and performing arts.

It is recognised nationally and internationally as having the biggest and the best drama and media departments of any school in England. It has launched an unprecedented number of young people into these professions, including one Oscar-winner and the winner of this year’s West End Best Newcomer award.

Hurtwood House is a non-profit making company limited by guarantee. There are no owners, shareholders or dividends, and in the event of closure all the assets must by law be distributed to charity. The school has an annual turnover of 6 million and employs 150 staff including 40 household and domestic staff, 35 administrative, technical and executive staff, 8 maintenance and estate workers, and 67 teachers.

Hurtwood House has 287 students all of whom are boarders and all of whom are in the 16-18 age range. The school has five large country houses and their lodges, which are used by its boarding students as halls of residence. The school is at the cutting edge of technology with fully networked computer systems, interactive computerised whiteboards, full industrial specification digital video editing suites, recording studios and more. Hurtwood Theatre has 180 seats and is equipped to the highest professional standards. The media department has professional camera, an editing suite and a vision control area that is linked to the TV studio, music studio and theatre.

In September 2000 the government introduced new legislation relating to the new A-level system, Curriculum 2000. The legislation stipulated that from that date, all A-level students should take four or five AS levels in the first year of the sixth form. Previously, they had only taken three. This had two immediate effects. Firstly, it increased overnight the need for additional classroom space and secondly, it has placed a considerable additional burden on the school to provide adequate space in which examinations can be conducted. There is also a pressing need to keep the facilities in the Media and Theatre departments up to date to ensure that standards are maintained. The cumulative effect of both these demands has already stretched existing facilities well beyond their capacity.

The recently published Tomlinson report indicates that further changes to the educational system will be made during the next 10 years. These changes are all aimed at broadening the curriculum still further, which will in turn put further pressure on space, rather than decreasing it.

Since the advent of the AS level system, there is a desperate shortage of space in which to teach and to conduct examinations and which has had a knock on effect on the schools ability to play to its core strengths in Media and Theatre. Before Curriculum 2000, first-year students would spend approximately 30 periods in the classroom and 16 periods in Private Study. Now, they spend 40 periods in the classroom and only six periods in Private Study. Therefore, 140 students are engaged in extra 10 periods per week. A as a result the school is effectively obliged by Government edict to deliver a staggering extra 1400 student lessons per week. With an average class size of 10 this means we are teaching 140 more lessons per week. At present the school has 40 allocated teaching rooms. To meet Government requirements another six are needed.

In total the school has to cater for an extra 2500 examinations and as a result the theatre and dance facilities have became makeshift examination halls for periods of 7 weeks at a time with additional two weeks needed for mock examinations. The result is that access to the core theatre and dance facilities for nine weeks out of a 35-week academic year (25%) are lost.

The new media and dance studio would provide the school with the second examination hall.

The previous proposal to expand the school was rejected by Waverley Council on Policy Grounds and dismissed at appeal. The Inspector stated that the then proposed building was too big and too intrusive, he nonetheless acknowledged the pressing needs of the school and made the following helpful recommendations:-

1. That consideration be given to breaking down the proposal into two smaller units which would have considerably less impact on the environment.

2. The proposal should be sited within or adjacent to the envelope of existing buildings on site.

3. That all buildings should be kept below the horizon line to minimise environmental impact.

4. Applicants should liase with the Planning officers to meet the above requirements.

The current scheme address the above points in that the proposal is now for two smaller developments which are within or adjacent to the envelope of existing buildings.

Temporary permission for the previous classrooms on site expires this December, although the school has already replaced the buildings with another set of larger, but unobtrusive, higher quality units of wooden chalet-style construction, which the school is now seeking to retain on a permanent basis.

Although a separate planning application for these units had been submitted due to problems with the applicant’s agent and the application being incomplete the plans were withdrawn and have now been re-submitted as part of the present overall proposal.

The school fully acknowledge that this unfortunate instance of misinformation does now result in part of the present application being technically retrospective. This causes us much embarrassment and we sincerely hope that this irregularity will be seen as the misunderstanding, which it was and will not prevent approval now being granted. It certainly was not, and has never been, the School’s intention to seek Planning Approval any other way than in advance and in full conformity with the rules.

The application pays careful attention to Waverley Local Plan 2002 Policies C1, C5 and RD5.

The school accept that In essence, there is a general presumption against inappropriate development unless very special circumstances exist, and there is an over-riding concern that the natural beauty of the Surrey Hills should be conserved and respected, that development should not be intrusive, and that the character of the existing landscape should be preserved through appropriate design.

The school have sought to show that they have urgent and pressing needs, that very special circumstances do indeed exist, and have been acknowledged by the inspector from the Department of the Environment. The scale of the proposal is modest and the visual impact is minimal the proposals have been design and sited within the envelope of existing buildings.

The new classrooms replaced temporary classrooms sited in the school car park. The classrooms are built in the eastern slope of the hillside and are mostly visible only from the car park itself, because of the lie of the land and the screening of the trees.

The extension to the existing classroom block is of similar style to the remaining building and is invisible from any public vantage point except directly up the driveway. The two proposals would not have any impact on the horizon as they are below the horizon line.

In terms of a five year overview of school requirements, it is difficult to plan, what with changing Government requirements. It is however felt that if the present planning application can be approved, it will leave the school in a strong position to cope with any proposed changes in the education system.

Relevant Policies

Surrey Structure Plan Policies LO4, SE4, SE8 and SE9

Waverley Borough Local Plan Policies D1, D2, D4, C1, C3, CF3 and RD5

Main Planning Issues

Green Belt

Hurtwood School is located within the Green Belt and accordingly the guidance in PPG2 (Green Belts) applies. Para 3.1 states that there is a presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt and new development should not be approved except in very special circumstances. Policy C1 of the Waverley Local Plan reiterates this guidance. The school have made this planning application as they consider very special circumstances exist to justify development and the harm caused by reason of inappropriateness, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Area of Great Landscape Value

The site is within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) Policy C3 states that consideration must be given to the protection of these areas to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the landscape character. The proposed development is being concentrated on the existing developed area preventing development spreading across the site and into areas that are highly visible. The proposed development by reason of its siting in and around the existing school buildings would ensure that the proposal is not prominent and does not detract from the surrounding landscape character. The proposal is essential to ensure the long-term stability and viability of the School whose presence ensures the continued management of this substantial area of landscape.

The Surrey Hills AONB Partnership has stated that the current proposal overcomes the Planning Inspectors previous planning objections in that a single building in the previously proposed location was too intrusive. The current proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the AONB.

Need for additional buildings and extensions

The school have set out in their supporting evidence in some detail the reasoning for the new buildings. This stems from predominantly from the requirements placed upon the school by Government legislation as contained within Curriculum 2000. The new school requirements, which have generated the need for more classrooms and exam facilities as well as the need to provide educational facilities of the highest standard.

Policy CF3 (Education Establishments) recognises the importance of the many educational establishments within Waverley and seeks to support both new educational establishments and adaptations to existing establishments providing they meet the following criteria,

1. The development would not materially detract from the character and appearance of the establishment itself or the area in general.


The proposed development would remain within the built up school area of the school grounds and would not have a detrimental impact on the character of the area.

2. The development would not materially impact on the existing amenities of neighbouring residential properties by reason of noise and overlooking.


The proposals are located a minimum of 120 metres from the nearest residential boundary and as such are unlikely to have any significant impact on the amenities of neighbouring residential properties.

& d) It is considered that the Transport Report submitted as part of this application meets with the criteria of this policy.

3. All relevant Plan policies are complied with, particularly those relating to vehicular access, car parking, traffic movements, accessibility to public transport and those concerning developments within the Green Belt and the Countryside beyond it.


The school is a fully residential providing accommodation some on site but predominantly off-site in boarding houses. The school has a fleet of mini-buses that transport pupils from the accommodation to the school. The Highways Authority has raised no objections to the proposal.

Under the Structure and Local Plan there is a presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt and a requirement for the landscape of the AONB to be conserved and enhanced. Development inconsistent with the AONB aims will be resisted.

The application stems from the need to meet the extra demands placed on sixth form education from the national requirements of Curriculum 2000. Initially the school approached this through a stand alone new building in an open part of the site. This foundered on Green Belt and AONB grounds and led to a planning appeal being dismissed in 2002. Temporary portable classrooms where then provided.

In dismissing the appeal in 2002 the Inspector commented that the school should consider other possible ways of overcoming difficulties caused by Curriculum 2000. The current proposal addresses the landscape and Green Belt issues by locating the development as an extension to an existing building and in close proximity to the main building complex. This results in the buildings having little visual impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the wider landscape.

It is considered that the proposals comply with WBLP policy CF3 and represent a reasonable exception to Green Belt and AONB policies.

The current proposal overcomes the previous reasons for which the Planning Inspector refused the appeal dated 14th August 2002 WA01/0583. The appeal proposal was sited in a very prominent position on the site and significantly larger. The Inspector found that the then proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the Green Belt and the AONB/AGLV and “would fail to conserve the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape and detract from the isolated character”. The current proposal as stated is for an extension to an existing building and for a timber single storey building comprising 6 classrooms on the site of previous "portakabin" type structures in the school car park. The proposal would have limited impact on the Green Belt the AONB and AGLV and as such approval is recommended.

As the proposal is a departure from the Development Plan it should be referred to the Development Control Committee and to GOSE.


The development hereby recommended for approval has been assessed against the Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002 Policies C1, C3, CF3, RD5, D1 and D4 and material considerations, including third party representations. It has been concluded that the development would not result in material harm that would justify refusal in the public interest.

Sub-Committee’s Consideration

Your Sub-Committee concurred with the officers’ recommendation and accordingly


1. subject to no objections from the Government Offices for the South-East, planning permission be GRANTED for application WA05/0509 subject to the following condition:-

Background Papers (DoPD)

There are no background papers other than those referred to in this report (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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

There are no matters falling within these categories.

PART III – Brief summaries of other matters dealt with

Background Papers


B.1 Appeals Lodged

WA/2005/0153Erection of a detached double garage/store (revision of WA/2004/1306) at Woodend, Munstead Heath Road, Bramley
WA/2005/0228Erection of four dwellings following demolition of existing dwelling at ‘Blantyre’ and rear of ‘The Hollies’ and ‘Culver’, Avenue Road, Cranleigh
EN/2005/0002Enforcement Notice at Tanyard Farm, Woodhill Lane, Shamley Green
WA/2004/2857Erection of three holiday homes and provision of associated play area and riding paddock at Hazel Copse, Trout Fishery, Knowle Lane, Cranleigh

B.2 Appeal Decisions

WA/2004/0819Erection of extensions and alterations to dwelling following substantial demolition of existing structure at Pound Farm Lodge, Lords Hill Road, Shamley Green
WA/2004/1111New dwelling on land adjacent to Rowly Lodge, Rowly, Cranleigh
WA/2004/0829Dormer extension at 12 Phillips Hatch, Wonersh
WA/2004/1263Erection of two first floor extensions to Brockwood, Munstead New Road, Bramley
WA/2004/1692Erection of a conservatory at Ruetts Farmhouse, Cox Green, Rudgwick

B.3 Inquiry Arrangements

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


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

comms/development control/2005-2006/006