Agenda item

The Elms - 19758/APP/2021/4628

Demolition of existing buildings and structures and redevelopment of the site to provide 2,116 sqm of flexible Class E(g)(iii), B2 and B8 use floorspace, along with associated access, servicing areas, car parking and soft landscaping (amended plans received 02.09.22)


Recommendation: Approval + Section 106 and GLA stage 2


RESOLVED: That the application be approved.


Demolition of existing buildings and structures and redevelopment of the site to provide 2,116 sqm of flexible Class E(g)(iii), B2 and B8 use floorspace, along with associated access, servicing areas, car parking and soft landscaping (amended plans received 02.09.22)


Officers introduced the application giving Members an overview of the plans and outlining that the site was situated on green belt land. The Committee were informed that the applicant had worked proactively with officers to reduce the quantity of the development; comparisons between the initial proposals and the refined proposals were shown. Officers noted that there were a number of dilapidated structures currently on site which were considered am eyesore on greenbelt land and that the proposals were deemed to be an improvement to the current condition; further to this it was highlighted that the applicant’s fallback position was to operate an open storage facility from within the site which could be undertaken within the existing use class and would not require any planning permission, this scenario was deemed to potentially have a much greater impact on the residential amenities of local residents and the greenbelt.


A verbal update was provided with regard to the revised transport assessment in that, the number of car parking spaces had been reduced from 36 to 31 spaces; as such, a revised masterplan and planting plan would be secured subject to the recommended condition four. Condition four, part 2d, in addition to condition two, would also be amended to reflect the correct number of parking spaces. Members’ attention was also drawn to the addendum which included an amendment to the heads of terms in section 13 of the officer report. The application was recommended for approval subject to the conditions outlined in the report.


A petition had been submitted objecting to the application. One of the petition organisers was present and addressed the Committee, key points raised in their address included:


  • 50 residents had signed the petition objecting to the application in the space of two days.
  • Petitioners believed the application had not been assessed on a holistic manner.
  • Residents were not necessarily against the development of the site but they were objecting to the industrial scale commercial development proposed and sought a more locally serving development.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the potential for increased traffic to the site, including HGVs.
  • Petitioners stated that resident consultation was poor with little engagement.
  • Concerns were raised regarding a lack of satisfactory screening between the site and a number of adjacent residential properties, 389 High Street was specifically highlighted and appropriate screening was requested, should the application be approved.
  • It was highlighted that residents of High Street had, on their deeds, access to park outside the access to the site. Should the application go ahead as proposed this would also add to existing parking pressures locally.
  • The bus stop opposite the site access point was highlighted as a potential choke point when buses stop and other vehicles attempt access or egress to and from the site.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the potential for light pollution impacting neighbouring properties from the security lighting on site.
  • Petitioners requested some potential conditions, should the development go ahead, these included site operation hours of 08:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 12:00 Saturday and no operation on Sunday, a restriction on the size of vehicles accessing the site to 3.5 tonnes, appropriate screening should be introduced not just between the site and the greenbelt but between the site and the adjacent residential properties.


The agent for the application as also present and addressed the Committee. Key points raised in their address included:


  • It was stated that the officer report was robust and comprehensive, and the applicant was happy to see a recommendation for approval considering the extensive work that had gone into the scheme to reduce floor space, plant an additional 76 trees and hedgerows, and a improve the layout of the site.
  • The proposals would replace the existing dilapidated building on site with new higher quality structures which were fit for purpose meeting modern standards and designed for local small scale businesses and providing around 50 local jobs.
  • The development would reduce the built footprint on site and introduce significant screening both to the greenbelt and to neighbouring residential properties.
  • In relation to transport, the development would reduce trip level generation compared to the current on site capability through the currently established use.
  • It was highlighted that the officer report had noted that any 3rd party parking in the forecourt of the access area was unlawful and this would not be a reason for resisting the scheme. The freeholder who owns the land did not allow parking, however this was not enforced against which is why vehicles were currently parking there, however, should the development go ahead, this would be enforced against.
  • With regard to noise concerns it was highlighted that the site was already occupied by established industrial and distribution uses, the new development would be to a higher specification with better acoustic insulation.


In response to questions from the Committee, the agent confirmed that the development would be replicating the current use class of the site. It was also clarified that the current operational hours of the site were unrestricted. Members queried the types of businesses that would be occupying the site, the agent informed Members that the nature of the site was to support small and medium sized local businesses but that there was no specific user in mind to support flexibility in line with Council policy. In terms of transport access, the agent highlighted that measures would be put in place to improve access arrangements including widening the crossover onto High Street.


Members sought clarification with regard to the screening to the boundary of the site, particularly where concerning the boundary with neighbouring residential properties. The agent noted that the current plan was indicative and that there was scope for additional screening along the boundary in question.


Ward Councillor for Heathrow Villages, Councillor June Nelson, was present and addressed the Committee. Key points of their address included:


  • The Ward Councillor was in complete support of the petitioners .
  • There was contention regarding access to parking on the forecourt area. The residents had deeds outlining their lawful right to park in this area, therefore it was stated that residents using this area to park was not illegal.
  • Although the sites operational hours were currently unrestricted, businesses currently used the site from 08:00 to 17:00 hours.
  • Vans were currently the largest vehicles accessing the site and there were concerns that HGVs would accessing the site should the development be approved. This would lead to increased congestion on High Street.
  • The Ward Councillor was supportive of development on the site, however the proposed designs were not deemed acceptable.


Officers responded to a number of points raised by the petitioner and the agent. With regard to hours of operation it was noted that it would be extremely difficult to impose a restriction on the operating hours considering the site was not currently under any such restrictions. In terms of screening, officers noted that condition four could be amended to improve screening along the southern boundary, potentially to include a green wall. Residents’ concerns regarding vehicles waiting on High Street to access the site were alleviated by the internal site layout in which there was room for vehicles to both access the site and manoeuvre in order to leave in a forward gear.


On the matter of access arrangements, officers clarified that the existing access arrangements on site were inadequate and that the proposed development would improve this. It was stated that no HGVs would be expected on site, however Ordinary Goods Vehicles (OGVs) would be expected, Members sought to impose a condition to that effect in order to give residents peace of mind that HGVs would not be accessing the site.


With regard to the dispute over the use of the forecourt area for parking, the Committee were advised that normally land disputes were not planning matters for the consideration of the Committee. There was a dispute between the residents and the landowner and it was the landowner’s responsibility to ensure that they were sure of their grounds in order to make the development operational. The Committee were advised not to dwell on the parking dispute in their consideration of the application.


Members raised concerns regarding noise mitigation from the types of businesses that would be occupying the site. Officers highlighted that under the site’s current use class, it could be fully operational with no noise mitigation measures imposed, therefore, by virtue of the application introducing buildings to the site, it would improve the acoustic mitigation of the site when in operation. It was also noted that the applicant’s fall-back position was for an open storage facility whereby there would be no noise mitigation and therefore would be more likely to be detrimental to residents.


On the matter of waste removal from the site, the Committee were minded to amend condition 17 to restrict the hours of waste removal to 08:00 to 18:00 hours to ensure waste removal was carried not carried out at unsociable hours.


Members discussed the Active Travel Zone contribution of £83k and sought a way of improving pedestrian safety around the access area. The Committee were minded to add a condition to secure a speed table as a betterment for the safety of pedestrians.


Officers noted that condition 20 would seek a revised energy strategy which would be expected to encompass photovoltaic solar panels in addition to electric vehicle charge points on site.


The Committee noted that, very often, dilapidated sites such as this were turned into housing, therefore to have a site being used for local business with local workers it could have a real benefit for the area.


The officer’s recommendation, in addition to the amendments discussed, was moved, seconded, and when put to a vote, unanimously approved.




1)    That the application be approved;

2)    That a condition be added restricting the size of vehicle that can access the site, the wording of which was delegated to officers;

3)    That condition four be strengthened to improve screening, the wording of which was delegated to officers;

4)    That a condition be added to ensure there was no idling within the confines of the site, the wording of which was delegated to officers;

5)    That a condition be added to secure the betterment of pedestrian safety around the access area, the wording of which was delegated to officers;

6)    That condition 17 be amended to restrict the hours of waste collection to 08:00 to 18:00 hours.

Supporting documents: