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Agenda item

Cornfactor Development Planning Issues

To provide  Members with further information in connection with the Cornfactor Planning applications

 

Minutes:

The Strategic Director submitted a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix ‘A’ to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

In addition a Memorandum had been circulated to all Members of the Scrutiny and Policy Review Committee from Councillor Jones, entitled ‘The Cornfactor Site – Planning and Other Issues’.

The Chairman provided Members with background relating to the report, in respect of this the Chairman advised Members that this report was being brought to a Special meeting of the Scrutiny and Policy Review Committee following the resolution of the meeting held in August. The Chairman advised that extensive consideration had been given to this matter, and that this was the third report to be submitted to Scrutiny regarding the Cornfactor development.

An overview was provided by the Strategic Director and Members were updated on the investigation into the planning process in connection with the Cornfactor development site. The report centred on three areas which had been identified as being worthy of further explanation; namely;

a)    The Archaeological Method Statement and the manner of its supervision by Bournemouth University

b)    The question of whether landlord’s permission for the felling of trees on the boundary of the Cornfactor site, which were within Druitt Gardens, was provided.

c)    The evidence submitted by the Developer regarding the cost of alternative piling solutions so as to avoid potential damage to tree roots on the boundary of the site.

Members also recommended that an examination of the Councils policies for protection of trees and listed buildings takes place.

Members were advised that the report included the schedule of questions coordinated by the Vice-Chairman, and that every attempt had been made to answer as many as possible.

In summary the Strategic Director advised that there were a number of learning points which had been identified which will help the Council improve its processes and procedures in the future. In addition Members were advised that a further training programme was being rolled out to Planning Committee Members, particularly in respect of trees matters, and that this training would be extended to Scrutiny members.

A member questioned the Councils working relationship with Renaissance and the ongoing monitoring of the development which takes place?

The Strategic Director stated that the Councils relationship with Renaissance is the same as with any other developer, and that any reports and visits to site regarding breaches of license are dealt with in the usual way.

A member thanked the Director for the immense amount of work which had gone into preparing the report. Further to this the member requested further clarification in respect of the Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA).

The Strategic Director advised that in 2006 the AIA had been submitted as part of the 2006 application which was refused, in 2007 the same AIA document was submitted as part of a further application which was approved.

In relation to this the Member further requested clarification as to whether the landscaping was a reserve matter, and whether as such there had been no requirement to deal with the landscaping.

In response to this the Strategic Director advised that in the 2007 application, which was outline and the AIA was a material consideration. The 2010 reserved matters application dealt with landscaping within the boundary of the development site.

A member stated that the red line on all the planning applications did not include the trees.

In response to this the Strategic Director confirmed that there was no planning permission to remove the trees which were on the boundary of the site.

The member further stated that there was a mistaken assumption that there was planning permission for removal, there was a ‘misapprehension’.

In response to this the Strategic Director further emphasised that there was no planning approval for the removal of the trees.

Further to this a Member questioned whether, having reached the point where the developer was granted planning permission the Council should have then said that ‘unless you use the piling method, we wont sign off’.

The Strategic Director advised that information had been received from the developer stating that the alternative method of piling may have damaged the trees. The developer had provided evidence to demonstrate that an alternative piling method would have threatened the viability of the development.

A member questioned the genuineness of the AIA.

In response the Strategic Director advised that the AIA was of a high quality, there was however doubt as to whether the whole report had been completed by the one author, and the actions set out within the AIA were not all carried forward.

A member advised that the developer had encroached onto the public footpath.

The Strategic Director advised that the answer to this question wasn’t within the scope of the investigation, and that details in respect of the non planning matters weren’t within the remit of this meeting.

With the permission of the Committee the portfolio holder for the Environment addressed the Committee.  The member stated that it was clear that mistakes had been made, and that the Council acknowledges that fact. Trees have been felled and that the resolution of the August meeting has been met. In addition the Member stressed that the Council should review how archaeological assessments are dealt with in the future, and that the Council should be more vigilant. Further to this the member stressed that the Committee can’t rerun the previous planning decision, nor can it put the clock back, the investigation has been thorough. The member advised that planting is going to take place, and that the Council must now plan ahead. In closing the member stressed that it was time to close this chapter and put measures in place to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

The recommendation as set out within the report was proposed and seconded.

Councillor Spittle moved an amendment to this recommendation which was circulated to Members (and appears as the substantive recommendation within these minutes). The amendment was subsequently supported by the original proposer and seconder.

A member stated that he could not support the amendment as stated, and that there had been a huge mistake made by Renaissance, who had somehow acquired the idea that they had permission to fell trees. The member further emphasised that there had been mistakes made but not by this Council.

The member further went on to propose that an additional recommendation be included stating that this Committee does not accept that there were mistakes made within the Planning Control department relating to this before 2013.

The Councils Solicitor stressed to Members that it wasn’t possible for the Committee to exonerate ‘part’ of the Council, and therefore the amendment being proposed would not be able to be carried forward.

A member emphasised the strength of local feeling with regards to this matter and asked that the Committee consider a further report on this subject at a future meeting as there were important aspects of the planning procedures which still needed to be considered.

The member proposed an additional amendment, asking that a further report be submitted to a future meeting on this matter, covering the planning procedures.

The amendment was seconded, upon being put to the vote the amendment fell with Voting: 1:4 (2 abstentions)

Councillor Jones stated that he was unable to support the substantive motion, as it placed unintentional doubt in the Planning Officers.

RESOLVED that Members:

(a)  Note the Appendix which sets out all of the questions and the answers provided as per the resolution of the August 2014 meeting of the committee

(b)  Note the proposals to review the Council’s approach to requesting archaeological advice

(c)  Having been satisfied that this matter has now been fully investigated, to ensure that the errors identified are not repeated and that the measures reported at the last Special meeting are taking effect and that a report be brought back to this committee in one year’s time.

(d)  Put on record their appreciation of the time, expertise and attention expended by;

                    (i)     Officers of this Council, particularly the Strategic Director

                  (ii)     Members of this Council

                 (iii)     Members of the public

In raising this important issue.

(e)  Express their deep concern with renaissance retirement in the felling of the trees

Voting: 5:2 (Councillors Jones and Hall requested that their vote, against the recommendation be minuted).

 

 

Supporting documents:

 

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