Norse Planning Application response Jan 2020

Proposal: Temporary change of use (until 31 October 2021) of first floor of clubhouse building to office use and temporary use of former golf course car park (until 31 October 2021) for parking of associated office workers cars; minibuses; grounds maintenance equipment / vehicles and storage of 17 Shipping containers.

Locariont: Deangate Golf Club Dux Court Road, Hoo St Werburgh, Rochester, Medway, ME3 8RZ

Application Type : Full Application.

The Deangate Community Partnership wishes to register its fundamental objection to this development.

It is stated in the Transport Statement that the development that has taken place at the invitation of Medway Council.  This is a retrospective application for development which has already taken place without planning permission and is therefore in breach of planning control and unlawful.

As such, it sets the worst possible precedent and example to other developers and to the community  by carrying out the development first and then seeking retrospective permission once the change of use has taken place.

In a written ministerial statement in December 2015, the then Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, outlined the Government’s concerns about the harm caused by unauthorised development and announced a change to planning policy to make intentional unauthorised development a material consideration that would be weighed in the determination of planning applications (including retrospective applications) and appeals.  The policy was put in place following concern about unauthorised development in the Green Belt, but applies equally to all unauthorised development, including this proposal.

The fact that the development has taken place with the encouragement of the Council which is also the local planning authority is wholly unacceptable action by a responsible public authority, and is directly contrary to the Government’s policy.

The development is not in accordance with relevant saved policies in the  Local Plan or the National Planning  Policy Framework 2019.

The current statutory Local Plan is the 2003 Medway Local Plan. The site is within the countryside, lying well outside the settlement boundaries. It is a site to which relevant saved policies in the Local Plan would apply. Policy BNE 25 Development in the Countryside is one of the saved policies in the Local Plan  and has been extended by direction of the Secretary of State. It accords with the NPPF and should therefore be given full weight.

BNE 25 states:

Development in the countryside will only be permitted if:

(i) it maintains, and wherever possible enhances, the character, amenity and functioning of the countryside, including the river environment of the Medway and Thames, it offers a realistic chance of access by a range of transport modes; and is either;

(ii) on a site allocated for that use; or

(iii) development essentially demanding a countryside location (such as agriculture, forestry, outdoor or informal recreation); or

(iv) a re-use or adaptation of an existing building that is, and would continue to be, in keeping with its surroundings in accordance with Policy BNE27; or

(v) a re-use or redevelopment of the existing built-up area of a redundant institutional complex or other developed land in lawful use; or

(vi) a rebuilding of, or modest extension or annex to, a dwelling; or

(vii) a public or institutional use for which the countryside location is justified and which does not result in volumes of traffic that would damage rural amenity.”

The proposal does not maintain and enhance the character, amenity and functioning of the countryside, Nor does the development fall within any of the categories (ii) to (vii) in BNE25 above and therefore is directly contrary to the principal countryside protection policy in the statutory development plan. There is therefore a statutory presumption in section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 against the development. The NPPF requires the Council, in determining applications to recognise the intrinsic natural beauty of the countryside.

The development is also directly contrary to the NPPF which seeks to protect existing open space, sports and recreational facilities.

The NPPF statesExisting open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless: a) an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or b) the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or c) the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the benefits of which clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use.

Whilst the development does not involve new buildings as such, the 17 storage containers have a particularly unattractive industrial character and adverse visual impact and are damaging to the rural character and amenity of the area. The development leads to the use of the site for storage of heavy equipment which requires goods vehicles to transport it and which are often parked on the site.

Deangate is a vital part of Medway’s network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity is important for the health and well-being of communities. The NPPF requires that applications for development of such sites should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities.

The application fails to support a strong environmental objective by contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Developing Deangate as described in the application fails to make effective use of land by help to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution or move us towards tackling climate change or a low carbon economy, contrary to the NPPF.

The application describes the Golf Course as “redundant”. This prejudges the question as to whether there is a viable future for the golf club. The use has not been abandoned nor could it be unless a permanent material change of use has been granted.

There is no recognition that the site is part of an Asset of Community Value, which is a material consideration as the site has a social objective in supporting the strong, vibrant and healthy communities of Medway and the Hoo peninsula.  It provides an accessible service and open space that reflects  the current and future needs of health, social and cultural well-being of residents.

The Transport Statement submitted with the application is inadequate as it appears to make no assessment of the effect of goods vehicles on the site which has poor access to the primary road network. It amounts to a short and limited traffic count which does not appear to distinguish the heavy vehicles using the site. Dux Court Road has an alignment that is notoriously narrow and twisting. There is a particularly narrow pinch-point between the site entrance and the roundabout onto Peninsula Way.

The Deangate Community Partnership urges the Council to refuse permission and to use its enforcement powers and take all necessary steps to require the use to cease as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

For and on behalf of the Members of 

The Deangate Community Partnership (unincorporated body)

George Crozer

Chairman