To receive and consider the attached report of the Chief Planning Officer regarding an outline application to erect residential development and associated sports club.
The report of the Chief Planning Officer presented an outline application to erect a residential development and associated sports club on land at Pool Paper Mills, Pool Road, Otley.
Members visited the site prior to the meeting and site plans and photographs were displayed and referred to throughout the discussion of the application.
Further issues highlighted in relation to the application included the following:
· The scheme would allow a capital receipt to be generated from the sale of the land to be re-invested into the Pools Paper Mills to secure its longer term operation. It would also necessitate the provision of a new sports facility.
· Access to the residential development would be from Pool Road.
· Access to the sports facilities would be from the existing staff and visitor access to the paper mills, and an upgraded access track to a substation.
· An indicative housing layout of 9 dwellings was shown.
· Circumstances identified to justify the development in the greenbelt include the continued operation of the paper mills business, provision of a permanent sports facility and limited harm to the openness of the green belt.
· Detailed information had been submitted regarded the long term operation of the business and the requirement for further capital investment.
· It was felt that the opportunities for local employment, provision of a permanent sports facility and limited harm to openness of the green belt cumulatively amounted to very special circumstances which outweighed the inappropriate development in the green belt. The application was recommended for approval subject to a Section 106 agreement which included a requirement that the capital receipt from the sale of the land to be re-invested in the business and for provision of the sports facility.
· There had been further objections following the publication of the agenda. These included concerns regarding incremental development, potential for flooding, urbanisation of the rural area and development of the sports facility leading to a loss of wildlife. There was also concern that an independent assessment of the business case for Pools Paper Mills had not been made available.
· There had been wildlife and tree surveys and tree felling would be prevented where there were signs of bat habitats.
· There should be an additional condition imposed restricting a maximum of 9 dwelling units.
A local Parish Councillor and local Ward Councillor addressed the Panel with concerns and objections to the application. These included the following:
· The green belt was not just local and could be viewed from Otley Chevin.
· The proposals would be harmful to two green belt sites with the creation of buildings, tarmac, traffic and light pollution.
· The local Neighbourhood Plan was to ensure that Pool remained separate from its neighbours.
· The company had previously had to sell land for development.
· The need to demonstrate very special circumstances.
· In response to questions it was felt that the existing sports facility was sufficient but people would prefer new state of the art facilities. However there were more people against new development. It was also stated that housing targets in the area would be met.
The applicant and their representatives addressed the Panel. The following was highlighted:
· The report outlined the reasons for delivery of the proposals which included a compelling economic and community benefit case.
· There was no other paper mill in the UK which manufactured the same papers and products.
· The proposals would maintain and increase the local workforce.
· The sports facilities would be a significant improvement with a clubhouse and dedicated parking.
· In response to questions, the following was discussed:
o Although the investment in the company would not guarantee the long term of the future paper mill, the investment would allow the mill to become self-supportive.
o Land to the rear of the main site office could be used for car parking.
o Alternative options to generate the capital required had been explored including the potential sale of Braime House. The sale of Braime House would not raise the necessary funds.
o The parent company had previously supported the paper mill as it had been making a loss but wanted the mill to now become self-sufficient.
o The local football club still had a ten tear lease for the sports pitch and a new lease would supersede that should the application be granted. The local club was supportive of the application.
o The mill would retain responsibility for maintenance of the sports facilities.
o The future of the sports facility would be secured by the Section 106 agreement should there ever be a change of ownership.
In response to comments and questions, the following was discussed:
· Concern that Members had not received full information with regards to the business case. It was reported that the business case information was publicly available and would not normally be circulated to Panel Members. There had been a summary in the report.
· The site was a windfall site and not included in the SAP for housing. This did not prevent the development of housing.
· Should the proposal be approved, the applicant expected it to result in the safeguarding of the existing 120 jobs and creation of an additional 24 jobs.
· Consideration of potential for other development should the paper mills close.
· Concern that there had been a previous application and that the business model was based on selling assets.
· Whether the company should explore other options before selling off land in the greenbelt.
· The sale of greenbelt to generate capital receipts for a private company did not constitute the very special circumstances required for the application to be approved.
A motion was made to refuse the application. This was seconded, voted on and was not carried.
A further motion was made to amend the officer recommendation and include additional conditions. It was:
RESOLVED – That the application be deferred and delegated to officers to agree an alternative access to the new sports facilities, using the road to the office building and then past the manager’s house.
Add additional conditions relating to:-
Formulate S106 agreement
Approve subject also to any decision of the Secretary of State to call in the application in for his own determination as a Departure from the Green Belt.