Councillor Serluca returned to the meeting at this point.
The planning application was for the development of a miniature railway and ancillary infrastructure at the Hostel Site, London Road, Yaxley.
Councillor North declared that as he had provided residents in his ward with advice surrounding this planning application, he would not take part in the meeting for the duration of this item. Councillor North left the meeting at this point.
The main considerations set out in the reports were:
· Principle of Development
· Neighbour Amenity
· Highway and Pedestrian Safety
· Design and Layout
· Other Matters
It was officer’s recommendation that planning permission be refused for the reasons set out in the report.
The Head of Development and Construction provided an overview of the application and raised the following key points:
· The application site was within the development plan for the Great Haddon urban development. The area in question had been designated as open space and woodland.
· The proposal before the Committee was for a miniature railway, with a track on site, scrubland, steam bays, kiosks, club house, storage and car parking. It was intended that the site would be fenced off.
· It was suggested that gaps would have to be carved through the wooded area for the miniature training to run. Subsequently the Council’s Tree Officer and Ecology Officer had raised some concerns with the proposal.
· A previous application for four dwellings had been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council for a nearby area of land. That proposal had utilised the same access point and, at appeal, an inspector identified that the increase in traffic four dwellings would attract would be unacceptable.
· Following this, it was suggested that as the current proposal would generate more traffic than four dwellings, the impact on residential amenity would also be unacceptable.
Councillor McGuire, Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Norman Cross, addressed the Committee in objection to the application and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:
· It was stated that this application was premature and that the land as already designated as open space within the Great Haddon development.
· With reference to the Huntingdonshire District Council appeal decision, the current proposal would generate more traffic than this. The Committee should also consider the possibility of school visits to the site, which would result in coaches using the access road.
· Councillor McGuire sympathised with the applicants and hoped that a more appropriate site could be found for their proposals, however this site was not suitable.
· To grant this application would be contrary to Peterborough City Council’s own policies.
Mr Cannell, Applicant, addressed the Committee in support of the application and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:
· Mr Cannell was the Chairman of the Peterborough Society of Model Engineers. The Society currently supported their events via a portable truck. With a permanent site they would be able to provide more public events.
· The Society would welcome engagement with the City Council in order to find a suitable site.
· It was believed that a miniature railway was an appropriate use of open space and would improve the quality of life for local people via recreation and leisure.
· An attraction such as the proposed would encourage individuals to visits the area and make use of the space.
· It was considered that the traffic access to the site would increase only modestly with the proposals, as the number of vehicles would be minimal and travelling slowly.
The Committee stated that they would be pleased to see a proposal of this nature, however the site was not appropriate. It was hoped that officers would be able to assist the applicants with this matter. The Committee agreed that, taking into account the appeal decision of application for four dwellings, this proposal would have a significant impact.
A motion was proposed and seconded to agree that permission be refused, as per officer recommendation. The motion was carried seven voting in favour and two abstaining from voting.
RESOLVED: (seven voted in favour and two abstained from voting) that planning permission is REFUSED for the reasons set out in the report.
Reasons for the decision
The proposal was unacceptable having been assessed in light of all material considerations, including weighing against relevant policies of the development plan and for the specific reasons given below.
The development proposed would go towards providing a community facility which in time could be of a wider appeal and contribution to the City. The application site however was identified as public open space within the Great Haddon Urban Extension masterplan; the applicants were not seeking a temporary consent therefore if the development were approved it would prevent the land from being available to use as public open space and could prejudice this major allocated site from coming forward.
The proposed development would be accessed via an existing concrete road situated between two residential properties (8 Folly Close and 33 London Road). The proposal would result in an increase in vehicle movements to and from the site, which given the roads proximity to adjoining residential properties would have an unreasonably harmful impact on the living conditions of adjoining residents. Issues of noise and disturbance could be exacerbated through noise generated by locomotives and persons using the site, and was likely to impact to an unsatisfactory degree on a wider number of nearby residential properties.
The proposed development would be situated within an area of dense woodland, which had also been identified as being host to a number of protected species. Insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate a satisfactory woodland management strategy can be secured and the proposed development, rail track, access and parking areas would not harm protected species or biodiversity features of the site.
For these reasons the development was contrary to Policies CS5 and CS16 of the Peterborough Core Strategy DPD (2011), Policies PP2, PP3 and PP16 of the Peterborough Policies DPD (2012) and Policy SA1 of the Peterborough Site Allocations DPD (2012).