Chichester District Council has written a letter of complaint to West Sussex County Council and re-iterates their OBJECTION to the Crouchland Application to be heard on Tuesday. Here is the full letter sent yesterday.
Dear Mrs Whitty
Application WSCC/042/14/PS – Crouchland Farm, Rickman’s Lane, Kirdford
I am writing regarding the planning application referred to above and specifically to the officer report that is to be presented to your Council’s Planning Committee on 3 March 2015.
Representations of Chichester District Council
I note that the representations of Chichester District Council are set out at paragraph 7.1 of your officer report. Can I say firstly that I do not consider that your summary properly records this Council’s position in respect of the planning application. For the avoidance of doubt the District Council’s position is not to ‘Raise no objection’ as your officer report states but to object on a number of grounds raised by the application proposals. I have set these out below:
The impact of noise from the use and from additional (HGV) traffic movements on the amenity of the area;
The impact of noise on the residents of nearby residential property;
The ‘baseline’ position (in terms of vehicle movements) being used by WSCC is not accepted and not considered representative of the permitted use of the site. Concern was expressed about the effects of the increased volume and nature of traffic movements on the character and amenity of the surrounding rural area;
The adverse impact of the proposed plant and traffic movements on the setting and experience of Crouchlands farmhouse.
(these matters are set out in the letter from the District Council dated 2 September 2014:
The District Council’s subsequent letter dated 23 January 2015 acknowledges the mitigation measures proposed in relation to plant/site noise and recommends noise conditions are imposed in the event that permission is granted. It also notes the proposals for lorry routing and to specified times as a means of reducing noise disturbance from traffic movements. However, WSCC is advised to ensure that lorry routing and hours of transport movements can, in fact, be adequately restricted and controlled.
This letter again advised that WSCC should be confident that the baseline for assessing environmental impacts has been properly identified and has regard to existing unauthorised development at the site (the District Council’s concern on this key matter is amplified further below). For the avoidance of doubt, the District Council objects to the proposals to widen Foxbridge Lane which increase this Council’s serious concerns that the area is unsuitable for industrial development of this nature and to this level which is likely to have an adverse impact on the rural character of the area.
I also wish to place on record that the District Council objects to your Council’s interpretation of the ‘baseline’ position in relation to traffic movements associated with the Anaerobic Digestion use of the site. It is the view of the District Council that the works permitted by the 2007 and 2008 permissions amounted to operational development that was ancillary to the agricultural use and operation of Crouchland Farm. The imposition of further conditions to those permissions explicitly restricting the importation of waste/export of gas was considered to be unnecessary to make those developments acceptable. The view of the District Council is that the use now taking place comprises a commercial energy production facility amounting to a material change of use of the site (from agricultural use to a mixed agricultural and commercial/business use) which would require a grant of planning permission in its own right, notwithstanding the need for permission for additional operational development (equipment, buildings, lagoon etc.).
Reporting of enforcement action and historic planning permissions within the report
At paragraph 3.8 of your officer report you appear to state that WSCC served enforcement notices in respect of the unauthorised use of the site for anaerobic digestion as a consequence of the view of the District Council. This is not of course correct as WSCC will have carried out its own assessment of the expediency of taking formal enforcement action in respect of the unauthorised use and development and formed its own conclusions on the matter. I would be grateful for your clarification on this point and confirmation that you will report the position accurately to your Planning C
It is also very disappointing that the portrayal within the report of the permissions granted by the District Council in 2007 and 2008 (e.g. at para’s 3.4, 3.7 and 4.4) and their implications in terms of the baseline position (on the County Council’s interpretation) is set out so stridently and in such black and white terms. I am surprised and concerned that the reporting of this key issue does not seek to balance the explanation by acknowledging the District Council’s understanding and interpretation of these permissions.
I would ask that you report this letter and its contents in full to the WSCC Planning Committee as clarification of this Council’s position on the application.
Head of Planning Services