Outline planning permission has been approved for a housing development in Stoborough on the Isle of Purbeck, on the condition it meets the terms of the Arne Local Plan, which includes the clause that new homes must be principal residences and not second homes.
The development of up to 15 homes off West Lane was discussed at the Dorset Council eastern area planning committee on Wednesday 25th August 2021. It was opposed by Arne Parish Council, local councillors and many residents.
Lies outside the designated area for building
The site lies outside the designated area for building in Stoborough and was first proposed as a rural exception site. This means small developments may be built outside the settlement boundary, if they provide social housing for local people, legally termed ‘affordable housing’.
This scheme proposes that just under 50 percent of the homes are affordable housing. The planning officer, in his report to the committee, said that the scheme would have been recommended for refusal by his team, if it was on the grounds of being a rural exception site, as it should be at least 60 percent affordable housing to qualify.
Plan of the proposed development off West Lane in Stoborough
Arne Local Plan
However, in the meantime, the Arne Local Plan or neighbourhood plan, which dictates local housing policy, was approved in a local referendum in May 2021.
The planning officer said he was satisfied that the proposal met the terms of the new local plan for small site development, with seven of the 15 homes earmarked to be affordable.
He reported that the Environment Agency did not view the site as a flood risk, although surface water flooding would have to be mitigated. The planning officer also pointed out that as the developer had agreed to build a new pavement, it now met the highways department safety requirements. He consequently recommended the development for planning approval.
The site off West Lane in Stoborough
Arne Parish Council strongly objected
In its written submission to the committee, the chair of Arne Parish Council Shelley Cranshaw strongly objected to the plans on the grounds of not enough affordable housing, lack of highway safety, high noise levels from the bypass and flooding, which meant that it would not comply with the Arne Local Plan. She said:
“This land will be increasingly vulnerable to flood risk from the River Frome due to sea level rise and that the river is tidal up to Wareham and beyond.
“…We acknowledge and applaud Dorset Council’s targets to reduce greenhouse gases. In an effort to deal with the soaked, wet conditions, the applicant would have to introduce to the site, a large amount of concrete. Not only would this add to our carbon problems, it would adversely affect the drainage of the neighbours’ land at Hollow Oak Road.”
West Lane leading to the centre of Stoborough Village
The developer – Rempstone Estate
The developer is the Trustees of the Stoborough Settlement, part of the Rempstone Estate. In a written submission, its agent Martin Miller said:
“The application before you today is a combination of five years of discussions, design, iteration and assessment and we’re pleased that it is recommended for approval.
“As highlighted in the officer’s report, the application accords with the policies of the Arne Parish neighbourhood plan, which was adopted by Dorset Council just last month, following 93 percent public support in the May 21 referendum.
“The proposed development would deliver 15 badly needed homes in the Purbecks of a range of sizes, with seven affordable housing units being provided for rent.
“The application site does not flood and is not predicted to flood in the future. All the proposed houses will have decent sized gardens and parking and a footway is to be provided, linking the development site to the primary school and village centre.”
The development is proposed to the right of the picture. The road, West Lane adjoins the Wareham Bypass
Dorset Council councillors spoke against the plans
Two local ward Dorset Council councillors spoke against the plans, Beryl Ezzard and Ryan Holloway.
Councillor Beryl Ezzard said:
“This application should be refused on grounds upon very probable flooding, therefore unsustainable, not meeting the criteria for the rural exception site, is outside the settlement boundary in the AONB – our unique rural Purbeck area, and it will not provide the affordable housing that the parish needs, as in the approved neighbourhood plan.
“And it will set a dangerous precedent for other developers to use in the future. On balance, I consider the refusal of this application must be made.”
Councillor Ryan Holloway reiterated his fellow councillor’s concerns and added he was also concerned about the access to the development and an increase in traffic that could build up along West Lane.
The proposed site is currently an agricultural field
Four votes against and seven for the proposal
The majority of the committee voted to grant outline planning permission subject to conditions and the completion of a legal agreement. Four members of the committee, Bill Trite, Alex Brenton, Julie Robinson and David Tooke voted against the proposal.
Second home planning condition
It’s believed that this is the first time in Purbeck that housing has been granted planning permission with the condition that it must not be second homes, since the failed attempt to impose the condition on new housing in Lulworth.
The condition was initially applied to the Lulworth development based on the Purbeck Local Plan but as it was ’emerging’ and not legally adopted, the clause was successfully challenged by the developer on appeal.
The Purbeck Local Plan has been delayed and is still waiting to be legally adopted.