Dorset Council has given planning permission to a developer to create 19 new homes on the Old Malthouse site in Langton Matravers near Swanage, despite the objection from the parish council that the plans do not include any affordable housing.
This follows a meeting of the Dorset Council Eastern Area planning committee on Wednesday 30th September 2020.
The development will convert the Old Malthouse building into flats, demolish some buildings to the rear of the site and construct new properties, including houses and a bungalow in the grounds of the old brewery.
The site that includes the Grade II listed building, was most recently used as a residential activity centre and before that, it was a private school. It’s located on the corner of the High Street and Old Malthouse Lane, and is adjacent to St George’s Primary School.
“The main need is for affordable homes”
Langton Matravers Parish Council in a written submission, listed its objections which included the lack of affordable housing provision, no restriction to prevent the housing being used as second homes, the loss of trees, the disturbance to bat, swift and house martin roosts and the lack of environmentally-friendly features like solar panels and ground source heat pumps.
In its letter, it referred to the National Planning Policy Framework which states that in rural areas, planning policies and decisions should be responsive to local circumstances and support housing developments that reflect local needs. It said:
“This development does not do either, as the main need is for affordable homes. Recent newbuilds in the village have been almost exclusively sold for the second or holiday home market, which does not meet local needs.”
“A sensible and beneficial high quality new residential scheme”
The planning consultancy on behalf of the developer, Old Malthouse (Purbeck) submitted evidence in support of the application. It said:
“This application proposal represents a sensible and beneficial high quality new residential scheme in a sustainable village location. This potential to provide 20 (later reduced to 19) new homes represents a considerable benefit to be given much weight in this constrained area, with an unmet housing need.
“The layout and proposed scale of development has been carefully conceived to ensure that it respects the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and the protected AONB landscape.
“Considerable benefits are proposed through the removal of unsightly and redundant school buildings and a sensitive conversion and redevelopment scheme.”
Following a presentation of the plans by a Dorset Council planning officer, councillors discussed the proposal with views expressed both for and against the merits of the development.
Swanage-elected councillor Bill Trite said:
“We should be attaching far more weight in my opinion to the views of an active and very lively parish council…My view here is very much that this proposal needs quite substantial amendment before I for one will be supporting it.”
Officers couldn’t request the delivery of affordable housing
Planning officers said that because it was a brownfield development, it meant that the application did not meet the threshold which would have triggered the requirement for affordable housing, so officers couldn’t request the delivery of affordable housing.
In relation to the issues on eco credentials and second homes, the chair of the meeting, councillor Toni Coombs explained that there were current constraints that made it not possible for the council to insist on environmentally friendly measures or to impose restrictions on the development being used as second homes.
Policy to encourage renewable energy
Toni Coombs said that a planning policy to encourage renewable energy to be integrated into all new buildings was part of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Report, that was currently being considered by Dorset Council.
Restrict second homes
She added that there was currently a legal challenge to its policy to restrict second homes, so that couldn’t be applied to any planning application until the matter had been resolved.
Following a vote 7 to 2 in favour, planning permission was granted. The two councillors who objected were councillor Bill Trite and councillor Alex Brenton.