Category Archives: Planning Applications

Am I Missing Something?

My ire is rising.

Nick Hall has received permission for the three property development at the Old School

When I take together the individual planning application decisions in respect of 18 properties at Whittington Farm (approved) three properties at the Old School (approved) and four properties at The Dragons Head (refused) I am drawn towards questioning the impartiality of Lancaster City Council Planning Department, headed by Andrew Dobson.

Access to Whittington Farm and the Old School are on two of the most dangerous corners in the village.  These corners are the locations of the only vehicular accidents to have occurred in the Village since the horse drawn Post Office cart was replace by a motorised one at the turn of the 19th Century.

The Dragons head access on the other hand is on the only straight stretch of road between Low Hall and Church Street.

Outside Dragons Head

There is absolutely zero compatibility of design between the dwellings planned for the Farm and ANY of the surrounding properties.  In addition they would be fully visible from the road and stand out like a sore thumb.

The Victorian Society have objected strongly to the proposed changes to the Old School, drawing particular attention to the inclusion of new roof lights, which are totally out of character with all the surrounding properties.  The three properties have been valued by Hackney and Leigh at £1.02 million and will have parking for eight cars.

How any planning authority in its right mind can think that access to this tightly constricted site, between two solid stone walls which are at or above the drivers head height in some vehicles, and on one of the most dangerous corners in the whole of the village, especially when vision is impaired by pedestrians on either the footpath, or the public right of way to the Village Church which runs perpendicular and adjacent to the entrance, I do not know.  It will be impossible for one vehicle to exit and another enter, at the same time, therefore blocking a busy road.

Exactly how the new build can be in keeping with the 1875 form of the Old School on one side and the postwar style of the bungalow next door on the other side, heaven only knows.  Indeed if one considers all the immediately surrounding properties, on both sides of the road, I would be challenged to determine any commonality of style, and I have a Diploma in Architecture (circa 1961 so well past it’s sell by date).  I would also add that the entirety of the Old School as well as the frontage of Whittington Farm, including the Farm House, are within the Whittington Conservation Area.  The conservation area ends at the kitchen door at the back of the Dragons head and none of the proposed new development there is within it.

The development proposed for the Dragons Head would not have been visible from the main road.  The current access to the property hasn’t changed since the beginning of the 20th century, and indeed has had caravan traffic for at least the last twenty years.  How the traffic from three properties (the old stable, called a barn in the planning documents having been used daily in respect of storage for a building repair and maintenance business until ten years ago) can be considered to produce any significant increase in traffic is derisory.

Calling the outbuilding a Barn implies that it has had some reasonable status.  When it was a stable providing conveyance for the residents of the Dragons Head, of which, in 1930, there were three families comprising eight people with Mrs. Willan as the Landlady then it did have a purpose, but to call it a barn is to overstate the fact it was a mere outbuilding in which the establishment horse lived.  It has been a leaking wreck desperately in need of repair for over forty years.  Even the most tasteless of development would be a magnificent enhancement to the surrounding area.

I am not decrying the Farm or School developments, but I do think that the proposal for the Farm greatly exceeds any likely need within a ten mile radius within Lancashire.  My beef is that I cannot see how the Dragons Head, which after all is a desperately needed community asset, can be rejected when the other two developments are beyond the scope of any local need. and at a selling price for the two developments exceeding £4,500,000.

There was once a Ffolly at Sellet Mill corner I have a feeling that we are considering two more.

Or am I missing something?

John Keegan

Dragons Head Disapointment

The following letter to Simon Nutter confirms that the Planning Application for the Dragons Head has been refused.  This will need careful analysis but on the surface it runs contrary to the wishes and needs of our community.

Lancaster City Council hereby give notice that PLANNING PERMISSION HAS BEEN REFUSED for the development set out in the application dated 27 March 2017, and described above for the following reasons:-

  1. The site is located within a small rural settlement with very limited services and as such is not considered to be sustainable in terms of its location. It is not considered that a sufficient and robust justification has been put forward to justify four new dwellings in this unsustainable location. The proposal is therefore contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular the Core Planning Principles and Sections 6 and 8, Policy SCI of Lancaster District Core Strategy and Policies DM20, DM42 and DM49 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.
  2. The proposed alterations to the barn do not respect the character and appearance of the building and would result in an overly domestic appearance. The design and layout of the new dwellings does not relate well to the surrounding built heritage and fails to provide an appropriate level of private amenity space, including in relation to the barn conversion, and the extension to the public house is not in keeping with the character and appearance of the existing building and is not considered to preserve or enhance the special characteristics of the Conservation Area. It is therefore considered that the proposal does not represent good design and is contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular the Core Planning Principles, Section 7, and Section 12, and policies DMS, DM31, DM32, DM33, DM35 and DM42 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.
  3. As a result of increased traffic movements and poor visibility at the site’s entrance, the application has failed to demonstrate that it will benefit from a safe access point onto the public highway. The proposal is therefore contrary to the aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular Section 4, and policies DM20 of the Development Management Development Plan Document.

I am looking to obtain a dialogue from those that were present at the meeting so that we can consider the equity of the decision for ourselves.

John Keegan

Dragons Head Support

Councillor Peter Williamson

Having reported (see the post immediately below this one) on the one objection to the Dragons Head Application it is rewarding to be able to report on the far more measured observations, in support of the application, from our highly experienced District Councillor, Peter Williamson.

Of the four comments on the application only that from Kate Mander’s opposes it. Peter’s observations, in full, are as follows:

This matter was originally before the Committee on 6 February 2017.

As suggested by the Committee at that meeting applications in respect of the Dragons Head Public House and the former public houses lower car park have been jointly submitted and are before the Committee on 31 May 2017 for further consideration.

The rural ward of Upper Lune Valley includes nine Parish Councils and in my experience, it is without precedent that a Parish Council will agree unanimously with a planning application. However, in this instance they do. This has been a consistently held view which has been provided to the Committee through their own representations on the matter in writing and in person.

I would like to highlight 5 crucial factors in respect of this application:

1. Brownfield Site: The proposed development for the three terraced houses is on a brownfield site. This site was previously used for decades as the lower car park for the public house. It should be highlighted that just 200 yards from this proposed development, permission for around 20 houses has been granted by this committee on a site formerly used as farm buildings.

2. Visual impact: Hardly any part of the proposed three houses will be visible from the road passing through the centre of the village of Whittington (the B6254). Also, the stable/barn conversion proposed
will similarly be hidden from view.

3. Access: The access on to the B6254 has been the only access to the Dragons Head for decades. To suggest that vehicles associated with any of the proposed 3 or 4 properties in this application will significantly increase usage and the risk of congestion and accidents is overstating the position in my view. There have been no accidents to my knowledge from this access recorded here. Also, a careful comparison with the proposed access here and that of the new already approved development for 20 houses close by shows that the visibility is better from the access proposed in this application.

4. Sustainability: Not many years ago, the village of Whittington boasted a shop; Post Office, Primary School and Public House. Now, it has none of these facilities. This development if approved will deliver much needed services and employment opportunities to the village. In addition to bed and breakfast lettings; a bar and eatery, it is proposed that it will include a small retail outlet serving the everyday needs of villagers which would include Post Office services – something the villagers and Parish Council on their behalf support.

5. Precedent: Should the Committee agree this small-scale application, it will not create a precedent for other applications as it will have been judged on the facts surrounding this unusual case.

Peter Williamson
11 May 2017

Dragons Head Objection

The documents related to the Dragons Head Application were  updated on the 12 of this month. One of the new documents is an objection by a Mrs. Kate Manders to the planning application. I am so astounded by the content and inaccuracies that the objection contains that I post it in full below.

I would love to hear how many people agree with Kate that “the majority of villagers (excluding one or two Parish Councillors) have no faith in the application”.  In fact the Parish Council wrote to the Planning Department saying “Parish Councillors are unanimously IN SUPPORT of this application.”

Somebody is telling pork pies. However, here are Kate’s comments:

I object in the strongest possible terms to the application for planning for the Dragon’s Head, on several counts. Whittington has a major problem with parking, and the proposal to remove the existing car park from the rear of the pub and convert it into access for housing will cause yet more problems with unsafe parking in the village. It will endanger lives, cause congestion and the access from the proposed three houses onto Main Street on a difficult and potentially blind corner will be dangerous.

In addition, I do not believe that any business plan submitted by the applicant is genuine. Whittington needs a pub. Not a tea room with a pub that may or may not open 2 or 3 evenings a week. This is not be a viable business plan but a cynical attempt to get planning permission for housing. It is my guess that, when the business fails in 2-3 years
time, the applicant will then say that it was never a viable option and seek permission to convert the pub building into residential accommodation.

The applicant has held the village to ransom since he bought the premises with a threat that he can only open a pub if he can build houses. This is nonsense. Why did he not refurbish the pub when he first bought it, and promised us it would be open by Christmas 2015? In my opinion, any reason he gives for needing to build houses in order to reopen the pub is not based on commercial reality, but greed. If he needs money to build the houses at the back, then surely opening the business as soon as possible after purchase would have been a priority.

Thirdly, the building of any housing at the back of the pub will destroy what could be a valuable asset to the pub, namely the beer garden. No customers will want to sit in a beer garden at the front of the building and breathe in traffic fumes and look at the village hall, when
they could have been sitting at the back looking at the view. It makes no sense. In addition, any seating at the front will further limit vehicle access to the back, making the entrance yet more unsafe.

I have absolutely no faith in the application, and despite the opinions or one or two members of the Parish Council, a quick vox poll of villages would tell you that neither do the majority of the residents of the village.

There are plenty of ideas locally about how the pub could be reopened and be a real asset to the community. It
does not require holding the village to ransom with demands for houses that are unnecessary – housing already for sale in the village is not selling, and the building of 18 further properties on Whittington Farm will reduce demand even further. Without the necessary
infrastructure of village amenities, the village is not as attractive to potential buyers as others in the area.

I trust you will include these comments in your decision process.

Mrs. Kate Manders.