Orchard Herbs Site (Burnham)

Orchard Herbs Site (Burnham)

Dorney Parish Council Meeting Minutes: 21 September 2021. 30.4.

Planning Officer, Liz Ashton is awaiting a response from Highways Bucks and Historic England over her concerns.

Weekly visits are taking place regarding the enforcement notice and although slow, it has been noticed that a significant number of vehicles have gone.  The Clerk will ask for an update from County Cllr. Sandy.

There is no current progress on the Certificate of Lawfulness.  It was agreed The Clerk will write to Kirstie Elliot from the Parish Council stating our objections.

25 August 2021: The Orchard Herbs Site Situation – an Update

There are three ongoing issues with the Orchard Herbs site. The current situation is as follows:

Orchard Herbs Enforcement Notice for removal of vehicles
There has been a noticeable reduction in the number of vehicles on site. The latest email from the planning officer handling the enforcement reported:
I was at the site on Wednesday morning (11th Aug) and can confirm that more vehicles have gone out (primarily cars that were located in the south-west corner, so could not be readily seen from the road). I am being given written lists of what has been removed at each visit and when walking around the site I can see the gaps that have been left. Most of the vehicles that remain are those which won’t start and require more arrangements to be made to get them moved within and then off the site (i.e. they need other vehicles to get them physically moved) – this is one of the reasons why things have slowed down a bit, it is the trickier vehicles that are left. I know I am repeating myself so apologies for that, but it is only when you are actually on the site you can appreciate the volume of what has been removed. I realise that we have gone past the timings that were agreed for total clearance but please be assured that my colleague and I are continuing with the regular visits (I am on leave for the next two weeks, so my colleague is doing the visits in my absence). The owners are aware that if they do not deliver what they have promised there will be consequences, so we are keen to continue with the encouragement of clearance to keep the focus on this.

Planning Application PL/20/2020/0A hotel, Office Blocks and two storey car park.
The planning department has received feedback from the Environment agency, Lead Local Flood authority and the Bucks County Conservation team all recommending refusal of planning permission. The case officer is waiting for a response from Buckinghamshire Highways department and Historic England. The latest email received this week said:
I just thought I would send you a quick update to say that I have now received comments from the Conservation Team who have raised concerns with the proposed development on heritage assets.  Their comments should be available to view on the Council’s website in the next few days.
They have also requested that Historic England are consulted on the application to enable them to consider whether there is any possible impact on St James the Less, Dorney and Windsor Castle. Historic England have been consulted and a response is anticipated by around 9th September.
So far, the applicant’s response to the feedback from the EA, and LLFA has been to say they are only asking for outline planning permission, and they will sort out all these objections after permission has been granted

PL/20/3452/EU | Certificate of Lawfulness 
This is still ongoing, and no decision has been made. It is being handled by the same case officer who is supervising the enforcement notice and I believe will only be looked at when there has been sufficient progress in removal of the vehicles and containers.

Robert Stopford, Dorney Parish Council

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Dorney Parish Council Meeting 20 July 2021: Item 4.4 The Orchard Herbs Site

Report from Cllr. Robert Stopford:

There are three on going issues at Orchard Herbs site.

Enforcement Notice

I received the following from Tabish Wazir Deputy Parish Clerk Burnham:

From: Kirstie Elliot Sent: 09 July 2021 15:49 To: ‘Tabish Wazir’

Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] RE: Orchard Herbs (ref: EN/18/2279)

Hi Tabish,

Thanks for your email.

Yes, I have had a number of queries this week regarding the clearance of the site. I appreciate that from the roadside the site still looks full of lorries but they are going. Prior to the contractor being appointed there were approximately 300 vehicles/vehicle parts/containers on the site and they are now at approximately 170. It was almost impossible to move around the site (even on foot) to view everything but now there are clear pathways through and vehicles can also get through to tow. They are clearing the site west to east so as gaps appear they are bringing everything closer to the road but I appreciate that this makes the site look more cluttered at the most visible points to the public at large (and also blocks the view of the cleared areas to the rear). I confirm that they are ripping the soil as the site is cleared. I confirm that I am visiting the site every week and logging what has been removed. That said, I am not satisfied with the levels of clearance made to date and will be making this clear to the owners. I hope that in the next 4 weeks there will be a more noticeable change to the appearance of the site.

I hope this is of assistance.

Kind regards,

Kirstie Elliot

Principal Planning Enforcement Officer

Planning, Growth and Sustainability Directorate

Buckinghamshire Council


For your information I did contact a resident of Ashford Lane, who did confirm that there appears to be a reduction in the number of lorries on site from their viewpoint.

PL/20/3452/EU | Certificate of Lawfulness for existing use as a builder’s yard and storage of commercial vehicles, equipment and building materials.

Update from Kirstie Elliot on the 7th of July to George Sandy

This application does still remain under assessment and covers the land which is currently occupied by Highways England/Balfour Beatty. The land the subject of the application is not being used in breach of planning control (as per the remainder of the site) and at this stage I anticipate a decision being made on the application at around the same time as the works to clear the rest of the site are concluded.

Planning Application PL/20/2020/OA Outline permission for re-development of existing partial brownfield site into renewable energy park with high-capacity battery storage, 416 bedroom hotel, two office units, two storey carpark etc.

Elizabeth Aston a Planning Office is dealing with this application. I had an email from her on the 8th of July and a phone call on the 12th of July. She made the following comments in her email.

As you mentioned in your e-mail below, further objections to this application have been received from the EA and SuDS. I had hoped that following the receipt of these comments I would be in a position to move forward with the determination of the application. However, following the publication of these comments on the Council’s website, the applicant has contacted both the EA and SuDS team directly to provide them with further information. To avoid any concerns being raised by the applicant that the consultees did not properly consider information submitted, these bodies may want to respond to the further information submitted, although I acknowledge that the continued submission of additional information to consultees, particularly directly to consultees, is frustrating the ability of the Council to move forward with making a decision on this application.

I note that in your e-mail to Cllr Sandy you have also commented on the comments made by the Council’s Landscape Officer back in September last year. As there have been no changes to the proposal which would require the re-consultation of the Landscape Officer, it would not be appropriate to ask him to add to/revise his current comments. However, in respect of the comments you have made about openness of the Green Belt, this is something that I as the case officer will consider and reach a conclusion on, taking into account also the planning history of the site and its surroundings.

In relation to the impact of the development on the adjacent Conservation Area and the setting of nearby listed buildings, I have already requested comments from the Council’s Conservation Team on this and I hope to be in receipt of their comments shortly.

I hope you can appreciate that with a development of this scale, there are a large number of considerations which are relevant to the determination of the application. Ensuring that all these matters have been properly considered can be time consuming, especially when the applicant keeps submitting further information. I want to proceed with a decision on the application as quickly as possible, but this also needs to be balanced against ensuring that the applicant doesn’t allege that we have acted unreasonably in dealing with the application i.e. not properly considering information submitted, particularly if the applicant were to lodge an appeal against any decision the Council might make.

8 July 2021: Letter from Dorney Parish Council to Bucks Council Planning regarding Orchard Herbs.

We write further to our earlier objection letters dated 28th August 2020 and would like you to consider this supplemental objection in your determination of this planning application.  It remains unclear if the Council is minded refusing this application.  We have taken legal advice in respect of the application and this includes a review of the up to date responses from statutory consultees and the new information submitted by the applicant in May.  For the reasons set out below, it is considered that any grant of planning permission would be unlawful and susceptible to judicial review. Read complete letter by clicking this link.

15 June 2021: Dorney Parish Council Meeting: Cllr. Stopford reported three issues. The Certificate of Lawfulness, the planning permission for a hotel and park and the enforcement issue. On enforcement he noted that Bucks Council were half-way through an effort to clear vehicles from the site. What was unclear was whether the site would be returned to its former state. County Cllr. Sandy noted that a complicating factor might be if Bucks Council’s Strategic Sites Committee took an interest in the site.

January 2021: Orchard Herbs have put in a planning application for Certificate of Lawfulness for their current use of the site as a builder’s yard and storage unit, application reference PL/20/3452/EU:

The following is on the information sheet provided by the Planning Enforcement Officer who attended the January Council meeting. This includes information on the Enforcement Notice that has been served:

Current enforcement position:

Officers have determined that the current use of the land is contrary to an extant enforcement notice issued by the SBDC in June 2007 and upheld by a planning inspector at a re-determined appeal in April 2010.

Officers served letters of notice to quit the site on the owners providing them with 28 days to cease the current use. This deadline expires on 01 Feb 2021, a site visit will conducted shortly after this date. Owners have been advised that failure to comply with this request will result in the Council taking further legal action (breach of an enforcement notice is an offence)

Dorney Parish Council objected to the application.

The Parish Council’s objections are as follows:

  1. The application area is the surface of the new road constructed by Highways England along Lake End Road.
  2. The statement appears to be for a claim for Advers Possession, rather than evidence submitted to support the application.
  3. The application form states that Chris Ball is the owner, which he cannot be as he is applying to be the owner (Possessory Title)
    The site plan (note that the plan is for the hotel development) does not accord to page 1 of the statement exhibit.
  4. The evidence cannot be correct because the land was originally an embankment at 45 degrees, so no vehicle could drive or park there.
  5. The only way that land could be used would be when the imported spoil was so high that the ground would be level. Even then, the vehicles etc would need to drive up to the level of the road. No evidence has been submitted to show where vehicles were parked. No photographs, or annotated plans.
  6. Considering point 5 above, the use of the land would have to be the long-term storage of materials (earth, waste etc) for the entire period of 10 years, so the use cannot be as described.
  7. The appeal decision plan (page 6) omits the embankment (the area including the subject of this application). This shows that the embankment as at April 2010 was not used for those activities described in the appeal decision (“storage of non-agricultural plant, equipment, vehicles and materials”).

August 2020: Dorney Parish Council objected to the Planning Application PL/20/2020/OA, Orchard Herbs, Lake End Road, Dorney, Buckinghamshire, SL4 6QS, Outline permission for re-development of existing partial brownfield site into renewable energy park with high capacity battery storage, 416 bedroom hotel (Use Class C1), two office units (Use Class A2), biogas waste digester energy unit, advanced educational facility, two-storey car park and associated landscaping, on the following grounds:-

  1. The land is not a brown field site (Previously Developed Land); it is a green field Green Belt site with only a small stable block and former small farm shop. The only reason that it is not currently in agricultural use is because the current occupiers have carrying out unauthorised operations on agricultural land for an extended period of time.
  2. Most, if not all, the activities on site are the subject of Enforcement Notices which we believe have not been complied with and therefore the Applicant should comply with those Notices before this Application could have been registered. We question why or how, the Local Planning Authority registered an Application that is the subject of outstanding Enforcement action and the land having unauthorised uses carrying on
  3. This Application should be described as a ‘Green Belt Application’. In order for this Application to be considered, the site needs to be reallocated through the Local Plan consultation procedure and the current Examination in Public which is in it’s second sitting and near conclusion. This site is not included within the Local Plan and therefore should not be considered as a site applicable to uses contrary to Green Belt policy.
  4. The site is most likely contaminated because of the introduction of old or dysfunctional vehicles that may be at end-of-life status. In the opinion if the Parish Council, it is an illegal scrapyard.
  5. By registering this Application the Local Planning Authority creates a dangerous precedent or precursor for other land owners of Green Belt land to consider that there may be a possibility of development. The Parish Council believes that there should be an investigation into how this Application was registered, thus apparently giving it credibility.

This site is not within the parish of Dorney but does significantly impinge upon the village and could do so very dramatically if there was any Change of Use allowed on this site.

The only non-Green Belt Change of Use has been through the Certificate of Lawfulness for what was originally a small one man band builder with a pile of rubble and a white van.  Since then it has been expanded out of all recognition.  A Certificate of Lawfulness is not the same as a Planning Permission.

Conclusion

Dorney Parish Council strongly object to this Application and to its registration.