Agenda item

Overstrand - PF/21/3221 - Continued use of land for storage ancillary to Overstrand Garden Centre and provision of overflow car parking for staff (Retrospective): Overstrand Garden Centre, Mundesley Road, Overstrand


The DM introduced the report and the Officers recommendation for approval subject to conditions. He noted that a site visit had been held in July 2022 which enabled Members to see the relationship between the application site and the neighbouring dwellings.


Since the site visit Officers from Planning and Environmental Health had worked with the Applicant to try and address some of the issues which were preventing a positive resolution. The primary issues centred on the surfacing of the application site, discussions of HGV deliveries and forklift truck impacts.


The Applicant had subsequently removed the gravel from the site, following concerns raised about the noise of passing vehicles, which left a hard-core surface.


In relation to addressing the impacts on HGV and forklift trucks, the Applicant had produced an updated noise impact assessment and layout plan, referred to within the Officers report. Further, since the site visit, the Applicant had acquired a new forklift truck for the site, and noted concerns about the noise impact of the former forklift truck. The change in equipment had been reflected in the noise impact assessment.


The DM noted the changes in the proposed application layout, amended since the site visit, with the final submission seeking to retain the 9m wide landscape buffer, removal of the pedestrian access from the site (effectively removing public access from this portion of the site), and inclusion of 3m high acoustic fence located on the edge of the landscape buffer strip.


6 public representations had been received since the Agendas publication, which touched upon many of the points raised in pages 15 and 16. Comments included concerns that the land would be operated on from 8am till 6pm, disturbing residents and spoiling their use and enjoyment of their home and garden, concerns that the scheme was not dissimilar to the last with the exemption of public parking, and concerns that the new forklift truck was just as noisy as the old one. Suggestions had been made to condition the use of staff parking from 8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 9.30-4.30pm Sunday and Bank Holidays, with forklift and delivery movements restricted to 10am at the earliest to 4.00pm at the latest Monday – Friday only. Further controls had been suggested to minimise the number of deliveries on the site, the DM noted that the applicant had advised that there would be 9 HGV deliveries across the year, however concerns were raised that this may increase if unmonitored. 


The DM advised that a copy of draft conditions had be circulated subsequent to agenda publication, and highlighted that HGV conditions were still a matter for consideration. It had proposed that a 10am – 4pm Monday – Friday HGV delivery restriction be imposed, though noted the Applicant would prefer this to be a 9am-5pm Monday-Friday which the Environmental Protection team had indicated they were agreeable to.


Further Forklift truck hours of use were to be agreed, with the Applicant wishing to align permission with opening hours.



The meeting was suspended at 10.24am and reconvened at 10.53am



Public Speakers

Gordon Partridge - Overstrand Parish Council

Mark Tassie – Objecting

Alan Preslee – Supporting


Members Questions and Debate


  1. The Local Member – Cllr A Fitch-Tillett reflected on the necessity for the garden centre to continue its operations, being both important to the village and to the local economy. She congratulated the Applicant and Officers for working together, and noted the lengthy discussions made. The Local Member reiterated that she would abstain from voting on the application, but encouraged Members to support the application and the business.


  1. The SEPO advised that Officers had considered noise and disturbance from a nuisance perspective as well as assessing the planning application, with the aim to positively address issues and areas of concern. She advised that Officers were content with the draft conditions, and stressed the importance of having appropriate protective measurements in place to ensure local residential amenity could be achieved. The SEPO was minded that this was an operational garden centre, which wished to grow and expand.


  1. Cllr R Kershaw spoke in support of the application and stated that the business was an asset to the community, and he was encouraged to see it prospering during challenging economic times. He thanked the Applicant and Officers for working together to form a comprehensive set of draft recommendations and conditions, which he believed encompassed the core issues. Cllr R Kershaw understood the concerns of local residents but considered that the majority of concerns would be addressed by conditions. He was therefore satisfied with the application and so proposed acceptance of the Officers recommendation subject to conditions.  


  1. Cllr V Holliday questioned whether an acoustic fence higher than 3m could be utilised, and noted discrepancies with the number of HGV movements as being either 9 or 12 per annum, and the operating hours of forklifts on a Saturday.


  1. The DM advised that the noise report referenced 9 HGV movements, and although originally Officers did not consider limiting the number of HGV movements as it would be challenging to enforce, it was asked as a condition that the applicant record the number of HGV movements. The slightly higher figure of 12 movement would allow some flexibility, whilst remaining a sensible figure, and was not considered to cause an unacceptable impact should the control measures be in place. With respect of forklift movement times, it was noted that the Applicant would prefer greater flexibility, the DM advised it was for the Committee to consider this request and whether times could be extended.


With reference to questions about the acoustic fence, the DM commented that was a matter of balance, as a taller fence would have a greater visual impact. Officers contended that the 3m fence would achieve the necessary noise reductions without having as much of a visual impact. Further, the impact would be softened through the conditioned introduction of landscape planting, though it was noted that the planting would take some time to establish.


  1. Cllr V Holliday asked if HGV movements being permitted to a later time would have an adverse impact on local roads.


  1. The SEPO advised that HGV movements could be restricted per annum, and reflected that a concession had been made to prevent deliveries on Saturday, Sundays and Bank Holidays. She considered the versatility of the forklift truck in performing a number of tasks on site, and stated that whilst the number of movements could not be limited, the time of operation on the application site could be considered.


  1. The Applicant’s Agent was permitted by the Chairman to address Members questions. He clarified the business request that forklift truck hours (detailed in Condition 16) be aligned with HGV times, preferably 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday – Friday and 9.00am – 1pm on Saturday. He further requested, with relation to staff parking (Condition 20), that the hours be extended to enable staff to park on site an hour before and after the business opening times. The Agent also commented on Condition 12, and noted that as drafted the condition required measures to reduce glare and reflection from stored pallets and materials, but he considered that other conditions including the 3m acoustic fence and landscape buffer would preclude views of the pallets. He stated it would be onerous on the business for the Committee to expect the pallets to be uncovered and recovered at regular intervals.


  1. The Chairman asked how many staff cars there would be on average at any one time, and noted previously that staff were arriving many hours earlier than when the business opened.


  1. The Applicants Agent advised there would be approximately 6 or 7 staff cars at any one time. The Applicant confirmed that the General Manager would arrive for work at 7.00am but that that measures had been put in place so that they would not access the application site before 8.00am. They would make use of the car park to the front of the property.


  1. The DM noted that the operating hours of the Forklift on Saturday was a matter of contention and it was for Members to determine if there would be additional harm though extended hours. 


  1. Cllr J Toye asked if natural features could be used on the acoustic fence, and that this be considered when the design and materials be agreed. He considered natural planting would aid to soften the glare and noise coming from the site on neighbouring dwellings.


  1. The DM advised that the purpose of the 9m planting scheme was to soften the visual impact of the acoustic fence, and advised that bird and bat boxes had been included as a condition to enhance the biodiversity of the area. The DM assured Members that the acoustic fence would meet specifications, and commented it was important to ensure that nothing interfered with the primary function of the fence.


  1. Cllr J Toye was satisfied with the recommendations and was encouraged by the Applicants willingness to with the community and Officers towards an acceptable scheme, and so seconded the Officers recommendation.


  1. Cllr P Heinrich thanked Officers and the Applicant for their efforts in producing an acceptable scheme. He sought to confirm that native species would be used within the planting scheme, given the nature of the business. With respect of potential noise, he considered that 1 HGV movement a month was not excessive. Through good management of the site, and implementation of conditions, he was content to accept the Officers recommendation.


  1. Cllr A Brown echoed Members thanks to Officers and the Applicant, and to Mr Tassie in his communication. He questioned the landscaping scheme and asked if trellises could be added to the fence, with vine planting to help mitigate the effect of the site until such time as the planting scheme matured.


  1. The DM commented that the higher the plant stock, the greater for the risk of failure, and the greater the need for maintenance. He advised that Officers were satisfied with the proposed mitigation which would be secured by condition, and noted the Applicant was in attendance and may be happy to address Members additional queries.


  1. The Applicants Agent advised that they had secured a Landscape Architect to prepare a scheme, and it was envisioned that this would include some standard species as well as a mixture of whip plants. The exact planting was still to be agreed with the Landscape Architect.


  1. Cllr L Withington noted that Applicants request that the conditioned Forklift use hours be brought in line with the conditioned HGV hours, and reflected that the weekend would likely be the busiest time for the business, therefore there may be some impact on the ability of the business to function if the Forklift hours were limited on Saturdays.


  1. The DM advised that the use of hours had be thoroughly considered to seek a balance between the interests of all parties. Officers contended that forklift movements were necessary to respond to HGV deliveries on weekdays, the conditioned forklift hours commencing on Saturday were not considered to have a detrimental impact on the business, and that through forward planning the business could still prepare for Sunday trading within the realms of the proposed condition.


  1. The SEPO advised that from the noise report, and Officers own monitoring that background noise levels in the area were very low, particularly at certain times of the day. She commented that a forklift was a very versatile piece of equipment which would reduce the impact on staff through manual handling, and that its use on the main site (not the application site) was not for discussion. The Forklift truck could still be used as needed on the core site. The SEPO reaffirmed the Environmental Health Teams recommendation for a 10am forklift start on Saturday.


  1. Cllr J Toye clarified Members discussion and proposed an amendment to the Officers recommendation that the HGV and Forklift be conditioned for use between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and Forklift use be conditioned to remain as 10am to 1pm on Saturday. This was accepted by Members.


IT WAS RESOLVED by 9 votes for and 1 abstention.


That Planning Application PF/21/3221 be APPROVED  subject to conditions to cover the matters listed below


1. No new grounds of objection from consultees following re-consultation period;

2. The imposition of appropriate conditions (detailed list of draft conditions to be provided to Development Committee ahead of the meeting); and

3. Any other conditions that may be considered necessary at the discretion of the Assistant Director for Planning


Final wording of conditions to be delegated to the Assistant Director – Planning



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