Update on Chestnut Lodge
Following the Planning Committee held on 10 August 2023, there has been a lot of local interest in the decision made on Chestnut Lodge, Barnby Road.
We have been asked by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to pause the issue of the Chestnut Lodge planning decision made by Planning Committee and are awaiting to hear from them as to whether we can issue it. We have been advised this will likely take weeks rather than months to be assessed.
Once DLUHC has made their assessment, they will confirm to us whether or not they are going to call it in for a decision by the Secretary of State. If it is called-in, the proposal will then be considered by an independent Planning Inspector who will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for a final decision.
If it isn’t called-in, the Council will issue planning permission in line with the decision made by the Planning Committee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gypsies and Travellers form a longstanding part of the district’s population, contributing towards the character of Newark and Sherwood with distinct and vibrant communities found across the district.
There are currently around 400 pitches in our district, the majority of which are located on Tolney Lane, Newark and around Ollerton/Wellow in the Sherwood area of the district. There are also smaller sites in other parts of Newark and Sherwood.
The Council recognises the importance of meeting the housing needs for all the district’s population and has accordingly planned so that this may occur through the Local Development Framework.
Why are Gypsies and Travellers a protected ethnic minority?
Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998, along with all ethnic groups with a particular culture, language or values.
Is living in a caravan a lifestyle choice?
For many Gypsies and Travellers, living in a caravan is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but a result of their social and cultural heritage and an essential part of their ethnic identity. This is true whether they are nomadic or settle for long periods in one place.
Why not houses instead of sites?
Some Gypsy and Traveller families will move into housing by choice, for health reasons, or because of a lack of alternative accommodation. However, for some families this doesn’t work as they feel isolated from their community, and often feel claustrophobic or hemmed in, inside four walls. Everyone should have the opportunity of a decent home that meets their needs, and this includes Gypsies and Travellers who need sites to accommodate caravans.
Why are permanent sites needed?
These days, it is extremely difficult for families to live on the road as they used to. There are fewer places to stop and work patterns have changed. Families require safe and secure places from which to do their travelling. This will also be where they can access a doctor, dentists and crucially where their children have better access to education. As Gypsies and Travellers grow older and become less able to travel on a regular basis, some require a safe and secure stopping place where they can maintain the cultural traditions of being a Gypsy or Traveller.
What is a pitch and how many people live on it?
A pitch is the space required to accommodate one household and will vary according to the size of the household in a similar way to housing for the settled community. A caravan does not equate to a household. One household may comprise three generations of extended family living in several caravans. Typically, a family pitch will provide space for a mobile home and touring caravan, space for parking, and an amenity block.
Do Gypsies and Travellers pay Council Tax, rent and charges?
Authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites are charged Council Tax in the same way as other residential dwellings. Gypsies and Travellers who live on privately owned sites are subject to Council Tax, rent, gas, electricity and other associated charges in the same way as other residents.
Will businesses, such as scrap metal, be allowed on site?
Gypsy and Traveller sites are residential rather than mixed-use employment sites. Employment uses would require separate planning permission. Conditions can be imposed on relevant planning permissions to restrict commercial activities on site.
Who owns Gypsy and Traveller sites?
Gypsy and Traveller sites may be in public or private ownership in the same way as other housing.
Who pays for new sites?
Private sites would be privately owned, and privately funded by Gypsies and Travellers themselves. Public sites could be delivered in a similar way to affordable housing.
What is the difference between unauthorised sites and permanent sites?
Unauthorised encampments are unplanned and temporary in nature, often located in inappropriate locations, and in the past have led to local tensions. Provision of permanent sites, tested through the planning process, and either privately owned or managed, allow environmental issues to be properly considered and addressed.
Why respond with new sites to the illegal actions of those on unauthorised ones?
The Council has the same responsibility to plan for the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller communities as it does for the settled community. There is an identified need for new site provision. The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) demonstrates a need for 118 pitches, to meet the needs of those who were established to meet the planning definition [of a Gypsy/Traveller], between 2013-33 (this figure rises to 169 to take account of undetermined households and those who do not meet the definition – but who may require a culturally appropriate form of accommodation). Our requirement of 118 pitches forms the basis of the five-year land supply test, as required as part of the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS). Helpfully the GTAA splits this need across 5-year tranches – with 77 pitches needing to be delivered or available within the first period (2019-24) for a five-year supply to be achieved. A recent High Court Case (Lisa Smith v The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and others  EWHC 1650 (Admin)) means that it is now the higher figure of 169 that needs to be addressed and the 5-year tranche figure will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Why can sites be in the countryside when other development is not allowed?
Planning law applies equally to Gypsies and Travellers as it does to the settled community. The need for sites is being considered through the Local Development Framework in the same way need for houses and other uses are considered. Planning applications are tested against national guidance and local development plans the same as other forms of development.
What is the national guidance for Gypsy and Traveller Pitches?
The Government has issued guidance for the allocation of sites for Gypsy and Travellers as well as the determination of planning applications. This is the ‘Planning policy for traveller sites’.
Are more Gypsy and Traveller sites needed?
The Council has the same responsibility to plan for the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers as it does for the settled community. To establish the level of need for Gypsy and Traveller pitches in the district, a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) was commissioned and finalised in February 2020.
Are we meeting local Gypsy and Traveller needs or those from elsewhere?
Households requiring accommodation who move into the District from outside and households moving away from the District were both addressed as part of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment, with no firm evidence of households wishing to move into Newark and Sherwood District being found. Therefore, net migration to the sum of zero was assumed for the purposes of the assessment – meaning that the pitch requirements are driven by locally identifiable need.
What is the Local Planning Policy for Gypsies and Travellers?
Our planning policies are contained within the Development Plan. This is made up of the Amended Core Strategy and the Adopted Allocations and Development Management Development Plan Document.
Core Policies 4 and 5 of the Amended Core Strategy set out the approach to new pitch provision and the criteria for considering sites. Work on identifying future policies and allocations for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites is currently ongoing as part of the review of the Allocations and Development Management Development Plan Document.
What engagement has taken place on the Development Plan?
Public consultation was undertaken on the Plan Review on several occasions between 2015 and 2017. This led to the Amended Core Strategy being produced first and then more detailed consultation on the Allocations & Development Management proposals were undertaken in July – August 2019 and July – September 2021.
The results of these consultations have been used to assist with the production of the Publication Amended Allocations and Development Management Development Plan Document (DPD). The Publication DPD was subject to a period of representation and further amendments are likely to be published shortly. Documents will be available here in due course.
How can I be kept up to date when new Development Plan documents are published?
If you would like to join the mailing list to know when new Development Plan documents are published, contact the Planning Policy team and ask to be added to the mailing list.
Specific questions regarding Chestnut Lodge, Barnby Road, Planning Application
What is the status of planning policy in relation to Chestnut Lodge Barnby Road?
The emerging policies within the Publication Amended Allocations and Development Management Development Plan demonstrate a commitment by the Council to meet the need for pitches in the District and this emerging strategy seeks to allocate the application site for gypsy and traveller pitches (ref. NUA/GRT/12 for 20 pitches and a new dwelling to assist in the management and operation of new pitches (policy reference correct as at 17th August 2023)).
Only very limited weight can be attached to this emerging policy and allocation as the plan has yet to be submitted and found sound following unresolved objections to the broad Gypsy and Traveller Strategy from the publication stage.
What is a Committee Report and where can I view the report for this application?
A planning committee report sets out what the proposal is that is being considered, site context, relevant development plan policies and any other material considerations and provides a summary of the consultations and representations received. A discussion takes place which assesses the development proposal against policy and matters raised by those consulted and notified (where they are material). A recommendation is made in line with the assessment.
The Officer Report to Committee as well as supplemental information received after the agenda (report) was published may be viewed on the Council’s website.
Why did the Planning Officer recommend approval of this application?
The Officer Report addresses all planning considerations relevant to this proposal and its location, and considers whether the development complies with planning policy. The report weighed up the proposal and came to a recommendation of approval based on a number of criteria including the unmet need of the District in relation to the provision of Gypsy and Traveller pitches.
Why could it not wait until a later Committee when all Councillors were present?
National policy within the National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to determine applications as quickly as possible, and within statutory timescales (paragraph 47).
The Council, as Local Planning Authority, undertook consultation and notified the Parish Council and local residents of the proposed development. This was in accordance with national legislation and the Council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement, which provides 21 days for responses to be submitted. All consultation and notification timescales had passed when the application was considered by Planning Committee Members on 10 August, enabling the decision to be made within statutory timescales.
Proposals cannot be delayed to accommodate leave or other conflicts of Planning Committee Members.
In relation to decision making by Councillors, the Council has adopted, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution, a supplementary Protocol for Members on dealing with Planning Matters. Section 5.0 (pages 3- 4) deals with predisposition, predetermination and bias. Should any Councillor have openly stated or indicated the way that they were going to vote prior to a meeting, this would prevent them from being able to be present during the consideration of that item and vote.
Any councillor asking for an application to be delayed until a later meeting could be perceived as having predetermined the application which could put the Council at risk of legal proceedings and is considered by the Local Government Ombudsman as maladministration.
Why did the Planning Chairman vote twice?
Under the Council’s Constitution, Part D – Council Procedure Rules, page D7, paragraph 5.2:
“Chairman’s Casting Vote
If there are equal numbers of votes for and against, the Chairman will have a casting vote. There will be no restriction on how the Chairman chooses to exercise a casting vote.”
After the presentation of the Officer, public speaking by a representative for Barnby in the Willows Parish Council and debate by Planning Committee Members, a vote took place to approve the application in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation. Members voted 6 in favour of approval and 6 against approval of the application. The Chairman therefore had a casting vote.
Why could Planning Committee Members who weren’t present not vote remotely?
Legislation under the Local Government Act 1972 (Schedule 12) details several requirements. These include the “place” of such meetings, people being “present” at them and the persons who must “attend”.
Only those members of the Planning Committee that were present in person at the Planning Committee are therefore allowed to (legally) vote.
Why has the planning decision not been issued yet?
Planning Committee voted to approve the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation on 10 August. Normally, the decision would be issued within a couple of days. However, in this instance, correspondence has been received from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to advise that the Secretary of State [for this department] may wish to consider the application himself. The Secretary of State will now be considering whether to determine it himself.
What does an Article 31 Direction mean?
An Article 31 Direction (issued under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015) effectively stops the Council, as Local Planning Authority, from issuing the decision resolved by Planning Committee on 10 August. This is to enable the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to decide whether it is a proposal that he should determine himself.
The Secretary of State will either decide that the application may be dealt with locally, in which case, the Council can issue the decision made by Planning Committee, or he can decide to call it in for his decision. Should he call it in, the process for dealing with this application is detailed within the ‘Guide to called-in planning applications.’
Can I appeal the decision?
No decision has been made yet. However, once the decision is made, there is no third party right of appeal unless it is on a point of law. Such appeals are judicial reviews and are made to the High Court. Any such legal challenge must be made within 6 weeks of the decision – whether that decision is by the Council or Secretary of State.
Has the Council had any recent planning appeals for Gypsy and Traveller pitches?
Yes. The Council had a planning appeal determined by the Planning Inspectorate on 7 February 2023 in relation to application reference 21/02528/FUL for a ‘Change of use of land to provide 4 pitches (1 static and 1 touring caravan and two parking spaces on each pitch) hardstanding and associated infrastructure for members of the Gypsy and Traveller community’ at Shady Oaks, Eagle Road, Spalford, NG23 7HA. This was determined by way of a Hearing and planning permission was granted. The appeal decision letter may be viewed here by searching 21/02528/FUL.