Planning U-Turn Gives Green Light To New Home

Council Chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council Chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Councillors have made a planning U-turn and granted permission for a new property to be built at Holy Vale without any occupancy restrictions.

In September, planners refused an application from Nikki Banfield and John Jenkins to knock down an existing one-bedroom, single storey building at South Tinks and replace it with a larger home.

Officers advised that the bigger property would be a ‘new’ build and the Council’s Local Plan says all new properties must be subject to a section 106 agreement, restricting their use to key workers and local needs.

The couple said they wouldn’t sign up to the restrictions and resubmitted the application unchanged to this month’s meeting.

Their planning consultant said the Council’s Local Plan didn’t make clear the distinction between a ‘new’ and a ‘replacement’ property.

At yesterday’s meeting, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough questioned Planning Officer Lisa Walton about that point.

Lisa confirmed that if a building without restrictions was destroyed and had to be completely rebuilt, it wouldn’t require a section 106 agreement.

And she also admitted that the Local Plan doesn’t define what the size of a new build is, compared to a replacement building.

Cllr Fran Grottick saw more problems with the policy.

She said the owners could take the current one-bedroom building and keep adding extensions to create a property “of no particular architectural merit.”

Or, she said, councillors could approve the current plans for something that “will fit in well with its surroundings.”

Cllr Marian Bennett admitted that approving the scheme “blows a hole” in the Local Plan, but felt it was the right thing to do.

She said these were “young people from a traditional Scillonian family prepared to invest in the islands with a high quality and useful building.”

And she said councillors should have “a clear conscience” because of the number of properties approved without a section 106 over the years.

But Cllr Colin Daly felt that not imposing restrictions on the property would mean “one less house that’s available in the future” for young people on the islands.

Cllr Christine Savill agreed, saying she wanted to encourage young people to get homes, but that planners have a responsibility to those coming along in the future.

Cllr Richard McCarthy felt it would have been better for this application to have gone to an appeal. That way, he said, a Planning Inspector would look at the issues with the Local Plan and that could help the Council develop their new policy.

In the end, six councillors voted in favour of granting permission without any occupancy restrictions, reversing their earlier decision, while four voted against.