Minutes Extraordinary Meeting held 25th June 2024 (Draft)

Minutes of the Extraordinary Council Meeting Fulking Parish Council held Tuesday 25th June 2024 at 7.00 pm held at Fulking Village Hall. 


Chairman:                          Cllr Mark Hind
Fulking Parish Council (FPC):Cllrs Karen Healy, Lucy Mehta, Tom Kardos & Linda Comber
Parish Clerk                      Trevor Parsons 

There were four members of the public present who expressed their views on the application. 

The meeting opened at 7.30pm. 

24/035/PM.            Apologies for Absence. 

Apologies were received from Joy Dennis (WSCC) and Geoff Zeidler (MSDC). 

24/036/PM.            Declaration of Members’ Interests. 

No Interests declared 

24/037/PM.            Planning Application – SDNP/24/02216/FUL – Small Acres 

        Proposal: Single pitch settled gypsy accommodation site, including siting of mobile home and utility building  

Location: Small Acres, Clappers Lane, Fulking, West Sussex, BN6 9NH  

Grid Ref: Eastings: 525066, Northings: 111695 

This application was withdrawn by the application prior to 25th June 2024 and no response required. 

24/038/PM.           Planning Application – SDNP/24/02233/LDP – Small Acres 

Proposal: Lawful storage of touring caravan  

Location: Small Acres, Clappers Lane, Fulking, West Sussex, BN6 9NH  

Grid Ref: Eastings: 525066, Northings: 111695 

Fulking Parish Council (FPC) was made aware at the planning meeting held in Fulking Village Hall on 25th June that some residents fear possible reprisals so this has stopped many residents objecting to this application.  

It is noted that: 

  1. The application seeks approval to replace a dilapidated “small touring caravan now disused” (with wheels and towbar) currently sited in the far south east corner of the plot with a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom mobile home (65 x 22 feet) supplied by “Eco MobileHomes” to be sited anywhere on the site. The drawings supplied with the application show a structural raft siting arrangement and the suppliers website confirms the need for foundations for this particular type of mobile home.
  2. The recent decision of the Planning Inspector H A Orr on 9th April 2024 upheld the enforcement notice issued and required the use of land for settled gypsy accommodation to cease. This decision highlighted: 

Paragraph 30 “…. the appeal development now fills a previously undeveloped gap that helped to add a sense of transition, between the village and the more open countryside beyond. It therefore has the effect of extending the built development towards the cricket ground. This is particularly apparent from the various public paths and viewpoints including Devils Dyke, cumulatively making the sites more prominent in this highly sensitive landscape.” 

Paragraph 48 “… great weight is to be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in national parks, which attracts the highest status of protection. I have also found that the appeal development in addition to the existing permitted sites, result in a cluster of sites, that fail to conserve or enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the area, or to respect the scale and pattern of development of this small rural village, such that it dominates the nearest settled community. In combination I have attributed significant weight to this combined harm.” 

Paragraph 49 “Overall, in my judgement, the combination of factors in favour of the development are not sufficient to clearly outweigh the significant harm I have identified to the character and appearance of the SDNP and the settled community.” 

3. FPC is concerned that: 

     (a) The existence of the small touring caravan on the site is not a lawful use of the   land. 

     (b) The application seeks replacement of a small touring caravan with a significantly larger mobile home which requires raft foundations which would require hardstanding. 

     (c) The applicants claim that it “could be located anywhere within the site” despite there not being sufficient lawful hardstanding available. 

    (d) The requirement for foundations, rather than resting on wheels, and for a replacement of this magnitude “located anywhere within the site” will cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the SDNP and directly conflict with the primary purpose of the South Downs National Park Authority and the decision of the Planning Inspector. 

4. The relevant factual and legal position in relation to paragraph (a) above can be summarised as follows: 

It has been suggested by the applicant that the Planning Inspector has acknowledged the existence of the touring caravan on the site as being “lawful”. This is incorrect. The logical interpretation of the Planning Inspector’s revised appeal decision is simply to clarify that the existing touring caravan is not part of the decision relating to the enforcement notice (which specifically addresses the unlawful development of the site by the applicant). It cannot legally be the position that the Planning Inspector has acknowledged that the siting of the existing touring caravan is lawful for the following reasons: 

A touring caravan was situated on the site until 2003 when it was removed in response to an enforcement notice. In 2004, the same or a similar touring caravan was replaced on the same site in breach of the enforcement notice. The enforcement notice remains effective in perpetuity. Any siting of a caravan on this site after this earlier enforcement notice could not be lawful and could not count as time towards the satisfaction of the 4-year rule (or 10-year rule) under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 since, after this earlier enforcement notice (which was then and remains a matter of public record and would have been known to the solicitors acting for the current owners when they acquired the land in 2022), anyone occupying the site had knowledge of the fact that to locate a caravan on the site is unlawful. 

No certificate of lawfulness in respect of the touring caravan has been granted. 

The permitted use of the land in question is agricultural. The placing of the touring caravan within that land was not and is not incidental to the agricultural use of the land, indeed absolutely no evidence has been presented that the caravan has been used at all during the period 2004-2024. The placing of the caravan on the site is therefore unlawful.   

No planning permission has been granted to permit any change of use from agricultural use.  

The application for a certificate of lawfulness for the replacement of the touring caravan with a larger mobile home should therefore not be allowed as the existing touring caravan is itself not a lawful development. 

5. If the SDNPA does not accept that the existence of the touring caravan is unlawful, the following considerations should be made: 

Although the application states that the requirement is for storage, rather than residential occupation, the size and configuration of the proposal which includes two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a kitchen suggests otherwise. The plans are labelled “home plans” rather than storage. FPC is concerned about the possibility of unlawful residential occupation and how this could be monitored. 

The “home plans” include raft foundations suggesting that it could only be sited on the existing lawful hardstanding (without more unlawful foundations/hardstanding being installed) which in turn conflicts with the proposed, but now withdrawn, application (SDNP/24/02216/FUL) for one gypsy plot.  

In any event there is no space available within the current hard standing to site a replacement of the dilapidated “touring” caravan of the size now proposed. Therefore, until the existing unlawful mobile homes are removed the application to consider a re-siting of the dilapidated “touring” caravan should be considered as there is in fact nowhere legally available to site it. Further clarification re the siting of the replacement “touring caravan” is therefore required.  

If a further new application is made following the withdrawn application (SDNP/24/02216/FUL), the new siting of the touring caravan and the new application should in fact be considered together i.e. in light of the limited lawful hard standing available. The two applications directly conflict with each other and thus both cannot be legally possible. It is further noted that the proposed “replacement” storage caravan is even greater in size than the current unlawful mobile homes currently in situ, that are the subject of enforcement. It is therefore concluded that there is no intention to remove the existing substantial illegal hard standing as per the Appeal/enforcement requirements as there is simply not enough space to legally house the proposed new “storage” caravan. 

FPC therefore requests that should the SDNPA accept the “replacement” of the dilapidated touring caravan that the following conditions be included: 

1) Any replacement “storage” caravan be on a “like for like” basis i.e. (i) a touring caravan which does not exceed the dimensions of the existing touring caravan and as such must be able to be towed (i.e. with wheels and towing hitch) rather than a mobile “home” which is transported on the back of another vehicle and is considered to be “residential” in nature and (ii) is only to be stored on the land and not otherwise used. 

2) Be located in the same position as the touring caravan marked on the Planning Inspector’s decision dated 9th April 2024 and in particular cannot include any structure that requires hard standing and/or raft foundations. 

3) Any replacement that requires foundations/raft/hard standing is not considered to 

be necessary or appropriate as it would clearly cause yet further harm to the National Park. Foundations and yet more hard standing do not fall under Permitted Development. We therefore request that for avoidance of doubt that any Permitted Development Rights to be removed as a condition. 

4) Before the matter can be considered fully it would appear prudent to request scaled drawings with full dimensions of the existing lawful hardstanding. It would appear there is insufficient space to replace the dilapidated touring caravan based on the dimensions and foundations of its replacement shown in the submitted plans until such time as the existing mobile homes and associated paraphernalia are removed.  

Date of Next Meeting: Thursday 11th July 2024