The report on pages 219 – 266 of the Agenda was presented by Chris Purvis.
The Chair questioned if the Council’s limit for density was 70 dwellings per hectare and if it was possible to increase this. He also questioned the density of the other phases that had been carried out. Chris Purvis confirmed that 70 dwellings per hectare was the limit as set out in policy CSTP1 and increasing this would mean a departure from policy. He said that a high density development would be achieved here and that density should not just be about looking at numbers, the proposal met the limit in the policy and Officers considered the development to be of a high quality design. He said that this development was denser than previous phases due to the increased number of dwellings proposed.
The Chair commented that the number of parking spaces was below standards at the last application hearing. He noted this had now been amended with an additional three spaces and questioned if this now equated to 1.3 spaces per unit and if this was the limit. He also asked if there was parking available elsewhere on the site and if there would be parking enforcement. Chris Purvis explained that at the last Committee meeting, the scheme had 117 which met the minimum requirement of 115 in the Council’s parking standards. He confirmed that with the additional 3 spaces this time, it equated to 1.3 spaces overall and would be one space per flat, two spaces per house and 18 visitor spaces that were unallocated spaces. Phases four and five also had visitor spaces. He said that the application had the same recommended planning conditions that would manage parking enforcement same as earlier schemes.
Councillor Rice questioned whether there would be enough electric vehicle charging points. He also raised concerns on traffic speeds on Arisdale Avenue and asked if speed humps could be placed to control this. Referring to condition 11, Chris Purvis said that the Council would ensure that there would be enough electric charging points to meet requirements as the Applicant had to submit these details for approval through a planning condition.
Referring to the Chair’s question on parking on the site, Julian Howes said that the Highways Team had asked that the Persimmon site and Bellways site have waiting restrictions implemented at the appropriate junctions and locations within the sites to prevent parking in areas that would cause visibility and turning issues. This covered most of the site so would force people to park within the designated spaces. Referring to Councillor Rice’s question on electric charging points, Julian Howes said that a set number of spaces for this not requested but the Council asked that the infrastructure to be set in preparation for electric spaces to become available in that development. Regarding the speed humps on Arisdale Avenue, he said that recent speed data had been undertaken on that road and had not shown a speeding problem. However, further speed counts could be carried out as part of the works for the development.
Councillor Byrne asked whether the number of affordable homes could be increased if the developer made less profit from the development. Chris Purvis explained that the application had been through an independent subject of viability assessment and had taken into account the development costs and the profit that would be made. The leftover was used to work out s106 agreements. Since the last meeting, there were additional measures added for affordable housing where the developer would look at achieving five additional affordable housing units and the developer was discussing providing these with a registered provider. If this was not possible, then the five additional units would be available at 80% of the open market value which had been considered as part of the financial viability assessment.
Steve Taylor asked if he could be sent a copy of the viability assessment. Referring to 4.4, he asked whether the piling was for the blocks of flats where houses were proposed originally. He commented that costs increased when building flats and the cost of piling, that was not usually needed for houses, added to this which had a negative impact on affordability. Chris Purvis said that the piling could be for the blocks of flats or needed due to the ground conditions. He was uncertain whether any houses on the site had required piling. He explained that there were additional costs on brownfield sites and these were additional costs in the financial viability assessment.
Following on from Councillor Rice’s earlier comments on speeding in Arisdale Avenue, Councillor Shinnick said that she had received reports of speeding on that road. She went on to say that there were also issues of lorries parking on curbs which caused damage to the curbs and developers needed to resolve this. Julian Howes answered that there were double yellow lines along parts of Arisdale Avenue and could raise this issue with the Enforcement Team. He went on to say that the Council was looking into increasing the number of signs in regards to lorry parking along Arisdale Avenue and Daiglen Drive. Chris Purvis added that there was also a Construction Environmental Management Plan that required road surveys to be undertaken before and after development that would be applied through planning conditions so if there were damages then these would be rectified through the planning process.
Referring to Julian Howes’ comment on signage in Arisdale Avenue, the Vice-Chair said that they were still waiting for the signage to be installed. He went on to say that the development would primarily be for commuters as the developers were unable to provide more than 6% of affordable homes so would not be for local people.
Referring to Chris Purvis’ earlier comment on the five additional affordable housing units, Councillor Churchman questioned the process of buying one of these at 80%. He also asked what the likelihood was in securing funds for the five units other than the 80% option. Chris Purvis answered that the details would be set out in the s106 agreement as part of the planning obligations. If there was not a registered provider for those five units, these would go to the open market at 80% of the value which would be detailed through the legal agreement agree to achieve this and to identify the five units. In regards to securing funding, he said that the developer’s preference was to achieve the affordable housing units rather than 80% option and in the previous phases, the developer had received grant funding from Homes England. In this case, there was a registered provider where grant funding would be used to achieve the additional five affordable housing units.
Councillor Lawrence said that people wanted houses not flats. She asked if the flats had a laundry facility or an open area where people could dry their clothes. Chris Purvis answered that the flats were self-contained and that there was no communal area for laundry services. He said that the majority of the flats had balconies. Councillor Lawrence pointed out that it was not nice look for flats with clothes hanging out to dry on balconies and that developers should consider this in developments.
Councillor Byrne questioned if the five affordable housing units could be bought at 80% and then sold on for 100% of the price. Chris Purvis explained that the s106 agreements would specify that the developer had to sell those five units at 80% of the value otherwise they would be in breach of a legal agreement.
Members highlighted concerns over the density of the development and felt that houses were needed, not flats. They felt that the Applicant had done the minimum that had been asked but it still did not meet the needs of the local people. Members pointed out that there was a lack of affordable housing and that the car parking spaces only met the minimum parking standards as required by the Council. No Members proposed the Officer’s recommendation to approve.
The Chair proposed an alternative recommendation to refuse the application and the Vice-Chair seconded. The reasons given for refusal were as follows:
Leigh Nicholson explained that the report outlined that the density and car parking was within the limits of the Council’s policy standards and the affordable housing had been discussed. He referred Members to the Constitution, Chapter 5, Part 3, para. 7.2(c). He said that if the application was refused for those reasons, the Applicant would be entitled to appeal against that decision and the reasons for refusal that Members had given would be difficult for Officers to substantiate at an appeal hearing. If Members were minded to refuse the application, a report would need to be brought back by Officers to detail the implications of this.
The Vice-Chair pointed out that the density and car parking spaces offered were just within the limits so did not provide an appropriate liveable and affordable set of dwellings to meet the needs of local people and the local requirements. The Chair said that if parking enforcement was needed in a development, it clearly showed that the car parking was not adequate and that the development was not a good sustainable development.
FOR: (8) Councillors Tom Kelly, Mike Fletcher, Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman,
Angela Lawrence, Gerard Rice, Sue Sammons and Sue Shinnick.
A report would be brought back to the next Committee meeting to assess Members’ decision to refuse the application as per usual procedures.