Agenda item

20/00827/FUL Former Ford Motor Company, Arisdale Avenue, South Ockendon, Essex, RM15 5JT (deferred)

Minutes:

The report was presented by Chris Purvis.

 

The Chair commented that outline planning permission had been granted in 2011 which the developers did not build from that and was now expired. He went on to say that the developers were now suggesting that Thurrock was not building enough homes which he felt was an unfair assessment as the developers had the opportunity to build on this site 10 years ago. Chris Purvis explained that the applicant had provided a Counsel’s opinion and this had assessed the Council’s policies. He said that the 2011 outline planning permission had been granted for up to 650 dwellings which had been built over a five phase scheme and one of the earlier phases had built a lower number of dwellings. This enabled the Applicant to increase the number of dwellings in the current application to achieve a figure closer to the 650 dwellings granted in the outline application. He explained that the current application proposed 27 more dwellings over the 650 dwellings and the Council’s policies aligned with the NPPF’s housing delivery test to commit to high density developments within existing urban areas and brownfield sites to protect the Green Belt from development.

 

The Chair said that density and parking had been raised as concerns by Members when the application had been heard at previous meetings and questioned if the Council had considered whether this would affect the quality of the site. He noted that there was a lot of emphasis on the site being near Ockendon train station and pointed out that the station had a single track that travelled in two directions so was not a good source of public transport for the site. He commented that a high density and minimal parking build would work in London where there were tube stations that travelled in more directions. Chris Purvis explained that the application showed 70 dwellings per hectare and although it was within the upper threshold of 30 – 70 dwellings per hectare in the CSTP1 policy, it met the terms of the policy . In regards to parking spaces, the Council’s requirement was a minimum of 115 and the proposal was 120 and the parking ratio followed the same parking ratio in the outline planning permission to meet the design code. In regards to quality, he said that the developer was the same developer for phases four and five of the previous planning permission which was considered a high quality designed schemes and the same design approach had been applied to the current application which represented a continuation of that high quality development.

 

The Vice-Chair commented on the attitude of the Applicant’s appeal statements and their reluctance to increase the number of affordable homes. He asked whether the Council was confident that the Applicant would provide the 11 affordable homes that was currently offered. He also sought clarification on ‘continuity’ as the phases were built out by different developers.

Chris Purvis explained that the Applicant was highlighting the appeal process and that the reasons that Members had given for refusing the application previously had been assessed and met policy requirements. He explained that Officers had to consider whether the application complied with the development plan which it did and in an appeal, the Planning Inspectorate would be looking at this so refusing the application would be a risk. In regards to continuity, he said that this was in regards to the planning permission and design code which developers needed to follow to ensure the quality of the development was achieved. In regards to affordable housing, he said that if the application was approved, the 11 affordable homes would be tied into an s106 which the Applicant would have to comply with as it was a legal agreement alongside the agreement that these be made available for local people.

 

The Vice-Chair questioned if affordable homes would be reviewed at a future date in terms of feasibility. Chris Purvis answered that this was not expected to change based on the financial viability assessment and a change would need to be subject to a separate application which would need to be brought back to Planning Committee if changes were to occur. Members were advised to consider the application that was before them.

 

Councillor Churchman sought more detail on the increased number of dwellings and the 14 objections raised against the application. Chris Purvis confirmed that the application proposed 27 more dwellings than the 650 dwellings outlined in the 2011 outline planning permission. He said that there had been no further objections since the update report but that there had been 14 objections with the planning application which remained the same.

 

In regards to the 70 dwellings per hectare, Councillor Rice questioned whether this was a normal or condensed rate per hectare. He also asked whether Officers were convinced that there was enough car parking spaces. Chris Purvis answered that this complied with policy PMD8 and reiterated his earlier points (in response to the Chair’s questions) on density. He also reiterated earlier points on parking requirements and said that the Council’s Highways Officer had raised no objections to the application and parking.

 

Referring to paragraph 3.6, the Chair highlighted that Members had discussed at the last meeting that there was nowhere else that people could park if all the visitor spaces were taken. He recalled that phases three and four had parking enforcement and that there were double yellow lines along Arisdale Avenue and asked where people could park if all visitor spaces were filled. Chris Purvis said that as part of the application, if it was approved, it would apply the same consistency through planning conditions as other phases where the management company would look at parking enforcement measures. He went on to say that he was unable to advise where people could park if all the visitor spaces were filled. The Chair pointed out that a lack of visitor parking spaces along with the need for a management company to enforce parking did not highlight a good quality development.

 

Referring to paragraph 3.16, the Chair questioned if piling was required more for flats than homes. He referred back to Steve Taylor’s comments in previous meetings on piling and said that building flats led to an excessive cost in piling which resulted in them not being able to provide the 35% affordable homes that was preferred. Members highlighted further concerns with the lack of parking spaces and that there were already parking issues around the area with commuters parking in residential areas surrounding the station. Members felt that blocks of flats would create a ghetto that crammed people in.

 

There were no proposers for the Officer’s recommendation to approve.

 

Leigh Nicholson referred Members to the Constitution Chapter 5, Part 3,

paragraph 7.4 and said that the specific wording would be agreed with the Chair if the application was to be refused by Members.

 

The Chair noted that the application could go to an appeal and public inquiry if it was to be refused by Members but pointed out that if the application was approved, it was not suitable for the local community. He summarised the points Members had made and said the application was high in density and a commercial venture and that residents needed to be protected from poor quality housing. The Vice-Chair agreed and said that meeting standards did not mean meeting requirements and that the parking statement was false. He said that Members’ refusal reasons had not changed and that the issues that Members discussed in regards to the train station should also be considered as a reason for refusal.

 

Members discussed the lack of spaces at Ockendon station which caused issues of people parking in residential areas around the station which most had Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) implemented as a result. Members commented that the trains at Ockendon was also at high capacity during peak times and that people drove to Upminster to catch the train instead. Members highlighted that the Applicant had used Ockendon station as a mitigation for the lack of parking spaces.

 

(The three reasons for refusal given by Members on 11 February 2021 were:

 

  1. The proposed development as a result of its high density is at the absolute limit density of what would be acceptable for this site.
  2. The proposal has increased the parking level by 3 parking spaces but the level of parking is not considered enough to be acceptable for this development taking into account the existing situation at the site and is inadequate to achieve sustainable development.
  3. The proposal would result in a lack of affordable housing units at the site and therefore would not meet the needs of local people due this shortfall of affordable housing.)

 

In addition to the three reasons for refusal that Members had given at the last meeting, the Chair added that the density was on the borderline of what was acceptable. With a high density, it brought more people to the site and within a single bedroom flat, there could be two people living there with two cars. He said that people needed accessibility to open or green spaces and did not consider the green patches on the site to be big enough to be called an open space. He felt that there would be too many people on the site and high density led to poor quality.

 

The Chair proposed the alternative motion to refuse the application and was seconded by the Vice-Chair.

 

FOR: (9) Councillors Tom Kelly, Mike Fletcher, Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman,

Angela Lawrence, Dave Potter, Gerard Rice, Sue Sammons and Sue Shinnick.

 

AGAINST: (0)

 

ABSTAINED: (0)

Supporting documents: