The report was presented by the Major Applications Manager, during which he updated Members with the following points:
The Chair thanked Officers for the report and sought advice as to whether in terms of the development whether there was any government funding for affordable schemes such as this one. Officers replied advising the affordable housing element was one to be taken up by a registered provider. He continued advising there was a process where Homes England had grant funding, however it would be for the registered provider to explore that route.
Councillor Arnold enquired as to the difference between this site in East tilbury and the Stanford Le Hope site, as he believed both were deemed Greenbelt land. The Major Applications Manager explained the Stanford Le Hope site the land was deemed as Greenbelt from 1987 however in 2008 the site was allocated for residential uses and further to this in the 2011 Core Strategy was removed from being Greenbelt land.
Councillor Arnold further observed within the report it stated an 18 month build time, he questioned as to whether this could be a condition on the application that the build had to be completed in 18 months. Officers advised should full planning permission be granted; the development would have to be completed within three years of permission being approved.
The Committee agreed to suspend standing orders at 9.15pm to allow the agenda to be completed.
Following questions from Members it was clarified that the “Zero Bill” homes were not to be connected to the gas network, however they would be connected to an electrical supply system. It was explained on the roof the dwellings would have photovoltaics which would generate electricity during hours of daylight. With this there would be a battery storage to hold the energy for when it was required.
Councillor Watson raised concerns with regards to flooding during which she referred to the report which highlighted Anglian Water had mentioned flooding and requested a drainage strategy. She asked what mitigation there was in the area with regards to the area getting flooded. The major applications manager explained the location of the proposed properties on the presentation and in doing so explained that none of the properties where to be located in the medium and high-risk flooding area.
It was enquired as to the impact the development would have on the road network including any additional impact on the rail crossing at East Tilbury. The Highways Officer advised Members that a safety audit was undertaken which included the possibility of queues and the impact of the crossing gates at the station, however there were no significant concerns raised. He further advised that the development met with the Council’s highway policy.
Speaker statements were heard from:
· Statement of Objection: Councillor F Massey, Ward Member
· Statement of Support: Mr M Suggitt, Agent
Starting the debate, the Chair commented that the Committee had never seen an application with 100% affordable housing, which also included Education and Health benefits. He stated that he felt a development offering 230 homes along with the benefits suggested should be approved.
Councillor Arnold mentioned he felt the application should be approved as there were enough very special circumstances to do so. He stated the application was well designed with high quality and efficient homes being proposed, he also stated he felt the development could be a benefit for local traders.
Councillor Watson observed that the application stated 100% affordable housing, however 75% would be of market rent value, which in turn might not be affordable for all. She continued by stating she liked the idea of the scheme however she felt the location was wrong and was Greenbelt.
Councillor Piccolo commented he could understand the concerns raised by Ward Members and local residents however the application appeared to be producing quality homes. He continued although there were highway concerns, of possibly 400 cars using the site, these would not all be accessing the site at the same time and he felt controlled entrance and exits to the site could solve this concern.
The Chair commented that through the debates he had counted five Members were in favour of the application and two Members for refusal in line with officers recommendations, and with that he put forward a recommendation of approval of the planning application.
The Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Public Protection advised the Constitution was clear that an alternative recommendation would need to be put forward, which met with council policies.
The Chair of the Committee firstly acknowledged there was harm to the Greenbelt, however there was to be the delivery of 100% affordable housing, which was a positive response to the five-year housing supply to which he gave significant weight too. He continued by commenting on the transport upgrades and the low carbon development aspect which had moderate weight, in addition, to the accelerated build time of 18 months.
The Chair proposed a recommendation of provisional approval and was seconded by Councillor Carter.
It was agreed that the matter would be returned to the Committee so officers would produce a report which would assess the impact of making a decision contrary to recommendation and set out draft conditions and Heads of Terms for a s106 for Members to be able to make an informed decision.
For: (5) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Paul Arnold, Adam Carter, Terry Piccolo and James Thandi
Against: (2) Councillors Sue Shinnick and Lee Watson