This application was originally considered at the Planning Committee on 12 July 2018 where it was deferred to allow the applicant time to resolve the design issues by taking the scheme through a CABE design review process and working closely with Officers. Since the Committee in July the applicant decided not to engage with the CABE design review, though they have worked positively with the Officers including the Council’s Urban Design Advisor to address the design issues.
The proposal is for the same number of dwellings although there was a slight change in the housing mix with the applicant offering 55 flats instead of 48 and 38 houses instead of 45. The access route onto the site would remain the same as the previous application but the layout would differ, with all the dwellings located on one side of the site.
The site is currently undeveloped and covered in vegetation including small trees and scrubs and located near to the site is a scrap metal business which will continue to operate. There had been no other applications for employment development on this site since its allocation in the “LDF Core Strategy”.
The Principal Planner (Major Applications) said there were significant improvements made to the proposed development since the application was brought to Committee in July and this is considered alongside the need for housing within the borough.
The Principal Planner (Major Applications) has made some minor amendments to some of the conditions within the report following legal advice. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) went through these changes with members.
The Chair wanted clarification on the restrictions, as when he made a visit to the site a yellow gate was restricting the public which raised slight concern. He also wanted confirmation as to whether the road surface would be re-laid as it was very uneven. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) explained that there is an ongoing enforcement investigation in relation to the fencing which could not be discussed but confirmed that the existing road surface would be upgraded as part of the proposals, if the application was approved.
The Chair asked if there was any landscaping on the road and if this could be explored. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) advised that if the road is to be tarmacked the scrap metal business on site would continue to use the access route to enter, as the roads were wide enough for lorries and other vehicles.
The Chair asked if the open space adjacent to the application site would be upgraded for the residents of the new dwellings. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) explained the route into the site and explained that future residents would have access to the existing park as well as the proposed public open space within the application site. In regards to the funding the independent Viability Assessment report identifies that there’s no additional contribution to be made for the park area.
Mr Steve Taylor, Campaign to Protect Rural England Representative said having read the report, he felt concerned with the drainage ditch on the eastern side of the site and queried if this was going to be rectified. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) confirmed, as part of the conditions, there would be boundaries including an ecology fence to prevent people accessing the ditch. The Chair asked for this to be monitored.
Councillor Lawrence questioned why the applicant failed to engage with the CABE design review. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) explained there were no specific reasons given as to why they did not engage with the CABE design review though they engaged positively with the Officers.
Councillor Lawrence felt concerned with the lack of engagement from the applicant with the CABE design review as it would give other developers an idea to not engage with the review. The Principal Planner (Major Applications) explained that this was always something that’s encouraged by the Officers although the applicants do not always use it. The revised design of the development has been designed in agreement with the applicant’s own urban designer and proposes a higher quality development.
The Assistant Director - Planning, Transport and Public Protection said it was very unusual for the applicant to not engage with a CABE design review but added that the cost of the Review is met by the applicant.
Councillor Lawrence had visited the site and felt it was extremely dangerous, and there would be a need for a new access route to the dwellings. She said although the borough is in need of new dwellings, new surface should be considered before approving this application.
Councillor Rice on the other hand was very pleased with the application and the improvement that the applicant had made and said the dwellings were exactly what the borough needs. He stated that it was positive to hear, the applicant had worked closely with the Officers to come up with a good design. Councillor Rice was happy to support this application as there are 8,000 people on the housing waiting list and the new dwellings would give them an opportunity to buy homes.
Councillor Lawrence voiced that she would not be supporting this application as she felt the applicant was trying to make more money and the residents already living in the area were not in favour.
The Chair felt it was a positive application, and although there was a lot of substance to what Councillor Lawrence was expressing, highways had given their approval on the application. He stated he felt slightly torn with the decision as there were concerns with the site and positives with the new design.
It was proposed by Councillor Liddiard (Vice-Chair) and seconded by Councillor Rice that the application be approved, subject to conditions [as amended], as per the Officer’s recommendation.
For: (6) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Steve Liddiard (Vice-Chair), Colin Churchman, Andrew Jefferies, Terry Piccolo, and Gerard Rice.
Against: (1) Councillor Angela Lawrence
Abstain: (1) Councillor Sue Shinnick
That the application be approved, subject to conditions and a s106 agreement