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Agenda item

21/00007/FUL - Henley Bank Kennels, Mill Lane, Brockworth

PROPOSAL: Demolition of existing buildings and erection of 16 affordable homes and associated infrastructure.




19.18        This application was for demolition of existing buildings and erection of 16 affordable homes and associated infrastructure.  The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 13 August 2021.

19.19        The Planning Officer advised that the application site comprised a broadly rectangular parcel of land located to the north of Mill Lane with a residential dwelling in the southern part and kennels in the northern part.  The rear of the site currently operated as a kennels and cattery.  The Council’s Conservation Officer considered the existing dwelling was a non-designated heritage asset and did not object to its loss.  The site was within the boundary of the Strategic Allocation A3 North Brockworth as allocated within the Joint Core Strategy and defined by the Joint Core Strategy Proposals Map and was part of a much wider site allocated for approximately 1,500 dwellings, employment land, community facilities and green infrastructure; the site itself was allocated for housing and related infrastructure on the Joint Core Strategy Proposals Map.  The principle of the application was therefore considered acceptable subject to all other material considerations.  Land to the east of the site – Phase 1 Perrybrook – was granted reserved matters permission in January 2020 for the erection of 135 dwellings and the approved scheme, which was currently being implemented, would provide a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SuDS) basin.  To the west of the site was the access road serving community sports facilities including a Multi-Use Games Area and sports pitches which were granted approval in September 2018 – these community facilities were partially implemented.  To the south of the site beyond Mill Lane was Henley Bank High School.  The application proposed 16 affordable homes with a single point of access off Mill Lane.  It was noted that the application had been amended following concerns raised by Officers about the design approach.  The applicant had advised that the scheme would be managed by a registered housing provider and the proposed layout showed that 10 semi-detached properties would be located in the southern and northern part of the site with a three storey apartment block in the north-west corner which would provide six flats.  The development would clearly contribute towards the supply of affordable housing and help meet the objectively assessed need for housing in the borough in an area where the principle of housing was acceptable.  This was particularly relevant given that the Council could not currently demonstrate a five year housing land supply.  Following the revisions to the scheme, Officers considered the proposal was acceptable, subject to appropriate planning conditions and planning obligations, and would not give rise to unacceptable impacts in relation to archaeology, ecology, flood risk and drainage, highway safety or residential amenity.  Whilst the proposal would result in the loss of a non-designated heritage asset, that was considered a minor harm so the Conservation Officer had raised no objection.  Taking into account all of the material considerations and the weight to be attributed to each one, it was considered that the identified harm arising from the loss of the non-designated heritage asset would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in the overall planning balance, therefore, it was recommended that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to appropriate planning conditions and planning obligations.  It was noted that the recommendation had been incorrectly stated as ‘Permit’ in the Committee report and should have read ‘Delegated Permit’.

19.20         The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent thanked Officers for their well-considered report and positive recommendation.  As set out in the Committee report, the application sought permission for 16 much-needed affordable homes on a brownfield site within the North Brockworth Joint Core Strategy strategic housing allocation.  The development wold significantly contribute towards affordable housing supply, helping Tewkesbury Borough meet its objectively assessed need.  Whilst no third party objections had been received, the applicant’s agent noted that the Parish Council had raised concerns regarding overdevelopment and highway safety; however, Members should be mindful that the site was previously developed and had been in use as a commercial dog kennel business, therefore, it was not an undeveloped greenfield site.  There was already an impact on the site and the existing use was not well-suited to the housing allocation and its carefully designed masterplan.  The application had been thoroughly assessed by County Highways and Highways England and neither objected on highway safety grounds.  Furthermore, the application proposed access improvements connecting to the wider development.  The applicant had also agreed to the requested contributions towards sustainable transport improvements.  With regard to the design and scale, the development had been carefully considered and adjusted to best meet the design code and policy requirements.  It met the relevant space standards and density was consistent with the surrounding developments.  The wider allocation proposed both sports pitches and amenity areas immediately adjacent to the site for which direct connections had been incorporated into the scheme to allow direct access for residents.  The application provided a real opportunity to significantly enhance the site and immediate surrounding area through the removal of aged buildings and a commercial business, replacing it with much needed homes within a strategic allocation.  The applicant had an active local registered housing provider ready to deliver the scheme for those most in need.  Taking into account all these factors in favour of permission, the applicant’s agent hoped Members would feel able to support the Officer recommendation.

19.21         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to appropriate planning conditions and planning obligations, and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  A Member indicated that she could not support the application and pointed out that the Council’s Housing Enabling Officer had objected on the grounds that it did not meet the housing needs of the area.  The proximity of the housing to the school and the adjacent sports facilities had been met with opposition and the access would be one of a number of other accesses out of Henley Bank which would be overwhelming and unsuitable for family homes.  In her view, 16 properties in this location was far too many.  Another Member sought clarification as to the difference between affordable rent and social rent; the density of the site per hectare; and when the Council had moved away from integrated housing developments.  In terms of the green agenda, there was nothing in the report about solar panels or electric vehicle charging points.  Whilst he recognised that affordable rented properties were not eligible for the government grant scheme in relation to solar panels, there was a social housing development in Minsterworth where solar panels had been installed so it was possible and he was tired of trying to make sure that measures were not too onerous for developers given the climate change emergency.  In response, the Planning Officer drew attention to Page No. 103, Paragraph 7.14 of the Committee report, which set out that the density of development equated to 32 dwellings per hectare which was about average for an urban environment.  Condition 13 of the proposed recommendation required the installation of electric vehicle charging points at the properties.  Page No. 105, Paragraph 7.29 of the Committee report, stated that the housing mix and tenure had been agreed in consultation with the Council’s Housing Enabling Officer and was considered acceptable and in accordance with the needs of the local area.  He clarified that social rented housing was owned by a local authority or registered provider who charged a rent set by government guidance via the national rent regime whereas affordable rented housing was subject to rent control which required rent to be no more than 80% of local market rent, including service charges, and was measured by the amount of local housing allowance administered in the local authority area.  The Development Manager explained that building regulations had caught up with planning policy in terms of eco-features so it would be difficult to impose conditions which required additional features over and above those requirements.  Any new development would need to accord with building regulations which was the most that could be secured through the planning system.  A Member indicated that, not too long ago, it had been considered quite ground-breaking to have electric vehicle charging points on housing sites but was now a matter of course so the next step was surely to push for other measures such as air to air heat source pumps and she asked how Members could try to secure a better offer.  In response, the Development Manager advised that, in his view, this should be a requirement of law and regulation as opposed to planning policies.  Developers were building to the standard required by building regulations and that was the way forward from his perspective.

19.22         A Member pointed out there was a lack of sport and recreational space in Brockworth which would only be exacerbated by this scheme.  Doctors surgeries were 50% oversubscribed and schools were full to capacity with some looking to build more classrooms on their recreational spaces.  The roads were very busy with vehicles at school drop-off and pick-up times, despite the road having been widened, and buses parked opposite the school entrance.  Shops were quite distant from the development so there would be reliance on motor vehicles.  Green space was being used as a vegetable patch and there were mature trees at the end of the garden which he felt should be protected if possible.  In his view, the proposed development was not in keeping with the area - or the adjacent development currently being built which comprised a number of three storey buildings - and would not serve the needs of the Brockworth community.  The Member went on to draw attention to Page No. 109, Paragraph 7.64 of the Committee report, which stated that the local planning authority would seek to secure appropriate infrastructure where necessary, directly, fairly and reasonably related to the scale and kind of the development proposed, and that financial contributions would be sought through Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy mechanisms as appropriate, and he asked if there was any update in that regard.  In response, the Planning Officer advised that Gloucestershire County Council had asked for a contribution towards early years places and secondary school places, subject to review in relation to the Interim Position Statement Pupil Product Ratios from New Housing Developments.  A contribution was also being sought towards recycling and waste bin facilities.

19.23         Upon being taken to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to appropriate planning conditions and planning obligations.

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