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Agenda item

20/00956/FUL - 25 Paynes Pitch, Churchdown

PROPOSAL: Demolition of existing dwelling and erection of five dwellings and associated access.




26.40         This application was for demolition of an existing dwelling and erection of five dwellings and associated access.  The application was deferred at the Planning Committee meeting on 17 August 2021 in order to allow further conversations to take place in relation to access and design and to allow Officers to establish the proximity of Flood Zone 2 to the site.

26.41         The Development Manager explained that a number of additional objections had been received, as set out in the updated Committee report and the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1.  It was noted that the matters raised within the objections were addressed in the report.  There had been concerns about the construction access; however, as advised last month, recommended condition 18 required that work must be carried out in accordance with the submitted Demolition and Construction Method Statement.  With any development there would be a degree of noise and disturbance but controls could be put in place to mitigate against that and it was the Officer view that, in this case, that would not warrant refusal.  In respect of design, the agent had suggested three options with an alternative materials palette for the proposed dwellings and these and the location of Flood Zone 2 were shown on the presentation for Members’ information.  Officers agreed with the agent’s view that the materials originally proposed were acceptable given the contemporary design of the dwellings and the variety of design in the area, therefore, the recommendation was to permit the application.

26.42         The Chair invited a local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.  The local resident indicated that he was speaking on behalf of the residents of Dunstan Glen and the wider village community and he pointed out there had been 151 letters of objection to the proposal.  In terms of construction site access, this was the second choice and should be refused on the grounds of multiple safety issues.  A freedom of information request had confirmed that County Highways had not undertaken a pedestrian survey, or any other form of site survey, and strategies such as “banksmen” and site notices would not mitigate the risks or meet the duty of care required by the stakeholders to protect the public to acceptable levels.  An independent pedestrian survey had concluded that 18,078 persons would pass the entrance over the build period, yet there were no footpaths in Dunstan Glen so pedestrians could not be segregated and protected from site traffic, raising a high risk of personal injury.  He pointed out that gardens were open plan and children played both in the gardens and on the roads.  Both roads would have densely parked vehicles 24 hours per day, seven days per week and the local school also used the roads which included a sharp, blind bend that made it entirely unsuitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs).  This was all contrary to Paragraph 7.19 of the Churchdown and Innsworth Neighbourhood Development Plan, construction logistics and community safety standards and the National Planning Policy Framework in relation to highway safety.  In terms of design and overdevelopment, the local resident indicated that the cramped development was neither sympathetic to the local character, nor did it create a high standard of amenity.  It failed to address the urban structure and grain of the locality in terms of street pattern, layout, mass and form and it failed to address the scale, type, density and materials appropriate to the site and its setting.  The colour palette of black and grey bricks with dark blue roofs and split gable design did not integrate with the immediate vicinity in his view.  Furthermore, five properties were being shoehorned onto the plot – two had no garages, due to lack of space, and faced four properties in Dunstan Glen.  The proposal therefore failed to comply with Paragraphs 11 and 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework, Policy SD4 of the Joint Core Strategy and Policy CHIN2 of the Churchdown and Innsworth Neighbourhood Development Plan.  The local resident pointed out that the site had a gradient of three metres and No.’s 21 and 23 Paynes Pitch had flooded in the past; the planned 1,250 square metres of impermeable ground would only exacerbate this and the site would flood if the surface water retention tank failed.  This was contrary to Paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework and INF2 Flood Risk Management.  The local resident also raised concern that 65% of the hedgerow was to be grubbed out, along with fencing not within the applicant’s ownership, which could result in the culling of hedgehogs.  In terms of land ownership, he explained that Bovis Homes had granted him the sole ownership and its title deeds for services to the community over the last 36 years.  He indicated that this failed to comply with Paragraph 15 of the National Planning Policy Framework, Section 4 of the Joint Core Strategy and Policies CHIN3 and CHIN9 of the Churchdown and Innsworth Neighbourhood Development Plan.  On that basis, he respectfully requested that the Committee refuse the application.

26.43         The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent confirmed that he wholly endorsed the Officer recommendation to permit the application, subject to conditions.  Members would be aware that the site was not in open countryside, it was within an existing settlement and contained a sizeable building in a poor state of repair.  The proposal would provide much needed family homes in a very sustainable location, at a time when Tewkesbury Borough Council was unable to meet its housing supply targets.  The applicant had worked very hard with Officers over the last 11 months to address initial concerns raised which had resulted in a reduction in the scale of development from six to five homes, as well as changes to the proposed levels, increased distances to neighbouring properties and enhancements to the proposed landscape scheme.  The applicant’s agent was mindful that some concerns had been raised during last month’s meeting in respect of design; whilst the development adopted a modern approach, external materials could be controlled by planning condition.  The applicant’s agent was of the view that the originally proposed materials would be wholly appropriate, given the mix of styles and materials found within the local area; however, he had provided some illustrative elevations showing both a buff brick and red brick option that would be consistent with those immediate properties, should Members consider that approach to be more appropriate.  Concerns had also been raised in respect of site access but it was important to understand that the existing access from Paynes Pitch was currently deemed unsafe and sub-standard – this would be permanently stopped up as a result of the proposal.  Whilst the new access had been designed to meet highway safety standards, it also included provision for a new footway to take pedestrians off Dunstan Glen. No objections had been raised by County Highways and the access would be a significant improvement when assessed against the existing arrangement.  The applicant’s agent reminded Members that matters relating to ownership were strictly civil and should have no bearing on the decision today; however, for information, he clarified that the applicant did have access rights over the land and that had been confirmed by their legal team.  He went on to advise that an updated Demolition and Construction Method Statement had been supplied which could reduce the impact of the construction stage on neighbouring residents by controlling a range of factors such as hours of working, vehicle parking, wheel washing and noise emissions. In summary, the development would not give rise to unacceptable impacts.  The application had been submitted in October 2020 and had consistently experienced significant delays yet it clearly accorded with prevailing policies and would help the authority meet its housing supply needs in a sustainable location.  The homes were modern and well-designed, set within an existing residential area and would allow a site in desperate need of regeneration to be improved.

26.44         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to permit the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed that the application be refused on the basis that it conflicted with Paragraphs 12, 14 and 125 of the National Planning Policy Framework, Policy SD4 of the Joint Core Strategy and Policies CHIN2, CHIN3 and CHIN9 of the Churchdown and Innsworth Neighbourhood Development Plan.  The Development Manager asked the proposer of the motion to elaborate on the reasons why he felt planning permission should be refused in order for Members to decide whether they could second or support the proposal.  In response, the proposer of the motion indicated that he would first like to ask some questions of the Officers in order to inform his response.  He noted that Planning Officers continued to emphasis at Page No. 7, Paragraph 7.6 of the report, circulated separately, that Tewkesbury Borough Council had a 4.35 year housing land supply and he asked whether that was correct; he indicated that Members had been told that the borough’s annual housing supply had been more than met over the last three years and he asked whether that was correct; and he queried what the housing need was for this application and what evidence was available to support that.  In response, the Development Manager confirmed that the 4.35 year housing land supply was the current position and he clarified that it was the annual housing requirement that had more than been met over the past three years as opposed to the housing land supply, although he did not have the figures to hand.  In terms of evidence for housing need in this area, that was not particularly relevant to the current application which was in an area where the principle of development was acceptable in accordance with the Council’s policies and the tilted balance was in play which meant that, as the Council could not demonstrate a five year housing land supply, planning permission should be granted unless there were significant and demonstrable reasons otherwise.  The proposer of the motion went on to clarify that he felt the application should be refused as Paragraph 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework which related to the presumption in favour of sustainable development stated that, where a planning application conflicted with an up-to-date development plan, permission should not usually be granted.  Paragraph 14 set out that, in situations where the presumption applied to applications involving the provision of housing, the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicted with the Neighbourhood Development Plan was likely to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits provided that: the neighbourhood plan became part of the development plan two years or less before the date on which the decision was made, the neighbourhood plan contained policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement, the local planning authority had at least a three year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five year housing supply requirement and the local planning authority’s housing delivery was at least 45% of that required over the previous three years – the latter two points had been confirmed by the Development Manager.  Paragraph 125 b) stated that the use of minimum density standards should also be considered for other parts of the plan area and it may be appropriate to set out a range of densities that reflected the accessibility and potential of different areas, rather than one broad density range.  In terms of the Joint Core Strategy, he felt the proposal conflicted with Policy SD4 in relation to design requirements set out at 1.i) that new development should respond positively to, and respect the character of, the site and its surroundings, enhancing local distinctiveness and addressing the urban structure and grain of the locality in terms of street pattern, layout, mass and form; it should be of a scale, type and density, and use materials appropriate to the site and its setting; design should establish a strong sense of place using streetscapes and building to create attractive and comfortable places to live, and have appropriate regard to the historic environment.  Policy SD4 iv) set out that new development should ensure that the design of landscaped areas, open space and public realm were of high quality, provided a clear structure and constituted an integral and cohesive element within the design; however, he considered that the new dwellings would be incohesive with the existing development.  Turning to the Churchdown and Innsworth Neighbourhood Development Plan, Policy CHIN2 stated that proposals for new development should contribute towards the local distinctiveness of Churchdown and Innsworth and should integrate positively received local design features, avoiding negatively received design features; Policy CHIN3 set out that new residential development proposals should demonstrate how they retained, and where possible enhanced, the environmental setting of Churchdown and Innsworth, in particular, the provision of green spaces, verges, trees and hedgerows; and Policy CHIN9 set out that proposals that incorporated design features which encouraged local wildlife to thrive would be strongly supported.  The proposer of the motion felt that the development conflicted with all these policies as a considerable number of trees and hedgerows would be lost to the development.  The proposal to refuse the application was subsequently seconded and the seconder of the motion indicated that, in her view, many of the issues presented by the local resident who had spoken in objection to the proposal were not insurmountable but she could not support the application as it currently stood.  If it were to be permitted then she would wish to see conditions added.

26.45         A Member indicated that she did not actively support a refusal; however, she had objected to the design at the previous meeting of the Committee on the basis of the proposed colour palette.  In her view grey was very much an ‘on trend’ colour which was being used a lot currently but fashions clearly changed over time and she did not think it was the most appropriate colour to use considering the existing properties.  She felt that the alternatives put forward by the applicant were preferable and would fit in better with the colour palette of surrounding properties.  The Chair suggested that if the motion to refuse was lost, a proposal to permit could be made and voted upon and, if carried, there could then be proposals as regards the conditions.  The Legal Adviser stated that any motion to permit would need to include what was to be included by way of conditions prior to the vote being taken. 

26.46         The Development Manager recognised that the proposer of the motion to refuse had given a comprehensive list of policies which was helpful; however, the Legal Adviser having confirmed also that the reasons for refusal needed to be clear prior to Members voting on that motion, for further clarification, from the discussion that had taken place, he surmised that the proposer and seconder of the motion considered that, by reason of its design, layout and overdevelopment the proposal would not respect the character of the area and sense of place; it would not result in a high quality and cohesive development nor would it enhance the existing settlement contrary to the policies outlined.  The proposer and seconder of the motion confirmed they were happy with the suggested wording and, upon being put to the vote, the proposal to refuse the application was lost.

26.47         A brief debate ensued regarding the preferred colour palette for the proposed dwellings and the Chair suggested that option 3 –  a mix of buff and red brick - would be most suitable as the two tone palette would reduce the bulk and massing of the buildings.  It was subsequently proposed that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to amendments to change the colour palette to buff and red brick in accordance with option 3 of the proposed alternatives put forward by the applicant.  A Member indicated that she had concerns regarding condition 14 which had been put forward by County Highways and required secure and covered cycle storage facilities for a minimum of two bicycles per dwelling.  She had raised this concern with such conditions at previous Committee meetings as she felt the condition was unnecessary.  She believed people buying bicycles for themselves and their children would provide their own storage and she pointed out that, in this instance, three of the five dwellings would have garages so she would like the condition to be removed.  The Development Manager advised that there was a good policy rationale for the inclusion of the condition and the dwellings were in a location where sustainable forms of transport should be promoted.  He appreciated that the Member had raised this before but indicated that was in the context of developments in areas such as Wormington where cycling may not be an appropriate choice of transport generally.  Whilst Officers felt there was merit in including the condition based on the location of the dwellings, the Development Manager noted that most of the houses would have garages which would probably satisfy the requirement of the condition and it was in Members’ gift should they wish to remove it. The proposer of the motion to permit the application understood that the condition often required cycle storage provision over and above garages and he made reference to an application in Toddington where both properties had garages but cycle storage had to be provided in addition to that.  He confirmed he was happy to amend his proposal to include the removal of condition 14 and the proposal was duly seconded.  A Member indicated that she did not agree with removing the condition and also had concerns about the removal of the hedge and southern boundary and some of the points raised within the ecological survey.  The proposer of the motion indicated that he was not willing to amend his proposal further and, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to amendments to change the colour palette to buff and red brick in accordance with option 3 of the proposed alternatives put forward by the applicant and the removal of recommended condition 14 in relation to cycle storage provision.

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