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Agenda item

21/00133/APP - Land North of Innsworth Lane, Innsworth

PROPOSAL: Reserved matters for access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for 179 new dwellings on Phase 5 of the residential development.




72.36        This was a reserved matters application for access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale for 179 new dwellings on phase 5 of the residential development. The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Thursday 14 April 2022.

72.37        The Planning Officer advised that the principle of residential development at this site had been established through the grant of outline planning permission and its subsequent allocation for housing in the Joint Core Strategy as part of the wider Innsworth and Twigworth strategic allocation.  The key principles guiding reserved matters applications had also been approved by the planning authority and included a Site Wide Masterplan Document and a site-wide attenuation and drainage strategy.  This application sought approval of reserved matters pursuant to the outline planning permission and the issues to be considered were access, appearance, landscaping, layout, scale and compliance with the approved documents.  As set out in the Committee report, Officers had carefully considered the application and felt that the scale, layout, landscaping and appearance were acceptable, accorded with the Site Wide Masterplan Document aspirations and were an appropriate design.  It was also considered that the access, internal road layout and car parking provision was acceptable and accorded with the Site Wide Masterplan Document, Policy INF1 of the Joint Core Strategy and the National Planning Policy Framework.  In addition, by virtue of the design approach, it was felt the proposed development would result in acceptable levels of amenity for future residents.  In terms of affordable housing, there was a cluster of 45 affordable units in the apartments next to the spine road which was contrary to the Section 106 Agreement which required groups of no more than 16 in this scenario; however, the Section 106 did allow for deviations subject to approval from the Council.  This phase of development was required to deliver a large proportion of one bedroom affordable units which were to be provided within blocks of apartments; this was in accordance with the principles of the Site Wide Masterplan Document which required medium to higher density residential development defined by key buildings within the spine road character area.  Officers had carefully considered this clustering against the design quality of the scheme and felt it would be detrimental to place-making to remove the apartment blocks and replace them with, for instance, maisonettes.  In addition, to locate the apartment blocks elsewhere in the development would conflict with the wider character areas and be detrimental to the sense of place.  Therefore, it was considered that the scheme provided an appropriate requirement for affordable housing having regard to the wider design aspirations of the scheme.  In terms of flood risk and drainage, the site-wide flood risk attenuation works engineering operations to create attenuation ponds were considered and subsequently approved as part of reserved matters application 18/01284/APP.  The sitewide attenuation and drainage strategy for this part of the scheme had been prepared in alignment with the detailed surface water drainage strategy approved under condition 26 of the outline.  The Lead Local Flood Authority had been consulted in respect of the current scheme and was satisfied.  The Environment Agency had also been consulted on the application and, subject to all property footprints being in Flood Zone 1 and all finished floor levels being set at the appropriate height, raised no objection.  As such, the proposed drainage arrangements were considered acceptable and in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and the sitewide attenuation and drainage strategy.  Taking all this into consideration, Officers considered the proposed development was acceptable in terms of access, layout, scale, appearance and landscaping; the scheme advanced would be in accordance with the outline consent and the Site Wide Masterplan Document approved under that consent.  Notwithstanding this, the Officer recommendation had been changed to delegated approve to allow for ongoing discussions and agreement in relation to condition 3, electric vehicle charging points.  It was noted that the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1, stated that the recommendation had been amended to approve which was an error and should say delegated approve.

72.38        The Chair invited the applicant’s representative to address the Committee.  The applicant’s representative explained that the application before Members sought approval of the reserved matters in relation to 179 new homes, as already covered by the outline planning permission and Section 106 Agreement which had been signed in advance of the developer purchasing the site and, as such, would mean the development would be delivered in accordance with the parameters set out.  The proposal had been developed in line with the Site Wide Masterplan Document which had been produced with Officers and had helped to deliver the strong design solution before Members today.  Of the 179 dwellings proposed, 61 were affordable homes equating to 34% of the total number of dwellings and in accordance with the Section 106 Agreement.  The affordable homes were blindly integrated across the application area and a broad mix of housing types were provided, offering choice and flexibility to future residents.  Regular discussions had been held with County Highways and agreement had been secured on all highway matters. The amount of parking had been a key consideration in the evolution of the scheme and the applicant’s representative confirmed that more than 470 spaces would be provided – all four bed properties would benefit from a minimum of three spaces, three bed properties a minimum of two spaces and so on.  Moreover, to assist the transition to low carbon transport, houses would be provided with external electrical connection points, allowing owners to easily install electric vehicle charging sockets to suit the vehicle they chose.  The developer had worked closely with the Planning Officer and the Environment Agency to ensure all new homes were located within Flood Zone 1 and that all proposed floor levels were set at an appropriate height.  Additionally, a flood risk assessment had previously been undertaken on the Hatherley Brook watercourse with the projected climate change flood levels being incorporated into the design.  Through continued close working with Officers, all consultee feedback had been responded to and Members were asked to approve the application in order to deliver the next phase of homes.

72.39        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to approve the application subject to discussion and agreement in relation to condition 3, electric vehicle charging points, and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member questioned why it would be detrimental to remove the apartment blocks and indicated that he understood that the Council’s policy was to avoid having affordable housing in one location within a development.  He drew attention to Page No. 163, Paragraph 4.13 of the Committee report where the Public Right of Way Officer had asked for clarification on the management of the footpath to the west of the application site as he understood this had been raised as a connectivity issue on the Planning Committee Site Visit.  He indicated that Drymeadow Lane, which ran into the site, was only half tarmacked and he hoped this would be completed by the developer.  With regard to condition 25 of the outline, he pointed out that phase five was in Flood Zone 1 and, with that in mind, he questioned why the land had been raised 750mm which was 150mm above industry standards.  With regard to Page No. 173, Paragraph 7.48 of the Committee report, he asked for the Lead Local Flood Authority to expand on condition 26 of the outline and how that would link into the Twigworth rise and fall scheme within the strategic A1 General Engineering and Strategy Plan; this was relevant as the whole A1 site covered Innsworth and Twigworth and the drainage strategy covered the A1 site, not the individual phases.  He also asked if the Lead Local Flood Authority could explain how the storm attenuation ponds worked, whether they flowed into the local watercourses, if they linked with Twigworth Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SuDS) or if they were stagnant ponds as they were clay-lined and would work based on evaporation which was not sustainable in his view.  In addition, as raised in respect of Agenda Item 5a, he asked what conditions could be put in place to address low water pressure in the area.  With regard to the electric vehicle charging points, he asked for them to be DC as opposed to AC as this was cheaper for residents.  The Member also questioned whether densities were appropriate and asked the Planning Officer to address that as well.  With regard to density and the location of the apartment blocks, the Planning Officer advised that the scheme itself was divided into three character areas as agreed in the Site Wide Masterplan Document; the spine road character area required medium to higher density residential development and was where the three storey apartment blocks were located – this phase was required to deliver a large proportion of one bed units which were being provided in blocks of apartments.  There was a requirement for a character area with strong frontage next to the spine road.  As you moved north into the core neighbourhood area there would be more traditional two storey dwellings which were mainly red brick and would create a grid pattern set around open space in the middle.  The blue area on the map was the Down Hatherley Park ribbon area which was more semi-rural in character.  The density for this phase of the development was 31 per hectare and the overall average was 30 per hectare so the site as a whole was what would be expected albeit the density did vary within the development.  In terms of the other phases that had been approved, phase 1 had a density of 43.8 per hectare because a large proportion of the frontage was in the spine road character area in accordance with the Site Wide Masterplan Document; phase 2 had a density of 38.9 per hectare due to the characteristics of the site.  In terms of drainage, it was the case that all units and buildings were located in Flood Zone 1 and the first floor level had been required by the Planning Inspectorate and the Environment Agency at the outline stage.  He confirmed that this development fully accorded with the parameters of the outline planning permission.  The Member asked why it was considered detrimental to pepper pot the affordable housing and the Planning Officer explained that clusters of affordable housing were normally avoided with the intention that it was seamlessly integrated throughout the development – it should not be obvious where the affordable and market houses were located in order to create an integrated community. In this case, the proposal was for a cluster of 45 affordable units within the apartment blocks.  This had been discussed at length with the applicant and it was considered it would be harmful to the design and character of the scheme to spread those units around the entire development, some of which would need to be in the area that was intended to be semi-rural and may include maisonettes etc.  It was considered it would be better in terms of place-making to have the flats next to the corridor and green space and that would be more beneficial to the scheme as a whole.  Whilst there were harms associated with that approach, the design and quality of space would be much better so, on balance, taking into account the wider aspirations, it was considered acceptable.  The Member asked that the other questions he had raised be sent to the Lead Local Flood Authority and a response provided to Members by email.  The Development Manager indicated that the inclusion of DC charging points came down to reasonableness but this could be included as an informative.

72.40        It was proposed and seconded that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to approve the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation and, upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to APPROVE the application, subject to ongoing discussions and agreement in relation to condition 3, electric vehicle charging points, in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

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