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Agenda item

21/01036/FUL - Innsworth House Farm, Innsworth Lane, Innsworth

PROPOSAL: Demolition of existing buildings and erection of 17 affordable homes and associated infrastructure.

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Delegated permit.

Minutes:

20.2          This application was for demolition of existing buildings and erection of 17 affordable homes and associated infrastructure.  The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 12 August 2022.

20.3          The Planning Officer advised that the application related to Innsworth House Farm which comprised a detached former farmhouse with a series of disused agricultural buildings to the rear.  The site lay within the Joint Core Strategy Innsworth and Twigworth strategic allocation (for housing, employment and associated uses).  Whilst the site was within the strategic allocation, it was excluded from the outline planning permission as it was not available for development at that time.  The site measured approximately 0.36 hectares in area, lay within Flood Zone 1 - with the lowest probability of flooding – and backed onto the Taylor Wimpey development site.  This application sought full planning permission for a 100% affordable housing scheme to provide 17 one, two and three bed dwellings including six apartments.  As the site was within the strategic allocation, the principle of residential development in this location was considered acceptable.  In terms of design, the proposal would provide a mix of housing, including semi-detached and terraced dwellings, which would be viewed as a continuation of the existing Taylor Wimpey frontage onto Innsworth Lane.  The development would use an existing access point to the eastern part of the site which would be upgraded to provide access to the rear.  This would also serve a three storey block of flats which would broadly reflect the flatted development at the Taylor Wimpey site to the north.  The proposal provided a pedestrian and cycle link from the central part of the site to an adjoining footpath which ran along the western boundary of the site.  It was recognised that the land immediately adjacent to the application site did not benefit from reserved matters approval; however, it was feasible for this land to be brought forward with regard to the current proposal.  The County Highways Officer had raised no objections to the development and Members were advised that the existing bus stop was proposed to be relocated eastwards of its current position and would be secured through a Highways 278 agreement.  The drainage scheme had been revised since the application had been submitted and it was now proposed that the development would discharge to the adjoining Taylor Wimpey site and associated Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SuDS) infrastructure; the Lead Local Flood Authority had raised no objections to that arrangement.  Members were informed that the ecological appraisal had showed that the buildings on site had potential to be used by roosting bats.  The Council’s Ecologist had raised no objections to the redevelopment of the site subject to a condition to secure confirmation that the applicant had obtained an appropriate Natural England bat licence prior to commencing works.  Overall, it was considered that the application broadly complied with the Joint Core Strategy Strategic Allocation Policy A1 and there were no other harms identified which would outweigh the benefits of the proposal, therefore, the Officer recommendation was delegated permit subject to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure contributions set out in the Committee report and a further condition to confirm an appropriate European Protected Species (EPS) licence had been obtained before commencing works.

20.4           The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent thanked Officers for bringing the application before Members with a positive recommendation.  He indicated that this was a straightforward application which would deliver 17 much-needed affordable homes for the borough and an agreement was already in place with a registered affordable housing provider to deliver the development.  The applicant’s agent advised he had worked closely with Officers to ensure the homes met a variety of needs – the development would provide wheelchair accessible, shared ownership and social rent homes and would contribute considerably towards the Council’s assessed affordable housing need.  As recognised within the Committee report, the site was within the Innsworth strategic allocation where the principle of development was deemed acceptable.  Whilst no third party objections had been received in relation to the application, the applicant’s agent noted that the Parish Council had raised concern in respect of the drainage.  He understood the concern related to an overloaded storm water system to the south of the site at Rookery Road and he provided assurance that close working with the Lead Local Flood Authority had resulted in amendments to the scheme to avoid direct impacts on the storm system referenced by the Parish Council.  The system for the proposed development would connect to the adjacent development and would run away from the problem area – this had been fully assessed with the adjacent developer to ensure there was enough capacity for the system which had been designed fully by qualified engineers and scrutinised by the Lead Local Flood Authority which raised no objection, subject to conditions.  The applicant’s agent felt it was important to be mindful that the site was already developed – it was not an undeveloped greenfield site, it was one where an impact already existed.  This proposal had been thoroughly assessed by consultees, including County Highways which had raised no objection.  Whilst delivering very significant affordable housing benefits for the area, the applicant had also agreed to financial education contribution that would support primary and secondary school enhancements.  The development had been carefully considered and adjusted to meet design code and policy requirements; homes would meet relevant space standards and density would be consistent with the surrounding development.  A direct link had been incorporated onto the adjoining footpath to the west to allow future residents to gain access to this network and the open space/adjoining uses that would provide beyond.  The development gave a real opportunity to enhance the site through the removal of aged and dilapidated buildings, replacing them with much-needed affordable homes within a strategic allocation.  The applicant’s agent indicated it was 12 months to the day that this application was submitted and, with that and the Officer recommendation in mind, he hoped Members would feel able to support the scheme and allow the homes to be delivered.

20.5           The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to delegate authority to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure contributions set out in the Committee report and a further condition to confirm an appropriate European Protected Species (EPS) licence had been obtained before commencing works, 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.  The proposer of the motion expressed the view that it was right this site was developed; however, he disagreed with some of the elements of the Committee report and points put forward by the applicant’s agent.  He sought clarification on whether the ground levels would be raised and indicated that the Site Wide Master Plan for the rest of the A1 strategic allocation was 750mm above existing level and the height of the road linking back to the site had been evident on the Planning Committee Site Visit.  The Parish Council had raised concern regarding the proposed drainage which would link into the adjacent Taylor Wimpey scheme and he asked for clarification as to whether there was an agreement in place to confirm that included rainwater run-off.  It was his understanding that the A1 strategic site drainage would be at capacity once the housing had been built out.  He suggested there was potential for a bat corridor for the wider strategic allocation and asked if that was something which could be considered.  In terms of access, his preference would be to direct the road to run alongside and behind this development rather than coming out onto Innsworth Lane, which was still a 40mph zone, and he questioned why the access road could not go onto the main spine road for the A1 strategic site.  In response, the Planning Officer advised that the site plan for the scheme showed that ground levels would accord with the Taylor Wimpey development to the left.  In terms of drainage, the applicant had confirmed there was an agreement with Taylor Wimpey to connect into its system and Taylor Wimpey had confirmed there was sufficient capacity to take drainage from this site.  The representative from the Lead Local Flood Authority advised that the SuDS for the Land North of Innsworth Lane included greenfield run-off from this site so this was the right place for the drainage to go.  With regard to the bats and access, whilst there may be other solutions, Members needed to consider the proposal before them.  The County Highways representative explained that a Traffic Regulation Order would reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph.  He could only comment on the application as set out which proposed a new access at this location – there was already access for this site as it had been developed but a road safety audit had been completed in respect of the current application and had not flagged any issues so County Highways was content with the access in the location proposed.

20.6           A Member asked whether the shared ownership housing would be at market or affordable homes rate and the Planning Officer indicated that he did not have that information to hand; however, he clarified that six of the dwellings would be social rent and five would be shared ownership and the Section 106 Agreement would be drafted to meet the requirements of the Council’s Housing Enabling Officer.  Another Member made reference to Page No. 40, Paragraph 7.23 of the Committee report which stated that the application was supported by a Transport Statement which set out that the site was within a sustainable location with a high level of walking, cycling and public transport movements – something which she disputed.  She indicated that, whilst walking and cycling may take place for pleasure, in her opinion there was no way that people were walking and cycling to facilities such as supermarkets and schools.  In terms of design, she sought clarification as to whether green features would be incorporated, such as electric vehicle charging points, solar panels etc.  The Planning Officer confirmed that electric vehicle charging points would need to be provided and he explained that, in terms of future applications, this was included as part of the building regulation changes so would no longer be required under planning condition.  In terms of connectivity, there was a corridor through the site onto a footpath to the west and there would be improved linkages back onto the main road and along the corridor.  The County Highways representative advised that a walkable neighbourhood was defined as anything up to two kilometres and the Transport Statement for the application listed all of the facilities within that distance of the site which included a school, supermarket and other facilities which expected future occupants would make use of, as such, County Highways was satisfied it was in a sustainable location.

20.7           Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure contributions set out in the Committee report and a further condition to confirm an appropriate European Protected Species (EPS) licence had been obtained before commencing works, in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

Supporting documents: