This is a default template, your custom branding appears to be missing.
The custom branding should be at https://tewkesbury.gov.uk/minutes/ if you cannot load this page please contact your IT.

Technical Error: Error: The remote server returned an error: (429) Too Many Requests.

Agenda item

Agenda item

22/00232/FUL - Land to the South of Geston Place, Twyning

PROPOSAL: Residential development comprising 21 dwellings, creation of new vehicular access and ancillary works.

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Delegated permit.

Minutes:

31.2          This application was for residential development comprising 21 dwellings, creation of new vehicular access and ancillary works.

31.3          The Development Management Team Leader advised that the proposal sought full planning permission for residential development of 21 dwellings, including eight affordable homes, the creation of a new vehicular access off Shuthonger Lane and ancillary works.  The application site was located to the south of a recent housing development to Brockeridge Paddocks, directly to the south of Geston Place and to the west of an area of public open space which served that development.  An application for residential development of up to 36 dwellings had recently been allowed on appeal located to the south of the site.  Although not allocated for housing, the application site lay within the settlement boundary as defined in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and within the Residential Development Boundary as defined by the Twyning Neighbourhood Development Plan.  The proposal would accord with the principles of Joint Core Strategy Policy SD10, Policy RES2 of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and Policy GD2 of the Neighbourhood Development Plan.  Whilst the proposal would lead to some landscape harm by introducing development on an undeveloped parcel of land, this would be limited due to the presence of built development to the north and the recently approved development to the south with this proposal essentially infilling a gap.  The proposal would provide a variety of house types and designs which would be harmonious with the area and would include eight affordable dwellings, of which five would be social rented.  The applicant had advised that a number of ecological assessments had now been completed following initial advice from the Council’s Ecological Adviser.  The findings were being written up and would be subject to review by the Ecological Adviser.  The proposal would have no other adverse impacts in terms of highway safety or flood risk.  The Officer recommendation remained delegated permit, as set out in the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1.

31.4          The Chair invited the representative from Twyning Parish Council to address the Committee.  The Parish Council representative indicated that he intended to focus on why the Parish Council felt the five year land supply was relevant in the current circumstances. He explained that the Parish Council’s original argument was based on the fact that Officers had not addressed the five year housing land supply position within the Committee report; however, the Additional Representation Sheet clarified that the Council was now able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply therefore the tilted balance was not engaged.   As such, the Parish Council representative noted that Paragraphs 11 and 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework did not apply and the question was therefore whether there continued to be a requirement to allow additional houses to be built in rural villages such as this, particularly given that the Tewkesbury Borough Plan Inspector had stated that Service Villages had sufficient housing and did not require any more.

31.5          The Chair invited a local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.  The local resident indicated that, as had been explained by the Parish Council, consideration of this application must now take place under a new set of circumstances which changed the perspective that had held sway for a considerable period.  In the last few years, Twyning had built-out over 100 houses with the majority allocated in the Twyning Neighbourhood Development Plan.  Since that time, a further 83 houses and 29 caravans had been approved on appeal with another 81 houses including this application, in the planning process – this represented a potential 38% increase in households in the Parish based on the 2011 census figures.  In his view, the five year land supply status and allocations made in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan – none of which had been allocated to Twyning – were ample reason for the application to be refused.  There were further reasons for refusal including surface water disposal and sewage capacity which he did not have time to go into in detail but he recommended that Members take careful note of the sustainability issues raised in the Stagecoach submission and the note from Severn Trent Water.  Twyning had met its obligations in relation to housing numbers and he felt that Members must be confident to embrace the new data and refuse this application.

31.6          The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to the omission of Condition 12, no adverse observations being received from the Council’s Ecological Adviser, any additional/amended planning conditions and/or contributions which may arise and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure provision of eight affordable dwellings, an affordable housing commuted sum and contributions towards primary education, school transport and waste and recycling provision, 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 appreciated the points raised by the public speakers; however, she did not think there was a sound planning reason to refuse the application.  She was particularly concerned that, if the application was refused and taken to appeal, the Council would risk losing control of the development.  She welcomed the eight affordable houses being proposed as part of the application and noted that a commuted sum was also being sought for 0.4 of a unit so it may be possible to build another in the future. 

31.7          A Member drew attention to Page No. 18, Paragraph 7.7.6 of the Committee report which stated that Severn Trent Water raised no objections to the proposal but had advised there was no capacity within their foul sewage system and he raised concern that the sewage system was a major problem in Twyning.  He understood the developer intended to install a treatment plant or similar solution to ensure the issue was resolved, should Severn Trent Water fail to resolve the capacity issues, and he sought clarification as to how that would work and the associated timescales.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader explained that recommended condition 3 required that no development take place above DPC level until drainage plans for the disposal of foul and surface water flows had been submitted to, and approved in writing by, the Local Planning Authority and that the scheme be implemented in accordance with the approved details before the development was brought into use; therefore, there would be sufficient time for the applicant to explore a solution with Severn Trent Water or to put forward an alternative.  The Member asked if that would be dealt with quickly if the application was permitted and the Development Management Team Leader confirmed that the details would need to be submitted prior to the build so it would be early enough for measures to be put in place.  The Member went on to indicate that, as was the case with a number of recent applications, there were no primary school places in Twyning so a contribution was being sought towards school transport and he asked who received that money and how it would operate within the village given that the nearest primary school in Mitton was some five miles away.  In his view, children living in the village should be able to go to the village school, particularly in this day and age when people were being advised to cut down on car travel.  The Development Management Team Leader explained that it was his understanding that the money would go to Gloucestershire County Council as the Local Education Authority who would use this to subsidise bus transport for residents of the area.  He advised that a contribution was also being sought for primary education which could be used toward building a primary education facility within Twyning.  In response to a query as to what happened when the money ran out, the representative from Gloucestershire County Council explained that education was a statutory provision for the County Council and when the money ran out the County Council would effectively pay for it.  The Member indicated that he could not support the proposal for a delegated permit.  In his view, Twyning had already taken more than its allocation of housing, there was no public transport so residents were completely reliant on cars and there was a lack of school places so the development should not be allowed.

31.8          Another Member noted that Severn Trent Water had stated there was no capacity for the proposed development within its foul sewage system and asked for clarification as to where the sewage would go if the development was permitted.  He did not feel he could support the motion for a delegated permission on the grounds there was a lack of infrastructure to accommodate the houses.  The Development Management Team Leader reiterated that recommended condition 3 would allow the Council to satisfy itself of the drainage details; if it could not go through Severn Trent Water there was a technical option to deal with sewage through a package treatment plant which would discharge elsewhere.  At this stage, it was not known whether Severn Trent Water would be able to reach an agreement with the developer or if it would be necessary for them to look for an alternative.  The Member raised concern that another system would require a tanker to remove the sewage if it was contained on site which he did not think was a modern, or appropriate, solution.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader explained that when this question was raised with the applicant, if Severn Trent was not able to accommodate the new houses, the preferred option was for a package treatment plant where the waste was treated and then discharged by other means – it would not enter the Severn Trent system at any point.  He stressed this was a technical matter which would be picked up under building regulations.  Another Member pointed out that the housing on the adjacent site which had been allowed on appeal and the land which had been built-out on the other side would surely be in the same situation in terms of drainage so he did not see why this would be an acceptable reason for refusal in this case.  The Legal Adviser explained that, with regard to the appeal site, the Inspector had been adamant that was a matter which could be dealt with by condition.  A Member asked whether the two sites to the north of this site were served by a treatment package plant or if they went into the Severn Trent system and the Development Management Team Leader indicated that he believed that Geston Place discharged into the Severn Trent sewer to the north in the High Street.  The site to the south had been subject to appeal and the Inspector had found the proposed condition to be an acceptable means to deal with drainage so details were still awaited in relation to that site.  The Member pointed out that Severn Trent Water had stated that no further development could be accommodated within its sewage system, therefore, a package treatment system would be necessary to deal with the sewage which would effectively become surface water which was already a problem in that part of Twyning.  The Development Management Team Leader reiterated this was a technical matter.  Severn Trent Water had stated that it had no capacity at that point in time; however, it had invited a developer enquiry from the applicant to discuss this further and look at the possibility of a drainage solution on its network.  The proposed condition allowed options for the developer to find an appropriate solution. 

31.9          A Member indicated that she did not believe the village school could be extended in any way as there was insufficient room and she was concerned about the provision of a bus to take children to and from another school as the road to Twyning was very narrow and heavily used; she did not consider this to be a serious short or long term solution for children getting to school.  On the basis of the issues with schooling and sewage, she could not support the application.  A Member shared this view and felt that the site was completely unsustainable on the basis of the statements from Severn Trent Water and Stagecoach as well as the public speakers.  She echoed what had already been said regarding the sewage system and indicated that she had particular concerns about where the water would go.  She anticipated further development on surrounding sites if this application was allowed and felt that the development would cause a great loss of open space resulting in a single mass of housing.  In her opinion it was an example of piecemeal development which she could not support.  A Member asked for clarification as to why this application was recommended for delegated permission and yet Agenda Item 5c – 19/01201/FUL – Fortitude, Birdlip Hill, Witcombe also had no public transport provision and was recommended for refusal.  The Development Management Team Leader recognised that public transport in Twyning was very limited; however, Paragraph 105 of the National Planning Policy Framework set out that opportunities to maximise sustainable transport solutions would vary between urban and rural areas and that should be taken into account in both plan-making and decision-making.  This acknowledged that whilst rural areas may have sub-optimal public transport options, that was not in itself a reason to withhold planning permission.   The Legal Adviser warned against refusal reasons which could not be substantiated at appeal as the Inspector had made it very clear that technical matters could be dealt with by condition and she reminded Members that Gloucestershire County Council, as the Local Education Authority, was satisfied with the application in terms of education provision.

31.10        Another Member indicated that it appeared a majority of Members of the Planning Committee were concerned with regard to sewage and, if planning permission was granted and something went wrong, they would be the ones who were answerable to residents.  The report was vague in terms of details of sewage which was unacceptable given that it was part of everyday life that must be dealt with.  He suggested it may be beneficial to defer the application to secure further details to satisfy the Committee that there was an acceptable solution to deal with sewage.  The Legal Adviser reiterated her earlier comments about the issue of reasonableness and advised that the Inspector had recently awarded costs against the Council for refusal on the basis of a technical matter which could be dealt with by condition. 

31.11        Upon being put to the vote, the motion for authority to be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation, was lost.  It was subsequently proposed that the application be refused on the basis that the Council could now demonstrate a five year housing land supply.  The Legal Adviser clarified that this was not an allocated site but was within the settlement boundary, as such, the five year housing land supply was not a refusal reason which could be substantiated at appeal.  Another Member proposed that the application be refused on the basis that there were no school places for children in the village who would need to be transported to school along rural lanes and as Severn Trent Water could not at this time provide capacity for sewage from the development.  The Corporate Director reiterated the point raised by the Legal Adviser that the responsible authority for education had been consulted on the proposal and raised no objection subject to a Section 106 Agreement to secure a financial contribution in relation to education.  In terms of drainage, that was a matter for subsequent agreement by the developer and the technical authority involved; the condition recommended would ensure the development could not proceed ahead of a technical solution being approved.  The Local Planning Authority should not be concerned with that solution as it was not a technical drainage authority.  The refusal reasons put forward were in relation to technical matters which Members had already been advised could not be substantiated at appeal and there would be obvious consequences for any unreasonable refusal.

31.12        Another Member drew attention to Page No. 9, Paragraph 3.3. of the Committee report, which stated that the site was not allocated for housing but went on to say it was within the settlement boundary as defined in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and the Residential Development Boundary as defined by the Twyning Neighbourhood Development Plan and she asked for clarification on that.  The Development Management Team Leader explained that some sites were allocated specifically for development whereas others could lie within a defined settlement boundary as part of a village.  Section 7 of the Committee report went through the policies in the development plan and explained why this proposal accorded with those policies on the basis of being within settlement boundary or Residential Development Boundary. 

31.13        A Member expressed the view that the Planning Committee’s role was to apply the Council’s planning policies to applications which Members were currently failing to do.  He appreciated these were emotive circumstances but it was not for Officers to give Members spurious reasons to refuse things they simply did not like; Officers were there to advise on the facts in terms of what could be used at appeal to defend the position the Committee may choose to take.  In terms of sewage, that was an issue of great concern to Members but it was not going to be resolved by refusing an application which was quite patently permissible in the context of planning policy.  A Member indicated that, although he had voiced his concerns and indicated that he could not support a motion to permit the application, having listened to the debate, it seemed the reality was that there were no valid planning reasons for refusal which could be defended at an appeal and, with a very heavy heart, he felt the Committee had no option but to go along with the Officer recommendation and grant delegated permission.  Another Member drew attention to Page No. 13, Paragraph 7.1.5 of the Committee report which stated that infill development would be supported where it was consistent with the principles of sustainable development and asked whether the proposal not being sustainable could be used as a refusal reason.  The Legal Adviser explained that Members would need to specify exactly why it was not sustainable.  In response, the Member recognised that sewage could be addressed by condition but indicated that it was unsustainable from a transport point of view which was reinforced by Stagecoach in its response.  Another Member noted that Twyning had been identified as a Service Village on the basis that it met several criteria, one being that it had a school; however, there were no school places so children would have to be transported out of the village and he asked if that was adequate to demonstrate the development would be unsustainable.  The Development Management Team Leader explained that the school itself was not a determining factor as to why Twyning was a Service Village and no objections had been raised by the statutory consultees such as County Highways in terms of the location being unsustainable.  A suitable solution had been identified i.e. a bus route for children to get to school and the Local Education Authority had not raised any objection to the proposal to bus children to other local schools.  As such, he was struggling to see how that could be used as an argument against sustainability. 

31.14        The proposer of the original motion for a delegated permission in accordance with the Officer recommendation indicated that, in the absence of any sound planning reasons for refusal, Members had little choice but to permit the application.  It was disappointing that Service Villages were being targeted by developers but this was an infill site.  She therefore proposed, and it was seconded, that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to the omission of Condition 12, no adverse observations being received from the Council’s Ecological Adviser, any additional/amended planning conditions and/or contributions which may arise and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to secure provision of eight affordable dwellings, an affordable housing commuted sum and contributions towards primary education, school transport and waste and recycling provision, in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

Supporting documents: