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Agenda item

22/00624/OUT - Land East of St Margaret's Drive, Alderton

PROPOSAL: Outline application for the demolition of 16 St Margarets Drive and the erection of up to 55 dwellings, associated infrastructure, landscape and biodiversity enhancements, all matters reserved except for access from St Margarets Drive.




43.10         This was an outline application for the demolition of 16 St Margaret’s Drive and the erection of up to 48 dwellings (a net increase of 47 dwellings), associated infrastructure, landscape and biodiversity enhancements with all matters reserved except for access from St Margaret’s Drive.  As set out in the Additional Representations Sheet, attached at Appendix 1, the description had been amended to reduce the number of dwellings from ‘up to 55 dwellings’ to ‘up to 48 dwellings (a net increase of 47 dwellings)’. 

43.11         The Senior Planning Officer advised that the report related to an application which was subject to a non-determination appeal and the Council was required to indicate what its decision would have been and this would form the basis of its Statement of Case going forward at appeal.  The site was located at the south-eastern edge of the village of Alderton and comprised approximately 3.97 hectares of agricultural land which fell outside of the defined settlement boundary and had not been allocated for development in local plan policy.  The site was part of the Special Landscape Area defined for areas of high quality countryside which coincided as the foreground setting to the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The Parish Council had objected to the scheme along with the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).  The Council’s specialist landscape adviser and heritage specialist had both raised objections to the potential impact of the scheme.  The application site lay outside of the defined settlement boundary for Alderton and was not allocated for housing development.  The site did not represent infilling and should be refused on principle.  Harm would arise from the cumulative growth in Alderton in such a relatively short period of time which would have a negative impact on social cohesion and wellbeing and there would be a harmful impact on the landscape within the Special Landscape Area as well as harm to designated and undesignated heritage assets and biodiversity impacts.  The reasons for refusal were set out within the Committee report, and amended on the Additional Representations Sheet, and related to the principle of development, impact upon community cohesion, landscape character and potential harm to the setting of both designated and undesignated heritage assets.  The remaining reasons for refusal were technical reasons which sought to secure appropriate mitigation in the absence of a Section 106 Agreement, as such, those reasons could be satisfied prior to the appeal.  The Officer recommendation was therefore minded to refuse, subject to the amendments detailed on the Additional Representations Sheet.

43.12         The Chair invited the representative from Alderton Parish Council to address the Committee.  The Parish Council representative thanked Members for the opportunity to speak against this outline application for 48 houses on a greenfield site, outside of the settlement boundary of the rural village of Alderton.  The Parish Council had raised significant objections to the scheme alongside 150 letters of objection from residents of the village.  The Planning Officers were recommending minded to refuse and this was fully supported by the Parish Council.  Alderton was identified as a Service Village but, in the last eight years, the village had been inundated with planning applications for housing on outlier urban estates.  In 2011, the village comprised 277 houses and, since that time, through appeal, there had been an increase of 100 houses, increasing the size of the village by a third.  Tewkesbury Borough Council rightly recognised the village had now had its fair share of expansion and so had not allocated any further housing to the village in its newly adopted Local Plan.  Despite this, developers continued to submit applications for new estates and, if all of those were approved, it would double the size of the village in less than 10 years which the Parish Council felt was unsustainable.  Part of the site had previously been the subject of a dismissed appeal on the grounds of significant harm to the character and appearance of the area; adverse effect on the landscape and setting of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and cumulative impact of development on the social wellbeing of the community – those significant adverse impacts remained.  In addition, Tewkesbury Borough Council had adopted its new Local Plan and there was an adopted Neighbourhood Development Plan for Alderton; the Council could now demonstrate a five year supply of housing to meet its own housing needs; there had been a loss of services within the village; there was increased awareness of heritage assets around the site; and there were ongoing ecology issues.  With regard to highway matters, the Parish Council continued to have significant concerns that expansion with no meaningful employment, retail, medical or educational facilities and no modes of transport other than the car to get to facilities, had economic and social impacts on both existing and new residents.  This development was planning by appeal which was not good planning and, given the significant areas of impact identified, the Parish Council welcomed the continued support of the Borough Council in fighting this application at appeal.

43.13         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was minded to refuse the application and he sought a motion from the floor.  It was proposed and seconded that the application be minded to refuse in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  The proposer of the motion welcomed the update on the Additional Representations Sheet which improved the reasons for refusal to include reference to the new Tewkesbury Borough Plan.  As had been stated by the Parish Council, Alderton had been inundated with an enormous amount of housing and, in her view, it was time developers looked at other villages to add small amounts of development across the borough.  A Member noted that the application had been made on 23 May 2022 and the non-determination appeal had been lodged on 31 October 2022 so he asked why the application had failed to be determined within the required timescales.  In response, the Senior Planning Officer explained that Officers had been working with the applicant to seek to address the concerns raised by the statutory consultees so it had been allowed to extend beyond the usual timescales in order to facilitate discussions.  The Member expressed the view that it was important for the applicant to be given a fair opportunity.  Two previous applications had been refused by the Planning Committee and subsequently allowed on appeal and he felt the fact Alderton was a Service Village was very relevant – he pointed out that residential development was taking place in areas such as Coombe Hill which had very few services in comparison to Services Villages such as Alderton.  The Head of Development Services explained that the planning application before the Committee was recommended for refusal as it was contrary to the development plan and the Council could demonstrate a five year housing supply and the reasons for refusal were clearly set out within the Committee report and on the Additional Representations Sheet.  With regard to the appeal, whilst it was never clear what would happen at an Inquiry, the Council would defend the position taken forward. 

43.14         A Member indicated that this was a familiar situation with regard to Alderton and she felt it was time for the Committee to stand up against developers whilst the Council was able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply and refuse the application.  Another Member indicated that he was happy to support the motion to refuse the application.  He drew attention to Pages No. 44-45, Paragraph 4.2 of the Committee report which stated that no objections had been raised by the Lead Local Flood Authority or Severn Trent Water, and he asked if that meant that assessments had been carried out and whether they were desk-based or site visits.  In recent weeks Twigworth, Longford and Innsworth had seen the green spaces between them flooded with excrement which had run into watercourses and Public Rights of Way despite assurances from the Lead Local Flood Authority that would not happen.  As such, he felt it was important to obtain more information from the relevant agencies as to what type of assessment had been carried out and to include this within the Committee report.  In response, the Senior Planning Officer advised that the comments from the statutory consultees did not indicate whether they had visited the site or not – County Highways may state if there was a specific matter but otherwise that information was not available.  The Member asked if that information could be included in reports going forward in order to inform Members’ opinion as to what weight they might give to the advice of the statutory consultees.

43.15         Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That the application be MINDED TO PERMIT in accordance with the Officer recommendation. 

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