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Agenda item

22/00686/FUL - Land North of Leckhampton Lane, Shurdington

PROPOSAL: Construction of 25 dwellings.




43.16        This application was for the construction of 25 dwellings.  The Planning Committee had visited the application site on Friday 13 January 2023.

43.17         The Senior Planning Officer advised that the application sought full planning permission for 25 dwellings along with access, drainage, landscaping, public open space and associated works.  The site was located to the north of Leckhampton Lane, within the village of Shurdington, to the south of Cheltenham.  It covered an area of 1.2 hectares and was presently a greenfield site.  The site was formerly located within the Cheltenham-Gloucester Green Belt but, on adoption of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan, the land was de-designated and it was no longer located within the Green Belt.  The Green Belt boundary adjoined the site at its northern boundary along the Ham Brook and the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was located to the south of Leckhampton Lane.  The proposed development would provide a mix of detached and semi-detached open market and affordable dwellings; overall, 10 of the dwellings proposed would be affordable which equated to 40% provision across the site.  The proposed dwellings would be two storeys in height with a palette of materials including reconstituted ‘Cotswold’ stone, brick and render finishes along with a mix of roof tile and slate.  The site was formally allocated for housing under Policy SHU2 of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and was identified as 1.2 hectares with an indicative capacity of 20 dwellings; it should be borne in mind that this figure was not an upper limit and the policy clarified that “all site capacities are approximate and detailed design proposals may indicate that greater or fewer dwellings can be accommodated on a site”.  Shurdington Parish Council had objected to the proposal.  The formal landscape comments were still awaited.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that the principle of the development was acceptable as it was formally allocated and the scheme was in accordance with the wider parameters detailed within Policy SHU2.  The applicant proposed highway improvements to the triangular parcels of land fronting onto Leckhampton Lane including the provision of formalised parking for public use and improved pedestrian footpaths.  The scheme was acceptable in terms of its impact upon the neighbouring special landscape character, the proposal would be served by a safe and suitable access and the cumulative impact on the highway would not be severe.  Furthermore, it would have an acceptable impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area and would be acceptable in terms of residential amenity.  It was therefore considered that the proposed development would constitute sustainable development in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework as a whole and it was recommended that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to the receipt of formal landscape comments and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement.

43.18         The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent was pleased that the application was being presented to Members with a recommendation of delegated permit and he commended Officers on coming to a positive recommendation.  The application before the Committee would deliver housing at a site that had been allocated in the Local Plan for residential development.  The applicant had engaged proactively with the Council, firstly, in the preparation of the Local Plan which led to the allocation of the site and, more recently, through discussions at pre-application and planning application stages.  Through working in a collaborative manner, the application delivered a well-designed scheme that contributed positively to Shurdington and the surrounding environment and helped the Council to meet its overall targets for open market and affordable housing.  The applicant’s agent stressed that the application had been subject to rigorous assessment to ensure the scheme did not generate adverse impacts.  This assessment had followed the detailed requirements of the Policy SHU2 which was shaped during the preparation of the Local Plan to address site specific issues relating to landscape, Green Belt, highways, biodiversity net gain, flood risk and green infrastructure matters.  The Committee report confirmed that the proposal was compliant with the policy.  Planning conditions had been suggested by consultees to secure appropriate schemes to ensure that sufficient measures were put in place to enable the development to be delivered in an effective manner without impacting the local community and the environment.  The applicant welcomed the suggested conditions as they would give the Council sufficient control over the development and its implementation.  The applicant’s agent recognised that proposals for new development should accord with the requirements of the development plan as a whole and the Committee report confirmed that the proposal constituted sustainable development and was compliant with the development plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.  There was a clear and strong planning justification to support the planning application and the applicant committed to working with the Council to ensure the Section 106 Agreement was completed quickly so that onsite works could commence to enable the project to be built-out in a timely manner.  The applicant’s agent hoped Members would agree with the findings of the Committee report and he respectfully requested that they delegate authority to permit the application, subject to agreement of the legal matters.

43.19         The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to delegate authority to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to the receipt of formal landscape comments and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement, 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 felt that residential development in Shurdington had been avoided for many years due to its location in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and this was an appropriate site for housing.  The seconder of the motion indicated that 180 dwellings had been provided within the 12 Service Villages across the borough but this was disproportionately spread with minimal provision in Shurdington and areas such as Alderton suffered as a consequence.  In her view, it was vital that houses were built in Shurdington to meet the need in that area. 

43.20         A Member noted that County Highways had raised no objection to the proposal subject to conditions and he asked for more detail of those conditions.  In response, the County Highways representative indicated that he believed the conditions related to a construction management plan, provision of cycle storage where there were no garages and Section 278 works relating to the proposed footway and formal parking.  The Member sought assurance that the County Highways representative was completely happy with the access in front of the site onto Leckhampton Lane as he was aware of discussions locally about the need for a roundabout at the junction between Leckhampton Lane and the A46 to ease queuing.  The County Highways representative confirmed that the applicant had carried out an assessment and, based on the outputs, County Highways was satisfied that the impact of the development would not be significant and the access could operate safely.  The Member noted that the scheme was originally for 20 houses but was now for 25 and, although there were two parking spaces per house, there were only five visitor spaces which he found unacceptable.  He raised concern about having the car parking at the bottom of the site on the highway as people would have to walk from their cars to the properties.  The County Highways representative confirmed that the car parking provision on site was in accordance with guidance in terms of numbers.  The applicant was effectively formalising what already happened in terms of where cars were parking currently.  In response to a query about garages and cycle storage, the Senior Planning Officer explained that garages were proposed for the majority of the properties and, for the one or two properties which did not have them, it was possible to include a condition in relation to cycle storage provision.  A Member raised concern that there was no condition regarding cycle storage provision within the Committee report and yet it had been suggested that it would be built.  She indicated that cycle storage was a matter which had been discussed previously by the Committee and Members were not prepared to accept that it must be provided as a standard condition for residential proposals.  She did not believe that providing cycle storage would increase the number of people using bicycles and it took up a lot of garden space.  She asked for clarification as to how this was being applied if it was not in the conditions.  In response, the Head of Development Services explained that the County Highways representative had mentioned this was one of the recommendations which County Highways had made to the Council; however, as Members would see from the Committee report, such a condition had not been attached to those recommended in the Committee report.  Another Member asked why cycle storage provision was not included as a condition if it had been recommended by County Highways and was in the Council’s policy.  In response, the Senior Planning Officer explained that, as it stood, the recommended condition required garages to be retained for parking; six of the properties did not have garages on site.  Further to the discussions at previous Planning Committee meetings, and given that the majority of housing had cycle storage within the garages, on this occasion, cycle storage provision had not been requested.  The Member indicated that this was becoming a bone of contention - it seemed ridiculous to her that the Council was supposed to be encouraging people to use greener forms of transport and yet the condition regarding cycle storage provision was being voted out at every meeting.  It was either included in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan or it was not and, if it was, the Council should be following the recommendation of County Highways. 

43.21         A Member observed that there seemed to be a lot of applications where applicants were undertaking their own highway assessments and she asked whether County Highways still undertook an assessment in those situations.  In response, the County Highways representative confirmed that County Highways reviewed what was submitted by the applicant but also carried out its own assessment.  Another Member noted that a ‘no objection’ response had been received from the drainage engineer, as set out at Page No. 64, Paragraph 4.5 of the Committee report and he asked if that was a Tewkesbury Borough Council Officer.  In response, the Development Management Team Leader confirmed that a drainage engineer was now in post and they were a full-time Tewkesbury Borough Council employee.  The Member observed that, in terms of car parking, County Highways had stated that car parking provision would be adequate on other developments, such as the Clock Tower, and yet the reality was very different, therefore, he wanted assurances that provision on this site was adequate and people would not be parking in front of their properties.  With regard to drainage, the brook behind the development could only take run-off from the north of the site, not the site itself and there was a natural valley where the road was to the south.  He had only found four rainwater gullies on site with standing water where the new parking area would be provided so he questioned where the water would go and what problems that might cause in the future.  The County Highways representative confirmed that parking numbers were based on County Highways’ guidance and he was satisfied that the proposal complied with that.  The Member expressed the view that the guidance needed to be changed as it was clearly not working in places such as Bishop’s Cleeve, Innsworth, Longford and Twigworth.  The County Highways representative appreciated that point and agreed it may be something which needed to be looked at going forward but, based on the current guidance at this point in time, the parking was adequate.  A Member drew attention to Page No. 63, Paragraph 4.2 of the Committee report, and the response from Shurdington Parish Council which indicated that the Shurdington Speedwatch volunteers had noted speeds well in excess of the speed limit with cars routinely recorded over 50mph and, in one case, 80mph and he asked if County Highways had any concerns about that.  The County Highways representative advised that the applicant had carried out an Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) survey between 1 March and 7 March 2022.  Based on that evidence, and as the impact of the development would not be severe in terms of additional vehicles, County Highways was satisfied the proposal was suitable based on recorded speeds on the road.  The Member asked whether the proposal would be backland development and the Senior Planning Officer reiterated that the site was allocated in the Tewkesbury Borough Plan, therefore, the principle for housing was acceptable.

43.22         A Member indicated that, whilst he supported the application, he shared the concerns raised regarding parking and noted that additional on-road parking bays had been successfully added in negotiation with the applicant on other developments, for instance, in Bishop’s Cleeve, and he asked if that would be appropriate in this case.  In relation to the ongoing narrative around cycle storage, he stated that this was policy within the Tewkesbury Borough Plan and had been well discussed by the Tewkesbury Borough Plan Working Group where it had been noted that the County Council had tried to influence what should be a decision at this level and the Borough Council had taken a view on that.  There was no wish to impose cycle storage provision on developers and he did not think that was appropriate.  With regard to the parking, the Legal Adviser understood that the proposal would include 51 off-street parking spaces and the triangular area to the south of the site would be additional to that.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that was the case and that the five visitor spaces would be provided within the housing development itself and the spaces within the triangle which had been offered by the applicant to improve the parking situation around that area were additional and were not counted as visitor parking spaces.  In response to a query regarding the trajectory of the development, the Senior Planning Officer advised that it would be a requirement of the planning permission that work commence within three years but he had no other indication as to when the development might come forward.

43.23         Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED          That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to the receipt of formal landscape comments and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement. 

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