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Agenda item

Agenda item

23/00275/APP - Plots 3 & 4 Gloucester Business Park

PROPOSAL: Reserved matters application in relation to Plots 3 and 4 for the erection of employment development of 16,481sqm (GIA), access arrangements, servicing, parking including cycle provisions, electric vehicle charging and landscape provision comprising of Class B2 and B8 development with ancillary offices, alongside discharge of pre-commencement conditions 8 and 11 to planning permission reference 11/01155/FUL.




62.18        This was a reserved matters application in relation to plots 3 and 4 for the erection of employment development of 16,481sqm (GIA), access arrangements, servicing, parking including cycle provisions, electric vehicle charging and landscape provision comprising of Class B2 and B8 development with ancillary offices, alongside discharge of pre-commencement conditions 8 and 11 to planning permission reference 11/01155/FUL.

62.19        The Principal Planner advised that outline consent had been granted for the business park in March 1992 and the permission had been renewed in 2001 to allow a further 10 years for the submission of the reserved matters.  In 2012, a further permission was granted for the reserved matters for the remainder of the plots to be submitted by 2026 and the current application was for the reserved matters for plots 3 and 4 on the outskirts of the business park adjacent to residential properties and required a Committee determination due to objections from the Parish Councils and local residents.  The original approval had no set parameters in terms of the size or height of the units with heights across the business park ranging from 16m to 24m; the elevations for this application had a proposed overall height of 15.5m.  The applicant had confirmed that the units would be BREEAM Excellent.  Comments were still awaited from the Land Drainage Officer in relation to drainage condition 8 and the Lead Local Flood Authority had no comment given that it had not been established when the original application was approved and County Highways had requested an additional condition.  It was therefore recommended that authority be delegated to the Associate Director: Planning to approve the application, subject to no adverse observations from County Highways and the Land Drainage Officer and any additional or amended conditions.

62.20        The Chair invited a local resident speaking in objection to the application to address the Committee.  The local resident explained that the application had received over 30 objections from the public giving a wide range of valid points to consider.  The Statement of Community Involvement run by Gloucester Business Park sampled 75 responses with 50% answering no to “Does the scale of development feel appropriate for Plots 3 and 4?”; however, she and her partner had run a separate poll on Facebook via Cooper’s Edge Noticeboard Community Group, attracting 315 votes, with only 4% agreeing with the warehouse use. Remaining votes were for uses such as affordable housing, small retail or other non-imposing structures which could bring employment to the area and also enhance the business park as well as Cooper’s Edge.  Housing on plots 3 and 4 had previously been considered and the poll marked it as a more favoured solution by the community so she encouraged the Council to think of the benefits of more housing in the area during the current housing crisis.  Given the location of the plots so close to Cooper’s Edge, local residents had significant objection to the scale, aesthetic and location within the plot and the use of the proposed units. There would be no transition within the current proposal from the residential area to the business park and they felt the design should be closer in style to residential areas with use of traditional brick and render and an appropriate height, not 15m which was visually imposing and would greatly detract from the beauty of Cooper’s Edge. Other commercial units bordering the residential areas, such as Benefact and Javelin House, were much better examples and were significantly smaller in size with more green buffer space.   Approving the disproportionately large warehouse units at plots 3 and 4 would increase Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) traffic in an area very close to residential properties and a busy primary school.  This caused significant pedestrian safety concerns within Cooper’s Edge and leaving Cooper’s Edge for Whittle Square; particular safety concerns should be considered due to the extensive use of bikes in the area by commuters and families.  The added traffic would further increase pollution in an area which already became congested at peak times, as well as causing considerable noise with traffic leaving the site at all hours of the night.  For those reasons, the application was not suitable and a more favoured use of the plots would be houses or added amenities to enhance existing residential areas.  This could help meet the Council’s targets and provide long term employment to Cooper’s Edge residents whilst also benefiting Gloucester Business Park.

62.21        The Chair invited the applicant’s agent to address the Committee.  The applicant’s agent advised that Gloucester Business Park was a successful employment destination in a high quality location, acting as a driver for employment opportunities and economic benefit to the area.  The reserved matters application for these plots was part of the final pieces of the jigsaw to complete the Business Park and provided a high level of alternative retail and leisure uses which were complementary to the existing and planned employment uses which benefited the wider community.  They considered the proposed employment uses were the right ones and in the right location for Tewkesbury Borough and Gloucestershire.  They had listened to residents and stakeholders throughout the development process and had provided a comprehensive range of surveys to support the planning application. Those surveys had confirmed the proposed development was compatible with the location and resulted in no demonstrable impact upon neighbours.  The buildings had been designed to complement the existing buildings within the park and provided a transition between the employment and residential area.  They were of a scale and height that was suited and attractive to a modern occupier, making an efficient use of land.  The relationship between the proposed buildings and the adjacent residential area had been a key consideration throughout the design process.  Sustainability at the Business Park was important for the applicant and the proposed buildings had all been designed to achieved BREEAM Excellent demonstrating a commitment to delivering high quality sustainable buildings.  They had consulted widely with the community and stakeholders prior to the application being submitted and one of the key asks from the community was improved transport links.  They had engaged with Stagecoach and, shortly after, a new and improved bus service to the Business Park had been introduced with the intention it would help reduce individual car journeys.  They had been made aware there were local concerns regarding traffic, in particular HGVs leaving the Business Park via Lobleys Drive.  Whilst no objection had been raised by County Highways, the applicant had noted the importance of resolving the HGV issue and, as a priority, additional signage had been put up at key locations to direct HGV drivers as soon as they left service yards to exit the Business Park via Hurricane Road or Pioneer Avenue and that would also be applied for the new development plots.  To reiterate, the applicant’s agent advised that the development of these final employment plots would contribute to the economic growth of the area and was considered to be the right use in the right location.  The applicant had listened to the community and stakeholders as they developed the final employment plots and continued to manage the success of the Business Park.  As a final point, it was important to note that the proposed development was deliverable and the applicant was already in advanced discussions with potential occupiers and ready to begin delivering further jobs for Tewkesbury Borough and Gloucestershire.

62.22        The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to delegate authority to the Associate Director: Planning to approve the application, subject to no adverse observations from County Highways and the Land Drainage Officer and any additional or amended conditions, and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member drew attention to Page No. 82, Paragraph 8.5 of the Committee report which set out that Policy EMP5 of the Tewkesbury Borough Plan stated that development must respect the character, scale and proportion of the proposal and the surrounding development’s character and she asked whether the proposal met that requirement in terms of the opposite side of the road which was residential.  In response, the Principal Planner confirmed that the buildings were slightly smaller than the existing buildings on the Business Park and there was a landscape buffer which acted as a transition between the existing warehouse employment use and residential dwellings.  Another Member expressed the view that it was a shame the site could not be used for housing but he understood the reasons why not.  He asked if it was possible to apply a condition to reflect the findings of the external lighting report, as set out at Page No. 85, Paragraph 8.25 of the Committee report, in order to address residential amenity concerns and ensure nighttime pollution was kept to an absolute minimum.  In response, the Principle Planner confirmed there was a condition proposed in relation to ecology and biodiversity but there was no reason why an additional condition could not be added in relation to the lighting being switched off at nighttime.  In response to a query, Members were informed the distance between the warehouses and residential properties was approximately 40m.  A Member asked if the proposal would include secure cycle storage with facilities for cyclists to shower and the County Highways representative advised that County Highways had requested additional conditions, which had not reached the Officer prior to the meeting, which required secure cycle storage and staff shower facilities.  A travel plan had been approved for the overall site as part of the outline application and a further condition was suggested asking for details.  Whilst electric vehicle charging points were shown on the plans, County Highways had also requested a further condition requiring up to 10% of the total provision to be electric vehicle charging points.

62.23        A Member expressed the view that it was difficult to visualise the buildings in the context of the existing Business Park and therefore the impact it would have on neighbouring residents.  Another Member indicated that she was very concerned about the height of the units.  The Development Management Team Manager (South) advised that Officers were satisfied that the development would have an acceptable impact in terms of its scale and relationship to nearby dwellings.  It was proposed and seconded that the application be deferred for a Planning Committee Site Visit to assess to size and scale of the proposal and the impact on residential amenity.  The proposer of the motion acknowledged that a site visit could have been requested prior to the meeting but she continued to have concerns about the size and scale and felt it was important to take a look at the site to put this into perspective.  A Member asked if it was possible to negotiate a reduction in the height of the units and the Development Management Team Manager (South) advised that he suspected these modern industrial units needed to be a particular size to accommodate machinery but he could ask the question of the applicant.  Another Member indicated that he would support a site visit as, although the size may be in line with the norm for industrial units, it was their proximity to housing which was the concern in this case.  Whilst he understood the reasons for requesting a site visit, another Member indicated that he did not believe he had heard anything new today which had not been set out in the Committee report.

62.24        Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That the application be DEFERRED for a Planning Committee Site Visit to assess the size and scale of the proposal and the impact on residential amenity.

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