Agenda item

Agenda item

Planning Application No. CB/18/02373/OUT (Stotfold & Langford)

 

Address:       Loft Farm and west of Church Street, Langford, Biggleswade, SG18 9QA

 

Outline planning application for up to 95 dwellings and associated public open space, with all matters reserved except for access.

 

Applicant:     Rosconn Strategic Land

Minutes:

 

The Committee had before it a report regarding Planning Application No. CB/18/02373/OUT for up to 95 dwellings and associated public open space, with all matters reserved except for access at Loft Farm and west of Church Street, Langford, Biggleswade, SG18 9QA.

 

In advance of consideration of the application the Committee’s attention was drawn to additional/amended conditions/reasons as set out in the Late Sheet.  The planning officer advised that a delivery schedule had also been sought as part of the required S106 Agreement.

 

In advance of consideration of the application the Committee received representations from Langford Parish Councillor Gillian Clarke, Ms Tania Barr, an objector, and a joint representation from Mr Daniel Hatcher, the applicant and Mr Adam Davies, the applicant’s agent.  Parish Councillor Clarke and Mr Davies responded to a Members’ requests for clarification.

 

A ward Member made the following comments:

 

·         He recognised the national need for housing but there had been no mention of the need to supplement the Council’s own five year land supply.

·         The site had not been proposed to go forward under the emerging Local Plan, two other sites being felt more suitable despite their own access issues.

·         The agreed S106 contribution towards education provision was only at the expected level and was not beyond the norm.

·         The agreed contribution towards the NHS was to provide additional capacity in the local surgery and was no guarantee of an overall increase in the number of GPs for the practice.

·         There were sustainability issues in the village.  It was felt too dangerous for children to cycle to the Henlow Academy so they walked or were driven there.

·         The content of the proposed construction management plan was loose and required development.  He queried what the consequences were if the plan was not adhered to.

·         The development was outside the village settlement envelope.

·         Biggleswade was the nearest major town and at peak travel time there would be a significant number of persons from the proposed development driving into that town and finding nowhere to park given the issues that already existed there.

·         There were outstanding queries regarding the width of the proposed access route through Tithe Farm Close and an alternative should be found from Church Street though this would incur a cost for the applicant.

·         If the Committee was minded to approve the application he requested that the existing zebra crossing be upgraded to a Puffin signalled crossing before building work commenced because of the related increase in traffic and the use of the crossing by children going to/from school.

·         He asked that the Committee refuse the application subject to the provision of a better access.

 

The planning officer responded to the points raised as follows:

 

·         With regard to police concerns regarding the security of the development site the application was in Outline form and there was no detailed layout available.  Two access points were proposed, one vehicular and one pedestrian, which the officer considered acceptable.

·         The flood zone was in the main western part of the site, representing approximately half to a third of the open space.  The remainder of the site was not in flood zones 2 or 3. No objection had been received from the flood officer.

·         With regard to infrastructure a number of external organisations had been consulted and no objections had been received subject to conditions or planning obligations.

·         He acknowledged there had already been considerable development in the village, however the application had been submitted and required consideration.

·         The site wasn’t taken forward after the first assessment stage in the call for sites (under the emerging Local Plan) because there were considered better sites to the southern end of the village.  This did not make other applications unacceptable.

·         Documents relating to the environmental impact had been considered and were considered acceptable with no technical objections raised.

 

The highways officer responded to the points raised as follows:

 

·         Tithe farm Close measured at 5.5 meters in total width between the kerbs, composed of 5.2 meters of tarmac road with 150mm upturned channel blocks on each side.

·         On safety risk and conflict, particularly with regard to school traffic, the application had been submitted with a transport assessment.  Approximately 38 trips would be generated at the a.m. peak, with 50% travelling north and 50% travelling south when on Church Street.  Approximately 19 movements would be towards the school.  An upgrade from a Zebra to a Puffin crossing point had been requested as the latter would display a red light requiring drivers to stop.

·         The internal road layout for the site complied with all geometric standards.

·         The 90 degree bend in Tithe Farm Close acted as a natural traffic calming point.

 

The Committee considered the application and in summary discussed the following:

 

·         The need for a Minerals Recovery Plan, as set out in recommended Condition 17, because a minerals resource assessment had revealed that some materials could be present within the application site which could be used for the construction works.  It was not intended to extract materials for removal from the site.

·         Major concerns regarding the suitability of the access in Tithe Farm Close, despite the views of the relevant officers.  In particular concern on its ability to cope during the construction process when significant numbers of vehicles carrying building materials would need to pass through the 90 degree bend in Tithe Farm Close.  Despite a construction management plan there would be difficulty in controlling the timing of the movement of the construction workers.

·         The possibility of a temporary access off Church Road for the construction traffic.

·         The highways officer stated that the construction management plan would be assessed once submitted, however, slightly smaller vehicles could be used to transport materials and the same problems had been experienced when the western part of the Close had been built so a solution could be found.

·         Concern that approval of the construction management plan was outside the remit of the Committee and so the Committee and local residents would have no influence on the outcome.

·         The possibility that the new access off Tithe Farm Close to the application site had been anticipated hence the availability of a space to allow the access to be provided coupled with the failure to construct the relevant part of Tithe Farm Close to cope with the additional vehicular traffic.

·         An explanation as to why unallocated sites were allowed to be brought forward and recommended for approval under the National Planning Policy Framework as part of the government’s encouragement of housebuilding.

·         The difficulty faced by the Council in defending villages from such piecemeal development, especially in the north of the County, as it lacked the protective landscape designations found in the south.

·         The difficulty in opposing development when there were no reasons for refusal apart from the application site laying outside the settlement envelope.

·         That the Council’s highways officer had stated that the access met the required technical standards.

 

Note: At this point in the debate, and contrary to the officer recommendation, it was moved and seconded that the application be refused for the following reason:

 

Inadequate access for HGV traffic during the construction phase.

 

A second planning officer acknowledged the concerns regarding the suitability of the Tithe Farm Close access for construction traffic but emphasised that the Council’s own technical highways expert had raised no objection to its use for this purpose.  To refuse the application, therefore, on highways grounds would place the Council at a high risk of costs being awarded against the Council at appeal.  Further, the costs would be significant given the size of the application.

 

The ward Member stated that there was a need to consider the ‘buildability’ of the application given the reference to the construction management plan in the Late Sheet.  He then expressed grave concern regarding the possible danger caused by large articulated vehicles carrying building materials such as roof trusses in such a restricted space.  The Member also referred to issues arising in Church Street as construction vehicles queued to enter Tithe Farm Close. 

 

The legal officer advised the Committee that, if it was minded to refuse the application due to inadequate access during the construction stage, the period was relatively short and Members needed to consider if that reason for refusal was sustainable. She warned of a possible claim against the Council at appeal.  Alternatively, the access could be regarded as inadequate.

 

Following a Member’s suggestion the planning officer stated that the size of vehicles to be used could be set out in the construction management plan.  The highways officer added that he would wish to see tracking diagrams in the plan showing how vehicles would negotiate the 90 degree bend in Tithe Farm Close. He was unable to comment as to whether large articulated vehicles could do so as he had not carried out the necessary tracking exercise.

 

On being put to the vote 4 Members voted to refuse the application (Councillors Dalgarno, Gomm, Nicols and Swain), 8 voted against refusal (Councillors Berry, Blair, Clark, Collins, Firth, Ghent, Janes and Young) and 1 abstained (Councillor Matthews) so the motion to refuse the application was defeated.

 

A Member commented that, whilst Members appeared less concerned with the development itself, they had serious concerns regarding access to the application site using Tithe Farm Close, particularly by construction traffic.  He also took the opportunity to refer to the loss of amenity to the resident who would experience substantial vehicular traffic from the development’s occupants using the new access off Tithe Farm Close, which was adjacent to the resident’s home.

 

Having regard to the above, and contrary to the officer recommendation, it was moved and seconded that the application be deferred for the following reasons:

 

The Committee lacked tracked movements of construction vehicles and so was unable to establish whether construction vehicles could safely pass through the 90 degree bend in Tithe Farm Close to access the application site

The Committee lacked evidence of the numbers of vehicles using the proposed new access adjacent to 14 Tithe Farm Close into the application site.

The Committee was having difficulty making an appropriate decision in the above circumstances.

 

Further discussion followed.

 

The ward Member offered to work with officers and the developer on an acceptable access solution.

 

On being put to the vote 11 members voted to defer the application for up to two meeting cycles, 0 voted against deferral and 2 abstained.

 

RESOLVED

 

that further consideration of Planning Application No. CB/18/02373/OUT relating to land at Loft Farm and west of Church Street, Langford, Biggleswade, SG18 9QA be deferred for up to two meeting cycles to enable Members to:

 

·         receive evidence relating to the ability of construction vehicles to enter the application site by passing through Tithe Farm Close.

·         assess the impact on the existing residents in Tithe Farm Close in the immediate vicinity of the proposed new access to the application site as a result of the increase in traffic resulting from the development.

·         find an alternative access to the application site, subject to the developer’s approval to do so.

 

 

 

Supporting documents: