Agenda item

Application no 163058 - Hewden Plant Hire, Old Forest Road, Wokingham

Recommendation:  Conditional Approval, subject to Legal Agreements


Proposal: Full application for proposed erection of 43 dwellings (7 x 1 bedroom apartments, 11 x 2 bedroom apartments, 17 x 3 bedroom houses and 8 x 4 bedroom houses) together with associated access improvements, parking and refuse storage following the demolition of existing buildings.


Applicant:Ashill Land Ltd


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 15 to 46.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·         Proposed amendment to Condition 5 to clarify the number of parking spaces as 71;

·         Proposed updates to conditions 15 and 17;

·         Proposed deletion of condition 13 as it was covered in condition 23;

·         Clarification as to acceptable noise levels and noise attenuation schemes;

·         Clarification as to the percentage of affordable housing applicable to brown field sites;

·         Information on density and maximum building heights of surrounding developments;

·         Additional comments from the Emmbrook Residents’ Association.


Members had visited the site on 24 March 2017.


Kevin Morgan, Member of Wokingham Town Council for Emmbrook North, spoke against the application.  He stated that the plan did meet minimal regulations but by their very nature these were minimal and were leading to a lowering of standards.  He suggested that the size of parking spaces for some of the properties would make access to cars, rear gardens and for rubbish collection extremely difficult.


Robert Millen, Emmbrook Residents’ Association, spoke in opposition to the application.  He stated that the proposal for change of use was acceptable but that the plan proposed an unacceptable housing density and would lead to substandard amenity value.  He indicated that only 6 gardens met Council guidelines in terms of length, and queried the number of disabled and unallocated parking spaces. 


Tracey Puttock, Ashill Land, spoke in favour of the application, explaining the measures that Ashill Land had taken to work with the community on the development, and that there had been majority support.  She stated that, as a brown field site in a built up area, the density was not out of keeping and would not lead to a loss of amenity.   The amount of space allocated to parking met the Councils guide and a trip rate assessment had shown that any increase in vehicle movements would be insignificant.


Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Ward Member for Emmbrook, spoke in opposition to the plan, stating that the location of a hump-back bridge close to the access road to the development would be a hazard.  She went on to suggest that, during construction, site vehicles should not park on the road and that parking, access, overhanging trees and garden length should all be addressed. 


In his absence, the Chair read a letter from Philip Mirfin, Member for Emmbrook, on the application.  He stated, that whilst on the face of it an attractive development and that changes had been made to the application following discussion with the developers, access to the development; the size of the parking spaces for the town houses, and garden lengths were still inadequate.


In her absence, Councillor Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey read a letter from Prue Bray, Member of Winnersh, a neighbouring ward, stating concerns around the route that might be used by construction traffic in regards to access over the hump-backed bridge, poor visibility on access to the site and lack of safe on-road parking.  She suggested that a condition be included requiring a banksman and that restrictions and protection be put in place regarding parking on Forest Road and Lennon Close relatively speaking


In response, the Case Officer made the following points:


·       Whilst the property densities would be high, they compared favourably to other developments in the area.  Density was related to impact on an area and the space of the development had been judged as adequate;

·       community space for the flats was 78 sqm for one and 65 sqm for the second.  There were a number of open spaces nearby that could be accessed by residents;

·       gardens had been calculated to have sufficient sqm. The shorter length was to allow the Council to maintain trees with TPOs.  As there would be no conflict from houses backing on to the properties and the boundary was to be post and rail, there would be no loss of visual amenity;

·       the aspect of the properties meant that shade would not be an issue in the afternoons, and

·       the condition relating to construction routing was stringent and covered all the concerns raised by the speakers.


The Service Manager, Highways Development Management, re-iterated that the parking met Council standards in terms of dimension and exceeded them in terms of number.  In regards to disabled bays, he stated that these would depend on need and be determined by the management company in response to resident needs.  In relation to construction traffic, he indicated that vehicles would be advised of the most efficient routes on to the site.   The development of the Northern Distributor Road to the west of Old Forest Road would, in fact, improve the situation.  He stated that the S106 agreement made provision for the security of land within the applicant’s ownership to enable, if required in the future, a new cycle and pedestrian bridge which could be located alongside the existing bridge on Old Forest Road, improving the current situation.


In response to Member questions, the Service Manager, Highways Development Management indicated that a reduction to the speed limit on Old Forest road to 30mph had been considered in the past and could be considered again (although it is not dependant on this application) and that the Council’s Community Parking Enforcement powers would provide further assistance when introduced to assist in parking enforcement restrictions.  He stated that the access gates were set back by approximately 12m to enable vehicles to pull off the highway prior to them opening to prevent traffic build up on entering the development.  He also clarified that any increase in traffic was measured against the existing vehicle movements to determine an overall nett increase.  The site would benefit from 6m wide roads and had turning areas, as well as a footpath running down one side.


In response to a Member question regarding Houses of Multiple occupation (HMOs), the Lead Officer, Operational Development Management stated that a condition could be added citing the removal of HMO development rights due to parking.


Resolved:   That Application no 163058 be approved subject to the conditions set out in Agenda pages 15 to 46, the amendment to conditions 15 and 17, the deletion of condition 13, the clarifications and additional comments as laid out in the Members’ Update and an additional condition relating to HMOs. 


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