Recommendation: Conditional Approval subject to legal agreement.
Proposal: Hybrid Planning Application Outline application (all matters reserved only access to be considered) for up to 55 dwellings (Use Class C3) and all associated parking, landscape and access.
Full planning application for 1.56 hectares of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG).
Applicant: Taylor Wimpey and Barton Wilmore
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 169 to 214.
Members had undertaken a site visit.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· An amendment to the recommendation to highlight that the applicant had agreed to a reduction in the timeframes for the submission of reserved matters to one year to show commitment to the development. Also additional wording regarding the completion of the Legal Agreement;
· Amendment to condition 4;
· Additional condition regarding landscaping and boundary treatments adjacent to Lieutenants Cottage;
· Additional informative.
Andrew Grimes spoke on behalf of Shinfield Parish Council in objection to the application. He commented that the number of houses for the area as set out in the Managing Development Delivery Plan had already been exceeded. There was a need to maintain the Green Gap between Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood. Whilst the Parish Council recognised the principle of the development, it was felt that the application would only be acceptable if a number of conditions were put in place. Andrew Grimes stated that drainage in the area was poor and that this needed to be remedied. He requested that the existing flora and fauna be protected and that Footpath 20 be protected during any construction. In addition he referred to previously agreed traffic calming measures. Finally he referred to the impact of the proposed development on Lieutenant Cottage, a Grade II listed building which had limited foundations and already suffered from vibrations from road users. It was suggested that this building needed to be protected.
Jill O’Connell, resident, spoke in objection to the application. She commented that Spencers Wood was a rural village. She was of the view that there would be a negative impact on neighbouring properties as a result of noise and light pollution and dust. It was already difficult to turn into driveways due to traffic and this would be exacerbated by increased traffic. She expressed concern that the foundations of nearby cottages may be damaged further by vibrations from cars using the road. She also raised concerns that the privacy of the garden of Lawrence Dene would be compromised.
Gillie Gray, resident, spoke in objection to the application. She commented that the land was not part of the Strategic Development Location and had not been allocated for housing. The application was not in keeping with the Shinfield Parish Neighbourhood Plan which referenced the retention of the individual character of the different villages. Gillie Gray expressed concern regarding the impact on Lieutenant Cottage. It was felt that fencing erected would cause a loss of privacy and light to her property. She emphasised that the development would worsen drainage issues in the area and that traffic calming measures had already been approved previously.
Barrie Patman, resident, spoke in objection to the application. He emphasised the need to maintain the Green Gap between Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood. He questioned the benefits of the application, commenting that the SANG would be smaller than it could be and that connectivity was already in place due to the existence of Footpath 20. In addition Barrie Patman commented that S106 agreements were already in place to provide traffic calming measures. He was of the view that the proposed pedestrian crossing would not be in the most appropriate place.
Nick Patterson-Neild, agent and Leigh Abley, spoke in favour of the application. Nick Patterson-Neild commented that the development would make an important contribution to the Borough’s current and future needs. The SANG would improve accessibility and walking routes from east to west of the area and create recreational links. Access and parking would be in accordance with the Council’s standards. A footpath to the east of the development would be enhanced which in turn would enhance connections to Oakbank School. The applicant had worked with Officers and drainage officers to investigate existing water courses and natural overland flow routes. Proposals would provide significant management and mitigation of uncontrolled overland flows across the site through the introduction of SUDs features. Nick Patterson-Neild commented that the proposed pedestrian crossing on Basingstoke Road would be delivered early in the construction. He emphasised that the traffic impact of the development would be less than 2% in terms of impact on traffic flow on Basingstoke Road. With regards to Lieutenant Cottage there would be areas of planting around the building to reduce any adverse impact on privacy.
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Ward Member, spoke in objection to the application. She stated that the application went against a number of the Council’s policies including CP11 and CC02 which had regard to protecting the separate identities of individual settlements. The Green Gap between Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood would be lost. It was felt that the application would have a detrimental effect on Lieutenant Cottage. The height of the buildings on the proposed site would mean that the cottage would potentially be overlooked. The chalet style buildings proposed were out of keeping with the area and conflicted with CP3 and CP9. Councillor Haitham Taylor felt that the application failed to adequately address CP3 and TB24. She also commented that the site had not been allocated for development in the Core Strategy and was not similar to the Keep Hatch development referenced within the officer report. In addition she felt that Wokingham’s 5 year land supply was not a reason to approve the application and emphasised that Wokingham had already delivered in excess of the number of houses required to be delivered. The St Modwen Developments Ltd case from 2016 was referenced. Finally, Councillor Haitham Taylor indicated that plans were already in place for traffic calming measures and that existing traffic issues would be exacerbated by the development. Improved links between the SANG and Ryeish Green leisure centre were unnecessary due to existence of a footpath.
In response to Members’ questions regarding the number of homes stated in the Managing Development Delivery Local Plan being exceeded and the site’s location within the Strategic Development Location or otherwise, the Service Manager, SDL Planning Delivery commented that the original Strategic Development Location had been for 2500 homes but that the numbers were not fixed and that the Policy / Supplementary Planning Document for the area should not be seen as a static document. If a development was sustainable it had to be considered on its own merits.
In response to Members questions regarding the potential impact on the Grade II listed building, Lieutenant Cottage, the Service Manager, SDL Planning Delivery stated that there would be an impact, however, it was felt that sufficient landscaping and distance could be put in place to mitigate this impact. Members were advised that how a building was secured was not a planning matter.
A Member asked about the protection of wildlife and was informed that this could be conditioned.
The Committee discussed drainage issues. Officers advised that discussions had taken place on this matter. In terms of the SANG there would be sufficient space for drainage ponds and SUDs drainage measures.
Members asked about traffic calming measures and the controlled crossing. The Service Manager Highways Development commented that with regards to the traffic calming schemes identified through the Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross part of the Strategic Development Location and secured through a S106 agreement, it had been considered acceptable to push back their delivery to ensure no abortive work was undertaken. Once a number of development and improvement works had been implemented the traffic calming schemes would be delivered.
The Service Manager Highways Development clarified the position regarding Footpath 20.
In response to Members’ questions regarding the Green Gap, the Service Manager SDL Planning Delivery indicated that the gap would be retained and the development offered the opportunity for the gap to be retained in perpetuity as it would be transferred to the Council. There would be opportunities to undertake landscaping within the SANG and to create new public open space. A Member asked how separation between settlements was defined and was informed that there was not a set definition regarding distances.
The Service Manager SDL Planning Delivery clarified that the site had not been allocated for housing but was within the Strategic Development Location boundary.
It was confirmed that the power lines on the site would be undergrounded.
A Member asked about permeability of the site. The Service Manager SDL Planning Delivery indicated that Footpath 20 ran along the eastern boundary of the site and that the Brambles development linked into that. A permeable link would be created by upgrading and improving Footpath 20 on the proposed site. This would link to Ryeish Green Leisure Centre. In addition a path would be put in place in the SANG and also across the May’s Farm SANG to Oakbank School, providing better links across the wider area.
Some Members expressed concern regarding the size and scale of the proposed dwellings on the ridgeway. Officers agreed but advised that this was a matter for consideration at the detailed reserved matters application stage and noted that this application was for up to 55 dwellings.
The Committee was concerned that the application did not comply with a number of policies. Officers emphasised that it was believed that the impact of the development could be adequately mitigated, overcoming policy concerns and irrespective of the 5 Year Land Supply matter.
Councillor Angus Ross proposed that the application be deferred to enable a review of the impact of the confliction of the application with a number of the Council’s policies and a clearer understanding of the relevance of the 5 Year Land Supply to be provided. This was seconded by Councillor Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey.
RESOLVED: That application 171737 be deferred to enable a review of the impact of the confliction of the application with a number of the Council’s policies and a clearer understanding of the relevance of the 5 Year Land Supply to be provided.