Agenda item

Application No. 181499 - Land South of Cutbush Lane, Shinfield, RG2 9AG

Recommendation: Conditional Approval subject to legal agreement


Proposal: Full planning application for the erection of 249 dwellings, new public open space, landscaping, surface water attenuation, access and associated works at land to the south of Cutbush Lane Shinfield.


Applicant: Bellway Homes and the University of Reading


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 15 to 110.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·           An 37 updated list of head terms/alternative recommendation C on

Pages 17 and 37;

·           Replacement Table 1 on page 56;

·           Removal of the work ‘around’ on page 60 paragraph 40;

·           Typographical clarification on page 65 paragraph 73 stating that the total parking space allocation was 415 allocated spaces and 95 unallocated/visitor spaces;

·           Clarification regarding the SANG capacity.


Jack Hatch, resident, spoke in objection to the application. Jack stated that he was surprised that this application had returned to the Planning Committee so quickly, considering the amount of details that had changed including the SANG provision. Jack was of the opinion that many of the objections raised by residents and interested parties had not been adequately addressed. Jack stated that many of the objections had highlighted that the proposed development site was not originally present in the SDL and was instead released via an Executive decision. Jack was of the opinion that the surrounding area of Shinfield was not coping with the existing levels of housing development and raised concerns relating to the lack of highways traffic concerns raised. Jack added that there was concern regarding access to the proposed development, citing that the access road was very limited with regards to space, especially on the west side of the road where the proposed development would be situated. Jack was of the opinion that the proposed access was therefore not safe. Jack concluded by querying whether the proposed development met Wokingham’s needs effectively.


Mark Chatfield, resident, spoke in objection to the application. Mark stated that further consultation had not been carried out between the developer and the residents despite the significant changes to the application. Mark added that the report had noted that any archaeological findings on the proposed development site would be of little value, Mark felt that this was an opinion and he referenced that Shinfield had a longstanding history. Mark was of the opinion that there was no way to assess the impact to residents’ wellbeing should the site be developed, and added that the proposed development could create additional pollution. Mark stated that traffic issues were already commonplace around the proposed development site and felt that this development would only exacerbate these existing problems. Mark added that there was poor pedestrian access to the proposed development and that this could lead to dangerous situations. Mark noted that the reptile survey was undertaken in December which was contrary to advice given by Natural England on how and when to undertake such surveys. Mark concluded by commenting that local residents would concur that there was no capacity within local services such as GP surgeries for additional local residents. 


Nick Paterson Neild, Agent, spoke in favour of the application. Nick stated that the premise for housing on this land was established in 2010, and was included within the 2017 Shinfield neighbourhood plan. Nick added that Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC’s) core strategy supported the SDL and a sustainable plan for present and future residents of Shinfield. Nick stated that a public consultation event had taken place with residents at the Shinfield Parish Hall, and added that the applicant had worked alongside a range of professional Officers to improve on various aspects of the application. Nick commented that there was an emergency access route to the proposed development along the north east side, and added that traffic surveys had been undertaken by the applicant. Nick stated that the applicant would provide S106 contributions, provide a T-junction, and landscaping enhancements to the eastern edge of the proposed site. Nick stated that the proposed development would provide 35% affordable housing, a new children’s play area and sports pitch in addition to a new cycle and footpath. Nick confirmed that the proposed development would provide £6.5 million in CIL contributions which could provide for education and community facilities to benefit current and future residents. Nick concluded by stating that there were no technical objections to the application, and that the application fully accorded to the neighbourhood plan.


Jim Frewin, Ward Member, submitted a written statement which was in objection to the application. In his absence, Chris Bowring read out the statement. Jim outlined that his objections were in three main parts, namely pushing the date of development forward from 2026 to 2019 (and the need of doing so), the suitability of the SANG and residents wellbeing, and the previous character of the area. Jim stated that there were varying figures regarding WBC’s land supply, ranging from 5.27 years to 11 years. Jim added that the local housing market had stagnated and was of the opinion that there was no demonstrable need for the proposed development, citing other major developments in the area. Jim added that the original proposed date of 2026 would have allowed time for appropriate infrastructure and community improvements to have been undertaken. Jim stated that a consequence of pushing the development date forward to 2019 would be a deteriorated level of wellbeing for residents. Jim was of the opinion that the calculation for the SANG allocation was questionable in addition to it being situated over 400m from the proposed development which would result in more people having to drive there. Jim stated that the development would create more pollution in the local area as a result of construction and increased car usage. Jim concluded by commenting that the prevailing character of an area was defined as being 50 to 60 metres from the application, with no 3 storey or linked terraces housing present within the prevailing area adjacent to the proposed development. 


Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Ward Member, spoke in objection to the application. She raised concerns relating to the accompanying SANG, citing that the previous SANG was refused by Members and now no new SANG would be required for this application, thereby limiting the public open green space that local residents would be able to use. Charlotte stated that further development in Shinfield would lead to the village doubling in size, with roads already being at capacity and congested with traffic. Charlotte added that at the time when this land was released the land supply was close to 5 years, with the land supply currently being approximately 6.83 years, not taking in to account the South Wokingham SDL. Charlotte asked for assurances that planning permission would be refused in line with recommendation C should those circumstances occur. Charlotte concluded by stating that the proposed 3 storey buildings were a massive design element which were out of keeping with the prevailing area and commented that the proposed children’s play area was toward the edge of the development, next to a bike path.


Pauline Jorgensen queried a number of aspects regarding traffic flow, traffic modelling and congestion in the area of the proposed development. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, stated that WBC use a strategic transport model which used an agreed study area to evaluate traffic flow both currently and in the future when a proposed development would be fully occupied and if the development would not be present. Judy stated that only one junction was identified to be a concern as a result of this modelling, and improvements could be made to alleviate these issues. Judy added that the strategic transport model also looked at the wider road network of the Borough as a whole, in addition to looking at the flow of traffic in and out of adjoining areas such as Reading and Bracknell. Judy stated that the circulatory carriageway could be increased to 4 lanes from 3 if required to ease congestion.


Stephen Conway asked for clarification regarding to the alternative recommendation C on agenda page 37. Connor Corrigan, Service Manager – Strategic Development Locations Planning Delivery, stated that it allowed Officers a ‘backup clause’ to refuse development if S106 obligations were not met within a reasonable timeframe. Connor added that the S106 agreement for this application was realistically a few days away from completion.


Stephen Conway queried whether the 3 storey buildings were out of keeping with the prevailing area, referring to the Officer comment on agenda page 44 which outlined 3 storey buildings in the area which Stephen felt were far from the proposed development and not in the prevailing area of the proposed development. Chris Howard, Case Officer, stated that the 3 storey buildings had already been consented in other developments locally and helped to provide a mix of housing types within the proposed development. Chris added that 3 storey buildings would be sited towards the centre of the development and would also be screened by the two storey housing which is located on the edge of the development.


Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried why the affordable homes were situated in one place on the proposed development site, and queried why solar panels were not included within the proposed development. Chris Howard stated that affordable homes were commonly situated in one area of a development site to allow for easier management of the properties. Chris added that solar panels required maintenance and were not a perfect solution, and clarified that the fabric first solution would secure carbon savings at the building stage of development.


Gary Cowan raised a number of concerns regarding this application, including the process of how the land was released via Executive decision, the precedent that recent appeal decisions had on this application, the calculation of the associated SANG including car parking provision and the long journey time to said SANG, the inclusion of 3 storey buildings when the prevailing area did not include these and the single access point to the development. Chris Howard clarified that the Ridge SANG had planning permission approved in 2014 and added that this included both parts of the SANG, as the SANG was previously partially fenced off. Chris confirmed that the SANG provision was acceptable in planning terms. Chris stated that a S106 agreement was in place to ensure that the SANG was developed and maintained to an acceptable standard.


Mary Severin, Borough Solicitor, clarified that the Executive decision only released the land into the housing land supply, and the Committee’s role was to take in to account all of the relevant planning policies and was not bound by the Executive decision.


Carl Doran queried the forecast number of houses for the SDL and how many homes were currently occupied, the tenure mix of affordable housing not meeting the 70:30 split of social rent to shared ownership, whether the lack of health care capacity was a material consideration, and how the application came forth. Chris Howard stated that there was no maximum limit to the SDL and that so long as an SDL was sustainable the Government was pressing for development to continue. Chris added that 2790 houses had been permitted within the SDL. Simon Weeks commented that the CCG Chief Executive had previously confirmed that the Shinfield GP surgery was running at half capacity and would need to employ more GPs to increase this. Chris Howard stated that the affordable housing working group had accepted the affordable housing proposals, including the commuted sum, and clarified that the affordable housing proposals reflected what was currently needed and in demand. Connor Corrigan clarified that approximately 1230 occupations had been verified within the SDL as of March 2019. Connor added that the University of Reading had instigated the application and pre-application advice.


Andrew Mickleburgh asked for clarification regarding the early release of the land into the housing land supply. Simon Weeks commented that the land was released by Executive decision as some developers had convinced the Planning Inspectorate that WBC had below a 5 year land supply, for example 4.96 years. Simon explained that this had led to other developers placing speculative applications in highly unsuitable and unsustainable development areas. By releasing the land, Simon explained that it put the housing land supply comfortably above 5 years which gave WBC back control to determine planning applications. Connor Corrigan stated that the site was always considered suitable, for that reason it was included as an adopted site in the Council’s Core Strategy and had been assessed by modelling a full occupancy rate in 2026.


Malcolm Richards raised concerns relating to the site only having one main access point and an emergency access point. Chris Howard clarified that a previous appeal for a separate development was allowed, adding that this site also had one entrance.


Pauline Jorgensen stated that the Borough Design Guide stipulated that play areas should be situated towards the centre of developments, allowing the area to be overlooked by houses. Pauline reiterated concerns with regards to the traffic modelling.


Chris Bowring asked for clarification regarding the traffic modelling and the congestion levels of the relief road. Judy Kelly stated that traffic modelling had estimated that approximately 120 journeys would be made during the morning peak as a result of the proposed development. Judy added that the relief road had been included in the modelling at full occupancy rates in 2026 and the traffic flow was deemed to be acceptable.


Chris Bowring asked for clarification with regards to the emergency access to the proposed development, and whether the affordable housing provision complied with policy. Judy Kelly clarified that the emergency access would be through the east side and was covered by condition. Chris Howard stated that the affordable housing was compliant with policy, and added that it was common to have 3 storey buildings towards the centre of sites in order to allow for a greater diversity of housing mix.


A number of Members raised concerns that the development encroached on the countryside.


A number of Members raised concerns that the affordable housing mix and commuted sum was not appropriate and did not provide enough social renting dwellings. Connor Corrigan stated that the proposals were policy compliant, and clarified that WBC allowed for off-site commuted sum contributions.


A number of Members surmised reasons for an alternative proposal to refuse the application, these being that the application:


-     Was contrary to the character of the existing prevailing area due to the inclusion of 3 storey buildings;

-     Had an inappropriate split of affordable housing, namely a lack of social rent properties;

-     Encroached on the countryside and was contrary to CS 11;

-     Had an inappropriately positioned play area situated towards the edge of the proposed development which lacked surveillance.


The proposal to refuse the application was moved by Stephen Conway and seconded by Carl Doran. Upon being put to a vote it was:


RESOLVED That application 181499 be refused, due to the application being contrary to the character of the existing prevailing area due to the inclusion of 3 storey buildings, had an inappropriate split of affordable housing - namely a lack of social rent properties, encroached on the countryside and was contrary to CS 11, and had an inappropriately positioned play area situated towards the edge of the proposed development which lacked surveillance.

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