Agenda item

Application No.202133 - Land east of Gorse Ride South, south of Whittle Close and to the north and south of Billing Avenue, Finchampstead, RG40 9JF

Recommendation: Conditional approval


Proposal: Full planning application for the proposed redevelopment of the existing Gorse Ride South Estate, comprising demolition of existing buildings and replacement with 249 no. dwellings (mixed-tenure flats and houses) together with associated access, parking, landscaping, public open space and drainage


Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council c/o Agent: Pegasus Planning Group


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 21 to 76.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·           Attached printed leaflet with summary information pertaining to the application;

·           Clarification that the age of the existing development and its intended functional lifespan were not relevant planning considerations for the purpose of the current application;

·           Clarification that the Local Planning Authority would also require a planning obligation in the form of a financial contribution towards local bus service contributions;

·           Revision to Condition 16;

·           Clarification regarding the affordable housing requirements;

·           Substitute wording of Informative 6;

·           Additional Informative 17;

·           Correction to paragraph 21, to now refer to 88 households.


John Kaiser, Executive Member for Finance and Housing, spoke in favour of the application. John stated that this project would consist of 74 percent affordable housing, with 185 new homes for the community. John added that although Council budgets were under pressure, it was crucially important for this project to move forward. John stated that the current properties were in poor condition, and Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) were committed to supporting the local community via provision of high quality homes. John added that this project had been adapted to meet the local need of the area, and the houses would be climate friendly and carbon friendly. John urged the Committee to support the proposals.


Steve Bowers, Chair of the Gorse Ride Residents Steering Group, spoke in support of the application. Steve stated that he had lived on the estate for 36 years, and had raised 5 children, all of whom now owned their own houses. Steve added that he wanted this for future generations, and he wanted people to be proud to live on the estate. Steve stated that the next step for the estate now needed to be taken, and the residents steering group in conjunction with the Parish and Borough Councils, amongst other key parties, were committed to enabling the delivery of this project. Steve added that people needed to be given other opportunities for good quality affordable housing, and he could not emphasise enough just how important this project was for the local area.


Gary Cowan stated that he was supportive of the proposals, and felt that the properties would be delivered in the right area. Gary queried whether affordable housing schemes could apply to former and current military personnel. Simon Weeks stated that key worker lists could be updated to include a variety of groups.


Stephen Conway stated that he was supportive of the proposals. Stephen queried why more apartment blocks were now included within the proposals. Nick Chancellor, case officer, stated that the proposals would be of a higher density when compared to the existing dwellings. Nick added that 4 stories were deemed acceptable, as they were mitigated by public open space, and the sense of openness of the overall site. Nick added that the proposals were acceptable in appearance.


Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried whether there was bicycle storage in the blocks of flats, whether the properties would be Council owned or managed via a housing association, and why the current properties were not built to last. Nick Chancellor stated that cycle storage would be located within each apartment block. The site would be conveyed to Loddon Homes, which was wholly owned by WBC. Nick added that the site would offer a suitable mix of different types of housing including social rent, discounted rent and shared ownership. Simon Weeks clarified that the current properties were of a Swedish fabricated design, which had a shorter lifespan that more expensive designs. Simon added that the proposals would be of significantly better quality, and therefore a significantly better lifespan.


Angus Ross queried why condition 24 only stated provision of 40 percent affordable housing, and how contributions towards SANG provision would be devised. Nick Chancellor stated that the 40 percent provision of affordable housing was just the policy requirement, however the proposals would far exceed this amount. Nick stated that the contributions towards SANG provision would only be sought from the uplift in dwellings compared to the current site.


Abdul Loyes stated that he was delighted to see the proposals progressing, and queried whether the roads would be adopted. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, confirmed that the roads would be adopted.


Malcolm Richards queried whether lifts would be present in the apartment blocks, queried whether some parking would be provided in clusters, queried whether there would be separate designated areas for electric charging, queried whether cladding would be present on the apartment blocks, and queried whether lighting would be present on all pathways across the site. Nick Chancellor stated that he thought lifts were not proposed within the apartment blocks. Nick stated that car parking would be well distributed across the site, and the site was designed so that allocated parking was close by to dwellings. Some electric charging points would be located on driveway plots, and some within unallocated spaces. The detail of placement of electric vehicle charging point was secured by condition and would come later. The exact materials to be used on the apartment blocks was secured by condition, and would be provided later, however the materials were likely to be a mix of brick, tile brick, and metal balconies. Nick stated that the intention was to illuminate all pathways, and this would form part of landscaping conditions.


Andrew Mickleburgh sought assurance that the garages were suitable for a modern vehicle, and the ban on business and residential usage of the garages would remain permanently. Andrew queried how the energy SAP rating compared to the Gold Standard. Nick Chancellor stated that the garages would be suitable for a modern size car, and the condition regarding acceptable use of the garages would remain in perpetuity unless appealed. Nick added that he could not compare the proposals to the gold Standard rating at this stage, however the properties would be very energy efficient, including features such as district heating of apartment blocks, and home air source heat pumps.


Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried whether permitted development would be allowed on the proposed dwellings, and queried whether photovoltaic panels would be present on the proposed dwellings. Nick Chancellor confirmed that permitted development would be removed by way of condition. Nick added that he could not confirm whether photovoltaic panels would be included, however it was possible that some would be included.


Committee Members were unanimous in their support for high quality affordable housing projects, such as this application.


RESOLVED That application number 202133 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 22 to 36, revision to condition 16, rewording of informative 6, and addition of informative 17 as set out in the Members’ Update.

Supporting documents: