Recommendation: Conditional approval subject to legal agreement
Simon Weeks and Gary Cowan withdrew from this item and took no part in discussions nor the vote.
Simon Weeks withdrew from the Chair, and Chris Bowring assumed the Chair.
Proposal: HYBRID APPLICATION:Outline application (all matters reserved except access to the site) for up to 140 residential units (Use Class C3) and all associated parking, soft and hard landscaping within the site and ancillary works. (Means of access into the Site off Park Lane, demolition of existing buildings and 2.83ha of SANG to be determined in full detail)
Applicant: Reading Football Club
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 77 to 142.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ update included:
· Replacement wording of Condition 26 ;
· Additional Condition 42.
Graeme Dexter, Barkham Parish Council, spoke in objection to the application. Graeme stated that the proposals did not fit well with the Arborfield and Barkham neighbourhood plan, nor did it fit with the nearby Hogwood industrial estate. Graeme stated that the extraction fans on the industrial estate were not suitable to be located in close proximity to a residential estate. Graeme added that the site was not located within the existing SDL, and was not in close proximity to local shops. Graeme stated that there would be no direct road access to the district centre, which would force more traffic onto Park Lane, as there was no link to the Nine Mile Ride road extension. Graeme added that it was not possible to safely walk to California Country Park, which would force yet more traffic onto Park Lane. Graeme felt that green areas and landscaping should be used as a buffer between the proposed homes and the industrial estate. Graeme stated that the site required a dedicated link to the nearby SDL, and more SDL infrastructure was required prior to development.
Nina Sharp, agent, spoke in support of the application. Nina stated that this application was in hybrid form, and included up to 140 dwellings and a SANG. Nina added that the site would be vacant from December 2020, and the proposals would provide a safe cycle route to Bohunt School, shops, and community facilities. Nina stated that 5 hectares of public open space would be provided, including a SANG extension. Surface upgrades to the SANG would be secured by a S106 legal agreement, and the site would provide 40 affordable homes. Nina stated that all properties would be of two storey design, with an average density of 27 properties per hectare. Nina concluded by saying that the site was included within the emerging draft local plan, and there had been no objections from statutory consultees regarding this application.
John Kaiser, Ward Member, spoke in objection to the application. John stated that this was not a sustainable development, and by allowing this development it would allow developments to be built anywhere via precedent. John was of the opinion that there was no highways justification for this application, and this application would set a very dangerous precedent. John stated that this was a case of SDL creep, as the site was ‘tacked’ on to the edge of an SDL, which was not sustainable. John stated that the proposals were not in line with the overarching SDL vision, and the access to the site would be via a dangerous and overstretched country road, with no safe crossing point. John was of the opinion that over 1000 jobs and livelihoods could be lost at the Hogwood industrial estate should they be forced to close due to environmental concerns from the proposed residential development. John stated that the site would force residents to drive to shops and amenities, which did not promote the Council’s green agenda. John urged the Committee to refuse this application until concerns had been adequately addressed.
Chris Bowring queried the relationship in planning terms between the proposed dwellings and the industrial estate. Sophie Morris, case officer, stated that the nearest property to the industrial estate was located 30m from the industrial estate, and no environmental concerns had been raised during the application stage. Sophie added that the houses in the southern portion of the SDL were located adjacent to the industrial estate. Sophie stated that there would be levels of background noise, however there were no objections based on these grounds.
Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried what measures would be taken to meet climate emergency objectives, queried whether the roads would be adopted, queried whether the SUDs would be adopted, and queried why only one main entrance and exit was proposed. Sophie Morris stated that a sustainability report would be submitted, with a number of measures intended to be taken forward, at the reserved matters stage. Some features of the development would include photovoltaic panels and solar water heat pumps. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, stated that at the outline stage it was too premature to know if the applicant intended to offer the roads or SUDs for adoption, however the S106 agreement would either require adoption or for the roads and SUDs to remain private via a maintenance company with conditions attached. Judy stated that there would be two points of access, one main and one secondary, and the peak projected vehicle movements from the development would equate to 74 vehicle movements per hour on to Park Lane.
Abdul Loyes queried whether the SANG was inside or outside of the red line boundary, queried whether Natural England had objected to an access point from Park Lane, and whether the Education service had commented regarding the impact of the development on school places. Sophie Morris confirmed that the SANG on the application site was located within the red line boundary, with linkages to the existing northern SANG. Detailed discussions had not taken place with Natural England, however a pedestrian / cycle path along Park Lane would result in the loss of some SANG, and it would be very likely that Natural England would not support such a proposal. Sophie added that Bohunt School had not responded to the proposals to date however Education have not raised any issues with the impact on schools.
Angus Ross queried the purpose of the alternate recommendation C, queried if the application was premature based on Wokingham’s land supply, and stated that noises and odours were present during the Members site visit. Connor Corrigan, Service Manager - Planning and Delivery, stated that the Committee were being asked to approve all recommendations in from them, with recommendation C allowing delegated refusal in the absence of the agreed S106 contributions. Connor stated that the NPPF was clear that an application could not be refused if it was deemed sustainable, and the assessment considered that the development would be sustainable given its location next to the SDL District Centre. He confirmed it would have been preferable if the site was originally planned and included as part of the wider SDL, however the planned infrastructure to be delivered as part of the wider SDL would make this site sustainable. Sophie Morris stated that an odour assessment had not been submitted, as this was usually submitted for applications nearby facilities such as a sewage treatment plants. Sophie stated that a condition could be added requiring completion of a satisfactory odour assessment.
Angus Ross suggested that a condition requiring a noise and odour assessment should be added if Members were minded to approve the application.
Malcolm Richards queried whether a smaller width pavement than standard could be installed, as without the option of walking to local shops and amenities, residents would be forced to drive. Judy Kelly stated that although some sections of Park Lane could fit a standard sized pavement, other sections would force the pavement to encroach on green space, and it was therefore not possible to provide a pavement. Sophie Morris added that internal footways within the site would provide a safe and attractive link to Bohunt School.
Pauline Jorgensen queried the density of dwellings per hectare, queried whether green space could potentially be reduced by the applicant should parking not meet standards, sought more details regarding the informal school from off point, and queried what would happen to the bus service provision once the S106 money ran out. Sophie Morris confirmed that the density on site would equate to 27 units per hectare, inclusive of the SANG area. Connor Corrigan confirmed that the SANG could not be reduced in order provide additional car parking. In addition, other green space would be sought to be maintained in order to meet WBC guidelines. Regarding the school drop off point, Connor stated that this would be an informal drop off point, and would allow students to be dropped off safely as currently this occurred within the industrial park, which was not ideal. Judy Kelly stated that S106 monies would be added to top up the Arborfield SDL bus strategy. More money was needed at the beginning of new and improved bus routes whilst passenger numbers were comparatively low due to full SDL housing numbers being in the delivery stage. As additional dwellings were constructed and occupied, bus services would become more profitable and self-sufficient.
Andrew Mickleburgh sought confirmation that it was not a planning consideration to consider what would happen to this site should it not be developed, and queried whether point 12 within the agenda report was contradictory as it stated the proposals were not considered as “so substantial” when they would contribute to a 9.3% increase to the southern SDL area. Connor Corrigan stated that WBC had looked at proposals to take on the site in its current form, however it was not a planning consideration to consider what the site would be should development not occur, and the Committee had to consider the application in front of them. Connor stated that officers had considered the proposals, including capacity of the existing and proposed local amenities, and had deemed the proposals to be sustainable and met the planning tests.
Chris Bowring sought clarification that if the proposals did not cause harm, then their position outside of the SDL was not a planning issue. Connor Corrigan stated that the NPPF was very clear that if a development was sustainable and caused no adverse harm, then they should be approved. Connor added that the planning tests had been looked at, and officers considered them to have passed, with the proposals not causing significant adverse harm.
Stephen Conway was concerned that this application could be considered as premature, and queried whether the development would be sustainable without the infrastructure being present. Connor Corrigan stated that prematurity could not be used as an agreement on sustainable sites and that the same argument could apply to the rest of the development in the SDL. However the approach is that supporting facilities and services generally come later on which also helps ensure their viability. Sophie Morris stated that reserved matters were yet to come, and they would provide a lot of detail. Sophie added that should this application be approved, reserved matters would be unlikely to return for at least six to twelve months. As such, units may not be developed until 2023, by which time facilities in the wider SDL should be developed.
Angus Ross proposed that standard conditions relating to noise and smell be added, and the results thereof be agreed in conjunction between the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the proposer. This was seconded by Chris Bowring, carried, and subsequently added to the list of conditions.
RESOLVED That application number 163547 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 79 to 96, replacement wording of condition 26 and additional condition 42 as set out in the Members’ Update, and additional standard conditions related to noise and smell as resolved by the Committee.