Agenda item

Application No.201515 - Ashridge Farm, Warren House Road, Wokingham, RG40 5QB

Recommendation: Conditional approval subject to legal agreement


Proposal: Full application for the erection of 153 dwellings comprising a mix of 1,2,3 & 4 beds with associated landscaping, parking, open space, drainage; construction of a new access onto Warren House Road and Bell Foundry Lane; provision of an area of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) and all other associated development works (including demolition of existing buildings and provision of temporary site sales).


Applicant:  Barratt David Wilson Homes


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application as set out in agenda pages 5 to 74.


The Committee was advised that the Members’ Update included the following:


·       Amendment of the cited Heads of Terms on Pages 8 and 25;

·       Amendment of condition 2, to include the list of drawings to be approved;

·       Amendment of condition 25 regarding stream alignment;

·       Amendment of condition 37 regarding odour mitigation measures;

·       Additional conditions 45 and 46;

·       Clarification regarding parking space number and parking ratio;

·       Additional consultation responses;

·       Clarification regarding the installation of acoustic screens around the Odour Control Unit in order to address the noise issues associated with this, in order for it to commence use again.


Abby Tebboth, Wokingham Town Council, spoke in objection to the application.  She stated that the Town Council was concerned about the odour levels coming from the sewage works.  The odour contouring had been noted but the Odour Impact Assessment still predicted that odour exposures across the site would potentially be two or three times the level at which odour became a nuisance, which would have a significant impact on residents’ use of their homes, gardens and the amenity space.  Abby Tebboth went on to state that the proximity of the housing to Ashridge Stream presented a considerable flood risk even if the diversion works were completed.  An area of the development was in the high level of flood risk, which was not in line with the Core Strategy.  She added that there was an increased risk of flooding to the existing houses in the area.  Abby Tebboth indicated that residents had concerns around the safety of the access to Warren House Road, to the playpark and the SANG, to existing houses.  Increased pressure on local infrastructure was also potentially an issue.  Abby Tebboth went on to state the application would develop some of the only remaining green space in Norreys.


Jessica Sparkes, spoke in favour of the application, on behalf of the Applicant.  She commented that the proposals had been shaped following extensive discussions with officers and consultees.  The number of dwellings now aligned with the emerging Local Plan, landscaping and open space were now increased and overall density on a par with other developments in the Strategic Development Location.   Jessica Sparkes indicated that the application would allow for the completion of the Northern Distributor Road and that additional SANG and public open space would also be provided, which would complement the existing SANG across the north of Wokingham.  The proposals also offered policy compliant affordable housing all of which would be provided within the development  Jessica Sparkes commented that the proposals gave regard to the water treatment works to the north and Listed Building to the south.  She highlighted that Thames Water had not raised an objection to the proposals, had confirmed that the layout accorded with the recent odour report and that no further works were required from their perspective.  In addition, Historic England had not submitted an objection and the applicant had sought to enhance the views that would be possible from the new public open space to the listed building by providing wide open space at the centre of the site for the veteran trees, a planted orchard and by retaining a granary building which would enhance the character of the open space at the centre of the site. 


Malcolm Richards commented that the application would enable the completion of the Northern Distributor Road, which was positive.


Malcolm Richards questioned whether there was a Construction Management Plan.  Judy Kelly confirmed that there would.


Malcolm Richards commented that there were three entry points to the development, but the plans suggested that the development was in two separate halves.  He asked whether the roads allowed travel from one side of the development to the other.  He went on to ask about the internal road width and if they would be sufficiently wide for the predicted volume of traffic.  In addition, Malcolm Richards asked if there would be pavements or shared spaces throughout the development.  Connor Corrigan confirmed that there were two halves to the development with a linkage road through the middle.  Judy Kelly added that the linkage road was more an emergency link and that there would be bollards in place and would be pedestrian and cycle only.  The site accesses had been subject to road safety audits and no particular issues had been identified.  With regards to road widths, Judy Kelly indicated that they would vary, but would generally be between 5-6m.  A swept path exercise had been successfully carried out using a Council refuse vehicle.  Judy Kelly added that there would be some shared spaces, such as at the end of cul-de-sacs, otherwise footpaths would be on one or both sides of the roads.


Malcolm Richards queried what percentage of the development was at high risk of flooding.  Connor Corrigan stated that land to the south of the NDR was in Zones 1 and 2 and the realignment of the stream would create betterment and would put the development in Zone 1, which was acceptable.  North of the NDR would flood but was open space, which was again considered acceptable.  He informed Members that the Environment Agency had a standing objection to the timing of the development.  They had wanted the flood modelling to be undertaken after the alignment of the stream.  However, following discussions, the Environment Agency was satisfied with revised condition 25.


Malcolm Richards asked about the odour control system and potential noise and odour resulting from it.  Connor Corrigan commented that Officers had relied on Thames Water and Environmental Health to look at the odour report.  A detailed Odour Modelling Assessment had been produced by an independent consultant appointed by Thames Water.  The odour control system had reduced the amount of odour on site.  Noise mitigation and screening would be put in to mitigate against any noise issues.


In response to a question from Malcolm Richards, Judy Kelly stated that there would be 238 allocated parking spaces and 60 unallocated or visitor spaces.


Simon Weeks sought clarification on the safety of the access points.  Judy Kelly confirmed that they had been subject to a Stage 1 Road Safety Audit.


Stephen Conway noted that some of the public open space was within Zone 3 of the odour contour map, and questioned whether there was a risk of the public open space becoming unusable on some occasions.  He also queried potential odour nuisance beyond Zone 3.  Simon Weeks commented that approximately 75% of the time the prevailing wind was from the south west to the north east.  Connor Corrigan added that the odour contour mapping was based on the level of complaints received.  The number of dwellings proposed had responded to the odour contour mapping zone.  There was enough open space to ensure that people did not have stand in an area on occasions when it was particularly odorous.  Stephen Conway added that sewage treatment works were usually situated away from housing developments.  As development in the area increased so would the pressure on the sewage treatment system.


Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey questioned whether prospective residents would be informed of the sewage treatment works prior to purchase.  Connor Corrigan commented that anyone visiting the development would be able to see the site.


Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey sought clarification as to how bad flooding would potentially be and how flooding control on the site would work.  Connor Corrigan indicated that the site was designed with SUDS in place.  It was for the applicant to decide how they were managed but they could decide to hand it over to the Council to manage should they wish.  The drainage system would be improved by the betterment of the stream.


Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey asked whether there would be crossings on the NDR to enable crossing to Cantley.  Connor Corrigan stated that there were two crossings and that Cantley was a key destination.  A Walking and Cycling Strategy condition sought a new pedestrian crossing to Cantley, which would also benefit the residents of the Kentwood Development.  There would be cycleways and footpaths and Cantley would have a new cycleway.  A S106 contribution was in place to improve pedestrian and cycleway connectivity.  Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey queried if the cycleway would be shared or separate and was informed that it would be shared.


Carl Doran welcomed the provision of 35% affordable housing on site.  He went on to question the tenure split (50% social rent, 20% affordable rent and 30% shared ownership) and if it was strictly policy compliant.  Connor Corrigan stated that the tenure split had been worked up with the Affordable Housing team based on local need.  There was a good mixture of provision across North Wokingham.  Carl Doran felt that there should be more 1 and 2 bedroom homes.


With regards to odour, Carl Doran queried whether there had been changes to the sewage treatment centre over the last ten years.  He pointed out that the North Wokingham SDL Supplementary Planning Document said that the sewage treatment works may exclude residential development in the Ashridge Farm area, due to odours, and that rigorous testing would be required.  He questioned whether this testing had been carried out.  Connor Corrigan indicated that the sewage works had had a major upgrade.  The SDL originally did not include the site as it was seen as a constraint.  However, when sites were allocated, it was done on a high-level basis.  Industry standard testing had been carried out by an independent contractor with regards to odour.


Carl Doran continued to raise concerns regarding potential odour.  He commented that the highest exposure levels were in the south of the site where the preliminary and primary effluent treatment took place.  The odour control unit did not cover this area.  Connor Corrigan responded that Environmental Health and Thames Water had not objected to the application.  Environmental Health had received two complaints regarding odour in 2015 and one in 2019.


Andrew Mickleburgh asked what the minimum road width was in the development and if it was adequate to ensure that there was no parking on verges and pavements.  Judy Kelly stated the minimum road width was generally 5m although there was a very small section of private road that would be 4.5m.  She did not envisage issues with parking.


Andrew Mickleburgh went on to ask about flooding in the SANG and how often it was anticipated that the SANG would flood and require closure.  Connor Corrigan confirmed that there would be a degree of flooding.  The waster course fed into the Emm Brook.  However, there was sufficient space to ensure that the SANG would not become unusable.


Andrew Mickleburgh referred to air quality and air pollution.  He expressed concern regarding the cumulative impact of increased vehicle movements along Warren House Road and Wiltshire Road.  Connor Corrigan indicated that the NDR would actually take traffic off the current route.


Pauline Jorgensen asked whether the estate to the left by the lagoon had experienced issues with odour.  Connor Corrigan clarified that no complaints had been received from the new developments.


Pauline Jorgensen queried whether the roads would be built to adoptable standards.  Judy Kelly stated that they would.  An obligation was being secured in the Heads of Terms for the Section 106, for the developer to either complete a Section 38 Highways Adoption Agreement, or enter into a separate private roads Section 106 Agreement prior to commencement of development. 


Pauline Jorgensen commented that the standards for cycleways were changing and that there was now a presumption in favour of separate cycleways.  She questioned if there could be a condition that where appropriate, cycleways be separate.  Judy Kelly suggested that condition 29 be refined to reflect this.


Pauline Jorgensen went on to ask if there would be hedgerow replacement.  She was informed that there would be reprovision of the hedgerows to link in the SANGs.


Simon Weeks commented that to the north of the NDR was the proposed SANG, linking to SANGs in the east and west.  Beyond that between the SANG and the proposed route of the NDR was additional recreational ground.  He sought clarification as to why this recreation ground had not been included.  Connor Corrigan reminded the Committee that only a certain amount of SANG was required to meet policy requirements.  Any greater would incur greater maintenance costs.  Pauline Jorgensen questioned whether it would be protected from future development, and was informed that it would be.


Chris Bowring commented that the odour report was a technical document and should be taken into account as such.


RESOLVED:  That application 201515 be approved subject to the completion of a S106 agreement inclusive of the following Heads of Terms set out on page 8 of the agenda, conditions and informatives as set out in pages 8 to 25 of the agenda, amended condition 29, and the additional conditions and amended conditions as detailed within the Members’ Update.


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