Agenda item

Application no - 161839 Bell Farm, Bell Foundry Lane, Wokingham

Recommendation:  Conditional Approval, subject to Legal Agreements.


OUTLINE APPLICATION: A section of the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) and associated infrastructure, including a cycle and footway. (All Matters Reserved) 
FULL APPLICATION: Phased development for the erection of 128 dwellings and associated areas of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG), open spaces and drainage/attenuation.  Two accesses from Bell Foundry Lane and a temporary cycle and footway. Demolition of existing farm buildings and one dwelling.


Applicant: Berkeley Homes


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 11 to 58.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·         Proposed amendments to condition 2 to include Phasing Plan 410.CP.105;

·         Proposed amendment to condition 11 regarding external plumbing and pipework;

·         Proposed amendment to condition 28 to clarify the occupation of development phases following the completion of pedestrian and cycle links;

·         Proposed deletion of condition 32 as the SANG was being dealt with comprehensively under the S106 agreement;

·         Proposed additional condition regarding the requirement of visibility splays prior to commencement of vehicular access onto or from Twyford Road.  This was in the interests of highway safety;

·         Consultation response from the Environment Agency who confirmed that they had no objection to the application.


Members had visited the site on Friday 7 October.


In absence of Kevin Morgan, Wokingham Town Council, who had registered to speak in objection to the application, the attention of Members was drawn to a submission from Wokingham Town Council within the report.


Elkie Lees spoke in favour of the application on behalf of Berkley Homes, applicant.  She stated that Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Natural England were satisfied with the application and that it met the requirements and conditions set by the Council.  She commented on the width of the road, stating that the developers were seeking an application to widen the road and that to carry out the works, with a minimum loss of mature trees on the opposite side of the road, the developer was gifting land to facilitate the construction of the Northern Distributor Road.  She also stated that the development would result in the provision of 24 acres of new public open space and CIL and Section 106 contributions to the Council of over £4m.


Councillor David Lee, Ward Member, spoke against the application.  He raised concerns about the design and whether it met national policies / guidance and the Council’s own policies regarding the layout, properties backing onto main roads, road widths and the use of fencing.  He also questioned the size of gardens, which in some cases fell below the Council’s policy of 11m in length.


In response to Member questions, Members were advised that the Manual for Streets referred to by Councillor Lee was guidance.  The Planning Officer stated that the site layout had been designed in response to the rural nature of the surrounding area, opposite Cantley Recreational Ground and existing mature hedge and trees. Officers felt this layout in this instance was appropriate and the combination of design features provided interest and maintained surveillance and was in keeping with the area. .  As a result, on this occasion and taking in to account the proposed planting of hedgerow trees proposed between the fence and road, the Officers felt the design solution on this application was acceptable.  The details of the boundaries would be dealt with under the recommended conditions, but officers advised that given the location of the boundaries of properties backing onto Bell Foundry Lane they would be constructed of brick.  The combination of this and planting, whilst not acoustic in nature, would have the effect of deadening the sound of the road and reflected similar developments in the area such as Montague Park and within North Wokingham.  The Planning Officer also commented on the length of gardens in the plans, indicating that there were only a few gardens which fell marginally short of the Council’s 11m standard and the width of the gardens had been accepted as adequate compensation for any minor shortfall in length.


In response to a Member question Officers clarified parking allocation is in accordance with WBC standards.


Members questioned the capacity of the planned changes to the site to resist the impact of flooding.  The Planning Officer stated that after a flooding episode in 2007, corrective work had been carried out to the existing culverts / ditches and that there would also be an opportunity to improve drains as part of the building of the Northern Distributary Road (NDR) and development.  The Service Manager, Highways Development Management, stated that the ditch described and illustrated in the report had been made wider and deeper to increase its capacity, whilst still being integral to the landscaping and designed to be safely accessible to residents.  He also indicated that as the ditch was located between the path and highway that it would be maintained by the Council as part of the highway.


Members raised questions regarding the odour plume from an existing sewage treatment plant that might affect properties on the site.  The Planning Officer stated that works currently being carried out by Thames Water would reduce the existing emissions from the treatment works by 46%.  The prevailing winds were South-Westerly. Whilst change of wind direction would occur, according to meteorological data the residential areas would not experience odours level greater than 3 OUE/M3 for more than 175 hrs per annum. This is in accordance with Environment Agencyguidelines.


A Member questioned the development being in this location since, although it was within the SDL boundary defined in the Core Strategy, it represented an addition in relation to the SDL Masterplan.  The Planning Officer stated that this is a sustainable location, given its position on the NDR (with bus services) and the walking and cycling opportunities that would be available to connect it to Wokingham. There is also the planned delivery of infrastructure to accommodate the population growth in the SDL. The development mitigates its impacts through its design and S106/CIL contributions.


A Member asked about the siting of the affordable housing within the development.  The Planning Officer stated that Registered Providers of Affordable Housing preferred that the houses be grouped together for management purposes.  This is a relatively small number of affordable dwellings being brought forward (26) and mirrors the clustering of affordable housing being brought forward in the individual phases of the other developments within the SDL sites. A good distribution of affordable housing will therefore be secured across the SDL.


In regards to the public footbridge, Members were advised that a new bridge would have a steel frame and would be easy to maintain and this cost would be covered under maintenance contributions. 


RESOLVED: That application No. 161839 be approved subject to the conditions set out in Agenda pages 13 to 22, with conditions 2, 11,and 28 amended, the deletion of condition 32 and the additional condition as set out in the Members’ Update.


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