Agenda item

Planning Application: 16/02874/FUL - Land Adjoining Holbear, Forton Road, Chard


Application Proposal: The erection of 315 No. dwellings with associated access and infrastructure and provision of off-site playing pitches


The Senior Planning Advisor presented the report, as detailed in the agenda.  With the aid of slides and photographs he outlined the location of the site, proposed access and playing pitches.  The proposed dwellings would comprise a number of different house types including an element of affordable housing.  He highlighted the key considerations and explained that the principle was supported by the Local Plan and the Chard Regeneration Plan.  He advised that the scheme layout had been amended to address concerns raised by local residents with regard to residential amenity.  He noted that the application had been amended to provide one vehicular access only from Tatworth Road which addressed concerns about the highway impact of the scheme.  He was recommending approval of the application subject to appropriate conditions as outlined in the report.


The Senior Planning Advisor responded to members’ questions on points of detail which included the following:


·         Explained the relationship between the new distributor road and this planning application.

·         Tatworth Road was big enough to take access and egress from this kind of development.

·         The location was appropriate and the development was an opportunity for homes to be located in the countryside but not significantly outside of the settlement and would be of benefit to the regeneration of Chard.

·         The Highway Authority had concluded that the traffic and highway impact of the scheme would not be significant.

·         The road would be built to distributor road standard.

·         There would be emergency access to the site although details were still to be resolved.

·         The Planning Officer was satisfied with regard to the boundary fencing, landscaping and gardens being more than sufficient to retain private amenity and prevent overlooking.

·         It was felt that a multiple car parking area could work in this scheme as long as it was properly enforced.

·         A nearby scheme mirrored the same density, garden design and car parking.

·         The current Local Plan was not out of date. Officers would bring forward the application for approval regardless of whether the Council had a 5 year housing supply.

·         The internal space of the garages was in accordance with the car parking standards set by the County Council.

·         All of the units would have car parking spaces. The one bed properties would have car parking spaces located within an appropriate distance.

·         Clarified information regarding road tolerances and the proposed informatives outlined in the report.

·         The scheme although located on the edge of the town centre was attached to the town centre and considered to be within a sustainable location.

·         Confirmed the location of the social homes and the blocks of flat.


County Councillor Gemma Verdon addressed the Committee.  Comments made included the following:

·         Further housing and infrastructure improvements were essential.

·         More choice of housing was required giving older people the opportunity to downsize.

·         The town footfall needed to increase to make businesses viable.

·         Any development must provide the appropriate infrastructure.

·         Insufficient detail provided by the applicant with regard to the management of flooding and drainage.


The Committee was addressed by four members of the public objecting to the application.  Comments expressed were in relation to the following:


·         Uncertain whether the proposed drainage proposals would be adequate.

·         The highway assessment should have taken into consideration the other development that has already received approval.

·         Density of the scheme too high.

·         Poor quality development and layout.

·         Harmful impact on the amenity of the existing dwellings.

·         Scheme being built out of phase.

·         Insufficient parking.

·         Lack of infrastructure provision.

·         Development out of character.

·         Concern over there being an active badger sett close to the site.


The Applicant’s Agent confirmed that:

·         The density of the scheme had been adjusted in response to local concerns.

·         The landscaping scheme supported the new density of the scheme.

·         The scheme made provision for 110 affordable units.  There was no specific policy nationally or locally requiring the affordable housing to be pepper potted around the site.

·         The development would provide a formal play area, facilitate additional off-site sports pitches as well as infrastructure to serve the development.

·         Significant contributions would be made towards education, sport, play and strategic facilities providing reassurance that the infrastructure required would be delivered.

·         The drainage provision had been designed in accordance with best practice and local authority requirements.


The Ward Member commented that he had a number of concerns with the application.  He supported the views of the Parish Council and did not feel he could make a decision on the application as further information was required on a number of issues.  His concerns related to:


·         The recreational area divided by the spinal layout of the road was totally unacceptable.

·         It was not appropriate to place heavy goods vehicles onto a distributor road.

·         Issue of surface water.

·         Sewage disposal. 

·         Further detail was required on the travel plan.


During the discussion, some members raised a number of concerns with regard to application.  Issues raised by members related to the following:


·         Concerns over the proposed garage sizes and parking.  If was felt that if the application was to be approved a condition should be included to cover garage sizes.

·         It was felt that the development was not in accordance with planning policies.  Particular reference was made to paragraph 7-11 of the Local Plan in relation to the distributor road, PMT1 and PMT2.

·         Concern over primary schools being oversubscribed and there being no safe walking routes to school.

·         Poorly designed scheme and not in accordance with the NPPF Chapter 7 para.64.

·         Traffic in this location was already severe.  All four arms of the junction experienced significant queues on a regular basis.  The traffic assessment was out of date and it was felt should be undertaken in the months and not during a quiet time of year.

·         The relief road was very important to the town and it was felt should happen before this development commenced.

·         It was acknowledged that the principle of the development had been agreed as part of the Local Plan but was out of phase and created an imbalance of the whole system that had been agreed within the Chard Regeneration Plan.

·         Concern over the impact of neighbouring properties.

·         The sewage system was already overloaded and at saturation point.

·         Concerns over flooding.

·         Concern over spinal layout of the road.

·         Crammed in design.

·         It was felt that an option could be to continue negotiations with the applicant on the issues raised.


In response to comments made, the Senior Planning Advisor advised that:


·         There was a condition to cover the issue of badger setts.

·         The traffic impact had been assessed on the provision of 500 homes.

·         The Highway Authority considered traffic levels generated by the development to be low with just over 1 additional vehicle per minute.

·         There was a condition to cover flooding, drainage, sewage and impact from rainwater.  If members were minded to approve the application the condition could be amended to ensure all issues were covered.

·         With regard to the character of the scheme, the layout of this scheme was not much different to housing located higher up Forton Road where there were similar densities.  The scheme was in accordance with the Local Plan and the size of the proposed gardens met planning standards.

·         The scheme would operate and work within its own right notwithstanding the opportunity it presents to create the first part of the piece of infrastructure that would come forward.

·         The meandering design would accommodate a distributor road function and a residential street.

·         A lot of work had been undertaken with the developer with regard to boundary treatments, landscaping and choice around dormers and porches.

·         SCC were seeking an education contribution.  Lack of school places was not an appropriate reason for refusal.

·         The garage spaces on the scheme were 6 x 3 metres which met appropriate standards.


The Legal Specialist reminded members that the application was 2-starred and that if members were minded to refuse the application, whilst it would be able to indicate grounds for refusal, the final determination of the application would be made by the Regulation Committee.  She advised that there would need to be clear reasons for recommending refusal of the application.


At the close of the debate, members put forward a number of reasons for refusal as follows:


·         Development does not conform to the approved Local Plan

·         Spinal layout of construction of the road through the site would not be compatible with any future distributor road

·         No effective travel plan to consider

·         Application not in accordance with NPPF Chapter 7 para 64


The Senior Planning Advisor advised that he felt that the spinal layout of the road reason could be sustained as a reason for refusal.  With regard to there being no effective travel plan, he advised that this could be dealt with by condition.  He considered the scheme not being in accordance with the NPPF Chapter 7 para 64 was a strong general reason that could be sustained and would cover many of the issues raised. 


It was proposed and seconded to refer the application to the Regulation Committee with a recommendation that the application be refused for reasons relating to the following:


·         Design of the road would not be compatible with any future distributor road

·         Development not in accordance with NPPF Chapter 7 para 64

·         Traffic congestion

·         Residential layout out of character

·         Insufficient infrastructure

·         Contrary to the Local Plan with regard to PMT1 and PMT2 – out of phase and no distributor road, junction not sustainable and already at over capacity


On being put to the vote, the proposal to recommend refusal of the application was carried by 8 votes in favour and 4 abstentions.



That Planning Application No. 16/02874/FUL** be REFERRED to the Regulation Committee with a recommendation from Area West Committee that the application be refused for the following reasons:


1. The design of the proposed layout of the new homes and proposed distributor road is out of character with its neighbouring settlement design and its location at the southern edge of Chard town. The proposed road nether satisfies the design of an effective distributor road ie to carry large volumes of both access and bypass traffic, nor of an estate road, which should provide protected and calmed access to homes. This is contrary to Policy EQ2 and TA5 of the South Somerset Local Plan.


2. The design of the distributor road is not commensurate to the amenity of new occupiers. A significant number of the proposed dwellings (100 out of the total of 315 homes) are proposed to front onto the distributor road which be definition will carry large volumes of traffic. The design and layout would also require occupants to cross the distributor road to access the public open space. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policies EQ2, and TA5 of the South Somerset Local Plan.


3. The proposed development fails to take the opportunity to improve the character and quality of the local area due to the poor layout and house designs. Therefore, it   does not constitute good design and is contrary to Policies EQ2 and Chapter 7 (para 64) of the NPPF (Requiring Good design).    


4. The proposed development would be brought forward in an earlier phase than outlined in the Chard Regeneration Plan. Accordingly, due to the lack of the completed distributor road connecting the application site to the north with the A30, it would create a severe highway impact on the local road network, particularly causing severe congestion at the central Convent Junction. This is contrary to PMT1 and PMT2 of the South Somerset Local Plan.         


(Voting: 8 in favour, 4 abstentions)

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