Planning Application 20/02249/OUT - Land to the North of Fore Street, Tatworth
Application Proposal: Outline application with all matters reserved, except for access, for up to 35 dwellings
This application was taken prior to Planning Application No. 20/02247/OUT.
The Specialist - Principal Planner outlined the application and pointed out that both application sites on the agenda were in the same ownership and were submitted by the same developer. The application site was a field located within Tatworth and was generally bounded by existing housing and located outside of the Conservation Area. Due to the site topography, there would be a need to manage the height of any dwellings on site. The proposed housing would not dominate the landscape and was a mix of single storey properties, one and a half storey properties and two storey properties. The Specialist – Principal Planner informed members that there was a bungalow situated between the two sites with its own separate access. The scheme was proposing a relatively low density and landscaped site with suggestions for open space on the higher ground. It was proposed that the landscape boundary would be managed by a management company and the trees and hedges maintained outside of residential curtilages. The two applications proposed two accesses onto Fore Street and a pedestrian link to the rear of the site.
The Specialist – Principal Planner outlined the key considerations which were principal of development, highway issues, landscape impact, residential amenity, ecology and heritage. He recommended that the application be approved subject to conditions as outlined in the agenda.
In response to various questions raised, the Specialist – Principal Planner informed members of the following:
· The Highway Authority had confirmed that they did not have an objection to the scheme and had not requested details of any traffic surveys to be provided.
· The site was not affected by the phosphate issue.
· The scheme was establishing the access into the site but Somerset County Council were reserving their position on a number of points about internal layout.
· The Highway Authority did not object to two accesses but their preference would be for one access.
· The Applicant’s perspective was that the hedge and ditch that ran between the two application sites was an important ecological feature and therefore if a road was taken across that there would be a break in ecology.
· Each of the cul-de-sacs would have its own turning head with scope to deliver an in/out system.
· Power providers were not consulted as part of the application process as they had a duty to provide power to meet the needs of the towns and villages. As part of the reserved matters process the applicant would look at infrastructure connections and what the infrastructure providers require as it was their duty to service new developments.
· The site was just as affected by the lack of a five year housing supply and the tilted balance despite it not being affected by the phosphates issue.
· The application would lead to a level of growth of about 12% and was consistent with the level of growth experienced by a number of the larger villages within the district.
A representative from Tatworth and Forton Parish Council addressed the Committee in objection to the application. He said that the Parish Council had recommended refusal on the grounds that the access to these large number of houses would generate an increase in traffic. He also referred to the application sites being inhabited by wildlife and a suitable analysis was essential before any development took place.
The Committee was then addressed by the Highway Consultant and Agent and some of their comments included:
· Both proposals would incorporate suitable footways with crossing points to the southern side of Fore Street.
· Both points of access would provide a five and a half metre wide carriageway and six metre corner radius meeting the Highway Authority design requirements.
· Site lines in accordance with speed limits were achievable at both points of access with visibility exceeding the level required.
· The distance between the two proposed junctions was 106 metres which significantly exceeded requirements.
· A travel plan would be implemented to promote the use of sustainable motor transport.
· The developments would not have an unacceptable impact on the highway safety and the residual cumulative impact on the road network would not be severe.
· The sites had been brought forward separately to preserve the ditch and tree belt that ran between them which was a biodiversity ad landscape feature.
· Both proposals would deliver a policy compliant 35% affordable housing provision helping to meet a demonstrated local need.
· The applications represented a modest infill development within the village bringing Tatworth’s growth in line with similar size villages.
· The applications were readily deliverable and would make a sustainable contribution to South Somerset’s housing requirements.
· Local amenities were within walking distance of both sites which would be connected to the existing footpath network and public right of way with a new crossing point.
· The applications would make contributions with regard to NHS services, education and open space and recreation.
· All existing hedgerow and boundary treatments where possible would be managed by a management company via a S106 agreement. Additional tree and shrub planting was also proposed. This would ensure that the sites were well maintained and contribute towards Tatworth’s rural character.
Ward member, Councillor Martin Wale read a statement on behalf of his fellow ward member, Councillor Jenny Kenton, who was unable to attend the meeting. She stated that the combined impact of both applications on the area could not be ignored. As referred to in the comments submitted by the Ecology Officer, the site was full of biodiversity and the waterway was clear with the grassland ideal for barn owls foraging and slow worms and grass snakes present on the land. Reference was also made to the diverse species of wildflower and plants on the site, the presence of dormice nesting in Fore Street and the need to ensure they were not present on the site was of upmost importance. She also raised concerns over the potential surface water run-off from the site causing problems in the Lower Coombses area where properties had already suffered during the recent flooding and the impact of the development on the bungalow situated between the two sites. Members noted that Cllr Jenny Kenton also supported the views expressed by Councillor Martin Wale.
Ward member, Councillor Martin Wale then proceeded to address the Committee. He commented that the presence of the main junction nearly opposite the entrance to the application had not been mentioned and this was the only way of accessing the village. He also pointed out that 10 metres from the proposed entrance was the 20mph safety zone for the area which was classed as a safe route to school and therefore not ideal for an increase in traffic. He was concerned that there would be two entrances on such a dangerous road with no footway. Reference was also made to the bungalow between the sites being overlooked and he felt that any properties on the northern side should be bungalows. He was of the view that if the application were to be approved there should be one entrance situated further down near the entrance outlined on the next application which was straighter with more vision and would be much safer.
During the discussion, members made a number of comments in objection to the application which included:
· Preference for one application site with less development;
· Concerns over the delivery of affordable housing;
· Concerns over the access arrangements;
· There was a need for housing including affordable housing but not at the expense of safety in the community;
· The road was very fast and dangerous;
· The local school was already at capacity and so were other schools in Chard so where would children from the new development go to school;
· Safety was paramount and a single access would be preferred;
· Unhappy with how the applications have been put forward and the road layout..
In response to the objections raised by members, the Specialist – Principal Planner commented that there were conditions attached to the application with regard to ecology and flooding and that the consultees were satisfied that there were no grounds for objection. He also referred to the submitted drawings which suggested the use of bungalows, chalets and two storey properties to reflect the impact on neighbours. With regard to road safety, members were informed that Somerset County Council had carried out a road safety audit and although would prefer one access did not object to two.
The Specialist – Principal Planner said that if the Committee were of the view that the scheme was acceptable on the site with one access, it may be possible for discussions to take place with the applicant regarding a solution. If the application was to be refused on the highways issues with County Highways having undertaken an audit there would be no grounds to defend an appeal. The applicant had indicated that if members had issues they would be prepared to look at the possibility of redesigning the access arrangements.
Councillor Martin Wale said that he could see no reason why the site could not be approved with one access further along near the proposed access for the next application. He did not feel there were many grounds to refuse the application on the amount of housing, layout or landscaping. He expressed his support for deferring the application to allow negotiations to be held with the applicant with a view to revising the access arrangements.
At the conclusion of the debate, it was proposed and seconded to defer the application to a future meeting of the Area West Committee as members felt that there was an opportunity to deliver a highway benefit to the local road network through a negotiated solution that could be achieved within the two applications within the applicant’s control.
A vote was taken to defer the application which was approved by 9 votes in favour, 0 against and 1 abstention.
That Planning Application 20/02247/OUT be DEFERRED to a future meeting of the Area West Committee as members felt that there was an opportunity to deliver a highway benefit to the local road network through a negotiated solution that could be achieved within the two applications within the applicant’s control.
(Voting: 9 in favour, 0 against, 1 abstention)