Agenda item

CH/20/01826/FUL - Land Adjoining A27, Scant Road West, Hambrook, Chidham

Mixed use development comprising 118 dwellings (including 36 affordable dwellings), public open space, landscaping and associated works and a retail convenience store with community space above all accessed via Broad Road.

 

Decision:

Refuse against officer recommendation

 

Minutes:

Due to the necessity to resolve technical issues,

Members took a 15 minute break

 

Mr Bushell presented the item to Members and drew Members’ attention to the Agenda Update Sheet which provided further third party objections and information from the applicant regarding receipt of written confirmation of the interest in taking responsibility for the convenience store, and the equipping of the Resource Hub and how it would be operated.  A revised Travel Plan had also been submitted in which the applicant iterated commitment to pursue a change to the speed limit on Broad Road from 40mph to 30mph in the vicinity of the new site access.  An update to the policy position regarding the revision to Local Development Scheme 2021-2024 was also provided outlining key milestones.

 

The Committee received the following Speakers:

 

Jane Towers – Parish Council

Andrew Wild – Objector

Alan Green – Objector

Geoff Tomlinson – Objector

Ben Ballie – Agent

Adrian Moss – CDC Ward Member

 

Officers responded to Member’s comments and questions:

 

With regards to the absence of a footway from the new access southwards to the junction with Scant Road, Mr Bushell explained that a shared cycle and footway was being provided within the site to enable residents to avoid having to cross Broad Road and would allow safe and continuous onwards access to the A259.  On the matter of the speed limit, Mr Bushell confirmed that the developer was keen to have 30mph moved further to the north, which was how the application was originally submitted, but was changed to accord with the current speed restriction and following comments from WSCC Highways. Therefore the access to the site had been designed for a 40mph which was confirmed as safe.  Mr Bushell added that a 30mph limit was deemed as unnecessary to make the current development acceptable in highways terms, and consequently, there would potentially be an issue with requiring the developer to now pursue the lower limit.  On the matter of site not being sustainable from a transport perspective, Mr Bushell drew Members’ attention to the report which referred to the previous appeal scheme for a similar number of dwellings, in which the Inspector considered it was a sustainable location, and cited the proximity to Nutbourne Railway Station.  With regards to subsidised bus services, Mr Bushell advised that this would have to be necessary, which had not been highlighted by the highways authority, and may be a matter which could be brought forward as part of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds, but could not be insisted upon.  With regards to the Interim Position Statement for housing and the reference to low density, the application was landscape-led specifically to address issues raised by the previous planning Inspector, hence the developer had aimed to assimilate the proposed development into the environment and include 5.63 hectares of green space, which was considered by officers to be appropriate.   On the matter of nitrates, this would be dealt with by way of a Section 106 agreement and the landowner would be required to be a party to the agreement with the land kept in perpetuity without any nitrogen input to ensure it achieved nitrate neutrality.  Although Natural England had a preference for woodland planting on the nitrate mitigation land, this was not a requirement providing the land delivered the necessary nitrate neutrality.  With regards to the piling condition and danger to the underlying aquafer, Mr Bushell confirmed consultation would take place with the Environment Agency.

 

Mr Bushell confirmed that the site was included in the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment(HELAA) as appropriate for 110 dwellings.  With regards to the convenience store and the probability of it being successfully introduced and established, Mr Bushell conceded that previously proposed stores within the vicinity had not materialised, and this site would need to be robustly marketed.  Premier Local had shown interest and discussions were taking place.  The Section 106 agreement would provide the best possible opportunity for this undertaking.  Mr Bushell added that the use of the store would be specifically conditioned as a convenience store and the Council would require planning permission for any other proposals.  On the matter of nitrate mitigation, Mr Bushell confirmed that the location of the nitrate mitigation land was within the same flow catchment area as the application site, and therefore Natural England was content with that.  With regards to the loss of grade 2 agricultural land, Mr Bushell responded that this was an inevitable consequence of the necessity to build houses and manage the issue of nitrates, but biodiversity improvements on the identified land would be gained.  Mr Bushell explained he could not confirm how long it would take for nitrogen neutrality to be achieved, and it was necessary to accept that Natural England had given this matter due consideration.  With regards to ‘in perpetuity’ this was assessed as a period of 125 years, to equate with the lifespan of the development, and be secured via the Section 106.  On the matter of the noise generated by the A27, Mr Bushell responded that the ten dwellings in the north-east corner, were designed to mitigate noise-impact via appropriate glazing, the gardens of these properties were positioned furthest from the road, there was an existing well-wooded embankment, and the Environmental Health officer was content.  Mr Bushell also explained that Highways England required a fence to ensure the A27 could not be accessed on foot and the relevant condition would be expanded to state approval would be required from Highways England with regards to the detail of the fence. 

 

On the matter of sustainability, Mr Whitty responded that this elicited a number of interpretations but in relation to this development it referred to potential modes of transport.  The difficulty of citing this at an appeal was that the previous Inspector’s decision confirmed the location as sustainable, which was a material consideration.  The site was within the HEELA albeit for 110 dwellings, Chidham and Hambrook had a Railway Station within close proximity and there were potentially a further four housing sites for consideration within the parish with a total requirement within the parish for a further 300 to 400 houses. Mr Whitty added that whilst piecemeal development might appear more appropriate, this approach required considerable land and the benefit of cumulative development would be lost.  Mr Whitty concluded therefore that sustainability could not be defended in an appeal situation.  With regards to the nitrates, Mr Whitty agreed that there may be a need for the Council to develop its own policy but currently there was no such policy and both the Department for Environment, and Rural Affairs and Natural England had provided a recognised approach to off-set nitrates which also secured ecological benefits.  With regards to when this would provide a positive impact, and occupation of the dwellings, a judgement would have to made, and Natural England undertook a high level of scrutiny on these matters.  Mr Whitty continued that currently the Council did not have a five year housing land supply which was a considerable factor, which must be taken in account, and an Inspector would expect the Committee to have done so.  The previous appeal on this site was won in a different context.  This was a full application which would result in a site being established quickly, and would add to the five year supply.  It should further be taken into consideration that the more sites found that were less flawed than others, the easier it would be to defend those sites which were found to be more harmful.  Mr Whitty added that should the Committee decide to vote against the officer recommendation, robust reasons which could be evidenced would be required, to defend the decision at appeal or effectively this would result in procrastination for inevitable development of the site and the ensuing accompanying costs.  On the matter of the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for a 30mph speed limit, Mr Whitty advised that although this had been deemed as unnecessary for the site, the Committee could require that this was pursued by the applicant, particularly as the applicant had confirmed that they were willing to do so.  Mr Gledhill advised that a TRO was subject to its own statutory process and therefore the applicant could not be conditioned to implement the 30mph speed limit but only required to fund the process.

 

With regards to delivery vehicles and the service yard for the proposed convenience store, Mr Bushell responded that he believed the swept path analysis had been confirmed by the highways authority to be of an appropriate standard, and a bin storage condition could be added.  Mr Bushell also added that a condition could be included (rather than an informative) to ensure the roadway could take the weight of refuse vehicles.  The installation of bollards could also be included within the conditions to ensure no unauthorised access to the cycle and pedestrian paths.  With regards to the Neighbourhood Plan and its reference to the development of housing, Mr Bushell advised that as the housing policies in the development plan which included both the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan were out of date, little weight could be afforded to them.  

 

With regards to the policy on agricultural land, Mr Whitty advised that there was a policy within the Local Plan which sought to protect it and to restrict development boundaries, but planning was a balancing exercise particularly with the lack of five year housing land supply, and it would be difficult to secure an argument based on the loss of agricultural land.  On the matter of services, Mr Whitty explained that they tended to follow development.  Services which required public funding such as schools needed to be secured as part of the development and those services which were commercial were driven by market demands.  Mr Whitty also explained that an A1 conditioned premises, permitted a wide range of possible occupiers, whilst on this development the condition was specifically for a convenience store with robust marketing for such required.  In relation to the cycle way, Mr Whitty confirmed that was the remit of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.

 

With regards to the 30mph speed limit, Miss Golding clarified that such a condition would need to be a ‘Grampian’ pre-commencement condition as it is outside the control of the applicant.  Mr Whitty confirmed that officers would be content to add that matter to the conditions, and this would not require the 30mph speed limit to be secured prior to occupation, but that the applicant made provision for the application.

 

On a point of clarification, Mr Bushell explained that the whole Neighbourhood Plan was not out of date but only the specific housing policy within it.  Mr Whitty also confirmed that all Waste Water Treatment Works screen limited nitrates only, which was the reason for the necessity to provide other methods to do so which in this case, was the nitrates mitigation land.   

 

With regards to the provision of a link to the South Downs National Park, Mr Whitty confirmed that off-site highway improvements works such as upgrading the road bridge, would be the remit of CIL funding.

 

On the matter of the north-west corner of the site, Mr Bushell explained that there was a change of levels and therefore unauthorised vehicular access from this point would be difficult and unlikely.  On the western side of Broad Road, Mr Bushell confirmed that was an established continuous pedestrian connection to the National Park.

 

With regards to the access to the proposed convenience store, Mr Gledhill explained that it may be appropriate to include a Service Management Plan within the condition, to allow consideration of the servicing requirements of the store when in operation, which would ensure plans were based on factual information.  Mr Bushell confirmed that this could be added to the conditions.

 

In a vote Members Refused application against officer recommendation.

 

Rev. Bowden proposed that the application was refused, on the grounds of cumulative loss of agricultural land (both the application site and the nitrates mitigation land), and non-integration of the site into the village, which was seconded by Mr Potter.

 

In a vote Members agreed the proposed reasons for Refusal of the application. 

 

Members took a ten minute break

Supporting documents: