Hybrid application comprising
1) Outline Application (with all matters reserved with the exception of vehicular points of access and principle routes within the site) for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of : Up to 2,560 dwellings (Class C3); Local centre including retail floorspace up to 900 sq metres (Classes A1, A2, A3) health and community facilities of up to 900 sq metres (Class D1) ; A 3FE first school (Class D1) (up to 2.8Ha site area) including associated playing area and parking and all associated enabling and ancillary works.
2) Detailed application for the creation of a means of access off Birchfield Road, Cur Lane, Foxlydiate Lane and emergency, pedestrian and cycle access to Pumphouse Lane. The creation of a primary access road, including associated cut and fill works and other associated earthworks, landscaping, lighting, drainage and utilities, crossings and surface water attenuation/drainage measures.
Officers presented the report and explained that the developer had submitted duplicate planning applications to both Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council as the site covered land in the area of both authorities. The site was situated on the edge of Redditch and close to existing housing in Webheath, but was substantially located within the boundary for Bromsgrove with only a small part of the overall site falling within the boundary of Redditch Borough Council.
The Planning Committee at Bromsgrove District Council had considered the application at its meeting on 14th October 2019. Members at Bromsgrove had decided to grant permission subject to a section 106 agreement being finalised and with a delegation to officers to finalise the relevant conditions.
As a “hybrid” application the developer was seeking full permission for certain aspects including highway access and associated engineering works; the application also included a series of parameter plans setting out the principles of development of other aspects of the scheme, which would be followed up at a later stage by reserved matters applications to finalise the full detail.
The application had been presented for the whole site to give a full picture of what was being proposed. The area of the application that specifically fell within the RBC boundary were parts of the highway making up Foxlydiate Lane and Birchfield Road, and land currently consisting of a field off to the west of numbers 12-18 Blockley Close.
It was noted that the application before Members excluded some other parcels of land within the overall allocation for development at Foxlydiate as some housing was being brought forward under separate applications, and land to the south of the current application had had to be excluded due to land ownership issues. The total number of homes under the current application would be 2560.
With regard to points of access to the site, the primary access was planned to be from Birchfield Road with the construction of an exit from the existing junction between Birchfield Road and the A448. There would also be access points from Foxlydiate Lane and Curr Lane; part of Curr Lane within the site would be closed to vehicular traffic and be converted to a footpath/cycle way.
Finally, there would be an access from Pumphouse Lane restricted for the use of emergency vehicles only.
Officers outlined the overall layout and use of the site, and the location of the internal road network with reference to the relevant parameter plans and in doing so the following matters were noted:-
· That there would be an extensive area of open space around the site of the listed building at Lanehouse Farm.
· That in response to representations the height of the dwellings adjacent to the A448 had been reduced from three storeys to two storeys.
· That the construction of the primary access from Birchfield Road would require extensive engineering works to be completed due to the change of levels between the existing road and the site.
Members were referred to the Update Report and the submission of further comments from the Acute Hospital Trust. Officers remained of the view, based on the legal opinion that the Council had obtained, that the request for contributions towards the cost of acute and A&E services was not lawful for the reasons summarised in the report at paragraphs 24.13 to 24.37.
Members were referred to the recommendation at paragraph 27 of the report and the proposed financial contributions and draft conditions. It was noted that a delegation was sought for officers to finalise the terms of the 106 agreement and the final wording of conditions for the application.
At the invitation of the Chair the following speakers addressed the committee under the Council’s public speaking rules:-
In debating the application Members referred to various matters raised by the public speakers. Whilst acknowledging the allocation of the site for housing through the Local Plan process and that the principle of building at Foxlydiate had been established, concerns were expressed over a number of highways issues and other matters.
Foxyldiate Lane was not suitable to be used as the initial access for the site covering construction traffic up to the point of completion of the first 200 dwellings. In the view of Members the road was too narrow to accommodate construction traffic and the extra vehicles that would arise from the first phase of 200 dwellings and this additional use would give rise to safety concerns. It would also lead to traffic congestion in the area which would be detrimental to residents already living nearby who had to use the road. Members noted the comments from the speaker, who had pointed out that there was only a footway on one side of the road. Members suggested that the primary access from Birchfield Road should be completed first before any other construction on the site took place.
Members also expressed concerns over the proposed changes to the layout of the Junction between Birchfield Road and the A448 and questioned why the estate road network could not be built prior to construction of dwellings.
Highways officers advised that a construction traffic management plan (“CTMP”) had been drawn up and that in this regard Foxlydiate Lane had been considered suitable and sufficiently wide. The Foxlydiate Lane access would only be used during the construction of the first 200 houses, after which a condition would prevent the developer from using it further. The footway was not felt to be a challenge to the use of the lane and timings of construction traffic could be controlled via the CTMP. Imposing a requirement on the developer to complete the internal road network might lead to issues of viability being raised.
Officers gave further clarification that the trigger point of 200 houses was set by a condition which had been negotiated with the developer; it had reflected the fact that the main access point would require significant engineering works and that in the officers opinion it would not be unreasonable to enable some construction of dwellings whilst those engineering works were completed.
Officers further advised that Members could decide to amend this figure if they so wished as it did not form part of the actual application, and this could be done without the need for any deferral.
In further discussion Members expressed a range of views on this aspect including not allowing any access for construction from Foxlydiate Lane, asking officers to re-negotiate the trigger point, or lowering it to 100.
Members questioned the information contained in the Update Report regarding the Acute Hospital Trust, and in particular the Council’s position regarding the Trust’s request to see the Council’s legal opinion. Members also noted the comments from public speaking regarding the decision made by Bromsgrove District Council.
The legal advisor stated that full disclosure of the legal opinion was not material to the planning application, and would not prevent the Members from making a decision. However, in light of the late representations received from the Acute Hospital Trust (received on 13th November), the Council would review the case law cited with regard to access to legal documents. The Council stood by its current position that the request for contributions could not be accepted as set out in the report.
With regard to the decision at Bromsgrove, there was always a period of time following the granting of a planning application during which it could be challenged, and again this was not material to the application before the Committee or relevant to any consideration of deferral.
Following further discussion by members a motion was proposed and seconded that the application be deferred.
Consideration of Application 2016/077/OUT be deferred for the following reasons:-
(i) To enable officers to give further consideration to the proposed condition limiting use of the Foxlydiate Lane access during the construction phase;
(ii) To enable officers to undertake further negotiations regarding the Birchfield Lane access being used as the initial access for construction traffic;
(iii) To allow more time for any further response by the Council on the issue of disclosure of legal documents to the Acute Hospital Trust as detailed on pages 2 to 3 of the Update Report.