The application was reported to the Planning Committee for determination because the application was for a major development (more than 1000 sq. metres of new commercial floorspace). As such, the application fell outside the scheme of delegation to Officers.
Officers presented the report and in doing so, drew Members’ attention to the presentation slides on pages 1-22 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack.
The application was a full planning application for the demolition of existing training tower and erection of a three-storey combined Emergency Services Hub building, training tower, associated car parking and cycle storage, at-grade external training area, re-fuel facility, sub-station, 35-metre telecommunications antenna, vehicular access and associated works.
Officers drew Members attention to the Ownership plan – existing and Ownership plan – proposed, as shown on pages 5 and 6 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack. It was noted that part of the proposed site was the subject of an allocation for residential development within the Borough of Redditch Local Plan (site No. 156) as shown on page 2 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack.
Officers explained that once the development had been completed the rest of the site, on which the old fire station was located would be transferred over to Redditch Borough Council. The fire station would then be scheduled for demolition and that land would form a new site, which would be set for residential development.
Officers further drew Members’ attention to the Proposed site plan on page 7 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack. Officers highlighted that a principal vehicular access into the site; to serve appliances and police vehicles, as well as staff and visitors would be formed off Middlehouse Lane. Appliances would exit the site from the appliance bays via a separate egress on Middlehouse Lane. An additional egress, solely for emergency vehicles, would be created to the rear (north-east) of the site onto the Alvechurch Highway (A441).
Officers highlighted the location of the 35m telecommunications antenna tower during the presentation, identified by a triangle on the Proposed roof plan, on page 11 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack.
Officers referred to arboricultural matters and the group of trees to be retained to help facilitate visual screening of the proposed development, as shown on the aerial views slides on page 4 of Site Plans and Presentations pack and would be retained to soften the appearance of the building, masking the building and tower as you view from the island.
In conclusion, having regard to the development plan and to all other material considerations, Officers recommended that planning permission be granted subject to the Conditions and Informatives outlined on pages 16 to 23 of the main agenda report.
At the invitation of the Chair, Mr. Laurence Holmes, Planning Agent on behalf of the applicant addressed the Committee.
Members then asked questions of the Officers.
Members commented that due to local knowledge of the area, they were aware of how Middlehouse Lane was prone to flooding during heavy rainfall. Members asked if there was anything that could be put in place to help alleviate this during construction.
Officers responded that this issue had been looked at carefully and drew Members’ attention to the comments received from North Worcestershire Water Management, as detailed on page 8 of the main agenda pack., also stating they had no objections.
Members also enquired about the materials and finish of the 35m telecommunications antenna. Officers replied that their understanding was that the finish was to be grey colour and that in terms of prominence it was planned to be a lattice style metal tower.
Members enquired as to why there were two different building materials used in the construction (brick and cladding). Officers responded that it was to soften the appearance of what would be a large structure, but also to differentiate between the two parts of the building, which were the facilities for police personnel accommodation and office block in brick and appliance bays, supported by kit, drying and shower room facilities for Service Personnel in cladding.
Members noted that page 9 of the main agenda report described the existing police station as a 1960’s building, when it was actually built in the mid to late 1970’s. Officers apologised for the error and noted it for the record.
Members also enquired about whether there were plans to use the telecommunications antenna for commercial use. Officers replied that there were currently no plans for commercial use, it would only for use by the police and fire services.
Members further queried that if it were decided to be leased out in the future, would that require further planning permissions, to which officers confirmed that it would.
Members then considered the application, which Officers had recommended be approved.
One Member commented that they were worried about the design of the flat roof, stating that flat roofs by nature and design were prone to leaking over time. Officers respectfully disagreed stating that flat roofs leaking may have been an issue in the past, however, there had been many improvements in design, so it was no longer an issue.
Members commented that the impact/improvement to the rescue services would be greater than just Redditch Borough Council as emergency services were closely linked. They also commented that the previous fire and police buildings were old and in need of upgrading and supported the modern and innovative project bringing both emergency services together in a very attractive building, which was an asset to the area.
Members further brought up the issue of flooding and drainage and asked if an advisory could be attached to alleviate this. Officers advised that the issue was predominantly a highways problem and although the development would not improve the current situation, it would not add to an already existing problem.
Members’ attention was drawn to Informative number 3, as detailed on page 22 of the main agenda report. Officers highlighting the use of permeable paving and underground attenuation tanks to ensure that surface water from the driveway and/or vehicular turning area did not discharge onto the public highway.
Members then directed the question regarding flooding and drainage to the Highways officer.
The officer clarified that the current project should see no water discharge into the network with the measures in place. Highways also highlighted the need to improve the drainage network on Middlehouse Lane and that there would be a need to review the road network during the development. These works would give highways an opportunity to examine the current network, to potentially clear out or improve existing drainage. Highways also reiterated that the development would not effect the flow of water into the system, anything further than that was not for the developer to address.
Members thanked the Highways officer for its committal to review the drainage situation and requested that the comments made be minuted.
Members further referred to the trees being mostly self-set and that as detailed in the report, that there were plans to replace the mature weeping willow tree, which was subject to a TPO. They were also pleased with the decision to retain trees as a screen. Members also commented that the ground on the site was very compacted, so surface water tended to run off during heavy rainfall, therefore, the underground attenuation tanks may see a small decrease in water build-up on Middlehouse Lane.
All Members were in agreement with the officer’s recommendation
Having had regard to the development plan and to all other material considerations, that Planning permission be granted subject to the Conditions and Informatives, as detailed on pages 16 to 23 of the main agenda report with the addition of a further informative concerning Highway Drainage.