The Chair welcomed everybody to the meeting and outlined the committee arrangements, the Chair also highlighted to those present that the meeting was being livestreamed via the Councils YouTube channel.
The application was for the Land Off Far Moor Lane and West of The A435 Birmingham Road, Far Moor Lane, Redditch. The application was a cross boundary application between Redditch Borough Council (RBC) and Stratford-on-Avon District (SDC) – for the erection of 236 homes with open space, landscaping, drainage, infrastructure and other associated works - comprising 210 new homes in Redditch and 26 new homes in Stratford-on-Avon.
Officers presented their report and in doing so drew Members attention to Pages 1 to 34 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack.
Page 2 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack detailed that the site was allocated for housing development for 205 dwellings on the adopted local plan. Officers also highlighted a small plot of land to the south of the proposed site which was designated as primary open space, and that this would be retained during the development.
Officers detailed the local services/facilities which would be affected by the development and highlighted that there were no outstanding objections to the development from related consultees and that there was a section 106 agreement outlining contributions to local facilities and services detailed on pages 32 and 33 of the Agenda Reports Pack.
Members attention was drawn to pages 7-14 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack to detail the layout of the site. During the explanation the position of the proposed blocks of affordable housing on site were highlighted, Officers also detailed the road system into and around the site and drew Members attention to the changes to Far Moor Lane as detailed on pages 32 to 34 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack, which also included the installation of a 3m wide combined footpath.
Officers drew Members attention to pages 24-25 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack to detail the changes to the trees and woodland areas on site. The application proposed the removal of approximately 515 Poplar trees, 11 individual trees and some low quality self-seeded vegetation, Officers also informed Members that the poplar trees were at the end of their individual lives. The proposed application would replace the lost trees with an additional 600 new native trees that would give a more bio-diverse woodland. Officers also highlighted that 2.5ha of woodland would be retained or enhanced compared to the current 1.1ha.
In regard to ecological matters, the application was supported by the ecological Officer and as a result of initial concerns raised from consultees, there had been a number of wildlife surveys conducted on site. The application was considered policy compliant by Worcester Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust due to the retention of a sufficient amount of the existing flora and fauna, the retention and enhancement of the existing waterways and the addition of more bio-diverse woodland areas. The condition as detailed on page 34 of the main reports pack was highlighted to Members, and that the drainage on site was to be managed to ensure no future harm was caused to other water bodies or habitats due to improper water retention.
County highways assessed the application and had no objections with the proposal, the internal roads would be adopted by WCC Highways, with the exception of some areas which would be managed alongside the affordable housing, this was detailed on page 30 of the Site Plans and Presentations Pack.
In conclusion, officers reiterated the conclusions made in section 19 on page 33 of the Public Reports Pack.
Officers have found no material considerations which indicated that the development should not be determined in accordance with the development plan and on the basis that the proposals comply with relevant policies of the Borough of Redditch Local Plan.
It was recommended that planning permission be granted subject to conditions and the prior completion of a s106 legal agreement.
At the invitation of the Chair, the following speakers addressed the Committee under the Council’s Public Speaking Rules
Residents and interested parties in objection to the application (3 minutes each)
Ward Members (3 minutes each)
In support of the application (up to 27 minutes shared)
There was an adjournment after the public speaking between 20:43 and 20:57 hours.
On recommencement of the Committee, Officers clarified the following points raised during the public representations.
During questions from Members, the Officers advised/clarified the following matters
Members then proceeded to consider the application which Officers recommended be delegated to the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services.
Members wished to thank the public speakers for their contributions both for and against and for their balanced, informative and emotive representations.
Members expressed a concern in regard to the sewage treatment on site in that if it had to be pumped there could be sustainability issues with regard to the maintenance and running of the machinery.
Members expressed regret with regard to the loss of wildlife habitat and the poplar trees, however, they did not see it as sufficient grounds to reject the application, considering the lack of Officer/Consultee objections to the application and the section 106 contributions.
Members supported the footpath and traffic calming measures proposed for the site and expressed the opinion that should Members approve the application it seemed from the information provided to Members that the developers would produce a high quality development.
Members expressed the opinion that although they agreed with the Councils requirement for new housing, they were unsure whether the proposed site was the correct location for these new dwellings considering the loss of green space and bio-diverse landscape during the climate emergency. There was some discussion regarding the change in priorities since the decision was made to permit building on this site. However, Members were reminded, and as highlighted by Officers earlier in the meeting, they needed to adhere to the policies outlined within the current local plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise. Officers reiterated that they had found no material considerations which indicated that the development should not be determined in accordance with the development plan.
Members wished to inform the public present that in order for the Planning Committee to reject an application there needed to be a material reason that would sustain in front of a Planning Inspectorate and that in this instance there was no such reason that they could identify.
On being put to a vote it was
having regard to the development plan and to all other material considerations, that DELEGATED POWERS be granted to the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services as outlined on pages 33-35 of the Agenda Reports Pack.