Agenda item

22/00976/FUL - Lowans Hill Farm, Brockhill Lane, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 6QX


The application was being reported to the Planning Committee as a Section 106 Agreement was required. As such the application fell outside the scheme of delegation to Officers.

Officers presented the report and in doing so, drew Membersattention to the presentation slides on pages 17 to 42 of the Site Plans and Presentations pack.

The application was for Lowans Hill Farm, Brockhill Lane, Redditch, B97 6QXand sought the demolition of existing buildings and construction of 17 dwellings, with new access, public open space, landscaping and planting, associated infrastructure and enabling works.


Officers clarified that the application was a Full application and that it was unrelated to any developments in the local area.


The topography of the site was identified as being substantially higher than the surrounding area, this presented a technical difficulty for the development, specifically with regard to access.


The buildings had stood derelict for a number of years, applications were sought and approved in 2011 and 2015 to convert the buildings into residential units, however, the applications were not implemented and had since expired.


Officers identified the current condition of the buildings to Members using the images on pages 24-27 of the Main Reports pack. A structural survey had been carried out and found the buildings to be in a dangerous and unsafe condition, it was also identified that to convert the buildings to residential units it would likely take a significant investment and would not be economically viable.


The proposed layout of the site was presented to Members, detailed on page 31 of the Public Reports pack. 17 dwellings would be constructed around a central courtyard with a mix of 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom dwellings in detached and semi-detached design. There would also be a “dog leg” turn to address the difference in levels experienced on the site.


The current buildings were identified as non-designated heritage assets, and their removal required a balanced judgement by Officers. Due to the state of disrepair of the derelict site and other matters listed int eh report, Officers deemed that their loss was outweighed by the development of this strategic site and the wider economic benefits to the area.


Officers detailed to Members that a viability assessment had been submitted by the applicant, this assessment had been examined by experts at the Council and it was accepted that, due to development difficulties, a number of concessions had been accepted, these concessions included no affordable housing on site and reduced Section 106 contributions.


At the invitation of the Chair, Mr Stuart Wells, Agent for the applicant, addressed the Committee in support of the application.


Officers clarified the following points after questions from Members.


  • That the developers profit margin was 17.5% which was less than the maximum allowed margin of 20%.
  • That of the 64K residual profit (which it was identified was after developers’ profit). 53.5K would go towards offsite affordable housing provision, to mitigate the loss of 30% affordable housing on site.
  • Due to the viability assessment, there was no Section 106 contribution for education which had initially requested £251k.
  • Both the 2011 and 2015 applications had lapsed. Officers clarified to Members that there was no obligation for developers to act upon granted planning permission. Officers further clarified that the previous owners sold the site to the current developers who had submitted the application before Members.
  • Surveys had been undertaken by licenced ecologists and no evidence of the presence of protected species was found (which included bats). Additional surveys would be conducted by the applicant during the demolition and should evidence be found; an appropriate licence would be sought. An Informative was agreed by Officers to detail this.


Members then debated the application.


Members stated that it was a shame to lose Lowans Hill Farm as it had been part of the landscape, however, due to the current state of disrepair and in the context of the site, the loss of the non-designated heritage asset alone was not deemed as a sufficient reason for refusal. Members were also pleased with the development style which sought to distinguish itself from other local developments and was in a style which was in the style of a farmstead.


Members also expressed a serious concern as to the viability assessment and the Section 106 contributions and Affordable housing provision that had not been sought due to this. Members stated that the housing density, style and size had contributed to the lack of profitability of the site which could potentially have been achieved with a different design. Officers assured Members that the Councils experts had examined the applicant’s viability assessment and found it to be sound. It was further identified that some of the major development costs were attributed to the topography of the land, specifically the height difference and road access, these costs would be recurring factors in any development on the site.


On being put to a vote, it was




having had regard to the development plan and to all other material considerations, authority be delegated to the Head of Planning and Regeneration and Leisure Services to GRANT planning permission subject to:

a)    The satisfactory completion of a Section 106 planning obligation ensuring that contributions
(up to the value of £64,679) were sought for the following matters:

                           i.          Waste and Recycling

                         ii.          Redditch TC Contribution

                       iii.          Offsite Affordable Housing Contribution

                       iv.          LPA Monitoring fee

b)    Conditions as detailed on pages 58 to 63.

c)    An additional Informative with regard to ecological surveys as detailed in the Pre-amble above.

d)    Imposition of 7 additional conditions as listed in the published updates </AI6>.


Supporting documents: