REPORT TO THE PLANNING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE

6.1

 
North Somerset Council

REPORT TO THE PLANNING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE

DATE OF MEETING: 26 SEPTEMBER 2012

SUBJECT OF REPORT: PLANNING APPLICATION 12/P/0877/F

FULL PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEMOLITION OF EXISTING DWELLING AND ERECTION OF 14 RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS, CAR PARKING, LANDSCAPING AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE AT 1 STATION ROAD, PILL.

TOWN OR PARISH:  Easton-in-Gordano

OFFICER PRESENTING: HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT

 KEY DECISION: NO

 RECOMMENDATIONS

That the application is APPROVED for the reasons set out in the officer’s report, together with update sheet to the North Area Committee, which is attached as Appendix 1.

 1.  SUMMARY OF REPORT

 This application seeks full planning permission to demolish the house and garage and remove much of the existing vegetation and redevelop the site for 14 affordable dwellings with vehicle access, parking and landscaping.  This comprises 8 age-restricted flats (for persons aged 50 and over) within a three storey building occupying the front half of the site and 6 (non-age-restricted) two-storey houses on the rear half of the site.  Vehicle access will be from the existing entrance point albeit slightly modified, leading to 20 on-site car parking spaces.  The flats will share a communal garden with a separate refuse storage building.  

2.  POLICY

 Relevant policy considerations are set out in the officer's report to the North Area Committee dated 13 September 2012.

3.  DETAILS

1 Station Road is a large residential plot in the context of its surroundings.  The site is approximately 0.28 of a hectare and consists of a two-storey detached house set in a mature landscaped garden. The site is adjoined on three sides by housing in Station Road, Lodway and Sambourne Lane respectively, while a Health Centre bounds its east boundary.  The site is largely enclosed to public views due to its mature and overgrown vegetation.  The site is inside the Easton-in-Gordano Settlement Boundary.

The application was reported to North Area Committee for decision on 13th September 2012.  Officer’s recommended the application for approval because the site is inside the Easton-in-Gordano and Pill Settlement Boundary which is a “Serviced Village” under Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.  The principle of an affordable housing development is acceptable under Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Replacement Core Strategy. 

The density of the housing is not excessive and has been designed into a scale and form that produces a compact but acceptable development within the site.  The building at the front of the site would not have an over-bearing or damaging impact on the appearance of the surrounding area, which is highly built-up and comprises a wide variety of building heights and styles.  The design of the buildings are well-conceived and will fit in with the area in accordance with Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Replacement Core Strategy. 

 

Energy and carbon issues can be controlled through planning conditions to ensure the development is policy compliant under Policy CS1 and CS2 of the North Somerset Core Strategy. The traffic arising from this development can be accommodated on local roads in terms of their capacity and safety and without changing the established character of the area. Highway works are however required at and adjacent to the vehicle access point to improve its safety and this is set out in the application drawings.  These works will remove two roadside parking spaces and will improve the width of the pavement.  This is considered acceptable and accords with Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS10 of the North Somerset Replacement Core Strategy. 

 

There are no landscape or biodiversity objections to the applications, and matters of mitigation are controlled through planning conditions in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and ECH/11 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS4 of the North Somerset Replacement Core Strategy. 

 

However, the North Area Committee decided that Recommendation to Planning and Regulatory Committee that the application be REFUSED for the following reasons:

 

1.         The proposals would result in increased congestion in the vicinity of Station Road and surrounding roads contrary to Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Plan.

2.         The proposal would result in a density of development that would exceed that identified as a target density in the Core Strategy and does not provide an adequate mix of size and tenure and together would therefore contribute to an unbalanced community in the area, with adverse impacts on the character and appearance of the area. It is therefore contrary to policies CS14 and CS32 of the Core Strategy.

3.         There is an identified local need for affordable housing but it would not be met by this development as the applicant would be unable to guarantee that priority would be given to local people in accordance with Policy CS16 of the Core Strategy.

In response to these points, Officers can confirm the following:

Traffic Congestion

 

A net increase of 13 dwellings on this site will result in more traffic movements on Station Road and other adjoining roads.  In terms of road safety the site is close to the Lodway/Heywood Road and Station Road junction. This junction is however considered safe and the Council’s traffic safety records indicate there have been no reported accidents at this junction in the last 5 years.  Officers consider this junction has the capacity to accommodate this development without reducing road or pedestrian safety. The volume of additional traffic generated from the proposal will not have any measurable effect upon general traffic volumes or road safety or change the character or this road.

 

A number of the properties which front onto Station Road (such as the properties immediately opposite 2-12 Station Road – odd numbers only) have parking spaces in their front gardens which results in reversing movements either to or from these respective spaces.  It is considered the small increase in traffic movements would not materially impact on the safety of traffic movements fronting the site or to and from the houses in Station Road immediately opposite the site. In terms of the movements to and from the site itself, the vehicle access point is sufficiently far from the junction with Lodway/ Heywood Road not to compromise its safety.  However, motorists entering Station Road from the site would not have adequate visibility to passing traffic due to the road side parking immediately west of the access.   The application proposes to extend the current 'zig-zag' hatchings in front of the Health Centre on Station Road by approximately 10 metres to the west of the access and to increase the width of the pavement in front of the site from 1 metre to 1.8 metres.  Whilst this will have the effect of removing 2 roadside parking spaces in Station Road, it will improve the visibility for vehicles exiting the site by preventing vehicles from parking within the visibility splay.

 

Density

Comments regarding the density of the proposed development are set out in ‘Issue 4’ of the report to North Area Committee. This says 14 dwellings on the application site that is 0.28 of a hectare, achieves a density of approximately 56 dwellings per hectare.  Concerns were raised by North Area Committee that this density is too high, in that it is contrary to the Development Plan and is out of character with the surrounding area.

In respect of the first point, Policy CS14 of the North Somerset Core Strategy (Distribution of New Housing) says:

“Residential density will be determined primarily by local character and good quality design. The target net density across North Somerset is 40 dwellings per hectare, although this may be higher at highly accessible locations, and less in sensitive areas or where lower density development is positively encouraged.”

The matter of planning applications being considered according to the character of the area, with particular reference to scale, height, design, effect on residential amenity, is consolidated in Policies CS15 and CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy. As set out in Issue 4 of the Committee report, the density of housing in the area surrounding the site is mixed and this is illustrated with reference to Appendix 2, which compares the density of the proposal with neighbouring development.

The application site is 14 dwellings on 0.28 of a hectare which achieves a density of 50 dwellings per hectare.

Site 1

Houses ringed by Station Road, Heywood Road, Heywood Terrace and Church Walk respectively, comprising  2 -12 Station Road (even numbers) which is immediately opposite the site and 1-9 Heywood Terrace inclusive, contains 15 dwellings on 0.25 of a hectare, which results in a density of 60 dwellings per hectare.

Site 2

23 buildings (mainly dwellings) ringed by Station Road, Church Walk, Heywood Terrace and New Road.  The site area is approximately 0.38 of a hectare, which produces a density of 60 per hectare.

Site 3

The former Railway Inn Public House.  Planning Permission is granted (subject to the completion of a Section 106 Legal Agreement) to convert and redevelop the site which is 0.13 of a hectare to 12 residential flats.  This produces a density of 92 dwellings per hectare.

Site 4

18 Bungalows in Sambourne Lane on site which approximately 0.47 of a hectare.  This equates to 38 dwellings per hectare.

Site 5

12 dwellings in Lodway Gardens on a site of approximately 0.60 of a hectare.  This gives a density of 20 dwellings per hectare.

It can be seen that the housing density surrounding the site varies considerably - even amongst properties adjoining the site.  Officers do not consider that the proposal would be out of character with the surrounding area given these varied densities.  As set out in the report to North Area Committee, density alone is insufficient to judge the impact the proposal will have on the character of the area.  It is necessary to also consider its scale, height, design, parking, impact on privacy and amenity as required under the Core Strategy and as set out in Issues 3,5,6 and 7 respectively of the report to North Area Committee it is considered that the proposal is satisfactory in these respects.

Local Need

Some members of the committee raised concerns as about the ability of the Council to ensure that the properties would be made available to local people. There is demonstrable local need, which at July 2012 was as set out below:

72 households on Homechoice fall within the first criteria of the cascade (i.e. residents of Pill). This can be broken down as follows:

Band A (immediate/urgent need to move) - 3 x households (2 x over 55 years, 1 x under 55yrs)

Band B (significant need to move) - 8 x households (3 x over 55yrs, 5 x under 55 yrs)

Band C (identified property-related need to move) - 40 x households (9 x over 55 yrs, 31 x under 55 yrs)

Band D (households who don't meet A-C criteria) - 21 x households (26 x over 55 yrs, 46 under 55yrs)

All of these households fall within criteria (a) of the cascade and this considerably exceeds the number of dwellings proposed. There are five further categories in the cascade before the Council would widen the search to the rest of North Somerset under the cascade system of priorities.

When a household "bids" for a property with a local connection attached, bidders are asked to prove that connection. Then, a shortlist will be produced listing bidders from the first local connection category, and the household with the highest need in the highest band will be allocated.  If none are in Band A, Band B is then assessed, then C, then D. If no-one who meets the first cascade criteria in any band has bid, the same exercise for the next category is repeated and so on.

The Homechoice housing needs register went live in 2009, but since that time there has never been a need to let to someone without a local connection to whichever particular parish or surrounding parishes (i.e. the last category of the cascade) - either for new build units or re-lets of existing stock where a local connection is in existence. Officers have asked the Solicitor who has confirmed that application of local connections is lawful and complies with the Housing Act, national and local policy.

Committee members were concerned that there is already a large amount of Affordable housing (AH) in Pill (from Census data, 12% of the total dwellings in Pill/Easton are AH). The existing AH stock does not have a requirement for letting to households with a local connection. Here, Knightstone will have a local connection requirement, secured via S106 Agreement and a separate local lettings policy. Properties will be advertised for households with local connection only, and they will need to prove that connection before being accepted. It is considered that there is therefore a strong control to enable local needs to be met through the Cascade priority system.

4.   CONSULTATION

Representations received were considered by North Area Committee are summarised in the committee report in Appendix 1.  Should any further representations be received, these will be summarised in an update to the Committee.

 5.   FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

 As set out in the reports.  Legal proceedings and planning appeals can lead to significant costs being incurred.

 6.   EQUALITY IMPLICATIONS

None.

 7.   CORPORATE IMPLICATIONS

 As set out in the reports

8.   OPTIONS CONSIDERED

 Planning applications can either be approved or refused.

 AUTHOR

 Neil Underhay, Principal Planning Officer– Development and Environment

 BACKGROUND PAPERS

 Relevant planning files and supporting information.