12/P/0888/F DEMOLITION OF EXISTING DWELLING AND ERECTION OF 14 RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS, CAR PARKING, LANDSCAPING AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE AT 1 STATION ROAD, PILL, BS20 0AB

APPLICATION NO: 12/P/0877/F

CASE OFFICER   Neil Underhay

APPLICANT: Knightstone Housing Association

RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY:

Approval subject to Section 106 Agreement

PARISH/WARD: Pill

WARD COUNCILLOR(S): Cllr Davies

TARGET DATE: 17/08/2012

APPLICATION: Demolition of existing dwelling and erection of 14 residential dwellings, car parking, landscaping and associated infrastructure.

SITE ADDRESS: 1 Station Road, Pill, BS20 0AB

 

LOCATION PLAN: The following plan shows the general location of the site only and is for illustrative purposes. The circle identifies the location of the site and is not a representation of the site boundaries. The site boundaries and other details submitted with the application can be viewed on the council’s website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk. This map is based upon Ordnance Survey material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office c. Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. North Somerset Council, LA09063L,2001

 


 

 


1.         12/P/0877/F  DEMOLITION OF EXISTING DWELLING AND ERECTION OF 14 RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS, CAR PARKING, LANDSCAPING AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE AT 1 STATION ROAD, PILL

 

REFERRED DELEGATED ITEM BY COUNCILLOR MRS KNIGHT

 

The Site

 

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.  Its front (southern) boundary is enclosed by a stone wall save for a vehicle entrance at its eastern end.  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

 

The application seeks full planning permission to demolish the house and garage and remove much of the existing vegetation and redevelop the site for 14 dwellings with vehicle access, parking and landscaping.

 

All dwellings will be provided as ‘affordable’ homes. 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 it will be slightly modified, which will lead to 20 on-site car parking spaces.  The flats will share a communal garden with a separate refuse storage building.  Separate purposes built secure cycle parking and refuse storage is included.

 

Relevant Planning History

 

Year

Reference

Proposal

 

Decision

2007

07/P/2383/F

Demolition of dwelling and erection of 25 sheltered apartments

Refused

2008

08/P/0373/F

Demolition of dwelling and erection of 23 sheltered apartments

Refused

 

11/P/1596/F       This application is identical to the current proposal.  This application had been determined under delegated powers with a decision to approve it subject to a S106 legal agreement.  However, it subsequently transpired that the applicant had not served notice on all affected landowners and the application was deemed invalid, and hence this resubmission. 

 

Policy Framework

 

The Statutory Development Plan comprises:

·        North Somerset Core Strategy (adopted April 2012) 

·        North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (saved policies) (adopted March 2007)   

·        Joint Replacement Structure Plan (saved policies) (adopted September 2002) 

·        Regional Planning Guidance for the South West (RPG10) (issued September 2001)

·        Joint Waste Core Strategy (adopted March 2011)

Relevant policies are as follows

 

North Somerset Core Strategy (adopted April 2012)

 

CS1

Climate Change and Carbon Reduction

CS2

Delivering Sustainable Development and Construction

CS4

Nature Conservation

CS10

Transportation and Movement

CS11

Parking

CS12

Achieving High Quality Design and Place Making

CS15

Mixed and Balanced Communities

CS16

Affordable Housing

CS32

Serviced Villages

 

North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (saved policies)(adopted March 2007)

 

Three NSRLP policies were not saved in March 2010.  The Core Strategy supersedes some but not all of the remainder.  It does not supersede the following policies:

 

GDP/3

Promoting Good Design and Sustainable Construction

CF/1

Provision of Cultural and Community Facilities

H/7

Residential Development Strategy

ECH/11

Protected Species and their Habitats

T/6

Parking Standards

T/10

Highway Safety

 

Other material policy guidance

 

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) and Development Plan Documents (DPD)

 

Affordable Housing SPD (adopted June 2008)

Biodiversity and Trees SPD (adopted December 2005)

 

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)(issued March 2012)

 

The NPPF contains relevant guidance and the following sections and paragraphs are of particular relevance:

 

6.         Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes,

7.         Requiring good design.

11.       Conserving the natural environment.

 

Consultations

 

Copies of representations received can be viewed on the council's website.  This report contains summaries only.

 

Third Parties:  A petition objecting to the application has been received, which has been signed by 49 people, 48 of whom are residents of Pill.

 

The objections are as follows:

 

  • We object to a three storey building, which is entirely out of character

 

  • We object to the destruction of trees

 

  • We object to this being promoted as a “social benefit” for the Village of Pill, when the bidding system in use makes it highly likely it won’t be

 

  • We object to the concentration of vehicles that will regularly use the entrance and exit onto Station Road.”

 

In addition to this; there has been 30 separate letters of objections (at time of drafting this report) to the application.  The main planning points raised are as follows:

 

  • 14 dwellings is an over-development of the site
  • Station Road is a busy and narrow road, which is further restricted by roadside car parking taking place in front of the application site.  Fourteen dwellings will considerably add to traffic movements and this taken together with a  reduction in the road width (by increasing the pavement width) allied to an extension of the parking restrictions, all of which is close to the junction Lodway, will be detrimental road and pedestrian safety. 
  • Insufficient car parking is provided on the site and the development will result in increased demands for roadside parking in an area which already experiences high levels of roadside parking.
  • No regard has been given to the impact of construction traffic and the harmful effect this will have on road / pedestrian safety and the general inconvenience to the living conditions of surrounding residents.
  • The scale of new building is excessive and will have over-bearing impact.
  • The application documents are inaccurate, misleading and outdated in several respects. 
  • The application does not have due regard to recent changes in planning policies both at Central Government level and in the North Somerset Local Plans and this devalues the credibility of the application.
  • The applicants have not taken due regard of policy objectives to improve the energy efficiency of property design and future energy requirements, as well as ‘Homes for Life’.
  • The removal of vegetation and quantity of rebuild takes away from the present aesthetic value of the site as a green space in an otherwise built up area.  Notwithstanding this, the application documents contain inaccurate information in respect of trees to be removed and retained and the removal of so much of its greenery would reduce the wildlife value of the site. 
  • Do not wish the existing boundary wall to be reduced in height or length as it would expose the proposed car park in the site and longer backdrop views of the motorway and beyond.
  • There is already an over-supply of affordable housing in Pill / Easton-in-Gordano and there is no need for further housing of this type.
  • Affordable Housing will result in new people moving into the village and they may not have regard for the area as existing long established local residents.
  • Conversely it would not be lawful to restrict occupation of the dwellings to those currently residents in the Village.
  • The development would enable overlooking into properties opposite and adjacent to the site and hence unacceptably harm their living conditions.
  • The construction period will be lengthy and this will further add to road and pedestrian safety concerns and generally devalue the amenity of nearby residents.
  • The planning application site extends beyond land owned by the applicants and includes land owned by the local authority.
  • The community consultation was undertaken for the previous planning application process and is now substantially out of date.
  • Residents have not been notified by the Council of amended plans during the course of this application

 

Validity of Planning Application and Submitted Documents

 

Some representations say the application relies on information provided with the previous 2011 planning application (reference number 11/P/159/F) and this is now outdated and the application also includes inaccurate and misleading information.  One such inaccuracy is that the application site is not solely owned by the applicant but an area at the entrance is public ownership.

 

In response to the first point, a number of documents appear to have been copied from the previous application.  The applicant subsequently updated some information and the merits of this will be dealt with at various points in the following pages.

 

Regarding the ownership, the applicants undertook a land registry search and this identifies a small part of the land between the highway and their land which is unregistered.  In these circumstances and in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 – Certificate under Article 12, the applicant must advertise the application in the public domain and usually in a local newspaper.  This has been done and a copy of the press advert has been provided.  The applicants have also served notice on the Council that some proposed works involving the footpath and road markings are within the public highway (see Issue 2 later in the report for further details).  The application is therefore valid and can be determined. 

 

Comments from the Parish Council say that “Instead of mixed private and affordable homes on the site, it is now proposed to build all affordable homes”. The planning applications document, including the Planning Statement and Covering letter accompanying the application, do however make it clear that proposed dwellings are all to be ‘affordable’ dwellings.

 

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)

 

Some representations criticise the SCI because it was conducted in 2009 and the current proposal has not been formulated in response to public comment.  While this point is accepted, this is the fourth planning  application for this site in the past 5 years and the intention to redevelop for multiple residential units (including affordable housing), including the removal of vegetation has this site has been in the public domain several times.    While it would have been preferable for applicant to have re-run a public consultation event before this application was lodged, the failure to do so ahead of the latest application is not a reason to reject the application. 

 

Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council:   Initially raised no objection in writing but subsequently emailed the Council on 9 July 2012 to say that they wished to withdraw these comments and make revised comments which were submitted by email on 11 July 2012 and are as follows:

 

“1.        Instead of mixed private and affordable homes on the site, it is now proposed to build all affordable homes.

2.         The proposed buildings would not reflect the feel of the area, and are oversized for the footprint available.

3.         The proposal fails to meet NSC's own minimum standards for car parking. Assuming only half of the residents have a car, there would still be a shortfall of five spaces. This would result in additional parking on the road, but due to the proposal to paint "Keep Clear" markings on the road to the west of the development, the 4-5 spaces that are already used would no longer be available, resulting in even more vehicles with nowhere to park.

4.         Lack of evidence of local employment-led housing need.

5.         The proposed development substantially exceeds the NSC stated target for density of new housing.

6.         Loss of community and ecological amenity.

7.         The felling of two mature beech trees.

8.         The proposal fails to take properly into account the highway safety issues, and contradicts various elements of NSC's Core Strategy and the NPPF.

 

Principal Planning Issues

 

The principal planning issues in this case are: (1) Principle of affordable housing,

(2) Development of residential garden, (3) Road Safety and Car Parking, (4) Density of Development, (5) Visual Impact, (6) Privacy, (7) Space Standards within the Site, (8) Energy Efficiency and Life-Time Homes, (9) Biodiversity and (10) Construction Impacts.

 

Issue 1:  Principle of affordable housing

 

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.  This Policy supports residential development where proposals meet identified local housing needs in respect of affordability and mix and where proposals are appropriate in scale and character.  Policy CS15 (Mixed and Balanced Communities) is also relevant and seeks to reduce the proliferation of one housing type in a particular area and says proposals should also contribute a mix of house types having regard to house sizes, tenures, ages and incomes. 

 

Policy CS16 of the Core Strategy sets out the Councils Policy on Affordable Housing and says the trigger for on-site provision are schemes of 10 or more dwellings and in some cases, schemes of 5 – 9 dwellings.  It says; there is no upper limit [my emphasis] to the potential affordable housing provision or contribution, but a benchmark of 30% will be sought as a starting point. This benchmark is aimed at meeting local need.”  The policy does not therefore exclude schemes which provide 100% affordable housing as in this case.

 

Some representations say the proposal is out of character with the area, by reason of its scale and density.  These matters are examined in the following Issues.  Some however, say the principle of affordable housing is unacceptable because there is already an over-supply of affordable housing in the Pill and contend there is no need for any more. 

 

In response to the matter of need,  the present housing needs register (the ‘Home Choice Register’) shows that on 10 July 2012 the residents of 72 households in Pill/Easton-in-Gordano qualify as being eligible for affordable housing and of these, 51 households have an ‘identified, significant or an urgent need’ for affordable housing.   Of these 51 households, the majority confirm a need for 2 and 3 bedroom properties, which includes an identified need for those aged 50 and over.  The size, type and age restrictions of the proposed properties (the 8 apartments being for those aged 50 and the 6 houses) meets this identified need.  The proposed affordable housing comprises:

 

·        8 x 2 bed flats for Affordable Rent, designated for over 50yrs

·        2 x 3 bed houses for Affordable Rent

·        2 x 2 bed houses for shared ownership (shared equity)

·        2 x 3 bed houses for shared ownership (shared equity)

 

In answer to an alleged over-supply of affordable housing in Pill, within Easton-in-Gordano/Pill as a whole, the total number of Affordable Dwellings is approximately 326 or 12% of the total housing stock, of which 11% is general needs affordable housing and 1% is older persons units.  This is a relatively small proportion of the overall housing stock and it is considered this proposal would not result in a disproportionately high quantity or over-provision of Affordable Housing in the village especially given the current local needs. 

 

Should this application be approved, the applicants will be required to enter into a Section 106 Legal Agreement with the Council, so that the dwellings are provided and retained as ‘Affordable Houses’.  A further restriction proposes the dwellings are made available to existing residents of Easton-in-Gordano/Pill, which would apply each and every time properties are re-let.  Only if properties remain vacant with no local uptake are they then offered to those in adjoining Parishes. 

 

Some representations contend a local preference clause does not comply with criteria introduced under Section 166 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended) and that rather than ring-fence the properties on a Parish only basis, the properties are required to be available on a district-wide basis.   Some representations contend however the Council should not grant planning permission for local needs housing if its subsequent occupation this cannot be ensured.

 

In response to this point, The Housing Act 1996 requires that when allocating affordable housing, reasonable preference is given to people falling within the "reasonable preference" categories, but it does allow for flexibility to meet local needs and local priorities.   North Somerset Council's Homechoice Lettings and Assessment Policy allows for properties to be let in accordance with an agreed local lettings policy on rural exception sites (outside settlement boundaries) and new build sites inside serviced villages - such as this.   Officers’ having taken legal advice on this matter therefore consider it is lawful for a Section 106 Agreement to include a Local Lettings Policy and ‘the reasonable preference categories’ will be applied to those applicants with a proven local connection in accordance with the priority order cascade. 

 

There is no objection to the principle of affordable housing on this site.

 

Issue 2:  Development of Residential garden

 

Notwithstanding the above, some representations say the principle of the proposal should also be refused because it involves the development of a residential garden and this is resisted in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  On this point, Paragraph 53 of the NPPF says: “Local Planning Authorities should consider the case for setting out policies to resist inappropriate of residential gardens, for example, where development would cause harm to the local area”.   The key issue is not whether the proposal results in development of a garden, but whether or not it causes unacceptable harm to the local area.  Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy 32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy contain such criterion.  The application should be assessed having regard to the scale, design and appearance of the proposed buildings, its impact on traffic and parking and on the privacy and amenity of local residents.  These are considered in the following Issues.

 

Issue 3:  Road Safety and Car Parking

 

A net increase of 13 dwellings on this site will clearly result in more traffic movements on Station Road and other adjoining roads with more turning manoeuvres to and from the site entrance.  Representations argue this would be detrimental to road and pedestrian safety and that the road has already reached a saturation point in terms of vehicle movements and roadside parking.

 

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 no reported accidents at this junction in the last 5 years.  The Highways Officers considers this junction has the capacity to accommodate this development without reducing road or pedestrian safety. 

 

In Station Road it is noted that roadside parking takes place on its north side from its junction (with Lodway/Heywood Road) up to and beyond the application site and this reduces the usable road width.  It has also been observed that Station Road generates a regular flow of two-way traffic including occasional delivery vehicles (accessing the few commercial premises), and drivers negotiate between parked cars and on-coming vehicles and park where they find a suitable space.    The extent and location of roadside car parking produces ad-hoc waiting areas, which allows on coming vehicles to pass.  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.  These reversing manoeuvres are not an ideal practice in close proximity to this junction, although residents of these properties are doubtless experienced at anticipating passing traffic when performing such movements. Objectors point to several incidents where vehicles or property has been damaged in recent years and this highlights the problems of the road, although the Council records show no recorded accidents in the section of Station Road in the last 5 years.  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 'zig-zag' hatchings (currently in front of the Health Centre on Station Road) by approximately 10 metres to the west of the access to the point where Station Roads forks at the start of the junction with Lodway and Heywood Road.  It also proposes to increase the width of the pavement in front of the site from 1 metre to 1.8 metres.   Concerns have been raised in some representations that the drawing in which these details are shown (Drawing Number 9032-0003 Rev B) is misleading since it is titled ‘Road Widening Layout’.  This is a fair point, although the detail of the drawing itself is clear judging from the resulting comments received.  The applicants have submitted a revised plan, which renames the drawing ‘Proposed Road Layout’.

 

The effect of extending the zig-zag hatching would remove 2 roadside parking spaces in Station Road (still leaving 3 or 4 spaces towards the junction with Lodway) keeping parked vehicles clear from the section of Station Road immediately to the west side of the entrance/exit to the site, which will improve the visibility for vehicles exiting the site by preventing vehicles from parking within the visibility splay.

 

This has a number of implications:

·        If roadside parking in front of the site takes place throughout the day (as would appear to be the case from several site visits to the site during weekdays) the two lost road side spaces are likely to result in this demand be displaced close by.  This however would not be easily absorbed given the relatively high level of roadside parking in the immediate area.

·        It would however create a no parking zone at one of the narrowest parts of Station Road, which is also in the very area (or adjacent to it) where some residents who live opposite perform reversing manoeuvres to or from their properties.  No parking in this area would enhance visibility and manoeuvring space for motorists, and provide a safer more desirable crossing point for pedestrians.  The drawback of the zig-zag extension is that it could be used as a waiting space at times to allow on-coming vehicles to pass, but motorists and pedestrians would still have better overall visibility and a wider footpath is beneficial given that this appears to be a well-used pedestrian route. 

·        Despite the reduction in the width of Station Road brought about by the increase in the pavement width, the highways officers considers the resultant road width will still allow for a safe two-way flow of traffic and would not compromise road safety, including the safety of the junction onto Lodway. 

 

Overall, while the removal of 2 spaces may cause inconvenience to some in finding alternative spaces, this is outweighed by the road and pedestrian safety benefits and  this is considered acceptable having regard to Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.  It is not considered there is case to reduce the speed limit of the road to 20mph as has been suggested in some representations

 

In terms of car parking, the standards within the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (Policy T/6) require that 10 x 2-bedroom properties and 4 x 3 bedroom properties would equate to 20.5 spaces.  The proposed layout provides 20 spaces, which is considered acceptable. 

There are no objections to the application having regard to road safety and car parking.

Issue 4:  Density of Development

 

Some representations contend the proposal is an over-development of the site having regard to the proposed number of dwellings (its density), the loss of vegetation, loss of amenity and the resulting traffic implications (considered above). 

 

While the Council sets out average housing densities for significant allocated new housing sites (such as the proposed ‘Weston Villages’), there is no stipulation for smaller individual sites, such as this.  Policy CS15 of the Core Strategy does however seek a mix of different house types and sizes, including housing for older people and those in need of affordable housing.  Policy CS32 consolidates this objective.

 

In this case, 14 dwellings on a site that is 0.28 of a hectare, achieves a density of approximately 56 dwellings per hectare.  This is higher than the density of some housing immediately west of the site in Lodway and housing due south west in Springfield Road, but it is not high compared to some other surrounding housing next to the site.  Indeed the houses ringed by Station Road, Heywood Road, Heywood Terrace and Church Walk respectively, which comprises  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.   The crux is not whether a density of 56 dwellings per hectare is acceptable per se, but whether the development is acceptable in terms of its scale, height, proximity to its boundaries and relationship to surrounding properties, the impact on the privacy of adjoining residents, and whether the layout within the site itself is acceptable.   These are considered below.

 

Issue 5:  Visual Impact

 

The area surrounding the site is residential with most dwellings either abutting or being close to their respective front boundaries.  This creates a strong sense of enclosure on to roads.  The application site by contrast, is a spacious landscaped plot, which although neglected (unoccupied) and now overgrown, provides a ‘green’ space in an otherwise hard landscape area. Concerns have been raised that the removal of most trees and other vegetation, together with the scale of the new building will have a dominant impact that would harm the appearance of the site and adjoining area.  Some objections take particular issue over the proposed removal of two mature beech trees and the accuracy and inconsistency between the landscape and tree plan (arboricultural report).  These comments have been referred to the Council’s Tree Officer.   

 

In response to these issues, is accepted that the removal of the majority of the vegetation will transform the appearance of the site making it far less secluded and contained.  There are however very few trees on this site of any significance, and where practical some vegetation will be retained and replacement planting will be provided as part of a landscape scheme.   Regarding the two Beech Trees, these are not subject to a Preservation Order, but they have been inspected by the Council’s Tree Officer. They were found to have been subjected to heavy pruning in the past which predisposes this species to decay, which is already evident and is likely to deteriorate significantly within the next ten years. They are not worthy of protection because of the significantly reduced life expectancy and so it is prudent to secure their replacement with new tree planting.

 

In response to concerns regarding the accuracy of their Tree Survey, the applicants submitted an updated Arboricultural Survey (Dated 19 June 2012).  This has been re-assessed by the Council’s Tree Officer and this resolves outstanding comments arising from their previous outdated report (dated 17 February 2011), although there are still some minor discrepancies. The Council’s Landscape Officer and Tree Officer respectively have raised no objections to the proposal, but the landscape officer indicates there is scope for more planting, towards the front of the site than is currently shown in the applicant's landscape scheme.  Both Officers raise no objection to the application, but request planning conditions be imposed in the event of approval, most notably requiring a landscaping scheme with more planting and with retained trees properly protected.

 

A landscape scheme has been proposed which shows the level of vegetation to be retained or removed, together with new planting proposals.  The new planting includes 7 new trees close to the front boundary.  This is relatively modest compared to the thick (overgrown) screening at the front of the site and will clearly take time to establish, but, in time, it will filter views of the site and enhance the setting of the building.  There is scope for one or two more trees at the front of the site adjacent to the parking bays and a full planting specification, which optimises such scope, will be required as part of a landscaping scheme required by planning conditions.

 

In terms of the proposed buildings, Plots 1-6 inclusive are modest two-storey properties sited towards the back of the site.  They are well-contained in the plot and are sited at a suitable distance from adjoining properties (in Sambourne Lane) to prevent unacceptable mutual overlooking.  Their scale and appearance are considered acceptable.

 

The block containing plots 7-14 is mainly three storeys with a two storey rear element.  Cross sectional drawings showing this building (and the two storey houses) have been provided and this shows the height (scale) and spatial relationship to houses adjacent and opposite the site.  This indicates that the  highest part of the three storey building is approximately 1.62 metres higher than the closest adjoining house at 2a Lodway and approximately 2.1 metres higher than one of the houses opposite at 4 Station Road (although there are taller houses within this terrace, 6 and 8 Station Road – for example).   The building is set back about 13 metres behind the stone boundary wall on to Station Road and is approximately 30 metres from the front wall of the closest house opposite at 2 Station Road.  It is approximately 19 metres from the adjacent house at 2a Lodway.  It is considered the scale of the proposed building and its relative separation distances from adjoining houses will not result in it appearing overbearing in the street scene or in relation to the outlook of adjoining properties.

 

As stated in the petition, a number of residents object to a three storey building because this is considered entirely out of character.  In reply, it is accepted that while two storey buildings predominate there are three storey buildings close to the site, including part of the Old Brewery, the former Railway Inn (which the Council has resolved to grant planning permission for its conversion to private flats with a three storey extension – subject to a Section 106 legal agreement) and two dwellings in the terrace immediately opposite the site (6 and 8 Station Road).  There are further three storey houses in Back Lane.  This site can accommodate some three storey building without having an overbearing effect, as the other referred examples prove.  The initial design of the three storey building has, in comparison to the previous application, been slightly reduced in scale and simplified. It is considered its appearance by reason of design detailing and materials is acceptable.

 

In the initial application documents, there is a contradiction in that some details refer to a lowering of the front stone boundary wall, while others show it retained at its present height.  While a very small section of the wall will be removed where the vehicle access is modified, it has since been confirmed by the applicants that the remainder of the wall will be retained at its current height although the access point itself is slightly widened. This will not prevent an ‘opening-up’ of views into the site as previously indicated, but the wall should conceal much of the on-site car parking from Station Road.  Officers have no objections to the fact the proposal will open up longer distance views beyond the site.

 

On balance, the concerns of objectors regarding the scale and impact of the overall development are understood, but it is considered that the development is acceptable in scale and design and meets the tests of Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.  Planning conditions can be imposed to deal with the precise requirements of the planting and tree protection as well as the retention of the front stone boundary wall.

 

Issue 6:  Privacy

 

To ensure adequate privacy for adjoining residents, it is long established planning practice that the separation distance between directly facing windows on the private side of dwellings (where there is no obstruction in between) should be about 21.5 metres or 70ft.  It is marginally less between the rear elevation of the houses at Plots 1-6 and adjoining bungalows in Sambourne Lane, although this is unlikely to result in a loss of privacy as the view towards the bungalows is restricted by boundary fences and vegetation shown to be retained.  No objections have been received from the occupants of properties in Sambourne Lane.

 

The distance between the windows in the side (west) elevation of the proposed building comprising plots 7-14 (the proposed flats) and boundary to the closest adjoining house at 2a Lodway is about 17 metres.  This is a reasonable distance given that the windows predominantly face the front garden (driveway) of 2a Lodway and are likely to have a restricted (angled) view towards the rear garden of this property with limited impact on the privacy and amenity of its occupants.  With regard to the next property along at 2 Lodway, the side windows in the flats are about 40 metres or 135ft from two windows in the side (east) elevation of 2 Lodway.  Even if there is a clear view from the development to these windows, at this distance the Council could not argue a loss of privacy to its occupants.

 

Concerns have been raised regarding a loss of privacy from some residents opposite the site in Station Road.  Even though it is accepted there may be some windows in the apartment building which could have unobstructed views towards these properties, this would be at a distance of about 30 metres and this is, in planning terms, more than sufficient to prevent unacceptable privacy loss.

 

Issue 7: Space Standards within the Site

 

The level of on-site car parking is acceptable as is the  purpose build cycle store for the flats which provides 1 cycle stand space per flat (Units 7 -14 inclusive).  Each house has its own private amenity space and hence has the space for cycle storage.  The applicants indicate each dwelling, while not shown on the drawings, will have a shed in their rear gardens. 

 

The proposal provides an acceptable (size and design) purpose built refuse / recycling space for the flats and the dwellings indicate hard surface space close to the rear (kitchen areas) for storage of portable refuse/recycling containers.  A designated area is also provided within communal amenity space for the flats for drying space, which is to be enclosed to reduce its appearance. 

 

Each dwelling has a private rear garden (the minimum being approximately 62 square metres) and the flats have a shared communal space that is approximately 250 square metres.  These space standards are acceptable.

 

Issue 8:  Energy Efficiency and Life-Time Homes

 

Objections say the applicants have made little attempt to justify the development having regard to the above, with specific reference to the NPPF and Policies CS1 ‘Addressing Climate Change and Carbon Reduction’ and CS2 ‘Delivering Sustainable Design and Construction’ of the North Somerset Core Strategy.  This is a reasonable assertion and the revised application had initially relied on the previous planning statements, which are now outdated and failed to address new policies now in place.  The applicants have however provided a further addendum to their Design and Access Statement – Energy Statement with specific reference to energy and carbon reduction and sustainable development objectives.

 

In respect of sustainable design and construction, the applicant confirms that the dwellings will all be constructed to Life Times Homes Standards; and will meet Code Level 3 for the Code of Sustainable Homes.  In respect of energy and carbon reduction, the applicants confirm that 15% of the future energy requirement for the development will be met through micro-renewable technologies through a combination of solar technology and in the fabric of the properties. 

 

In response to the applicant’s points, Policy CS1 and CS2 of the Core Strategy apply a rising scale to ‘Life Time Home’ and ‘Code for Sustainable Home’ Standards.  For example, Code Level 3 is acceptable up to October 2013, but then increases to Code Level 4 and Code Level 6 by 2016.  Similarly, Life Time Home standards require 50% of homes to this standard up to 2013 and then 100% thereafter.  The applicant’s proposal meets these policy requirements, but planning conditions will need to be worded to ensure that the right standards apply when the development is constructed. 

 

Issue 9:  Biodiversity

 

A habitat survey and protected species survey and assessment have been carried out and the results were provided as part of the application.  This shows some evidence of bats and slow worms on the site, which although not preventing development, will need to be mitigated through appropriate planning conditions.

 

An active Badger Sett in the north-east corner of the site was also identified.  This does not prevent development, but part of the site (in the rear garden of Plot 1) will need to be cordoned-off to prevent encroachment into this area.   This can also be dealt with through planning conditions.

 

Issue 10:  Construction Impacts

 

Concerns have been raised that the construction would give rise to unacceptable impacts on residential amenity.  Control over construction impacts, whether it is the hours of work, noise, impact on the condition of road, public safety, protective fencing is not a matter for planning - regardless that these issues may arise of a planning decision.  Instead they are controlled under other legislation.

 

Issue 11:  Consultation on Amended Details

 

Some representations say they should have been notified of amendments and further information provided by the applicant during the course of this application.  While Officers would re-consult had the amendments and clarification been significant, they are relatively minor points, which have had little impact of the proposal.

 

Conclusion and Reasons for Approval

 

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 (units 7-14 inclusive) would be prominent within the street scene, but it 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 have their own identity, but they are well-conceived and will fit in successfully with the area and accord with Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Replacement Core Strategy. 

 

Concerns regarding energy and carbon issues have not been completely resolved in terms of final design specifications, but the applicants have assured that they are committed to meeting these principles and these matters 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 and 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, but again there are some matters of mitigation that 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. 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

(Including consideration of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998).

See decision notice for conditions/reasons

 

APPROVAL, subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement to:

 

  • Restrict the dwellings to be ‘Affordable Houses’ which shall be retained as such in perpetuity as ‘Affordable Houses’.  This will also require the properties to be made available to existing residents of Easton-in-Gordano/Pill. This priority would apply each and every time properties become vacant.  Only if and when this is completed and properties remain vacant because there is no local uptake are they then offered to those in adjoining Parishes. 

 

  • restrict the dwellings to ‘Affordable Housing’ properties with Plots 7-14 inclusive being restricted to persons aged 50 and over

 

  • financial contributions in respect of enhancement to public open space and leisure facilities

 

and subject to the following conditions:-

 

1.         The development hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiry of five years from the date of this permission.

 

Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

 

Approved Drawings

 

2.         The development hereby permitted shall be carried out in complete accordance with the approved drawings listed below, unless amended plans and specifications are first submitted to and approved, in writing, by the Local Planning Authority.

Drawing Number

Title

Scale

 

 

 

PL-01 Rev A

Location Plan

1:1250

PL-02 Rev B

Site Plan – As existing

1:200

PL-03 Rev J

Planning Layout

1:200

SE-01 Rev D

Site Section

1:200

SE-02 Rev D

Site Section

1:200

SS-01 Rev D

Street Scene

1:200

ACV5686 - 600

Topographical Survey

1:200

PER-01 Rev B

Perspective

No to Scale

STORE-01

Bin & Cycle Store

1:50

STORE-02

Bin & Cycle Store

1:50

9032-0003 Rev C

Proposed Road Layout (with the exception of the splayed section of the  of the widened footway – see condition 11)

1:200

HT-01.1 Rev C

Type A

 

HT-Apart 01.2 Rev G

1st Floor Plan – 2 bed apartments

1:100

HT-Apart 01.3Rev H

2nd Floor Plan – 2 bed apartments

1:100

HT-Apart01.4 Rev H

Elevation – 2 bed apartments

1:100

HT- Apart01.5 Rev G

Elevation – 2 bed apartments

1:100

HT-02.03 Rev B

Type E

1:100

HT-Apart-01.1 Rev G

Ground Floor Plan – 2 bed apartments

1:100

HT-02.1 Rev E

Type C

1:100

HT-02.02 Rev E

Type D

1:100

 

 

1:100

 

Reason: The Local Planning Authority wishes to ensure that the development conforms to the approved plans and that any proposed alterations are the subject of prior approval and in accordance with Policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

 

Landscaping

 

3.                  No development shall commence until full specifications of a hard and soft landscaping scheme for the site has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  This shall include, by reference to an up to date site survey, details of all landscaping to be removed, retained as well as new planting and provided details of the stock, species spacing and numbers of all new planting.

 

Reason:  To ensure a fully detailed landscape scheme is prepared for the development in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and CS12 and 32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

4.         All works comprised in the approved details of landscaping shall be carried out during the months of October to March inclusive following occupation of any building on site or on completion of the development, whichever is the sooner. Any tree work shall be carried out in accordance with British Standard 3998 (Recommendations for tree work).

 

Reason: To ensure that a satisfactory landscaping scheme is implemented and in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and CS12 and 32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

5.         For the duration of the development works existing any trees/shrubs/hedgerows to be retained shall be protected by a suitable barrier erected and maintained at a distance from the trunk or hedge, as specified, in writing, by the Local Planning Authority. The Authority shall be informed at least seven days before works start on site so that barrier positions can be established. Within this protected area there shall be no excavation, tipping or stacking, nor compaction of the ground by any other means.

 

Reason: To ensure maximum protection of trees during site works in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and CS12 and 32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

6.         Trees, hedges and plants shown in the landscaping scheme to be retained or planted which, during the development works or a period of ten years following full implementation of the landscaping scheme, are removed without prior written consent from the Local Planning Authority or die, become seriously diseased or are damaged, shall be replaced in the first available planting season with others of such species and size as the Authority may specify.

 

Reason: To ensure as far as possible that the landscaping scheme is fully effective and in accordance with Policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

 

Energy Conservation

 

7.         The dwellings hereby approved shall not be occupied until measures to generate 15% of the on-going energy requirements of the use (unless a different standard is agreed) through micro renewable or low-carbon technologies have been installed and are fully operational in accordance with the approved details that have been first submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. Thereafter, the approved technologies shall be permanently retained unless otherwise first agreed in writing by the local planning authority.

 

Reason: In order to secure a high level of energy saving by reducing carbon emissions generated by the use of the building in accordance with policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policies CS1 and CS2 of the North Somerset Core Strategy. 

 

8.         All dwellings hereby granted shall be constructed to comply with the requirements of Code Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.  If however, the construction of any dwellings commences during or after 2013, those dwellings shall be constructed to Code Level 4 and any dwellings constructed during or after 2016, those dwellings shall be constructed to Code Level 6, unless otherwise first agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  Prior to the commencement of any dwelling, a copy of a Final Code Certificate issued by the Building Research Establishment or any other organisation authorised to issue such certificates shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority to ensure dwellings comply with the appropriate code.

 

Reason: In order to secure a high level of energy efficiency in accordance with Policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policies CS1 and CS2 of the North Somerset Core Strategy. 

 

9.         At least 50% of the dwellings hereby granted shall be constructed to comply with the requirements of the Lifetime Homes if built before or during 2013.  Any dwellings commenced after 2013 will be required to comply with the requirements of the Lifetime Homes, unless other wise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason: In order to secure a high level of dwellings are adaptable and are built to Life Times standards and in accordance with Policy CS2 of the North Somerset Core Strategy. 

 

Access and Parking

 

10.       No dwellings shall be occupied until the vehicles access; turning area and car parking spaces have all been constructed in accordance with the approved drawings and are available for use.  Once provided the car parking spaces shall be retained for car parking at all times.

 

Reason:  To ensure an adequate vehicle access and parking is provided in accordance with Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and CS11 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

11.       No dwellings shall be occupied until the highway work comprising the widening of the footway and ‘Zig-Zag’ road markings on Station Road have been completed in accordance with the approved details.  The ‘splayed’ section of the widened footpath adjacent to the west boundary of the site will however need to be redesigned with a more gradual (gentle) angle and a revised drawing will need to be submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority before the development is commenced.  The works shall be carried out in full accordance with the approved details.

 

Reason:  To ensure that there is adequate visibility for motorists entering and leaving the site and in the interests of improving pedestrian safety, in accordance with Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

 

Biodiversity

 

12.       Each dwelling shall be provided with a bird box and a bat box (or a bat brick and bird brick incorporated within the built design) prior to the completion of the construction of the building. 

 

Reason:  To provide opportunities for improved biodiversity in accordance with Policy CS4 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

13.       No development shall commence until details of a scheme designed to avoid killing or injuring slow-worms together with a timetable for its implementation has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.  The scheme shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details or any amendment to the scheme as approved in writing by the local planning authority.

 

Reason: To enable the local planning authority to ensure that slow-worms are safeguarded before this development takes place as slow-worms are specially protected by law and in accordance with Policy ECH/11 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS4 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

14.       The existing dwelling shall not be demolished until details of ‘soft stripping’ (cross refer to Informative Note 5 for guidance) have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The demolition shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason:  There is some potential that the roof of the dwelling may be used as a habitat for bats in which case caution will need to be taken when removing the dwellings as not to harm the Bats.  This approach complies with Policy ECH/11 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS4 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

15.       No development shall be commenced until the ‘Badger Sett Protection Area’ within the rear garden of the dwelling at Plot 1 as shown in Drawing Number PL-03 Rev H has been enclosed with protective fencing, for which details shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  Once erected the protective fencing shall be retained and maintained at all times unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  Within this area, there shall be no buildings or structures, or storage of building materials, equipment or other materials.

 

Reason:  There is record of a Badger Sett inside the protected area and it is important that this area is not disturbed to ensure the welfare of Badgers, which are a protected species, in accordance with Policy ECH/11 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS4 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

Finished Levels

 

16.       The finished floor levels and finished ridge heights of the buildings hereby granted shall accord with the approved drawings and shall not exceed the finished height as shown in relation to adjoining dwellings and fixed datum points.

 

Reason: To ensure that the height of the dwellings are reasonable in relation to adjoining properties and in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

Materials

 

17.       No work shall be commenced on each building until samples of the exterior building materials for that building and surfacing materials to be used in the whole development hereby granted have been submitted to and approved, in writing, by the Local Planning Authority. The developments shall be carried out in the approved materials unless otherwise agreed in writing.

 

Reason: To ensure that materials to be used are acceptable and in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

Cycle and refuse Storage

 

18.       The dwellings hereby granted shall not be occupied until the cycle and refuse storage buildings have been erected and are available for use.  Once provided, the cycle and refuse storage buildings shall be retained for their said purpose at all times.

 

Reason:  to ensure that the development is served with adequate cycle and refuse storage in accordance with Policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

 

Permitted Development

 

19.       Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, or any Order amending or revoking and re-enacting that Order, apart from the alterations to form the revised vehicle access into the site, the front stone boundary wall facing Station Road shall be otherwise retained.

 

Reason:  The stone wall forms an attractive feature at the front of the site and should be retained in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

20.       Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, or any Order amending or revoking and re-enacting that Order, no first floor windows shall be inserted into the side (west) elevation of the dwelling at Plot 6 without the consent of the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason:  To protect the privacy and amenity of the occupants of the adjoining dwelling at 2a Lodway and in accordance with Policies GDP/3 and H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

Drainage

 

21.       No development shall be commenced until details of a Surface Water Drainage scheme to serve the development including a timetable for its implementation has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The scheme shall be implemented in accordance with the approved details unless otherwise authorised in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason:  To ensure the development is served by an acceptable mans of surface water drainage in accordance with Policy CS2 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.


 

Construction Management

 

22.       No development shall be commenced until details of a Traffic and Parking Construction Management Plan have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  This shall include HGV delivery (and return journey) times and proposals for contractor parking.  The development shall be carried out in accordance with the agreed details at all times, unless otherwise authorised in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason:  To minimise the impact on road safety and amenities of nearby residents as far as possible, in accordance with Policies H/7 and T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS32 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

Advice Notes: -

 

1.         This permission must be read in conjunction with the Section 106 Legal Agreement.

 

2.         All species of bats and their roosts are legally protected.  If bats are encountered all demolition or construction work should cease and the Bat Conservation Trust (Tel 0845 1300 228) should be consulted for advice.

 

3.         All species of wild birds, their eggs, nests and chicks are legally protected until the young have fledged.  No site clearance or tree or hedge removal shall be carried out on site between 1 March and 30 September inclusive in any year, unless a check has been carried out beforehand by a qualified ecologist as agreed with the local planning authority.

 

4.         The developer may need to apply for a licence from Natural England to carry out any works that affect the Badger Sett and they are advised to contact Natural England on this matter.

 

5.         “Soft stripping” referred to in condition 9 means that during demolition, areas of a building with relatively high bat potential are dismantled by hand under the supervision by a licensed bat worker or accredited ecologist.  For example ridges and roof tiles should be lifted off vertically rather than slid off, and linings within the roof and any wooden cladding, soffits or similar which provide crevices should also be removed with care.  All demolition of buildings should be carried out between April to October inclusive to avoid disturbing hibernating bats.

 

6.         Alterations to the highway will require the Council’s approval and it is suggested that the developer contact the Council’s Highways Officers to discuss the process for this.


 

NORTH AREA COMMITTEE

 

UPDATE SHEET

 

13 SEPTEMBER 2012

 

Section 1

 

Item 5.1 – 12/P/0877/F – 1 Station Road, Pill

 

Third Parties: The number of individual letters of objection has increased from 30 to 51 (some objectors have sent several letters).  The points raised in these additional letters reiterate a number of objections already set out and addressed in the committee report.  Thus, there is nothing further to add in response to these objections.

 

Trees: New information has also been received which makes a case for the retention of two Beech trees (referred to as ‘T5’ and ‘T6’) inside the west site boundary.  This is set out in a report by an Arboricultural Consultant on behalf of a neighbour.  This is based on a recent assessment of these trees. The Council’s Tree Officer has considered the information and re-examined the trees, given his initial visit was when the trees were not in leaf.  He now thinks that the condition and amenity value of these trees merit their retention and recommends that the Beech trees are protected with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

 

He is also satisfied that this will not be compromised by or conflict with the proposed development.  A revised landscape scheme and Tree Protection Plan will be needed.   These requirements can be met under conditions 3 and 5 of the recommendation which is unaffected.  Steps have been taken to serve the TPO.