Committee Report NSC

6.1

 
North Somerset Council

 

REPORT TO THE Planning AND Regulatory Committee

 

Date of Meeting:  5 DECEMBER 2012

 

Subject of Report: Planning application ref no 12/P/0906/F Erection of 65no. dwellings with associated garage/car parking and associated accesses, landscaping and engineering works following demolition of existing buildings, at Former Quadron Services Depot, Land to north of Mendip Road, Weston-super-Mare

 

Town or parish: Weston-super-Mare

 

Officer/Member presenting: head of development management

 

Key Decision: No

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

The application is APPROVED in accordance with the recommendation to the South Area Committee subject to the completion of a S106 Agreement to require:

 

(1)               Affordable housing provision

(2)               Library Facilities contribution

(3)               Youth Provision contribution

(4)               On-site Public Open Space

(5)               Off-site Public Open Space contribution

(6)               Off-site Sports Provision

(7)               Employment contribution

(8)               Education contribution

(9)               Contribution for off-site highway works

 

and the planning conditions set out in the South Area Committee (SAC) report dated

18 October 2012 together with the following additional condition and advice note:

 

 

“No development shall be commenced until details of an acoustic barrier along the southern boundary of the site, including details of its height, length, position and materials have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The approved acoustic barrier shall be erected prior to the construction of any dwelling on site and the boundary shall be maintained in accordance with the approved specifications at all times thereafter, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason: To ensure that there is an appropriate boundary treatment between this site and the adjoining land to the south, in the interests of the living conditions of residents of this development and to protect the interests of the adjoining existing businesses in Sandford Road and in accordance with Policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.”

 

Advice Note

It is recommended that the height of the acoustic wall exceeds the eaves height of the garage and single-storey stables and the length is no less than the collective length of the garage and stables and it shall be designed to take reasonable measures to prevent any children's balls or other objects landing on the stable roof.

 

1.                Summary of Report

 

Given the derelict condition of the site and its predominantly residential location together with the new focus for employment generation in the Weston Villages, it is considered that the site can be released for alternative development and therefore, the redevelopment of the site is compliant with Policy CS20 of the Core Strategy and would lead to a benefit to the surrounding community by remove a conflicting use. The proposal for housing would in contrast result in greater potential benefits to the community.  Noise levels emanating from the car garage are not significant and the potential mutual noise effects of the development on stables and garage will not be significant.

 

The application site is in a residential area well served by public transport. Parking provision is in excess of Local Plan standards and there are cycle and pedestrian routes that connect the development into the surrounding community. The findings of the Transport Assessment are considered to be reasonable.

 

2.                Policy

 

Refer to the South Area Committee Report in Appendix 1.

 

3.                Details

 

The full details of the application are set out in the report to the South Area Committee in Appendix 1.

 

The SAC recommends that it be refused for the following reasons:

 

1.                  The proposal fails to have sufficient regard to the Council’s employment-led approach designed to achieve a more sustainable alignment between jobs and the economically active population in Weston-super Mare. The failure to provide an element of employment provision as part of this scheme would frustrate the key objective of improving self-containment and reducing out-commuting. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy CS20 of the North Somerset Core Strategy 2012.

 

2.                  The scale of the development proposed is an overdevelopment of the site and would lead to any unacceptable impact on traffic conditions on Mendip Road to the detriment of highway safety. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

 

3.                  The close proximity of the proposed gardens of plots 5 to 11 to the existing horse stables and car-repair business on Sandford Road is likely to result in pressure from the new residents to exert additional controls on existing business activities to an extent that it would impact on the viability of the businesses. The submitted housing layout therefore fails to have regard to Policy H/7 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy 2012.

 

 

The following comments on the proposed reasons for refusal are relevant to determining this application.

 

Employment led

Policy CS20 states that the focus of employment in Weston will be primarily through town centre and gateway regeneration and new development at Weston Villages. In these locations there is a considerable supply of land and sites available to meet business needs alongside existing regeneration initiatives.

 

As part of the marketing of the site, the agents acting for the applicant considered employment uses on this site would not be a commercially viable. The site is vacant and derelict and the old buildings are of poor quality, poor construction with substandard materials (including asbestos) and the relationship of the old buildings to surrounding houses is poor. The above constraints have resulted in little or no commercial interest in the site during the marketing campaign, because the site carries a recognised burden of costs that is peculiar to the development of the site and has the effect of driving down the land value beyond that which can be absorbed by the commercial market in a recession. The level of S106 financial contribution being sought from the scheme further impacts on its viability. 

 

Under the circumstances, without the development of the site for housing, the site would have remained vacant and sterile with little hope of re-development for the foreseeable future.

 

Although, therefore there is a policy objective to secure on-site employment provision, if this is not suitable or in this case also unviable, Policy CS20 stated that financial contributions will be sought towards economic development through the use of planning obligations.

 

On-site employment provision, in this case, is not regarded as suitable, for the following reasons:

·                    The focus for employment growth is on the better located and supported sites in the Weston Villages.  Prospective employment development is being directed towards those sites.

·                    The site is within a predominantly residential area and the development would lead to the removal of an unneighbourly use, resulting in greater potential benefits to the community in terms of significant improvements to the living conditions of existing neighbourhood residents.

·                    If the housing scheme were not to proceed and the site resumed its former depot or similar use or an office based use, the vehicle impacts are likely to be greater than that generated by the proposed development. The traffic movements generated by resumed commercial and heavy goods traffic in the vicinity of Mendip Road would be likely to have an adverse impact on residential amenity and highway safety.

 

Therefore rather than proposing on-site employment, the applicant has offered a financial contribution to support the Council’s Ready4work employment scheme, together with other employment initiatives.  This has been re-examined and the employment contribution element is now £29k .The overall value of the S106 package secured for this site amounts to almost £500,000 as follows:

:

  • 30% on-site affordable housing
  • Libraries                     £20,000
  • Youth                           £4,000
  • POS (on-site)            £50,000
  • Sports                         £49,500
  • Leisure                       £40,000
  • Employment               £29,115
  • Education                   £337,000
  • Highway Works         £5,000

 

Account has been taken of market conditions and sufficiently flexibility has been allowed to enable the development to occur. The combination of location, development costs and planning obligations needed to be considered so as to ensure a viable scheme. 

 

The employment contribution will be used for:

 

  • Inward Investment - more long term promotion and marketing of sites and Weston specifically.
  • Workspace - demand for modern small workspace especially for start ups and existing businesses looking to grow - the contribution could support development of new premises/refurbishment of existing buildings.
  • Supporting people into work - Westonworks/Ready4Work  

 

It is concluded that sufficient regard has been had to Policy CS20 via the provision of a financial contribution towards economic development of a scale that will ensure viability.

 

Overdevelopment

In relation to the second refusal reason it should be noted that the proposal provides only a modest density of 36 dwellings per hectare. This represents a relatively low density within an urban location and cannot be regarded as overdevelopment. The likely reduction in traffic movements of the proposed use compared to the former industrial use is considerable. It is estimated that the proposed housing development will only generate around 34 two way trips during the morning and evening peak periods. If the site were to resume its former use, the traffic movements at peak times would be significantly higher, with between 90 to 120 two way trips during the evening peak period.  In addition a much higher proportion of the traffic entering and exiting the site would comprise HGV traffic. Under the circumstances the new development is unlikely to lead to any unacceptable impact on traffic conditions on Mendip Road.  

 

Impact on adjoining businesses

The third refusal reason relates to the impact on the adjoining businesses in Sandford Road. The above additional condition that requires the erection of an acoustic wall will resolve the main concerns raised by the proprietors. The purpose of the acoustic wall is threefold:

1.                  To act as an additional daytime buffer to absorb any workshop noise through the existing garage wall into the new residential gardens. There is no suggestion that intermittent noise from the garage will impact on the living conditions within the new dwellings. The garage does not operate weekends; evening or night working so there will be no effect on evening, or weekend domestic enjoyment or sleep patterns.

2.                  To act as an additional night time buffer to absorb any equine noise that penetrates through the existing stable walls into the residential properties.

3.                  To minimise the risk of any children’s balls or other objects hitting the existing stable wall or roof and disturbing the horses.

 

This condition addresses these points.

 

 

4.                Consultation

 

Details of consultation responses are in Appendix 1.

 

5.                Financial Implications

 

The Council is at risk of an award of costs if it cannot justify or sustain the reasons for refusal.

 

 

6.                Equality Implications

 

Equality issues are taken into account in all planning decisions.

 

7.                Corporate Implications

 

As set out in the Committee report.

 

8.                Options considered

 

Planning applications can either be approved or refused.

 

Author

 

David P Tate, Principal Planning Officer – Development and Environment

 

Background Papers

Appendix 1: South Area Committee report 18 October 2012 and update sheet