Agenda item

Land North East Of 81 - 87 High Street Accessed From, Slade Way, Chatteris,
Erect 9 dwellings comprising of 3 x 2-storey 3-bed; 2 x 2-storey 2-bed; 1 x single storey 2-bed and 3 x single-storey 3-bed with garages to Plots 4 and 5 only

To determine the application


Alison Hoffman presented the report to members.


Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Chris Walford, the agent.


Mr Walford stated that this application is for 9 dwellings within the Town Centre of Chatteris and the scheme has the support from both the Town Council and Highways.  He advised members that the applicant inherited the land from his father just over 3 years ago and he is now looking to secure the future use of the site hence the planning application.


Mr Walford stated at present the site is vacant, overgrown and the subject of flytipping and the applicant has recently been contacted by the Environmental Health Team due to complaints from nearby residents about vermin entering their properties from this site, with the applicant taking specialist advice on this matter and is now looking to clear the site and bring a flail mower to bring down the overgrowth.  He informed members that the applicant lives over 100 miles from the site and this is not a long-term solution and a future use for the site must be looked at.


Mr Walford expressed the opinion that allowing residential development on this site would eliminate all of the issues and they are asking members to allow the proposal by giving more weight to the improvements to the site and for neighbours over and above the issues raised by the Conservation Officer.  He stated that officers have found the principle of development on the site as being acceptable and there are also, in his view, other precedents in Chatteris of similar developments of this nature within the heart of the town and this area has been identified as an area for housing growth.


Mr Walford referred to the concerns of officers over the dominance of the shared road and the parking that serves the site, but this is a characteristic of the size and shape of the road layout as well as the requirements put on them by Highways and the Refuse Team to be able to turn vehicles within the site.  He expressed the view to negate any issues of overlooking they have added bungalows to the rear of the site to assist with this issue and reduce the impact on surrounding dwellings.


Mr Walford expressed the opinion that the site identity as shown is essential for this scheme to be viable as due to it being a long and narrow site means it has a long and narrow road and there needs to be a certain amount of dwellings on the site to make it a viable scheme.  He raised concern about getting consent for a lower or inferior amount of dwellings, which would make the site unviable, would not remove its current problems and would be a site that has no use.


Mr Walford requested that members outweigh the issues raised and look to permit a development on this site.


Members asked questions of Mr Walford as follows:

·         Councillor Cornwell made the point that officers are not happy with the scheme as proposed and, whilst the site does need clearing up, was a pre-application undertaken with officers?  Mr Walford responded that there have been a number of applications, with 3-4 different case officers all with varying opinions.  The scheme is on the table, Conservation have their views, and he wanted to get the proposal before committee to see how it fairs.

·         Councillor Benney queried whether this is considered Town Centre, it is close to the Town Centre and as you do not need to provide parking if it is Town Centre and this proposal does provide parking so is it considered Town Centre and policy compliant if parking is not provided or is it considered outside the Town Centre, which would require parking.  Mr Walford responded that, in his opinion, this is Town Centre but off-road parking has been provided as well and he would hate to see a development of this nature with no parking so you see cars on the road, which is common on some sites where you get the bare minimum and the road is littered with cars.  He stated that they have car parking numbers per unit and there was mention of the sizing of the spaces, but as far as he is aware he has met the size requirements, with all houses having parking and can reverse onto the new road and leave in forward gear.

·         Councillor Sutton asked if the red line was correct.  Mr Walford stated this is another case he has inherited, but he is sure the red line is correct.  Councillor Sutton stated that although the site is in Flood Zone 1 there are problems with surface water coming in from the surrounding areas and he finds it difficult to see how this can be overcome, but should members decide to approve the application it would be with a condition in this regard, but how would it be resolved as there is no room on site to put attenuation.  Mr Walford responded that there is a good size road that runs the length of the site and the subbase makes a perfect soakaway, which has been effective on other sites, with the only downside being that Highways would not adopt it but it is thought they would not do so anyway.  He would not want to put in individual soakaways in the gardens as they would be too close to boundaries and this would impact neighbours also.  Mr Walford expressed the opinion that there could be a surface water condition or drainage condition and they would use a specialist designer to design the subbase and the discharge proposal, which can either, depending on what connection there is if combined or foul surface water, let it drain naturally or use the subbase to slow it down, attenuate and discharge into the drain at the end.  He acknowledged that there is no design at present, but he would be happy to accept a condition for surface and foul water drainage.

·         Councillor Sutton referred to the road going down to the hammer head T-Junction, which shows tarmac and asked if this was going to be adopted?  Mr Walford responded that no, Highways did ask if adoption was going to be sought on this road and it was confirmed that it would not be.  He stated that they have gone as far with the tarmac as to where they envisage the refuse vehicles and fire appliance would turn round and there is no sense taking it through the whole site so they would probably go for a permeable block paving for the rest of that access road.

·         Councillor Miscandlon referred to Mr Walford stating that the road will be used as a soakaway and asked what the surface is going to be of the area to the right of the hammer head to the end of the site as it is unclear to him.  Mr Walford responded that it is not 100% confirmed, but is likely to be block paving as he would not want to bring in gravel so close to neighbouring properties due to noise and would look for a bound surface. 

·         Councillor Miscandlon asked about the refuse bins for the end plots and where they would be stored for collection as it looks like a long walk to the roadside?  Mr Walford advised that there is a bin storage area on the hammer head so Plots 6-9 would bring their bins to this collection point so the refuse vehicles are not travelling down the blocked paved road.  He made the point there have been appeals where this is considered not to be bad design having to move the bins once or twice a week and, therefore, he feels it is not too onerous.

·         Councillor Murphy assured members that a refuse vehicle would not be taken onto block paving on a roadway such as this proposal as it is not suitable for the weight of the lorry.


Members asked questions, made comments and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Miscandlon expressed the view that members should be looking at the design and build quality houses in this District and this development does not do this. In his view, it looks like a hotchpot design and is not of quality and he will be going with officer’s recommendation.  He agrees that it needs development in this area, but it needs a much better design than what is before committee today.

·         Councillor Benney stated that he attended and listened to the discussion at the meeting of Chatteris Town Council when this application was considered and the Town Council feel this land needs development and are fully supportive of the scheme.  He has visited the site and the site is so overgrown, nobody is doing anything with it and the trees are very big and overhanging.  Councillor Benney expressed the view that this proposal will tidy up an area of Chatteris and questioned what other design could be built on here as if the numbers are reduced there is still a long thin site and how many plans have to be brought before members until one is acceptable.  He agreed that the design is not perfect, but, in his opinion, it does tidy up a piece of land that is very overgrown and not being looked after and which needs some kind of development.

·         Councillor Cornwell expressed the opinion that this is an area where it is going to be difficult to clear up and build on, and he hears that in trying to design something for this there has been conflicting discussions going on, but, in his view, something has been put together which will achieve a reasonable product.  He feels the design is not first-class but appreciates the problem to design a scheme on this medieval plot, he does not know what the answer is and is torn on the decision on this.  Councillor Cornwell made the point that the rest of the properties around that area are not exciting anyway, the area is plain and ordinary, and whilst two wrongs do not make a right he does not see where this proposal makes anything any worse.  He stated that this proposal is housing and makes use of land that needs housing.

·         Councillor Murphy expressed the view that the site does need some development, but he does not think this is the right scheme, it is too overdeveloped.

·         Councillor Mrs Davis expressed the opinion that she was torn on this one, but the more she looks at it she feels it is like fitting “a quart in a pint pot” and thinks a better design could be achieved.  She feels it needs to be refused for overdevelopment of the plot.

·         Councillor Connor asked Councillor Benney if the proposed design of the properties are anything like Slade Way and it surroundings?  Councillor Benney stated that this proposal would be a completely different type of development to Slade Way and Beckett Way and this scheme is possibly not the best design, but a derelict pieces of land cannot be left like this.

·         Councillor Sutton expressed the opinion that officers have got the decision right on this application and whilst it does need something doing with it, just because it is overgrown is not a reason to go with any scheme.  He feels there are too many dwellings, 7-8 would be better and he does not buy into the viability issue too much.

·         David Rowen agreed that the site would benefit from something happening to it, but this does not justify a sub-standard development going ahead and officers do not believe this with the recommendation being about the details of the scheme submitted and not about the principle of developing the site.  He pointed out there was a discussion with the agent and members regarding drainage for the site, but there is not any drainage information to say how drainage on site would work and there is a question mark over this. 


Proposed by Councillor Mrs Davis, seconded by Councillor Murphy and agreed that the application be REFUSED as per the officer’s recommendation.


(Councillors Benney and Murphy declared, under Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that they are members of Chatteris Town Council, but take no part in planning matters)


(Councillor Topgood left the meeting during the consideration of this application and took no part in the discussion and voting thereon)

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