Agenda item

Land North Of 39 To 49, Coates Road, Eastrea
Erect 5 x dwellings (1 x 2-storey 3-bed, 2 x 3-storey 5-bed and 2 x 3-storey 6-bed) involving the demolition of existing buildings

To determine the application.


David Rowen presented the report to members.


Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Matthew Hall, the agent.


Mr Hall stated that the officer’s report sums up the situation well and the recommendation is for approval.  He advised members that the proposal is for large executive dwellings of various designs, with the site already having detailed Reserved Matters approval for 4 large dwellings off a private drive with access onto Coates Road, and the dwellings are in the same position, same width and length as approved, with a further section of land being acquired to allow the additional plot to be proposed.


Mr Hall expressed the view that the key issue with this application is archaeology, with there being a proposed standard condition, No.17, for an archaeological investigation.  He made the point that this site already has had two archaeological digs, one in 2014 on this site and part of the adjacent site, and further large dig in 2018, showing a picture on the screen after the archaeological dig, with the area of the dig being 1,340 square metres which is where plots 1-4 are located towards the back of the site and excavation of about 6mm deep over the entire site.


Mr Hall stated that County Council’s Archaeology did visit the site when the dig was being undertaken and the owner has advised him that in 2014 the first dig cost £7,500, with the owner of the other site paying £5,000 towards this, and the dig in 2018 cost just over £20,000 and they are now being asked for another dig.  He feels the comments under 5.5 of the officer’s report do not take into account this much larger dig that was carried out in 2018, and he has tried to contact the County Council’s Archaeology Team three times but has had no luck.


Mr Hall referred to an e-mail received on 2 May 2019 after the large dig which states “partial discharge is acceptable we have no issues with the development commencing on site as the front end tasks, namely the approval of the written scheme of investigation mentioned in the condition and the completion of the field work have been approved and completed.  However, the overall condition should remain in place to enable Witham Archaeology to conclude the post excavation reporting programme and deposit for the archaeological archive.”  He made the point that the final report has been back and forwards between the County Council and Witham Archaeology and  has not quite been finalised, but the dig has been comprehensive. 


Mr Hall expressed the opinion that the archaeology condition should either be removed or amended to wait for the final report to be submitted.


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

·         Councillor Benney referred to the comments of Mr Hall about the two archaeological digs and asked if it was reasonable and fair for the applicant to carry out a third one.  He made the point that an extensive dig seems to have been undertaken and asked if the condition can be lifted?  David Rowen stated that there are comments from County Council in respect of the need for a condition, whether they were aware of the background previously he is not sure, but in similar circumstances when a condition has been imposed and previous work has transpired as having been undertaken the County Council are reasonable in normally accepting this previous work.  He suggested to members that the condition remains in place as recommended as the condition does not state that a full archaeological excavation of the site is required it just requires a scheme of investigation.

·         Councillor Mrs French referred to 5.7 where it states Fenland Highway Division and asked when did Fenland become responsible for the Highways?  David Rowen stated that the officer who written the report is new to the authority and apologised for any confusion.

·         Councillor Sutton expressed concerns about the archaeology and cannot see why it cannot be amended to say the submission of the final written report.  He feels the length of travel for the bins for collection is over the Recap recommended distance, but believes appeals have gone against the Council on this issue. David Rowen stated that distance to the bin collection point has not been sustained by the Planning Inspectorate who view it as design guidance rather than hard and fast policy and the previous scheme that was granted had a similar arrangement.  He stated that regarding the archaeological condition, without knowing exactly the County Council’s rationale for their comments, he would not endorse members varying that condition, and whilst he agrees with Councillor Benney’s opinion that it is unlikely that anything would be found it is not known if there is further rationale for what they are asking for.


Proposed by Councillor Mrs French, seconded by Councillor Sutton and agreed that the application be APPROVED as per officer’s recommendation.


(Councillor Mrs Mayor registered, in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that she is a member of Whittlesey Town Council’s Planning Committee, and was present when this application was discussed, and left the meeting for the duration of the discussion and voting thereon)


(Councillor Miscandlon registered, in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct on Planning Matters, that he is Chairman of Whittlesey Town Council’s Planning Committee, and took no part in the discussions or voting thereon)


(Councillor Benney declared that, Mr Hall is known to him and he has used his services in the past, and he is Chairman of the Chatteris Growth Fenland Project for which Mr Hall is undertaking work, but he is not prejudiced on this application)

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