To determine the application.
Alison Hoffman presented the report to members.
Members received a presentation, in accordance with the public participation procedure, from Jamie Burton, the agent.
Mr Burton explained that the proposal is a full application, which has an officer recommendation for approval and since the original submission he has worked very closely with Planning and Conservation Officers through numerous iterations to overcome their concerns and ensure that the proposal complies with all policy requirements and achieves officer support. He added that the amendments have also been developed to address and respond to concerns raised by residents and the Parish Council and the concerns primarily relate to amount of development, highways implications and drainage.
Mr Burton stated that the scheme has evolved significantly in response and has reduced in number from 13 to 10 dwellings, 1 of which is a replacement, including retention of the existing barns for conversion, the closing off all 3 access points on to Wales Bank one of which is directly on the junction and a single access point on to Fridaybridge Road, and the provision of a drainage scheme which has been accepted by the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA). He added that the officer’s report comprehensively details the evolution of the scheme and their response to concerns raised to ensure the proposal is acceptable and can be supported and the intention of the application is to be able to deliver a high-quality development in the desirable village of Elm, which is a Growth Village in which small village extensions are appropriate.
Mr Burton explained that the site is not located within the Elm Conservation Area, neither is it close to any Listed buildings, however, the scheme has been amended in consultation with the Conservation Officer noting the non-designated heritage assets on the site. He stated that the site is located within Flood Zone 1 and is within the built-up area of the village with houses to the north, south, west and east and, in his view, the proposal fully complies with LP3 and LP12 as it would not result in coalescence with any neighbouring villages, not adversely impact the character and appearance of adjacent countryside, would not extend the existing linear features, would not result in a loss of important open space or agricultural land, and it can be adequately drained as confirmed by the drainage strategy and LLFA and will not put people or property in danger.
Mr Burton pointed out that the impact of the development upon existing trees and biodiversity is assessed in detail with the application and the impacts and mitigation proposed are acceptable as confirmed by the technical consultees and the site, therefore, meets all the criteria set out in LP3 and Part A of Policy LP12. He explained that the revised layout demonstrates an effective use of land, one which is appropriate for its surroundings, and the density of the scheme is in keeping with the existing residential development along Fridaybridge Road and Wales Bank, with the layout also retaining a larger curtilage to No 47.
Mr Burton expressed the opinion that the existing housing surrounding the application site is very mixed in terms of its design and appearance and the well-designed new houses are appropriate for this context and are in keeping with the form and character of the area. He stated that good quality materials can be secured by planning condition and that all the plots are generous in size, and incorporate the retained trees around the edge of the site, with the separation distances from neighbouring properties and the position of the proposed dwellings also ensuring there is no overlooking, and the development will afford the occupiers of the new properties a high standard of amenity.
Mr Burton stated that that scheme has the support of the Highways Officer and highlighted that vehicular access points to Wales Bank have been removed with a single access on to Fridaybridge Road, which highways have deemed as acceptable. He made the point that the application is supported by an Extended Phase 1 Ecological Survey Report which has assessed the site for protected species and management measures have been set out in the report to ensure that the works and mitigation measures can be incorporated and secured by condition, which have been accepted by the Wildlife Officer.
Mr Burton concluded by stating that he believes the application proposes a well-considered and high-quality design and will not result in any unacceptable highway impacts, would not harm the amenity of existing residents, and would afford future occupiers a good stand of amenity. He added that the new landscaping and measures to enhance biodiversity can be incorporated into the scheme and secured by planning condition and he stated that Elm is designated as a ‘limited growth village’ where village extensions will be supported.
Mr Burton stated that the scheme will not result in overdevelopment and will retain and respect the non-designated heritage assets. He expressed the view that the site can be adequately drained and has no technical consultee objections and officers support as a policy compliant proposal.
Members asked Mr Burton the following questions:
· Councillor Sutton asked Mr Burton whether his drainage consultants have been on site to measure any levels including the level of the ditch? Mr Burton stated he was not aware whether any measurements had been undertaken. Councillor Sutton stated that the Parish Council and Internal Drainage Board officers have raised concerns regarding the levels, and they do not think that the water can drain off because the bottom of the ditch is level with the surface of the plot. Mr Burton stated that he will consult with the drainage consultants again and stated that there are solutions to overcome such issues such as attenuating on site and pumping into the drain at an agreed rate.
· Councillor Sutton stated that the ditch is in a poor condition and the dwellings that are being erected on site are installing 450 diameter pipes, one of which is invisible as there have been no headwalls put in place and the hardcore has fallen into the ditch. He asked Mr Burton what steps he will put in place to overcome the issues as well as ascertaining and contacting the riparian owner to obtain permission to pump into the drain? Mr Burton expressed the view that it is likely that the Internal Drainage Board will insist that he makes good the drain and maintain it with any improvement measures required and the piping and cross overs from the individual plots should have had permission before they were installed and if they have failed then Internal Drainage Board could insist that element is put right, but it is something that he can pick up as part of the improvement works to the drain.
· Councillor Sutton asked if those works are not achievable what other mitigation steps would be put in place? Mr Burton stated that he would look to attenuate on site further and increase the amount of infiltration on site and soakaways. He stated that there is the shared roadway on site and there is the potential to use clean stone on site with larger gaps to allow it to attenuate water within it and allow it to percolate. Mr Burton added that there was another proposal which came forward to the LLFA for a deeper soakaway, but their preference was to use the drain and if that cannot be achieved through the hierarchy, then the deep soakaway on site would be the option.
· Councillor Mrs French asked who would be responsible for the running costs and the maintenance of the pump that Mr Burton had referred to? Mr Burton stated that the site has a shared access drive and there will be a management committee which each of the dwellings will be involved with and the committee would be responsible for the management and maintenance of the pump which the occupiers would be expected to make a financial contribution towards. He stated he would be happy to accept a condition for the management scheme to come forward for the roadways and drainage scheme.
Members asked officers the following questions:
· Councillor Benney asked whether the drainage issue is something that can be dealt with by way of a condition? Alison Hoffman stated that the LLFA have responded and provided a comprehensive bespoke condition which states that no laying of surface, creation of hard surfaces and erection of buildings should take place until the detailed design of the surface water drainage of the site along with the timetable for implementation is put forward which gives a level of certainty that has been requested and at Part F of their robust condition they require full details of the maintenance adoption of the surface water drainage system going forward, with the agent accepting the detail in that condition.
· Councillor Murphy stated that he agrees with the refuse collection strategy which has been detailed for the site and referred to condition 16 which states that it will be in place for perpetuity. He questioned as to how assurances can be given that the perpetuity condition will be adhered to? Alison Hoffman stated that she would hope that if any concerns were raised by the Refuse Team, these would be passed to the Planning Enforcement Team for any action deemed necessary.
Members asked questions, made comments, and received responses as follows:
· Councillor Sutton stated he would like it noted that the agent and officers have worked together to make the scheme acceptable, however, he still has concerns over the drainage issues. He added that he has spent six years trying to resolve flooding issues in Birch Grove which goes into the same ditch and he stated that 1 and a half litres a second does not sound very much but over an hour it equates to 5400 litres. Councillor Sutton made the point that if the drainage issues are not sorted out and the water flows north it will add to an already existing problem, of which the Parish Council have also raised concerns. He expressed the opinion that the condition stated appears to allay any problems, however, he is unsure whether it should be put in place before permission is granted.
· Councillor Mrs Davis asked Councillor Sutton whether he is aware of how often Wales Bank has flooded? Councillor Sutton stated that there is a crossroads in Wales Bank, when accessed from Fridaybridge Road, where he is aware of two houses who have suffered from flooding issues, although he has not witnessed it himself and he is not aware of any reports of flooding of properties on Wales Bank itself.
· Councillor Mrs French stated that Cambridgeshire County Council are currently looking at all dykes and ditches across the county following the flooding episodes which affected the area over recent months.
Nick Harding stated that the drainage strategy is in place which the LLFA are satisfied with, however, if through the discharge of conditions, it becomes apparent that the strategy cannot be complied with, then a variation of condition application would have to be submitted for an alternative drainage strategy to be submitted and subsequently approved.
Councillor Connor asked whether that variation of condition application would be brought before the Planning Committee and Nick Harding explained that not necessarily, but if the application was called in by members it would be brought back to the committee.
Proposed by Councillor Mrs French, seconded by Councillor Mrs Davis and agreed that the application be APPROVED as per the officer’s recommendation.