|Consideration was given to a report on planning application 14/2291/EIS Tithebarn Land, Harrowgate Lane, Stockton-on-Tees|
The application site was a series of agricultural fields which lay on the western fringe of Stockton with the residential properties of Harrowgate Lane being situated opposite the site, further residential dwellings forming part of the Bishopsgarth estate lie beyond. To the west and south of the site lay further agricultural land and electricity pylons also situated to the west. To the North lay Bishopsgarth School and associated playing fields.
Planning permission was sought for outline planning consent for a residential development of 340 dwellings. All matters were reserved for future consideration except for the access arrangements into the site.
The application was accompanied by an Environmental Statement and also included an indicative plan demonstrating how the site could be laid out in terms of areas of built development, highways, landscaping and open space.
The application site was identified as a potential site for housing within the preferred options of the Regeneration and Environment Local Development Document. The site forming part of the wider housing allocation for Harrowgate Lane (Policy H1g) in which the wider site allocation was identified as being suitable for 2500 dwellings. The emerging policy did however seek to bring forward this development through a comprehensive masterplan detailing design, access arrangements and development phasing, this approach was also reflected under emerging policy H1(h) for the Yarm Back Lane site.
As highlighted within the report, the proposed development had some significant material planning consideration which weighted in its favour. These included the contribution to the 5 year housing supply provision of affordable housing and its economic and social benefits.
However, there were some significant concerns that the approval of this scheme ahead of the masterplan would have some significant consequences for the proper planning of the wider Harrowgate Lane and Yarm Back Lane sites and also for the delivery of the required social infrastructure, including highways, education and community/retail provision. The potential to undermine this essential infrastructure was therefore considered to carry such significant weight, that it would outweigh those benefits of the scheme and it was not considered that this development therefore represented sustainable development' the conflict with the wider definition set out in the NPPF (given its social and economic harm).
Notwithstanding the above, there were also a number of matters which were not considered to be satisfactorily addressed with regards to highway safety and flood risk. Without such matters being satisfactorily addressed it was not considered that the resultant impacts of the proposed development were either limited or that they could be satisfactorily remediated.
The consultees that had that had been notified and the comments that had been received were detailed within the report.
Neighbours were notified and the comments received were detailed within the report.
Where an adopted or approved development plan contained relevant policies, Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 required that an application for planning permissions should be determined in accordance with the Development Plan(s) for the area, unless material considerations indicated otherwise. In this case the relevant Development Plan was the Core Strategy Development Plan Document and saved policies of the Stockton on Tees Local Plan.
Section 143 of the Localism Act came into force on the 15 Jan 2012 and required the Local Planning Authority to take local finance considerations into account, this section s70(2) Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended required in dealing with such an application [planning application] the authority shall have regard to a) the provisions of the development plan, so far as material to the application, b) any local finance considerations, so far as material to the application and c) any other material considerations
The planning policies that were considered to be relevant to the consideration of the application were detailed within the report.
The Planning Officers report concluded as highlighted earlier within this report, the proposed development had some significant material planning consideration which weighed in its favour. These would include the contribution to the 5 year housing supply provision of affordable housing and its economic and social benefits.
However, these must be weighed against the harm that approving the proposed development would have. The NPPF supported the inclusion of robust and comprehensive policies in local plans and collaborative work was being undertaken which was assisting in the formulation of policy. As had been highlighted there were some significant concerns that the approval of this scheme ahead of the masterplan would have some significant consequences for the proper planning of the wider Harrowgate Lane and Yarm Back Lane sites and also for the delivery of the required social infrastructure, including highways, education and community/retail provision.
The potential to undermine this essential infrastructure was therefore considered to carry such significant weight, that it would outweigh those benefits of the scheme and it was not considered that this development therefore represented sustainable development' the conflict with the wider definition set out in the NPPF (given its social and economic harm). Approval of this scheme could also set a precedent, which would likely lead to the remainder of the site coming forward as separate applications and acting as a catalyst for piecemeal development across the wider site.
Notwithstanding the above, there was also a number of matters which were not considered to be satisfactorily addressed with regards to highway safety and flood risk. Without such matters being satisfactorily addressed it was not considered that the resultant impacts of the proposed development were either limited or that they could be satisfactorily remediated
In view of the above, it was not considered that the proposed development fully accorded with the definition of sustainable development as outlined within the NPPF, or that it would not have an adverse impact on highway safety or flood risk. The proposal was therefore considered to be contrary to guidance within the NPPF and the Council's development plan and was recommended for refusal.
Members were presented with an update report which detailed that since the original report to Members of the Planning Committee the applicant's agent had issued a letter in response to the Officers recommendation, which was set out in full as an appendix to the attached update report. In summary it was contended that the Local Authority had no basis on which to dismiss the application on grounds of prematurity' or lack of infrastructure. That they would request the application be deferred to allow further time to address the highways matters and that matter relating to flood risk had been resolved.
Whilst the views expressed in rebutting the first reason for refusal were noted, Officers remained of the view the recommendation and first reason for refusal was both sound and justified and rather than the matter be an issue of "prematurity" it was whether the proposed development constituted sustainable development. The benefits of the scheme were readily acknowledged within the Officers report, however, in this instance the proposal was not considered to represent sustainable development given the significant economic and social harm that would arise. All material planning considerations therefore remained as set out within the original officers report unless otherwise indicated within the update report.
The Head of Technical Services stated that they had no objection to the proposal subject to a condition regarding surface water discharge rates. The amended recommendation therefore removed the third reason for refusal, as detailed within the update report.
The Applicants were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
- Stockton's current Local Plan was not up to date and there was a lack of a 5 year affordable housing supply within the Borough, therefore the application should be approved as dictated by the NPPF.
- If approved the application would help boost the lack of affordable housing.
- There was a pent up demand for affordable housing within the Borough.
- The application was similar/the same as the application which had been approved for the nearby Summerville Farm site and therefore could not be refused on the grounds of prematurity.
- There was still much work to be carried out before houses could be lived in.
- There would not be any negative impact or increased traffic delays on the surrounding highways due to the proposed development.
- The proposed development was sustainable and was serviced by cycleways and bus stops etc.
- The development would not present any harm to the masterplan.
- In 2011 when housing development was first proposed for Harrowgate lane, Tithebarne was considered to be phase 1. It was now December 2014 and not one single house had been built.
- There were too many developments approved on the periphery of the Borough which did not support the economy in the Centre of Stockton.
- Members of the Committee were asked to be proactive and pro Stockton and approve the Tithebarn development as it was ready to go.
Ward Councillor Cherrett was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation, her comments could be summarised as follows:
- Cllr Cherrett drew the Committees attention to the main report, in particular to the section which detailed that there were some significant concerns that the approval of the scheme ahead of the masterplan would have some significant consequences for the proper planning of the wider Harrowgate Lane and Yarm Back Lane sites and also for the delivery of the required social infrastructure, including highways, education and community/retail provision.
- Members were also asked to refer to the comments which had been submitted during consultation from Cllr Cherrett and Ward Cllr Elliot which were detailed in full within the main report.
- In relation to the applicants submitted 'Statement of Community Involvement' as a supporting document, consultation responses from residents could only be submitted online. There was no provision for those without internet access. Ward Councillors and the Chair of the Local Residents Association had requested the applicant offer a way for those residents without internet access to respond to the consultation, however no response was received.
- There were already 780 houses within the vicinity of the proposed development which lacked community facilities, and this did not help to build cohesive communities.
- Cllr Cherrett asked that the Committee refuse the application.
Officers addressed the Committee in response to some of the issues which had been raised by the Applicants and Ward Councillor Cherrett. Their responses could be summarised as follows:
- The proposed development was part of a comprehensive scheme in the West Stockton area which had a large scale transport model. As part of the large scale modelling work, the Highways Agency had put a cap of 2500 units on the West Stockton Site with a range of mitigation. If the proposed development was approved it would not fully address the wider masterplan. The Traffic Assessment(TA) as submitted was not considered to be acceptable as it failed to address the impact of the proposed development and was without mitigation on the highway network which was why recommendation was for refusal.
- With reference to prematurity the development was not considered to be sustainable in relation to local infrastructure.
- The Summerville Farm site had been agreed subject to a S106 agreement, which, as yet, had not been signed, therefore was not approved until this had been completed.
- Officers considered that the proposed development was a stand-alone scheme, and it must form part of the wider masterplan due to the location and not be piecemeal.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions/make comments on the application and these could be summarised as follows:
Councillor Lupton asked for clarification as to whether the applicant had asked for the proposed application to be deferred. The Planning Officer confirmed that the applicant had asked for the item to be deferred. Councillor Lupton felt that the application should therefore be deferred.
The motion was moved and seconded that the application be deferred. A vote took place and the motion was not carried.
- The application was likened to those which had been approved in the south of the borough.
- Some Members were of the view that a precedent had been set to look at applications on their own merit in a piecemeal way.
- By refusing this application it felt like the Committee were going against the emphasis which had been placed on the NPPF in the past and the lack of 5yr affordable housing.
- Officers were merited with sticking to the masterplan.
- Generally much in favour of the idea of 2000 plus houses in Stockton West, however infrastructure and traffic model needed to be in place, therefore would refuse the application.
- It made more sense to wait for the masterplan and not develop the site with a piecemeal approach, to ensure that community facilities were in place.
- Members raised questions as to when the western masterplan would be available.
Officers explained to the Committee that the masterplan was currently being worked on with landowners in parallel with the LDD and would be ready to view between August and September 2015.
A vote then took place and the application was refused.