|Consideration was given to a report on planning application 16/1978/FUL High Middlefield Farm, Durham Road, Thorpe Thewles.|
Planning permission was sought for the erection of a battery operated facility of up to 49.95MW capacity to meet peak supply demands on the local distributed power network and/or balancing services to National Grid with associated ancillary equipment and infrastructure.
The Planning Committee considered the application on the 19th October 2016 which was based upon the officer's report and update report presented to committee. The Officer recommendation was for approval subject to conditions and informatives.
In considering the proposal, the Planning Committee had previously raised concerns in relation to construction traffic and the availability of alternative routes and accesses be explored. The Planning Committee requested that this matter be examined further and for the application to be reported back to the Committee once alternative routes/accesses for construction traffic had been considered.
Potential alternative routes had been considered and the Highways Transport and Environment Manager advised that an alternative route via Blakeston Lane would be unacceptable as the road was considered unsuitable for use by HGVs due to the narrowness of certain sections of road which was inadequate for two vehicles to pass safely.
Alternative temporary accesses from the A177 Durham Road had also been considered and the Highways Transport and Environment Manager advised that the accesses would create unacceptable road safety hazards. In addition, delays created for traffic on the A177 principal road would be undesirable.
It was noted that due to the temporary nature, the impact of construction traffic on amenity of neighbours was not a material planning consideration; however the route as originally proposed had been assessed and considered acceptable in highway safety terms.
The applicant provided updated details in relation to construction traffic which detailed the number of vehicles in relation to each aspect of the build which had been noted. A condition requiring a construction traffic management plan to be updated and submitted had been recommended and this would ensure as far as practicable that any construction traffic was controlled and managed.
Consequently, the officer recommendation remained as that of the original report which was to approve the application subject to appropriate conditions and informatives.
The consultees that had been notified and the comments that had been received were detailed within the main report.
Neighbours were notified and the comments received were detailed within the main report.
With regard to planning policy 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 should 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 contained within the main report.
The Planning Officers report concluded that the recommendation had not altered from the original application as the principle of the proposed development met the requirements of national guidance and the local Plan with regards to development in the countryside in this particular case due to its proximity, and co-location, next to Norton substation and the benefits in this instance were considered to outweigh any harm. The proposal would also make a contribution to the Government's future energy aspirations.
There was no issue to suggest that the development would have a significant impact on the landscape, neighbouring properties or ecology. Traffic and transport both during construction and operation had been considered and it was not considered that the scheme would give rise to any unacceptable impacts in this regard. Other residual matters had also been examined and though a number of conditions would need to be imposed to properly control the development and its future operation, the proposal was considered acceptable.
In summary there were no sustainable land use planning reasons for resisting the development and it was recommended that the application be approved with conditions for the reasons specified above.
The Traffic and Network Safety Manager addressed the Committee. The main topics discussed were as follows:
It was explained that alternative access was asked to be considered by Highways, of which three were considered, these were via Blakeston Lane and two accesses off the A177. None were considered suitable for the reasons as detailed above and within the main report.
It was highlighted that the developer had contacted officers confirming that there was less construction traffic associated with the development. The development of the battery operated facility would be much less onerous on highway construction vehicles. The route through Thorpe Thewles village had been assessed, and with a construction traffic management plan there was some mitigation which could be put in place if members were minded to approve the application to reduce the risks in that area, which was the recommended route for construction traffic.
The highways being discussed were all adopted highways which had no weight restrictions and therefore construction vehicles could use them legitimately.
The Senior Planning Officer Informed the Committee that 2 additional letters of objection had been received however these did not raise any new objections which had not already been addressed in the main or any update reports.
Objectors were in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
It was clear that these types of plants were needed nationally, however, detailed within the planning application from the developer it was stated that the National Grid were looking to deploy 1.5GW of battery storage. After the first tender the National Grid received 1.4GW of applications. To put this into context the national requirement was on target.
The plant would operate as a frequency back up, not only for local and national electrical supply.
What was being asked today was that the Committee consider the location. Why should Teesside give up its countryside for the benefit of the rest of the UK? Was there not an obligation to protect the countryside and demand that plants were developed on suitable brown field sites, or redundant power plants, of which there were many? The developer stated in the last Planning Committee meeting that It's extremely expensive to be anywhere than adjacent to a substation'. Today was not about maximising profits but to protect the amenity of all.
For clarity the developer also stated at the last meeting that he had not stated anywhere that the plant could be connected to a 33KV network, however within the application it stated that plants which were greater than a 20MW generating capacity needed to be on a 33KV network or adjacent to a substation to operate effectively.
Questions were raised in relation to background noise levels which had also been raised at the last meeting. Environmental Health had responded by stating that there was a low level humming. As the noise was only present at certain frequencies it had absolutely no impact on the background decibel level of the area and therefore it would not have been a factor in the background level that was taken as part of the noise report'. Officers were satisfied that the background noise levels were a true reflection of what was going on in the area, however on the noise reports submitted by the developer it stated that ambient background sound levels in the area were dominated by distant traffic, aircraft and wildlife, although the substation was a significant source of sound at Thorpe Thewles Lodge. Also the report highlighted that the ambient noise level at night recorded at Thorpe Thewles Lodge was 42 decibels whereby Durham Road was only recorded at 36 decibels. If the humming was not included in the background noise level and Durham Road was the only other source of possible noise why was Thorpe Thewles Lodge 6 decibels higher than Durham Road itself?
The objector informed the Committee that she had sought advice from an independent noise consultant who had confirmed that the humming would have been included in the recorded background noise levels. It was therefore requested of Environmental Health why he had stated that it had not been included in the background noise levels and had subsequently approved the noise levels.
An objector who resided within the vicinity of the development explained to the Committee that the proposed facility was to be erected on the other side of the railway which was a green field site. There were two sets of pylons which going down to Haverton Hill and New Road Junction which led straight into a major switch gear system and was considered a brown field site. The objectors concerns were based on the safety aspect of the batteries which would be used to operate the facility. He explained that from a fire safety point of view, should there be an incident, fire fighters should wear soft contained breathing apparatus; use an approved certified vapour respirator to avoid breathing toxic fumes, and wear protective clothing and equipment to prevent potential body contact with the electrolyte solution. It was permissible to use any class of extinguisher medium specified (within the document the objector was reading) on the batteries as there packaging material cooled the exterior of the batteries if exposed to fire to prevent them from exploding. If this were to happen and there was a northerly wind then 5 or 6 houses would be caught. If it were a southerly wind then it would catch Thorpe Thewles. The toxic fumes were unknown. Due to this, the objector felt the plant should be developed elsewhere on the brown field site as described earlier at Haverton Hill and New Road Junction, where the fire service would have easier access.
The objector explained to the Committee that officers had been unable to find noise at his home which he had informed them about. He felt this was due to officers visiting his home when there was a southerly wind and not a northerly wind which impacted on noise levels.
Concerns were raised in relation to the traffic passing through the village. Heavy lorries in the village were dangerous. One of the main problems was the junction between Wynyard Road and the old Durham Road which needed to be looked at carefully. It was proposed that the route through the village should be only on the old Durham Road, the entry and exit being in the north end from the village and heavy vehicles kept off Wynyard Road and Blakeston Lane. Castle Eden walkway crossed the Durham Road down by the beck where young people, ramblers and older persons crossed. The crossing was not marked.
There were concerns raised relating to the underpass which required careful signage stating that construction traffic would be crossing as it was approached from Blakeston Lane.
It was requested that the highways department consult with villagers and the Planning Committee during the period of development to enable any problems to be addressed.
It was suggested that construction traffic avoided such times as when children travelled to and from school to protect the children.
The Applicant was in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation. His comments could be summarised as follows:
Where objectors had raised concerns in relation to 1.2GW. The contract was actually in their frequency response and allocated 200MW which was just one of the contracts the National Grid were looking for which was about a sixth of what they needed in the next 2 years.
The Committee were reminded that this was battery storage and there would be no gas generation at all, that proposal had been dropped. The building was smaller, there would be no stacks and no emissions.
There would be no decibel impact as the batteries were very much quieter and the invertors and transformers were much quieter than the gas engines.
Once built there would be no traffic at all.
There would be no extra pylons, as the connection would go underground, under the railway and straight into the substation.
On the matter of construction traffic as already confirmed, the route through the village was the safe route. The developer had carried out a more detailed calculation on numbers and times of construction traffic. It had been stated previously that the development would take between 12 to 15 months however it could be achieved in 7 months. With the revised figures which had been given the developer had restricted themselves to 3 lorries a day. The developer stated that they would speak to the village in relation to the construction traffic management plan and if better ideas were put forward then these would be taken into consideration. All safety measures would be employed and a schedule would be agreed whilst notifying the village of what would be turning up and when whilst minimising disruption.
Officers addressed the Committee in response to some of the concerns/issues raised. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
In terms of concerns which had been raised relating to noise levels, officers explained they were aware of the low frequency hum which was coming for the substation. The Environmental Health Unit had sought assurances as to why noise levels may have been higher in the area. It was confirmed that it was only a potential reason as to why levels could be higher. As for the background levels when they were taken as part of the noise assessment there were a number of different factors which could have affected the background levels at different locations which could include topography, the distance from the road or the National Grid. The report did not identify any excessive construction noise that was going on at the time of the report.
Where suggestions had been made for construction traffic to use the old Durham Road through the village, that had been an option which had been looked at in terms of tracking and it did work for HGV's however the reason it had been discounted at this time was due to it effecting more of the village, however if residents wished to talk about this then that was something officers were happy to do.
The junction could also be looked at, as potentially, temporary traffic signals could be implemented to facilitate the left hand movement; this mitigation could also be looked at.
Where signage in relation to construction vehicles approaching had been suggested, that was something that would be done as standard practice.
Officers were aware of the mixed use on Durham Road and signage would apply to the drivers of HGVs as well as giving information to other users.
In relation to consultation, officers explained that they would agree with the construction traffic management plan that anyone who may have any issues during the construction period could contact the relevant officers and also planning enforcement, therefore should any issues arise they could be addressed in the appropriate manner.
Concerns which were raised relating to school children and the peak times they travelled to and from school. Officers informed the Committee that HGV movements could be controlled so they were outside of the peak hours mitigating against potential conflict between children and construction traffic.
The Chairman requested that a traffic officer be present should the developer consult with residents as had been offered during the meeting.
Questions were raised as to whether noise levels would be monitored once the construction of the development was complete, and if it should prove to be a problem then action could be taken to resolve any issues?
It was suggested that a condition be implemented so construction traffic operated outside of peak hours when children travelled to and from school.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions/make comments on the application and these could be summarised as follows:
Members referred to the construction management plan which was condition 9 of the main report. Members needed to have confidence that the plan was robust and deliverable. It was noted that the number of vehicle trips had more than halved to 402 and the time scale had changed from 12 to 15 months to 7 months which were all positives.
It was mentioned in the report that close residents would be informed and involved at each stage however it was felt this should be taken wider and include the Parish Council for consultation also. Clarification was also sought as to what each stage was and whether there were more stages than those mentioned as follows:
1) Site preparation
3) equipment installation
The reference to wheel cleaning was welcomed.
It was felt that issues around noise levels had not been addressed fully. If you were the type of person who was tuned into the frequency at which the noise could be heard then this could be extremely disturbing. Was there not an absolute figure that could be given or was this the first installation of its type in the country?
Members asked if the noise mitigation measures were enough with the implementation of a bund and additional landscaping and if not what would be done to address it?
Officers addressed the Committee in response to some of the concerns/issues raised. Their comments could be summarised as follows:
Environmental Health officers had been concerned with regard to the potential hum from the proposed site and contacted the noise consultant regarding the hum. Officers had been given assurances from the consultant that the equipment to be installed would have no tonal aspect to it on the site.
Where clarity had been sought as to the number of stages which would be involved in the development and that residents and the Parish Council were consulted at each stage, the Senior Planning Officer confirmed that the construction traffic management details received varied greatly, however with regards to the construction traffic management plan, although it could not be made part of the condition, assurances were given that consultation would take place with the Parish Council and the engineers to come up with a solution to make sure that all traffic was controlled as best possible for residents.
It was confirmed that a traffic officer could be in attendance should a public consultation take place with the developer.
With regard to the construction traffic profile, the beginning of the development during site preparation would see a higher number of Heavy Good Vehicles., however from week 10 to 21 there would be less than 5 vehicle movements in a week.
It was explained that there was a condition attached to the application so that on completion of the installation and before the plant was brought into use the applicant would carry out a noise survey at the nearest noise sensitive premises (Thorpe Thewles Lodge). The full details of the condition were contained within condition 5 of the main report.
It was not possible to restrict the movement of traffic by a condition outside of peak hours when children travelled to and from school however a suggestion could be made of the developer in respect of this suggestion to which the developer agreed.
The Senior Planning Officer explained that condition 5 mitigated against noise levels being exceeded, and if they exceeded the agreed 60 decibels then the developer would have to submit new mitigation measures which would require approval from the Local Planning Authority.
A vote then took place and the application was approved.
|Members were presented with and asked to consider and note the Draft Stockton on Tees Local Plan, Policies, Map and Sustainability Appraisal and provide comments for consideration by Cabinet 10th November 2016 and Council 17th November 2016.|
Members were asked to note the current position in the production of the Habitats Regulations Assessment as set out in paragraph 25.
Note that any minor changes to the Draft Stockton on Tees Local Plan and Policies Map and associated documents prior to public consultation were recommended for delegation to the Director of Economic Growth and Development in consultation with Chair of Planning Committee and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport.
Note that the Statement of Community Involvement was recommended for adoption by Council.
Note the position regarding housing projections and five year supply as set out at paragraphs 28 and 29.
The Stockton on Tees Draft Local Plan 2017 - 2032 (draft STLP) would, when adopted, replace the adopted Core Strategy, the saved policies of the adopted Stockton on Tees Local Plan and Alteration No. 1, and alongside the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy and Policies and Sites DPDs and a number of adopted SPDs provide the policy basis for the determination of planning applications within the Borough.
The first draft of the new Local Plan and Policies Map had been produced, setting out a vision and policy framework for the future development of the Borough, facilitating delivery of the emerging Council strategy, identifying and responding to needs and opportunities in relation to all forms of housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure. It also sought to safeguard the environment, respond to climate change and secure good design.
The draft Local Plan attached to the report at Appendix 1 was accompanied by a Policies Map at Appendix 2, a Sustainability Appraisal at Appendix 3, and Statement of Community Involvement at Appendix 4. It took account of the findings of the new evidence base (the details of which could be found in the appendices attached to the Local Plan Report itself), including the Housing Supply in the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees Five Year Deliverable Housing Supply Final Assessment: 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2021 at Appendix 5. The Habitats Regulation Assessment was being prepared and would be available, in full, for consideration prior to and appended to reports to Cabinet and Council.
A period of public consultation was required before they could move on to the next stage in their production and the report was an opportunity for Members to provide comments to Cabinet and Council on those documents and note the five year housing land supply position. It should be noted that to enable timely progress of the documents, delegated powers were sought to make minor amendments to the plan before public consultation.
It was proposed that the period of public consultation would be between 21st November 2016 and 20th January 2017. Following the close of the consultation, all comments received would be assessed and appropriate amendments to the documents would be made. The "publication" or "Regulation 19" version of the Stockton on Tees Local Plan would then be published for final public consultation before submission to the Secretary of State for independent examination. The Statement of Community Involvement was recommended for adoption and would be published if the recommendation was accepted.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions/make comments on the draft report prior to it being presented to Cabinet and Council and these could be summarised as follows along with officers responses:
1) A glossary of terms be included within the report and a reduction of acronyms
It was confirmed that a glossary of terms would be included and level of acronyms addressed.
2) A suggestion was made that Page 10 paragraph 2.4 of the report include reference to Eaglescliffe station which had direct rail links to London. In addition Members also felt that reference should be made highlighting the fact that Thornaby and Yarm stations had direct links to Manchester.
Officers noted Members comments and amendments to the report would be considered.
3) Questions were raised in relation to whether at Page 18 paragraph 4.5. Was it appropriate to use the trends from 2004 - 2014 to assess the housing need in the borough, due to the rate of build in Ingleby Barwick and Wynyard at that time being a higher rate than was normal?
The methodology used followed Government guidance and was consistent with the base data for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) projections.
4) At page 19 paragraph 4.7 of the document it stated that the affordable housing requirement may result in an increase in the Local Plan housing requirement. Was this an option which the Council would seriously consider?
This was an issue which required consideration and had been put out to consultation for views from stakeholders and the community.
5) The strategic gap between Yarm and Kirklevington was unclear, in particular how it was represented on the key diagram.
Members comments were noted, the Local Plan required a key diagram and these were often abstract' plans.
6) Issues were raised in relation to strategic gaps and green wedge when considering applications which went to appeal. What weight would these plans hold?
It was explained that once the Local Plan was adopted it would hold weight however not until it had been through consultation and approved by an inspector.
7) How did additional housing benefit areas, in particular to south of the Borough?
It was explained that new housing was a key contributor to economic growth which would benefit all residents.
8) With reference to page 44 of the document, questions were raised as to what level of traffic Yarm could continue to sustain?
It was explained that there was no new allocation proposed in Yarm or Eaglescliffe in the draft document. Traffic impact of existing permission was covered as part of the approval process.
9) The document suggested further improvements to the A19 - A689. What other improvements were there for the rest of the A19?
Stockton Borough Council (SBC) would continue to work with Highways England to identify appropriate interventions to provide capacity on the strategic road network.
10) The document referenced Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems(SUDS) at page 99, Who was responsible for maintenance?
Officers explained the position relating to SUDS and referred to paragraph 8.39 of the document.
11) Members drew officers' attention to page 79 of the document. There was no mention of weak bridges / weight restrictions. Reference was made to weight restrictions at Junction Road and the Horse and Jockey roundabout?
It was highlighted that there were two types of weight restrictions structural' weight restrictions and environmental' weight restrictions. There were examples of both across the Borough, so weight restrictions were not just because of structural issues.
12) Was the Cayton Drive residential site still identified as Green Wedge?
It was confirmed to Members that the area of Cayton Drive was highlighted in yellow which indicated committed development. Officer explained that the area could not be shown as Green wedge as it had outline planning consent.
13) Members highlighted page 48 paragraph 5.14 Billingham Campus. Was there an intention to put 150 units on Neasham Avenue or facing Neasham Avenue?
It was indicative however there was still work to be done on the masterplan. It was being flagged as an indicative allocation.
14) On page 49 the West Stockton policy identified that the primary school would be part of the community Hub Master Plan. Because of the linear nature would the primary school move slightly further away from the community hub?
West Stockton Master Plan was separate document which would evolve. Comments would be taken on board.
15) Transport issues were raised specifically in relation to Ingleby Barwick and access to the A19. The Council should be trying to get direct access to A19 from Ingleby Barwick.
The request for new access would be noted. If plans were to be submitted this would need justifying with Highways England and the scheme would have to be deliverable.
16) In relation to Page 47 paragraph 5.13 South of Junction Road, Members asked how the new village green could be enforced.
Officers explained that the site was a Council asset so the Council had the ability to steer development to create a distinctive place for future residents.
17) Where was the new Tees Crossing to be located?
Work was currently underway to identify the potential route of the new Tees crossing.
18) Concerns were raised in relation to what was to be done regarding congestion at the Cleveland Bay Junction, Eaglescliffe.
Officers noted Members comments regarding local traffic congestion.
19) The original Master Plan for Ingleby Barwick detailed a bypass, was this still a possibility?
The bypass was the Thornaby Bypass Stage 4 and was not included in the draft plan.
20) There needed to be something done to take traffic from Thornaby, Ingleby Barwick and Yarm to the A19.
Officers noted Members comments however there were no further allocations to be proposed.
21) On Page 83, cycleways - footbridge from Ingleby Barwick to Preston Park, there was no mention within the documentation.
Members were informed that this was referred to at Page 70 policy T11 paragraph 4a and the point would be addressed generically.
22) Map 19, Police Tactical Training Centre. There had been approval from an employment site close to this, had this expired?
The site had a long standing allocation for employment use. In 2012 the authority had sought to de-allocate the site from this use and reallocate it for housing. Due to noise constraints related to the Police Tactical Training Centre the draft housing allocation had been removed and the limit to development changed. The Council had also undertaken an Employment Land Review which confirmed the de-allocation of the site.
23) Concerns were raised regarding the wording of the title on Page 128 Appendix 3.
Officers noted potential for this to be re titled to be clearer.
24) Had the East Billingham Transport Corridor been removed from the plan?
It was not included in the Draft Local Plan.
25) Could new cemetery provision be made next to the proposed crematorium?
Officers noted the Comment.