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					2011/1914         LAND OFF FOUR ASHES ROAD BENTLEY HEATH

Application No:        2011/1914/S

Ward/Area:             DORRIDGE & HOCK

Location:              LAND OFF FOUR ASHES ROAD BENTLEY HEATH SOLIHULL

Date Registered:       01/12/2011

Applicant:             CREST NICHOLSON SOUTH WEST; ALAN AND DAWN
                       DENTON;

Proposal:              RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT FOR 38 No. DWELLINGS,
                       INCLUDING NEW VEHICULAR ACCESS AND OTHER
                       ASSOCIATED WORKS.


Documents Online:
http://www.solihull.gov.uk/planning/dc/ViewAppDetail.asp?Y=2011&R=1914

The application is currently the subject of an appeal against the non-
determination of the application within the statutory time period. Therefore,
this report seeks members’ resolution on what decision the council would
have made had they had the opportunity to do so.

PROPOSAL

This planning application seeks full planning permission for 38 dwellings,
including new vehicular access and other associated works, the provision of
green space along the north eastern and eastern perimeters of the site, as
well as a more central green space. A direct pedestrian link is proposed to
gain access to existing recreation provision including sports pitches, tennis
courts and an equipped children’s play area.

Access is to be provided off Four Ashes Road, via a 5.5m wide carriageway.
Pedestrians are accommodated on the footpaths either side of the access
way at the entrance point off Four Ashes Road. In less trafficked areas of the
site, shared surface arrangements are proposed.

The development would comprise a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bed dwellings (26 no. 4
bed; 6 no. 3 bed and 6 no. 2 bed). The dwellings would be a mix of detached,
semi detached and terraced houses, the latter being a maximum of 3 units in
one terrace. All dwellings would be two storeys in height.

The overall site area is 1.72 hectares with a net developable area of 1.28
hectares, which creates a density of approximately 30 dwellings per hectare.

The development will provide affordable housing at 40% of the total dwellings
provided (15 no.). These would be the two and three bed dwellings, plus 3 no.
4 bed dwellings. The affordable housing is to be secured by section 106
agreement. The remaining dwellings (23 in number) are to be offered for sale
on the open market are all 4 bed.

There will be 76 off street parking spaces to serve the dwellings, excluding
garages, and 9 no. unallocated on street visitor spaces, located to the east of
Lane 1 carriageway and adjacent to the parking space and garage to plot 23.
This equates to just under 2 spaces per dwelling.

The side elevations of plots 1 and 8 would frame the entrance to the proposed
development and would be the first two dwellings of the proposals to be
visible from Four Ashes Road. Plot 1’s rear elevation faces the side of no.17
Four Ashes Road, with at least 12m distance between elevations. Plot 1 also
has a detached double garage. Plots 2, 3 and 4 lie adjacent to plot 1. A
detached double garage lies between plots 3 and 4, set back beyond the rear
of the dwellings. All four dwellings are detached.

Plots 5, 6 and 7 appear as a terraced row and are accessed to the north of
the main highway. They lie on an east/west orientation, with the rear
elevations directly facing the rear elevations of nos. 12 and 14 Four Ashes
Road, with a distance of 23m between elevations.

Plots 8 to 25 form a perimeter block, framed by the new carriageway and a
buffer strip of mature vegetation parallel with Four Ashes Road. Where
dwellings have a back to back arrangement, there is a distance of between
24m and 29m between elevations. Plots 8-13 lie on a north/south axis and are
detached. Plots 8-11 have single garages to the side of each dwelling, while
plots 12 and 13 have integral garages. Plots 14-19 are also detached and turn
the corner to face on an east/west access. Plots 14 and 19 have double
garages, while plots 15-18’s garages are integral. Plots 20-22 form a terrace
of 3 dwellings on a north south axis. Plot 23 lies adjacent and is detached. It
has a detached double garage opposite its front elevation, on an access drive
off the main carriageway, shared with Plot 25. Plots 23 and 25 lie within a
private courtyard behind a 0.5m high brick wall, with railings. Plot 25 lies on
an east/west axis with its rear elevation facing Four Ashes Road. It has a
detached double garage, which lies adjacent to Plot 23.

Plot 24 is accessed off a driveway close to the main entrance to the site,
adjacent to plot 8. Its front elevation faces Four Ashes Road and it has a
detached double garage between it and the rear garden boundary of Plot 8.

The properties described above would be screened from Four Ashes Road by
existing mature trees and a hedgerow, in conjunction with 1.2m high post and
rail fencing.

Plots 26-38 lie further south into the site. Of these dwellings, plots 26 and 27’s
rear elevations face towards No.41 Four Ashes Road, with a distance of some
21m between rear elevations. These two properties have a shared detached
double garage. Plots 28 -31 also face towards Four Ashes Road and form two
pairs of semi detached properties, with four surface parking spaces
separating them. Plots 32-26 lie on the opposite side of the carriageway and
comprise a pair of semi detached dwellings and a terrace of three. Plots 37
and 38 are detached with a shared detached double garage in between, set
back beyond their rear elevations. The front elevations of these properties
face an area of open, green space which is heavily vegetated by existing
trees.

The architectural detailing of the dwellings take cues from the local
vernacular, with gothic features with contrasting brick details to windows.
Decorative timber detailing to gables are incorporated within some of the
plots, along with a combination of render and red brick finishing materials.

The site was therefore designated as ‘safeguarded’ land under policy H2 of
the 2006 UDP.

CONSULTATION RESPONSES

Highway Engineer                         : No objection, subject to conditions and a
                                           financial contribution from the applicant to
                                           facilitate the provision of a footpath link from
                                           the application site to Widney Lane through the
                                           existing recreation ground.

Spatial Planning (Policy)                : Object

Housing Strategy Officer                 : No objection to affordable housing provision

Urban Design                             : No objection

Ecology                                  : No objection

Landscape                                : No objection, subject to conditions and a
                                           financial contribution from the applicant to
                                           facilitate maintenance of open space

Parks and Open Space officer             : No objection, subject to financial contribution
                                           from the applicant to facilitate maintenance of
                                           open space.

Education                                : No objection, subject to financial contribution to
                                           facilitate increased capacity at existing
                                           schools, to be secured by section 106
                                           agreement

Environmental Health                     : No objection, subject to conditions

Primary Care Trust                       : Object to proposal on the basis of lack of
                                           financial contribution towards equipment and
                                           fittings to nearby doctor’s surgeries, arising as
                                           a result of increased patient size due to the
                                           proposed development.

Environment Agency                      : No objection, subject to condition

Warwickshire County Council                No objection, subject to condition
Archaeologist

Severn Trent Water                      : No objection subject to condition.

Press Notice                            : 16/12/2011

Site Notice                             : 16/12/2011

Neighbours Notified                     : 7/12/2011


REPRESENTATIONS

11 letters of objection have been received to the proposal, including objection
from Cllr Meeson and The Knowle Society. In summary, objections raise the
following issues:-

   Traffic

      Vehicular access onto the very busy and fast Four Ashes Road will be
       dangerous.
      Roads do not appear sufficiently wide to accommodate large vehicles
       such as emergency vehicles.
      Increased traffic congestion.
      Current rail service and general infrastructure cannot cope with
       additional demand.

   Landscape, character and ecology

      Threat to wildlife
      Removal of hedgerow and TPO tree T67and branches to T68 to create
       entrance road opposite the Grange.
      View from 18 Browns Lane over countryside will be destroyed and will
       be looking at high brick walls of plots 5, 6 and 7 (from 14 Browns Lane
       also).
      Reduction of countryside.
      Typical modern housing estate does not pay due regard to rural
       character.
      Over intensive development for size of plot.

   Neighbours amenities

      Loss of privacy to 14 Browns Lane, especially in winter when trees are
       devoid of leaves. Overlooking from windows of plots 5,6 and 7.
      Noise from three affordable housing units backing onto garden of
       No.14.
      Overlooking of No.17 Four Ashes Road.
      Noise, air and light pollution from additional traffic.

   Housing mix

      Although the land is designated as a long term housing site, it has not
       yet been confirmed for release. LDP still has to go through public
       consultation before adopted by the Council. Application premature.
      Proposals do not reflect emerging priorities of low-cost smaller
       properties and specialist provision for older people.
      Public consultation undertaken insufficient.
      Density too high.
      No justification to approve the proposal on the basis that additional
       housing land is required to supplement the Borough’s 5 yr housing land
       supply.
      No development briefs have been prepared for the site and therefore
       proposal is contrary to UDP policy.
      Only 1.7ha of the site is proposed for development, less than half of the
       3.6ha of the larger area of land safeguarded as potential housing site.
       Proposal is therefore piecemeal rather than comprehensive.
      Density too low. Only 83 units shown to be built on larger site, rather
       than 150 envisaged in the Draft Local Plan. Does not make most
       efficient use of land.
      Affordable housing should be distributed across the site, not in a
       cluster to one part of the site.
      Current lack of funding to RSL’s means linking proposed affordable
       housing within RSL will be impossible and unnecessary.
      Shared ownership would make affordable housing available to people
       who otherwise would find themselves unable to afford such housing.

   Education

      Any s106 payments to improve education facilities can only be required
       to fund improvements necessary as a result of the development, not to
       alleviate existing shortages. Proposed solution only of a short term
       duration. Redevelopment of Arden School should come before
       approval of application site.

2 emails of comment have also been received, including one from Cllr
Mackiewicz, in summary raising the following points:

      Would like to see a cycle route from the park to Four Ashes Road
      Construction parking etc to be on site with wheel washing facilities
      Site working hours Monday to Friday 0800 to 1700 hours
      Considerate construction practices should be sued
      Cable communications only. No satellite dishes – relevant because of
       trees and reception difficulties.
      Delivery vehicles not in rush hours.

POLICY

Government Guidance

While the application was submitted in November 2011, a key policy change
has since occurred which supersedes previously relevant PPGs and PPSs, in
the form of The National Planning Policy Framework, which was published on
March 27th 2012.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The NPPF advises that there is presumption in favour of sustainable
development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both
plan making and decision taking. For decision taking this means:

             Approving development proposals that accord with the
              development plan without delay; and
             Where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies
              are out of date, granting permission unless:

                 -   any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and
                     demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed
                     against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole;
                     or
                 -   specific policies in this Framework indicate development
                     should be restricted.

The NPPF also carries forward the thrust of Government guidance in the
Ministerial statement “Planning for Growth” by attributing significant weight in
the need to support economic growth through the planning system.

The relevant policies to this application are as follows:

   Part 4 – Promoting sustainable transport
   Part 6 – Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes
   Part 7 – Requiring good design
   Part 8 – Promoting healthy communities
   Part 9 – Protecting Green Belt land
   Part 10 – Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal
    change
   Part 11 – Conserving and enhancing the natural environment

RSS11 – Regional Spatial Strategy for the West Midlands (January 2008)

QE3 Creating a High Quality Environment for All
QE7 Protecting, managing and enhancing the Region’s biodiversity and
nature conservation resources
QE9 The Water Environment
URI Implementing Urban Renaissance – the MUA’s
CF2 Housing Beyond the Major Urban Areas
CF3 Levels and distribution of housing development.
CF5 Delivering Affordable Housing and Mixed Communities
CF6 Managing housing land provision
T2 Reducing the need to travel
T5 Public Transport

Solihull UDP (2006)

H1 Provision of Housing Land
H2 Provision of Safeguarded Land
H2/1 Long Term Housing Needs
H3 Type of Dwellings
H4 Affordable Housing
H5 Density, Design and Quality of Development
T1 An Integrated and Sustainable Transport Strategy
T2 Accessibility to New Developments
T5 Promoting Green Travel
T13 Car Parking Provision
T16 Cycling
T17 Walking
ENV2 Urban Design
ENV3 Crime Prevention
ENV8 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites
ENV11 Conservation of Biodiversity
ENV13 Wildlife Species
ENV14 Trees and Woodland
ENV16 Contaminated Land
ENV17 Water Protection
ENV18 Noise
ENV21 Water Conservation
ENV22 Energy Conservation
ENV23 Renewable Energy
C1 Designation of a Green Belt
C2 Control of Development in the Green Belt
R4 New and Improved Open Space
IM1 Developer Obligations

The site was considered as part of the Solihull Unitary Development Plan –
First Review 2001-2011. The public inquiry into the UDP was held between
20th May to 10th September 2004. The report in to the objections specifically
considered the site at Four Ashes Road. The Inspectors Report on the
application site indicated that:-

          The site is well located, close to Dorridge village centre, with ready
           access to local facilities, schools, jobs and rail services.
          The site could contribute to the local community by supporting
           existing facilities and providing affordable housing.
          The site is well contained, the Green Belt boundary is well defined
           by Four Ashes Road and its general suitability as safeguarded land
           meets most of the criteria in PPG2.
          The site would not encroach into the surrounding countryside or
           harm the visual amenity or open character of the Green Belt.
          There are no fundamental environmental or physical constraints or
           overriding landscape, access, archaeological or ecological
           constraints which would rule out its future development.
          The site has limited landscape and environmental quality and is
           readily available for development, with ready access and firm
           developer commitment.

The overall conclusion from the Inspector was that the future potential of the
site for housing could be considered as part of the future reviews of the UDP,
in the context of current national and regional policies.

SPGs

Affordable Housing
New Housing in Context
Planning Guidelines for Housing Developments
Vehicle Parking Standards and Green Travel Plans
Warwickshire Landscape Guidelines
Solihull’s Countryside

Solihull Draft Local Plan - Shaping a Sustainable Future

Work has reached an advanced stage on preparing a development plan that
will replace the existing adopted UDP. This plan will provide the long term
spatial vision for how the borough’s towns, villages and countryside will
develop and change over the Plan period to 2028. The plan sets out to deliver
a strategy for promoting, distributing and delivering sustainable economic
growth whilst conserving and improving the character and quality of the
environment.

The draft Local Plan has been released for a six week public consultation
period of representation which expires on 5th March 2012. The feedback from
this consultation will inform the adoption process of the Local Plan. A decision
to submit the Plan will be taken late Spring 2012 with a view to an
independent Examination in Public taking place later in 2012 and eventual
adoption Spring 2013. The Plan is considered to be a material consideration,
carrying an element of weight having been through consultation processes.

The policies within the Solihull Draft Local Plan that are relevant to this
application are as follows:

Draft Solihull Local Plan

Policy P4 Meeting Housing Needs
Policy P5 Provision of Land for Housing
Policy P7 Accessibility and Ease of Access
Policy P8 Managing Demand for Travel and Reducing Congestion
Policy P9 Climate Change
Policy P10 Natural Environment
Policy P11 Water Management
Policy P14 Amenity
Policy P15 Securing Design Quality
Policy P16 Conservation of Heritage Assets & Local Distinctiveness
Policy P17 Green Belt / Countryside
Policy P18 Health and Well Being
Policy P20 Provision of open space, children’s play, sport and recreation
Policy P21 Developer Contributions and Infrastructure Provision

Financial Considerations

The Localism Act makes provision for local financial considerations to be
taken into account as a material consideration in determining a planning
application. Such matters may include contributions as a result of section 106
agreements, as these are directly related to the development and necessary
to make the proposals acceptable, such considerations will carry significant
weight. Other financial considerations, including the benefit as a result of an
increased New Homes Bonus (paid to authorities based on the number of
new dwellings provided), are more general and whilst are a factor in favour of
the grant of permission will only carry limited weight (unless otherwise stated
in the later paragraphs of this report).

Planning for Growth

This Ministerial Statement advises that the Government's top priority in
reforming the planning system is to promote sustainable economic growth and
jobs. The Government's clear expectation is that the answer to development
and growth should wherever possible be 'yes', except where this would
compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in national
planning policy. When deciding whether to grant planning permission, local
planning authorities should support enterprise and facilitate housing,
economic and other forms of sustainable development.

PLANNING HISTORY

None relevant, apart form the history in relation to allocation of the site within
the UDP.

SITE DESCRIPTION

The application site relates to part of a larger area of Greenfield land to the
east side of Four Ashes Road. The site area is approximately 1.7ha.
The site is situated along the north western urban edge of Bentley Heath.
Solihull Town Centre is located approximately 3.3miles to the north west of
the site.

The application site comprises two grass fields which are generally flat with a
gentle fall in a south westerly direction. The larger, northern field is currently
used as a horse paddock and includes two stables and a feeding area in the
north western corner. The immediate site boundaries are formed by
established hedgerows and mature trees. A number of trees are subject to
Tree Preservation Order.

The site is bordered to the west by Four Ashes Road. Beyond the site
boundary to the south west, fronting Four Ashes Road is a residential dwelling
(41 Four Ashes Road) and its associated curtilage. To the immediate south of
the application site is a large house (The Paddock, 49 Four Ashes Road) and
its associated cartilage.

To the north of the site the character is predominantly residential with
properties located off Widney Road and Browns Lane. To the immediate north
west is located a community hall with tennis courts and a playground to the
rear. Bordering the site to the east is a large recreation ground, beyond which
is further residential development fronting Station Road. Beyond the site
boundary to the south east are located allotments.

MAIN ISSUES

       –   Pre –consultation;
       –   Principle of the development;
       –   Affordable Housing;
       –   Education;
       –   Infrastructure provision;
       –   Impact on the character and appearance of the area;
       –   Highway Impact;
       –   Impact on amenities of neighbours;
       –   Landscape;
       –   Ecology;
       –   Open Space;
       –   Archaeology;
       –   Drainage;
       –   Contaminated Land;
       –   Infrastructure contributions.

APPRAISAL

Pre-Consultation

The Council adopted its Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) in
February 2007. The SCI establishes that the Council expects developers
proposing major development to involve the wider community in the
development of their proposals at the pre-application stages.
The applicants distributed 1450 leaflets to residential units and businesses in
the area surrounding the application site. 72 responses were received (5%).
Of those responses, 27 (47%) made reference to the principle of development
on the site, of which 21 (29%) objected in principle; 17 (24%) were supportive
of the development of this site for residential purposes. 34 responses (47%)
made no clear comment in support/opposition to the principle of development,
instead focusing on matters of detail.

The key issues raised in the consultation process were:

      Impact of increased traffic
      Parking
      Traffic speeds
      Provision of public transport
      Cycle access between Browns Lane and Dorridge
      Need for housing given economic climate
      Loss of Greenfield/Green Belt land as opposed to Brownfield
      Need for smaller units on site
      Affordable housing welcomed, not enough in area
      Affordable housing a concern due to impact on area
      Loss of wildlife and vegetation
      Strain on local services and facilities ie schools and doctors

The matters raised above are material considerations to the determination of
the planning application, which I shall deal with within the report below.
However, in terms of the consultation process undertaken before submission,
I consider that the procedures undertaken by the applicant were in full
accordance with the Council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement
and advice contained in the NPPF.

Principle of the Development

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has reconfirmed Section
38(6) of the Planning &Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requiring planning
applications to be determined in accordance with the Development Plan,
unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Also at the heart of NPPF
is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. For decision-taking
this means:

      approving development proposals that accord with the development
       plan without delay; and
      where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are
       out-of-date, granting permission unless:
      “any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably
       outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this
       Framework taken as a whole; or
      specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be
       restricted.” (paragraph 14).
The application site is safeguarded land to which Policy H2 of the UDP
‘Provision of Safeguarded Land’ applies. Policy H2 confirms that the Council
will identify sites to help meet long-term (i.e. post-2011) housing needs, in
areas excluded from the Green Belt for this purpose. Strong development
control measures will apply limiting any development on the land only to uses,
which would:

“(i) Be allowed in the Green Belt under Policy C2;
(ii) Not prejudice the long-term use of the site for housing.

The possible future designation of the land for housing will be determined
through subsequent reviews of the Unitary Development Plan.”

However, paragraph 216 of the NPPF confirms that “from the day of
publication, decision-takers may also give weight to relevant policies in
emerging plans according to:

      the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the
       preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);
      the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies
       (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight
       that may be given); and
      the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan
       to the policies in this Framework (the closer the policies in the
       emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight
       that may be given).”

The Draft Local Plan was approved for publication under Section 27 of the
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 on 8th December 2011 by the
Council’s Full Cabinet and includes a LDF Core Strategy and site allocations.
The Council consulted on the Draft Local Plan from 23rd January 2012 to 5th
March 2012. Representations have been received and will be reported to the
Council’s Full Cabinet in June 2012.Your forward planning officers consider
that, given the advanced stage of preparation now reached by the Draft Local
Plan, the requirements of NPPF and the current housing land supply position,
significant weight can now be given to the policies contained within the Draft
Local Plan where objections are not substantial.

The Draft Local Plan proposed housing sites fall within a hierarchy:

      Phase 1 sites

       i.     Outside the Green Belt with no substantive objections.
       ii.    Safeguarded land with no substantive objections.
       iii.   Green Belt with no substantive objections.
       iv.    Green Belt with substantive objections.

      Phase 2 sites
       v.     Safeguarded land with no substantive objections.

      Phase 3 sites

       v.     Safeguarded land with substantive objections.
       vi.    Green Belt with no substantive objections.
       vii.   Green Belt with substantive objections.

Your forward planning officers consider it would be appropriate to bring
forward sites within hierarchy levels i – iii above, which contribute towards
demonstrating five years housing land supply along with sites with planning
permission, North Solihull Business Plan sites, sites identified by the Strategic
Housing Land Availability Assessment and windfall sites. The application site
falls within hierarchy level (ii). It is proposed for release within Phase 1 of the
Draft Local Plan. Objections to the proposed allocation of the site are limited
and there are no insurmountable objections rendering the site undeliverable.
In total there have been three objections to the proposed allocation of the site
in the Draft Local Plan, one from the Knowle Society (relating to the phasing
of all three sites proposed in Knowle and Bentley Heath and seeking an
amendment to the Plan to include one site in each phase, and two from a
planning consultant proposing alternative sites.

Education

The early release of sites in Knowle and Bentley Heath (including the
application site) is promoted to address existing secondary school capacity
problems. Arden school is at capacity and is likely to be oversubscribed from
the 2013 academic intake. Development of these sites will be conditional on
the provision of additional classroom and communal space to accommodate
capacity growth within its catchment. Planning permission for the site should
be subject to a s106 Planning Obligation (split pro-rata based on site area)
across the three sites proposed for allocation by the Draft Local Plan (this
includes Site 12 Four Ashes Road Bentley Heath, Site 13 Hampton Road
Knowle and Site 14 Middlefield Knowle).

Density

UDP Policy H5 Density, Design and Quality of Development

       “The Council will expect developers of both strategic and windfall sites
       to respect Government policy on the density of development (i.e. of
       encouraging schemes of between 30 to 50 dwellings per hectare and
       of seeking greater intensity of development at places with good public
       transport accessibility) so as to ensure the better and more sustainable
       use of land.”
Draft Local Plan Policy P5 Provision of Land for Housing states:

       “The density of new housing will make the most efficient use of land
       whilst providing an appropriate mix and maintaining character and local
       distinctiveness. Higher densities will be more appropriate in the most
       accessible locations.”

The Draft Local Plan is looking to this site to accommodate 150 dwellings in
total (approximately 70 on the application site on a pro-rata basis of the
applicant’s stated site area).

The application site is in a highly accessible location where high densities are
sought. The site measures 1.72ha in total, of which the applicants state that
there is a developable area of 1.28ha. The net density is 30 dwellings per
hectare, which is substantially below the densities sought by the UDP and the
Draft Local Plan. This represents an inefficient use of land in a highly
accessible location.

Market Housing Mix

NPPF Paragraph 50 states:

       “To deliver a wide choice of high quality homes, widen opportunities for
       home ownership and create sustainable, inclusive and mixed
       communities, local planning authorities should:
        Plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic
          trends, market trands and the needs of different groups in the
          community (such as, but not limited to, families with children, older
          people, people with disabilities, service families and people wishing
          to build their own homes);
        Identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required
          in particular locations, reflecting local demand; and
        Where they have identified that affordable housing is needed, set
          policies for meeting this need on site, unless off site provision or a
          financial contribution of broadly equivalent value can be robustly
          justifies (for example to improve or make more effective use of the
          existing housing stock) and the agreed approach contributes to the
          objective of creating mixed and balanced communities. Such
          policies should be sufficiently flexible to take account of changing
          market conditions over time ”

UDP Policy H3 states:

       “The Council will require developers submitting planning applications
       for housing development on both strategic and windfall sites to make
       provision for a range of sizes and types of dwellings having regard, in
       particular, to the projected increase in one-person households. In the
       case of strategic sites and appropriate windfall sites the Council will
       prepare development briefs setting out its proposals based on
       evidence of need.”

The 1997 UDP, when first deposited in 1990, expressed the Council’s
concern about the disproportionate number of larger houses being built in the
Borough, despite demographic trends suggesting that the future growth of
households will be single person. Although in the last ten years there has
been an increase in one and two bedroom dwellings, the percentage of larger
homes has remained persistently high. Of all houses completed in the period,
65% have been 3-bedroom or larger, with this increasing to 74% on strategic
sites. Of these, dwellings of 4 or 5 bedrooms account for 41% of all new
houses, rising to 47% on strategic sites.

Government policy in PPG3 also registered this concern, confirming that over
the longer-term the majority of the projected growth will be in one-person
households and exhorted local authorities to adopt policies which took full
account of changes in housing needs in their areas. Therefore, the Council’s
policies were geared towards a general expectation of a high percentage of
one and two-bed accommodation.

The Council’s Housing Needs Survey, published in October 2001, provides
evidence in this regard that will inform the review of the Housing Strategy
Statement as well as the UDP policies and proposals. Key to this will be the
balance to be struck between the needs for different types, sizes and tenures
across the Borough.

The Solihull Housing Market Assessment (2009) provides evidence of
housing market “need” and concludes that within the rural area of the Borough
the greatest “need” is for smaller dwellings, Table 6.42 of the Housing Market
Assessment should be the starting point for considering mix. In terms of size
the following “need” has been identified:

       Dwelling Size         1 Bed       2 Bed         3 Bed         4 Bed
       Housing Market        33          62            35            22
       “Need”
       Proportion            22%         41%           23%           14%

Draft Local Plan Policy P4

      “In assessing the housing mix of allocated and unidentified sites, the
      Council will, in negotiations, have regard to:
           Site size;
           The existing mix of market housing and local housing demand
             in the area as guided by the Strategic Housing Market
             Assessment;
           Accessibility to local services and facilities and access to public
             transport;
           The economics of provision, including particular costs that may
             threaten viability of the site;
           The need to secure a range of house types and sizes in the
             locality in helping achieve socially balanced and mixed
             communities; and
           The need to achieve a successful housing development.”

All 23 market dwellings proposed by the application are four bedroom
detached. This is contrary to Policy H3 of the UDP. Policy P4 of the Draft
Local Plan states that the mix of market housing should reflect demand as
guided by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment. Whilst policy does not
expect proposals to slavishly follow the proportionate mix set out in the table
above, it is clear that the proposal is contrary to both the adopted UDP and
Draft Local Plan policy on housing mix. Policy P4 of the Draft Local Plan also
stipulates the need to provide a range and mix of house types in the locality.
The settlement of Knowle/Dorridge/Bentley Heath is predominated by large
detached dwellings, further emphasizing the need for smaller dwellings in the
area.

In conclusion on matters of principle, the site is proposed for release within
Phase 1 of the Draft Local Plan and there are no substantial objections to the
proposed allocation. The planning application should therefore be supported
in principle. However, the proposal is contrary to existing and emerging policy
in terms of the proposed density and mix. A higher density and a better
market housing mix is required to make more efficient use of a site in a highly
accessible location and to better reflect housing market “need”. The proposal
is therefore contrary to the NPPF, Policy H3 of the Solihull UDP and Policy P4
of the Solihull Draft Local Plan.

Notwithstanding the above, were planning permission to be granted, such a
permission should be subject to a S. 106 obligation requiring a financial
contribution towards additional classroom and communal space at Arden
School.

Affordable Housing

Policy H4 in relation to affordable housing requires developers of both
strategic and suitable windfall sites to make a contribution to affordable
housing on residential sites of 0.5 hectares or more or housing developments
of 15 or more dwellings. Contributions will be expected to be made in the form
of 40% dwelling units on the development site or, in exceptional
circumstances, by means of a financial sum or other contribution towards
provision elsewhere throughout the Borough that would not otherwise be
provided. In assessing the suitability of the site and the amount of affordable
housing, the Council will, in negotiations, have regard to: -

      (i) Its size;
      (ii) Existing provision of affordable housing and local housing need in
      the area;
      (iii) The proximity of local services and facilities and access to public
      transport;
      (iv) The economics of provision, including particular costs that may
      threaten the viability of the site;
      (v) Whether the provision of affordable housing would prejudice the
      realisation of other planning objectives that need to be given priority in
      the development of the site;
      (vi) The need to secure a range of house types and sizes in the locality
      in helping to achieve socially balanced and mixed communities; and
      (vii) The need to achieve a successful housing development.
The mechanisms and criteria for delivery are laid out in Supplementary
Planning Guidance, which will be reviewed to remain in accordance with
national policy on affordable housing.

The Council adopted an SPG Affordable Housing in May 2003, which went
through a full consultation process and therefore, carries significant weight in
the determination of the planning application.

Paragraph 50 of the NPPF states

       “To deliver a wide choice of high quality homes, widen opportunities for
       home ownership and create sustainable, inclusive and mixed
       communities, local planning authorities should:

             plan for a mix of housing based on current and future
              demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different
              groups in the community (such as , but not limited to, families
              with children, older people, people with disabilities, service
              families and people wishing to build their own homes;

             identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is
              required in particular locations, reflecting local demand; and

             where they have identified that affordable housing is needed, set
              policies for meeting this need on site, unless off site provision or
              a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value can be
              robustly justified (for example to improve or make more effective
              use of the existing housing stock) and the agreed approach
              contributes to the objective of creating mixed, balanced
              communities. Such policies should be sufficiently flexible to take
              account of changing market conditions over time.

Circular 6/98 defines the criteria that should be taken into account in
assessing the suitability of sites. For the purposes of this guidance and to be
consistent with Government guidance, the suitability of each individual site will
be determined by: -

       • its size;
       • existing provision of affordable housing and local housing need in the
       area;
       • the proximity of local services and facilities and access to public
       transport;
       • particular costs that may threaten the viability of the site;
       • whether the provision of affordable housing would prejudice the
       realisation of other planning objectives that need to be given priority in
       the development of the site;
       • the need to secure a range of house types and sizes in the locality in
       helping to achieve socially balanced and mixed communities; and
       • the need to achieve a successful housing development.
Paragraph 7.1 of the SPG confirms that the Council is committed to creating
mixed and inclusive communities offering a choice of housing.

Paragraph 8.2 confirms that negotiations on affordable housing should
preferably take place prior to the submission of a planning application and will
involve defining the appropriate provision including the appropriate mix,
number, type, and location and, where relevant, sources of funding for social
housing.

Paragraph 9.3 of the SPG confirms that the Section 106 Agreement may
include clauses setting out requirements with regard to: -

      the housing mix, type and number of affordable units;
      the location and distribution of affordable housing within the site;
      the timing of construction and occupation in relation to the whole site;
      the mechanisms to ensure the initial and subsequent occupancy of the;
       affordable housing benefits those in housing need; and
      the timing and conditions for the transfer of the land or affordable
       housing to a housing association.

The application proposes 15 units as affordable units; 10 for social rent and 5
for shared ownership. The mix of units is set out in the table below.

       Unit Type                Social Rent             Shared ownership
2 bed house                          4                          2
3 bed house                          3                          3
4 bed house                          3
Total                               10                           5


The proposal accords with Policy H4 of the UDP, in terms of the provision
40% of all dwellings on the site to be affordable. The affordable houses will be
tenure blind in terms of appearance and are proposed to be pepper potted
across the site. Your Housing Strategy Officer confirms that he agrees with
the mix of tenure and proportions of dwelling types.

Therefore, in summary, the proposal will make a contribution to affordable
housing and is considered to in accordance with Policy H4 of the Solihull
UDP.

Education

The applicants have submitted a report which considers the impact on
secondary education in particular and whether a proposed scheme of
mitigation can be implemented to negate any impact. The applicants calculate
the total size of the development across the three sites proposed for housing
within the Knowle and Dorridge area, being Four Ashes road, Hampton Lane
and Middlefield Road, to likely be in the region of 340 units. The applicants
therefore calculate that the net impact of the proposed development would be
an average of 3 pupils per year group per 100 units. The proposed
development, at 38 units, would give rise to 1.14 pupils per year group. This
equates to 7.98 primary pupils and 5.7 secondary age pupils in the 11-16 age
range. Across all three sites, the impact is likely to be 10.2 pupils per year
group. This equates to 7.98 primary pupils and 5.7 secondary age pupils in
total.

The analysis notes that all four of the schools within 3 miles of the sites have
admitted pupils from outside their catchment area over the last three years,
however, it is recognised that some expansion of existing provision may be
necessary and therefore a financial contribution as part of a s106 package is
offered, in the sum of £94,752 towards the extension of facilities at Arden
Academy.

Your School Place and Admissions Manager considers that although the
report correctly focuses on the supply of secondary school places, and
acknowledges the need to increase the number of secondary school places at
Arden School, given that this development, along with the other developments
in the area will be served wholly by Arden School.

The report sets out to demonstrate that there are suitable alternative school
places available in other local secondary schools, in particular Tudor Grange
Academy and Alderbrook School, but does not demonstrate a sound
understanding of access to these schools and therefore the reasoning is
flawed.

Solihull secondary schools operate within an environment where all Solihull
addresses are assigned a school catchment area. These catchment areas are
longstanding and designed to broadly mirror a local community boundary.
This is especially so with regard to Arden School, as it serves a very distinct
area covering Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath.

Children living in the catchment area have a high priority for admission, and
as such generally have an expectation that if it is the school of their choice
they will be able to access a place there. This applies to all schools that have
a catchment area. Subsequently children living outside of the catchment area
have a lesser priority, and only those living very close are likely to get offered
a place at a school outside of their catchment area.

The nearest alternative schools to Arden are in the centre of Solihull, more
than two miles away from the centre of this development. In recent years,
neither Tudor Grange, nor St Peters have offered places to out catchment
children living more that 2 miles away, and Alderbrook may offer children
living 2.1 miles away. This would indicate that were children living in the
Arden Catchment area unable to access places at Arden, they would not be
likely to obtain places in their next nearest school either.

Arden Academy is high performing and very popular. In most years it is
significantly oversubscribed. For admission in September 2012, 635 parents
expressed a preference for the school. With 81% of the parents living in the
catchment area putting it as 1st preference.

The school has the capacity to admit 240 children in each year group, and is
over capacity in all year groups. The Academy has recently changed their
admission arrangements so that after the demand from siblings and children
living in the catchment area has been satisfied, any remaining places will be
offered to children attending one of the feeder primary schools. It is the view
of Arden Governors that in order to aid transition and build strong links with
the primary schools, they would wish to have sufficient capacity to
accommodate all of the children in this group.

Forecasts based on children currently living in the catchment area, and
children attending the feeder primary schools, indicate that an admission
number of 240 will be sufficient to enable this. Any growth in the pupil
population, at primary level will increase the cohort, and is likely to lead to
local children being refused a place at entry level, even though they meet the
normal criteria for admission. As outlined above, these children are unlikely to
be offered places in their next nearest schools, and could be forced to travel
substantial distances to the nearest schools with vacancies.

Given the scale of the three housing developments set out in the Draft Local
Plan, Arden school has decided to expand the school to meet the increase in
local demand. The school will increase the admission number to 270 in each
year group, which should ensure that the demand from local children can be
satisfied. In additional this will create space further up the school so that older
children moving into the area can also be accommodated.

Arden Academy Governors are presently undertaking a review of their school
building to determine how the site can be reconfigured to add the additional
teaching space that will be required to accommodate the additional form of
entry. At this early stage it is expected that an additional block will be required
costing in excess of £2m. The increase is as a direct result of housing
developments.

This figure is calculated on the basis that a new two storey teaching block
comprising 10 no. classrooms and 2 no. science labs with toilets, stores and
plant room and with a link corridor to the existing school; alterations to the
existing building and associated external works and glazed canopies will be
required at a cost of £1,689,499, plus dining room extension and kitchen
refurbishment at a cost of £688,664.

It should be noted that any additional children arising from the Four Ashes
development site would require an additional teaching block to be built so it is
argued that the S106 contribution should be £2M. However once built, this
additional teaching block will accommodate the pupil product from the other
sites, without the need for additional infrastructure. It is therefore proposed
that the S106 contribution should be apportioned across all three sites (Four
Ashes Road, Hampton Lane and Middlefield Road), so that the £2M can be
realised over time as the sites are developed. This can also be effective in the
event that any of the sites are further subdivided.

In summary, I propose that the S106 contribution for the three development
areas in the Arden Catchment areas should total £2M and the contribution for
the Four Ashes site should be calculated as a proportion of this based on the
area of the site and not as suggested by the report based on pupil product.

On this basis, the contribution required from the developer at the application
site is calculated at £380,952. This is based on the application site area being
a proportion of the total area across the three housing sites relevant to
provision at Arden School. Accordingly, the application site area is 1.72ha and
the total area across all three sites is 9.03ha.

The sum required to facilitate the necessary expansion to Arden School as a
result of the new housing is clearly in excess of the sum being offered from
the applicant, being £94,752. Therefore it is considered that the proposal fails
to provide adequate provision for the necessary infrastructure extensions to
Arden School as a result of the proposed development and is therefore
unacceptable. Accordingly, as there is no justification for the proposal on the
grounds of facilitating the provision of infrastructure at the school and the
proposal is therefore contrary to policy IM1 of the Solihull UDP and P21 of the
Solihull Draft Local Plan.

Infrastructure provision

Solihull Primary Care Trust (PCT) were consulted on the proposals and
require a financial contribution towards incremental healthcare equipment and
fittings costs for existing doctor’s surgeries, which will need to be increased or
replaced via a shortened lifecycle by increased patient size list. This is as a
direct result of the proposed development. The PCT has estimated that an
additional investment of £84 per new patient will be required and that this cost
be borne by the applicant. Based on 38 units, generating 3 new patients per
unit, this is calculated at £9,576.

The applicants maintain that the above request does not appear to be
compliant with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), given that the PCT
are satisfied that patients arising from the proposed development can be
assimilated into the Doctor’s surgery at Dorridge. In the absence of any clear
evidence about the nature and cost of any shortfall in facilities to
accommodate the development, the PCT’s request for monies does not
appear necessary to make the development acceptable, nor does it appear
directly related to the development or fairly and reasonable related in scale
and kind to the development.

Having regard to the appeal decision for the development at Moat House
Farm, Elmdon Road, Marston Green, where a similar issue was considered in
relation to healthcare provision associated with planning applciation 2011/154,
where the Inspector opined that a request for a financial contribution towards
healthcare infrastructure would be inappropriate through the mechanism of a
s106 planning obligation where the use to which such a financial contribution
is currently unknown, it could not meet the tests of CIL Regulation 122.

The PCT maintain that they are not seeking to address a healthcare
contribution in the context of possible CIL arrangements that the local
Authority might seek to pursue in the future, but a contribution towards the
incremental healthcare equipment and fittings costs imposed by the
development. They state that the existing estate infrastructure is inadequate
to meet the incremental spatial needs of new patients arising from the
planned development.

However, I note the Inspector’s decision in relation to Moat House Farm,
which adjudged that the increased strain that the proposed development may
place on existing healthcare infrastructure is not, in itself, sufficient reason to
refuse planning permission outright for the proposed development; rather it is
one of the many material considerations to be weighed in the overall planning
balance. I consider that the same approach should be taken with this
application and would not recommend the refusal of planning permission
based on a lack of financial contribution for healthcare provision.

Impact on the Character and Appearance of the Area

The NPPF supersedes PPS1 and PPS3 and sets out the Government’s
planning policies for England. The guidance is underpinned by a presumption
in favour of sustainable development. Although it aims to boost significantly
the supply of housing, great importance is attached to the design of the built
environment. It advises that good design is a key aspect of sustainable
development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute
positively to making places better for people.

Paragraph 60 of the NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should
not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should
not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated
requirements to confirm to certain development forms or styles. It is, however,
proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.

Paragraph 61 goes on to state that although visual appearance and the
architecture of individual buildings are very important factors, securing high
quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore,
planning policies and decisions should address the connections between
people and places and the integration of new development into the natural,
built and historic environment.

Paragraph 64 advises that permission should be refused for development of
poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the
character and quality of an area and the way it functions.

Policy H5 of the Solihull Unitary Development Plan supports new windfall
development, but permission for development will only be granted if proposals
pay due regard to the scale, density and design quality of adjoining residential
areas and ensure they do not have an adverse effect in terms of
environmental quality. This policy is further endorsed by policy ENV2 which
amongst other criteria expects new development to enhance the quality and
attractiveness of the Borough and that it should contribute to a sense of local
identity.

The Council has also adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance contained
within ‘New Housing in Context’. This provides greater clarity regarding what
constitutes appropriate infill and backland development. The document
indicates that all new development in existing residential areas will be
required to respect, maintain or enhance local distinctiveness and character.
The guidance identifies a number of key characteristics and common
elements that lead to local distinctiveness and character, all of which should
be taken into account in the determination of applications. The guidance also
recognises that its methodology does not require proposals to be a copy or
pastiche of existing styles & development. Furthermore development not in
harmony with its context will exceptionally be allowed but only where it is of
outstanding individual quality and where it is appropriately located.

The Council will expect all new housing development to be to a high quality of
design and layout and to pay regard to issues of the quality of
accommodation, public health, crime prevention, community safety and
energy efficiency. Developers will be required to observe supplementary
planning guidance on housing layouts and design, together with development
briefs and design guides approved by the Council in respect of specific sites.
This policy should be read in conjunction with Policy ENV2 and Proposal
ENV2/1.

Policy ENV2 ‘Urban Design’ states that the Council will promote good quality
building and urban design. The policy states that development will only be
permitted if eight key urban design criteria are met. Amongst other criteria,
development will only be permitted if it respects the harmony and
relationships between buildings, the urban environment and the landscape;
enhances the quality and attractiveness of the Borough; protects and
enhances character and the local distinctiveness of the Borough’s urban
areas and protects and enhances the amenities of existing residents.

In order to achieve a high quality development that successfully integrates
with the existing structure and character of the area a number of design
principles are proposed, and are set out within the applicant’s Design and
Access Statement, which identifies key frontages, building and gateways into
the site.

Four character areas are identified, being Four Ashes Road and Entrance
frontage; frontage to open space/mature trees; central green; and southern
court. Each character area contains its own individual design elements, but
still clearly be part of a co-ordinated development appearance, including built
form principles, changes in height, set backs, landscape treatments,
architectural detailing, colour and use of materials. The design of the
character areas take into account the proposed landscape structure and
linkage of the site; the provision of sustainable development with a well
defined street hierarchy; string desire lines across the street; and the
relationship between the proposed movement network and built form.

The site layout shows how the development relates and connects to the
existing areas around Four Ashes Road. The design proposes a movement
network that is well connected and accessible by all users, including
pedestrians and cyclists, with a road layout that encourages slower vehicle
speeds. On street parking is planned for and will assist in reducing vehicle
speeds further. Public access will be increased, with a link to the existing play
area to the east of the site.

Furthermore, the document outlines the urban form principles and the local
character analysis and the nature of the site. It confirms that the development
layout will use block and back to back arrangements, framed by the access
roads and vegetation through the site. Dwellings will be two storey in order to
positively relate to the existing built form of the immediate area.

The dwellings to the edge of the development are larger detached and semi
detached units that incorporate landscaping to the public and private realm
and utilise a more landscape dominated environment. The buildings to the
core of the site will be smaller, but arranged to form short terraces of
buildings, therefore creating a good level of enclosure and street definition.

The building and layout design, planting and views will provide visual focal
points and create identity and legible routes throughout the scheme.
Landmark buildings have been created within the development through
increased detailing to prominent elevations and subtle material changes.
Particular attention has been paid to the massing and architectural style of the
buildings fronting Four Ashes Road and the main street to ensure these
buildings have frontages that contribute towards creating quality and
character. These frontages have been designed as a composition to provide a
cohesive element to the open space and due consideration has been given to
the surrounding built form.

The landscape design strategy has been to retain the existing valuable
landscape resources within an appropriate setting as an attractive mature
framework for the new dwellings and to create a development that assimilates
well into the existing landscape character. Within the site communal areas of
public open space have been designed around existing tree resources
forming a green space at the heart of the site; landscape treatment of the
communal areas are deliberately simple, being predominantly maintained as
amenity grassland under mature trees, in keeping with the existing landscape
character.

Your Urban Design officer has assessed the application and is satisfied that
the layout and the design principles set out in the Design and Access
Statement will deliver a scheme that respects the character and local
distinctiveness of Bentley Heath. It will create a coherent townscape that is
functional and an attractive place to live and thus would accord with Policy
H5, ENV2 of the Solihull UDP and adopted guidance in New Housing in
Context.

Highway Impact

Policy T1 of the Solihull UDP confirms that the Council will expect all
development proposals that generate traffic to contribute positively towards
the safe, efficient and easy movement of people and goods throughout the
Borough in order to create an integrated and sustainable transport network for
Solihull.

Transport assessments will be required for development proposals that are
likely to have significant transport implications. The Council will expect
proposals for new development to satisfy the following criteria: -

      (i) Minimise the need to travel;
      (ii) Locate where easy access can be gained by a choice of means of
      transport;
      (iii) Promote facilities that will improve people’s choice in the means of
      transport available particularly by supporting integration between
      different means of travel;
      (iv) Promote improved safety and convenience of travel for everyone;
      and
      (v) Support the objectives of the Local Transport Plan.

Policy T2 accessibility to new developments confirms that in considering
proposals for new development which may have significant transport
(or sustainability) implications, the Council will expect developers to include
analysis of the need to travel to the site demonstrating how access to the site
for employees, visitors, goods and services will be achieved in a sustainable
manner.

Policy T5 in promoting green travel the policy confirms that In the
consideration of planning applications the Council will require travel plans to
be submitted for new development proposals that fall within the categories of
development set out in Government Guidance and expressed in a local
Supplementary Planning Document. Such travel plans should include the
following information: -

      (i) Travel surveys;
      (ii) Measures and targets to shift modal share away from the private
      car; and
      (iii) Annual monitoring and review to assess performance against
      targets.

Your Highway engineers have assessed the suitability of the access and
layout arrangement on the basis that it would provide access for further
residential development in future.

Accessibility
The site is located directly south of Bentley Heath centre, which
accommodates most day to day services and facilities (including access to
regular bus services). The most direct route to Bentley Heath would be via the
adjacent recreation ground and, to this end, the applicant would provide
funding, through a S106 agreement, to implement a link through the
recreation ground between site and Bentley Heath centre.
Subject to the provision of a S106 agreement to fund a walk/cycle link through
Bentley Heath recreation ground, the development is considered acceptable
on accessibility grounds.

Current highway conditions

Four Ashes Road is a distributor road linking part of Dorridge and Hockley
Heath and the B4101 with Solihull Town Centre. It has a typical carriageway
width of 6.3m and has a 1.8m wide footway is present along the eastern side
of the carriageway together with street lighting. Four Ashes Road is subject to
a 40mph speed limit.

The applicant completed a traffic survey over a two-hour period to ascertain
prevailing levels of speed. The speed survey recorded 85th percentile speeds
of 39.8mph in both directions.. A further traffic survey was undertaken in 2009
and showed that Four Ashes Road experienced around 7,100 two-way
weekday vehicle movements between 07:00 – 19:00.

Personal Injury Accidents have been assessed for the last five years along
Four Ashes Road between the junctions of Widney Lane and Gate Lane.
There have been no accidents within 200m of the site access.

Development Impact

The applicant suggest that the proposed development of 38 units could
generate an additional 15 two-way trips in the AM peak, 17 two-way trips in
the PM peak, and a total of 167 daily two-way trips. When considering
prevailing traffic along Four Ashes Road, this would result in a 2% increase in
traffic in both the AM and PM peak and 2.5% increase in overall traffic levels.
Officers have assessed the trip rates provided by the applicant and consider
them to have been under-estimated. In your officers’ view, the development is
more likely to generate 26 two-way trips on either peak hour and up to 350
daily trips. However, even when using these trips levels, the development
would not have a material impact on traffic levels on the surrounding highway
network.

Representation has been received which contends that the access is
proposed at a location which would be prejudicial to highway safety. Based
on the recorded 85th percentile speeds of 40mph along Four Ashes Road, a
visibility splay of 120m would be required (in accordance with the Design
Manual for Roads and Bridges). The applicant has demonstrated that this
visibility splay could be provided at the site access and this is considered
acceptable. Additionally, forward visibility of at least 120m is available to
drivers approaching the junction from the south, such that they will see a
driver waiting to turn right into the proposed development in sufficient time.

With the above in mind, the development is considered acceptable from a
traffic and highway safety perspective. Therefore, I must conclude that the
proposal will accord with Policy T1, T2, T5 and T13 of the Solihull UDP.

Impact on the amenities of neighbours

Policy ENV2 (V) seeks to protect and enhance the amenities of existing
occupiers.

The nearest neighbours that are likely to be most affected by the proposed
development lie to the north, south and west of the site on Four Ashes Road
and Browns Lane.

The rear gardens of Nos. 17 Four Ashes Road, 14 and 16 Browns Lane
directly abut the application site boundary and would look out onto the rear
gardens of plots 5, 6 and 7. At least 21m distance would be retained between
dwellings, which is considered to be acceptable. No.18 has a long rear garden
and for the most part, abuts No.16. the impact on this property would not be
materially detrimental. Plots 1 and 2 would face the side elevation and garden
to no.17. At leas 12m would be retained between elevations, which is
considered to be acceptable. The double garage serving plot 1 would project
closer, with 7m between elevations, however this would be single storey and
would not cause material harm.

No 41 Four Ashes Lane would retain garden to each side and at the rear,
retaining a relatively spacious plot. It would look out onto the rear gardens to
plots 26 – 31, with the turning head to lane 2 providing access to parking
spaces abutting the boundary with no.41 to the southern side of its garden.
23m distance would be retained back to back between elevations, with the
single storey garage serving plots 26 and 27 projecting closer at 12m between
elevations. This relationship is considered to be acceptable.

In terms of impact from noise and disturbance, the immediate impact of the
proposal for the most part would be felt from activities occurring from the new
private rear gardens to adjoining plots. Four Ashes Road is relatively busy
and would absorb noise. I do not consider that there would be an unduly
adverse impact on neighbours in this regard.

In summary, the siting and design of the proposed dwellings would cause no
unreasonable impact on the amenities of these adjoining neighbours and
would therefore, accord with Policy ENV2 of the Solihull UDP.

Landscape

Policy ENV14 trees and woodlands advises that the Council will safeguard
important trees, hedgerows and woodlands, encourage new and replacement
tree and hedgerow planting, and will identify areas that may be suitable for the
creation of new woodlands by natural regeneration or planting. Where
planting takes place, priority will be given to native broad-leaved species. The
Council will protect and seek to enhance those woodlands, which are ancient
or semi-natural because of their great variety and important natural
characteristics.

The management strategy identified in the guidelines is to conserve and
restore the ancient irregular landscape pattern.

The site is the subject of a Tree Preservation Order, identified as TPO
No.348. Some 25 trees are identified to the perimeter boundaries of the site
which are included within the Order and are identified as being Oaks, Birch,
Cypress, red Horse Chestnut Blue Cedar, Sycamore and Holly. All these trees
are safeguarded by the proposed development and as such the longevity and
amenity value of the trees are protected in accordance with Policy ENV14 of
the Solihull UDP.

An arboricultural survey has also been submitted with the scheme. The report
identifies the removal of a TPO holly tree to facilitate the site access. This tree
is identified as a category C tree, of limited life span and value. Other trees,
not included within the TPO, to be lost are category B and C quality. The
remaining TPO trees are safeguarded by the proposed layout and the loss of
low value scrub, hedges and trees can be mitigated through appropriate
landscape conditions. New tree planting is proposed to replace those lost as a
result of the proposals, as well as appropriate mitigation measures to ensure
that the remaining trees are not harmed during constriction. The proposal
would therefore, accord with Policy ENV14 of the Solihull UDP and your
landscape architect raises no objection other proposal.

Ecology

Policy ENV11 in terms of biodiversity advises that The Council will seek to
conserve and enhance the biodiversity of the Borough, including its rivers,
canals and their towpaths, other natural corridors, and sites and features that
form part of the wildlife network and habitats identified in the Warwickshire
Local Biodiversity Action Plan. Developers will be expected to take full
account of the nature conservation value of land outside designated sites and
to maximise the potential for habitat creation and enhancement.

Policy ENV13 in term of wildlife species advises that development likely to
cause harm to any protected species, species identified as uncommon,
declining or under threat in the Warwickshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan, or
its habitats will be permitted only if the developer agrees to take appropriate
steps to secure its protection. Where development is permitted, the Council
may impose planning conditions or will seek to enter into planning obligations
with developers to secure all compensatory measures necessary to protect
the species, reduce disturbance to a minimum and provide alternative habitats
to sustain or enhance the population.
An extended phase 1 habitat survey has been submitted with the planning
application. No evidence of bats, badgers or reptiles were found and the site
does not lie in or adjacent to any Sites of Special Scientific Interest, local
Nature Reserves or Local Wildlife Sites.

Your Ecologist raises no objection to the proposal, which will have no
materially adverse impact on any ecological designations, habitats or nature
conservation interest or any protected species. The proposal would therefore,
accord with Policy ENV10, ENV11 and ENV13 of the Solihull UDP.

Open Space/Allotments

Policy R4 of the Solihull UDP in relation to new and improved open space
advises that the Council will require provision for and maintenance of
appropriate open space and recreational facilities as an integral part of all new
housing developments in accordance with the following criteria: -

       (i) The provision of outdoor playing space and children’s play areas
       shall be in accordance with the National Playing Field Association’s
       minimum standard of 2.4 hectares per 1,000 population, until such time
       as the local standards referred to in Proposal R2/1 have been adopted.
       In circumstances where no provision is required for children’s play
       areas and for youth facilities, more generous provision than the
       minimum standard will be expected. Where possible, such provision
       should protect and enhance existing landscape features;
       (ii) In circumstances where the provision of new open space is not
       appropriate and in the interests of more efficient use of urban land,
       provision for appropriate alternative local facilities of equivalent value,
       such as improvements to the quality of existing parks and open
       spaces;
       (iii) In areas where there is a shortage of children’s play areas, as
       identified in the Play Area Strategy for Solihull, the provision of new
       children’s play areas, or a contribution towards their provision in the
       area; and
       (iv) The provision of facilities for youth activities or a contribution
       towards their provision in the area.

Where appropriate, the Council seek the provision of new open space as part
of proposals for significant commercial and industrial development within the
Borough. Furthermore, where appropriate, the provision of open space and
recreational facilities will be sought through the use of Section 106
Agreements.

The 2001 census identified average household size in Solihull Borough to be
2.45 persons per household. This site therefore generates a requirement for
the provision of 0.26ha of open space provision.

Because of the constraints of the site it is not possible to include recreational
facilities on the site, although there are open areas of green space
interspersed with existing trees to the perimeter of the highway boundaries of
the site. However, there are existing recreational facilities to the east of the
site boundary and therefore the proposal provides an opportunity to improve
access to the facilities within this area via a financial contribution in lieu of on
site provision. Accordingly, a footway access is envisaged to allow direct
access on foot and by bicycle from the development proposal to local bus
services on Widney Road, Bentley Heath primary school and the key services
and facilities offered around the junction of Widney Road and Slater Road. the
contribution will also facilitate maintenance of the park. The level of
contribution being sought is currently under discussion and members will be
verbally updated at the forthcoming meeting.

Archaeology

Policy ENV8 in relation to ancient monuments and archaeological sites
advises that the Council will safeguard and encourage the enhancement of
the Borough’s archaeological remains, as a finite and irreplaceable resource.
Proposals for development that may affect archaeological remains will be
required to provide adequate information to allow the impact to be properly
assessed, including suitable investigation where the existence or importance
of the remains is uncertain.

There will be a presumption in favour of the preservation ‘in situ’ of nationally
important remains, whether scheduled or not, and their settings. Development
that would have an adverse effect on such remains, either on or under the
site, or their character or setting will be permitted only if it can be
demonstrated that the benefits of the development clearly outweigh the
archaeological value of the site itself and the national policy to preserve such
remains.

Development that would have an adverse effect on remains of regional or
local importance, or their settings, will be permitted only if the benefits of the
development outweigh the archaeological importance of the remains. Where
preservation is not feasible or warranted, developers will be expected to make
appropriate provision for the prior excavation and recording of the remains.

An archaeology desk top appraisal has been under taken by the applicant and
submitted as part of the planning application. The report confirms that the site
does not contain any known archaeological remains of national importance,
although there are currently undated cropmarks (over 400m from the site)
which may represent settlement enclosures of these periods.

The details have been sent to Warwickshire County Council Archaeologist,
who raises no objection to the proposals, subject to a condition requiring
further investigation works prior to commencement of development. This can
be secured through the imposition of a planning condition, if the application
were to be approved.

In terms of built heritage, the site does not contain any standing buildings and
so its future residential development would not be constrained in this regard.
The site does not lie within a conservation area and there are no statutorily
listed buildings located within the boundary of the site.

The proposal therefore accords with policy ENV8 of the Solihull UDP.

Drainage

Policy ENV17 of the Solihull UDP advises that in considering proposals for
development, the Council will have regard to their impact on the quality of
ground and surface water resources in the Borough. Development that is
harmful to such resources will be permitted only if it incorporates adequate
pollution control measures, including sustainable drainage systems where
appropriate, as agreed with the Environment Agency, to overcome any threat.
All development will be required to include foul and surface water provision to
ensure that the final discharge does not cause water pollution.

A Flood Risk Assessment has been undertaken to demonstrate that the
development, will be safe for its proposed lifetime. A suitable FRA should also
consider the risk of flooding from sources other than fluvial or tidal and make
an assessment of the potential of the proposed development to increase
flooding elsewhere through changes in the generation and management of
surface water.

The Environment Agency flood zone maps indicate that the site lies within
Flood Zone 1, which means the site is at little or no risk of flooding with an
estimated annual probability of river flooding of less than 1 in 1000 years.

Severn Trent Water has confirmed that they have no objections to the
drainage proposals for the site subject to conditions, as has the Environment
Agency, subject to conditions that ensure that sustainable drainage systems
are incorporated into the scheme. On this basis, it is concluded that the
proposal will have no unreasonable impact on drainage in the area and
accords with Policy ENV17 of the Solihull UDP.

Contaminated Land

Policy ENV16 in relation to contaminated land confirms that the Council will
require proposals for development on land known, or suspected to be
contaminated to include appropriate information to enable the potential
implications to be assessed and to incorporate any necessary remediation.

As part of the submitted details a Contamination report has been submitted.
The findings within the report recommends further work to be undertaken to
determine the extent of soil contamination from old oil storage tanks. In view
of this, your environmental health officer has recommended the imposition of
a suitably worded condition requiring further investigation and remediation
before other works commence, should the application be approved.

On this basis the proposal accords with policy ENV16 of the Solihull UDP.
Noise

The applicants have submitted a noise report for the site, which concludes
that the site is categorised as NEC B for daytime and NEC B night-time (as
directed by the former guidance contained within PPG24). On this basis,
noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications
and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure and adequate level of
protection against noise.

The noise report indicates that some mitigation measures are required, in the
form of implementation of suitable glazing to the new dwellings. On this basis,
your environmental health officer raises no objection to the proposal, subject
to a suitably worded condition requiring that the conclusions within the report
are implemented, to ensure that internal levels of noise meet BS8233 ‘good’
standard. The proposal therefore accords with policy ENV18 of the Solihull
UDP.

CONCLUSION

With attaching appropriate weight to the adopted UDP, emerging Local Plan
and the NPPF, it is considered that the residential development of the site is
acceptable in principle. There are no other material considerations (design &
layout, highways, neighbours amenity, landscape, ecology, open space &
drainage) that indicate that the development is not acceptable. Furthermore
the application provides for an appropriate level and mix of affordable
housing.

This leaves 2 issues that the determination of the application rests upon. This
relates to the mix of market housing that is to be provided and the level of
contribution to education infrastructure. In relation to the first issue, there has
been no attempt to provide a mix of market dwellings as they are all 4
bedroom properties whereas the Solihull Housing Market Assessment
concludes that in this market area there is only a need for 14% of properties
to be 4 bedroom - therefore the proposals do not provide for local need.

The applicant acknowledge that a financial contribution is required to provide
for additional education infrastructure. The actual requirement for facilities at
Arden School have been identified, costed and apportioned across the sites
identified in the Local Plan. This produces a required contribution in excess of
that being offered.

Whilst the development of the site is considered acceptable in principle it fails
on two important issues such that significant and demonstrable harm would
occur sufficient to warrant the refusal of the application.

RECOMMENDATION

For the reasons outlined above I recommend that had the council still been
able to determine the application it would have been refused for the following
reasons. The reasons will form the basis for contesting the appeal that has
been lodged. However it should be noted that if the applicants were to
increase the financial contribution to provide education facilities as detailed in
this report, this reason need not be pursued at the appeal.

NOTE: For the avoidance of doubt this decision refers to the plans as follows:
Plan Number(s): C.0353_19; C.0353_15-1R; C.0353_16-1; C.0353_16-2;
C.0353_16-3; C.0353_16-4; C.0353_16.-10; C.0353_16-5; C.0353_16-6;
C.0353_16-9; C.0353_18B; C.0353_22;

				
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