The Chairman signalled the return to the first application of the evening, application number 143728, to erect 49no. dwellings with associated highways works, earthworks to create drainage attenuation pond, landscaping and boundary treatments, on land North of Hawks Road, Welton, Lincoln. He sought the advice of the Legal Adviser, having afforded her time to consider the contents of the email received by all Committee Members. She confirmed that there was no reason that the Committee could not determine the application at this time. There were no material planning considerations contained within the email, all Members had received training and other concerns within the email would be dealt with by the Monitoring Officer. It was also noted by Officers that Acis were due funding in March, the Section 106 agreement was also required and any decision to defer the application could have a detrimental impact.
Having been moved and seconded that the application be deferred, the Chairman took the vote and with a majority voting against the proposal, the vote was lost, with the Chairman confirming the application would be heard.
The Senior Development Management Officer presented the details of the application and explained that, should a resolution be made to grant permission, final confirmation of conditions would need to be completed in consultation with the Environment Officer.
The Chairman informed the Committee there were three registered speakers on the application and he invited the first speaker, Mr Mark Foster of Lindum Homes, to address the Committee. Mr Foster made the following statement.
“Good evening everybody. My name is Mark Foster and I am the Planning Director with Lindum Homes. We are the market housing division of Lindum Group and I thank you for the opportunity to address you today. We are joint applicants on this application with Acis Group, who, Members will be aware, are an active provider of affordable housing within the district.
As many of you may know, we are a local company with our own local workforce. Our role as a major employer within the local economy is very important to us as our reputation having now operated as a local contractor for over 60 years. The company is employee owned, with 1480 of our staff being shareholders in the company. This has fostered a deeper level of pride, ownership and commitment among employees and has, we believe, been an important factor which is able to sustain our reputation over the years. We do not build many market houses so when we do both the quality of those houses and the sites we choose are vitally important to us.
The site in Welton is no different and the fact that it was already allocated in the existing local plan was a significant factor. The principle of housing already being considered acceptable through the adopted local plan. Our attention has turned to the form the development takes, and how we can integrate any scheme into the locality as set out in the officer’s report. The layout itself is extremely low density, incorporating more open space than required by planning policy and retaining and enhancing existing green routes which people already use, including the public right of way which was mentioned earlier. The layout has also been informed by the opinions of the parish council and local residents. These were obtained pre-application via a presentation to the parish and a virtual exhibition advertised in the local press and via leaflets delivered to around 250 properties around the site.
We always will try to respond to the views of local people where we can and in this instance, we will replant part of the site to improve the separation distances and add more single storey units both to help to mitigate the impact of the properties on residents of Hampton Close and the Hardings. We also ensured the mix of properties was specifically aimed at first time buyers, with a significant number of the units sitting below the Help to Buy threshold where first time buyers can receive government help to fund their deposits. The parish council were particularly keen on this. There will be affordable houses which will be prioritised for local people and we have included five affordable bungalows for the over 55s. It is noted the parish council raised no objection to the proposals.
We do recognise some concerns have been raised in relation to the loss of trees and biodiversity. In terms of the existing trees on site, the majority across the site are self-set saplings which have all been assessed in the lowest category within our tree survey. Our replacement landscaping scheme will commit to delivering the number of trees shown on the development plan which is in excess of 50, which species is to be agreed with your tree officer. These will be of significant better quality than those lost. The trees in the hedgerows which have been identified as important and of significance along the edges of the development are being retained. It is noted that, subject to requiring further detail, the council's tree officer does not object to the proposals.
We also know in relation to infrastructure that some objections have been raised but we have agreed to the request of the NHS for a contribution to improve facilities at the local Welton surgery and the NHS confirmed this has also recently been extended to accommodate existing growth. Our contribution will therefore be in addition to the new capacity which has recently been created.
The Education Authority have also confirmed the existing Primary School has capacity for children from the development and we will pay community infrastructure levy for secondary school provision. We therefore feel we've done all we have been asked through the application process to address the impacts of our development, which Members will be aware is all legally we are allowed to do.
Finally, Chairman and Members of the Committee, we recognise some concerns have been raised in relation to highways and drainage. It is noted that Lincolnshire County Council in their capacity as Highway Authority and lead local flood authority have raised no objections to the proposals.
In conclusion, Chairman and Members of the Committee, we sincerely hope the proposed sensitive and low density, high quality development of this allocated site, with no objections from any technical consultees, can be approved at this evening. Thank you very much.”
The Chairman thanked Mr foster, and, after a short pause for the sanitisation of the desk, welcomed Mr Heward to address the Committee. Mr Heward made the following statement.
“I'm here on behalf of my daughter who has a property interest on Hawks Road, you mentioned I'm an objector, but I'm not here to object to the development per se. What I'm here to object to is the access that's been provisioned for the site, namely through Hawks Road.
Now, the Hawks Road side of the site, if highways have actually been to site at any time, either 6pm or on a Saturday, or a weekend, they'll see there are no footpaths there. So to me the access site is not fit for purpose. There is already a provision within the site for a road of adoptable standard on the Hampton Close, which provides a full highways approved road with footpaths at the side and direct access into the site. It seems reading some of the notes, the local council are supportive of extending the road that's within the site which would take the access road within that development. If anything comes into Hawks Road, it's an accident waiting to happen.
I've been in property for over 40 years and I've never seen an access road which is at right angles to a residential drive. It's an accident waiting to happen. There's no provision for people that are disabled. There's no footpaths to walk on there. I would be looking, if the council was minded, to defer until such time as the developers can show that the access to the whole site could be incorporated. They've blocked off the affordable housing on the site with a simple fence and it could run around the site quite simply but if it goes into Hawks Road there will be accidents on that road without a doubt.
I read the highways recommendations as such that they said there were no safety issues. Well, clearly there are safety issues. If anybody's been down there, Hawks Road is not fit for purpose. It's a block set access road and services the properties. My view would be to defer until such time as the developers can restructure that, as I think is a recommendation of the local parish council as well.
It would be sensible to have some kind of pedestrian access across the sides because the site itself is totally landlocked. The only footpaths you can go on is in the green areas, which I'm assuming there's not going to be a footpath fit for disabled people. People that are partially blind. Children on bikes. The access into Hawks Road is a car crash waiting to happen. There's no objection to development per se, just that the access road wrote should be moved elsewhere or incorporated in the Hampton Close adopted access. Thank you.”
The Chairman thanked Mr Heward for his comments and advised the Committee that the third speaker, Ward Member Councillor Mrs D Rodgers had submitted a statement to be read aloud. The Democratic Services Officer duly read the following statement, supported by slides provided in advance of the meeting.
“Thank you Chairman.
I have represented Welton for almost 14 years, and I have sighted hundreds of planning applications; but this application has caused more concern than any other, and I have been approached by a number of residents by email, on the telephone, and on my own doorstep. And I have been asked to present their objections to this Committee
In the scheme of things, it is a modest development, when set against the hundreds of houses that have already been built and have already been approved in Welton.
And interestingly the arguments about overcrowded schools, over-extended health facilities, and a lack of infrastructure have not dominated the objections, in this case, because they have been ignored in the past, the promise of future investment has not been forthcoming.
I have frequently been reminded that Welton is second only to Gainsborough in terms of population, and I have been further reminded that unlike the West Lindsey Market Towns, we have not been able to benefit from the gifting of buildings, and building of leisure centres.
So is it too much to ask for us to retain the last vestiges of countryside in a rural village, and enjoy the sights and sounds of a natural habitat?
With regard to this application, the question that is asked is why here and why now? Especially when work is a long way from completion on the 350 house development that was approved for the other side of the village in 2015.
The answer may be found in the imminence of a review of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, which was adopted in 2017. As I understand it, it is due for public consultation in the Spring of this year, and still has 14 years to run. So again why here and why now?
The applicant is obviously conscious of the fact that the land has become a haven for flora and fauna and has commissioned a survey; but the survey is no more than a snapshot and does not take into account seasonal changes and variations, and this is why there are so many detractors among the people who live in and around the village, and enjoy this valuable rural amenity all year round.
Before we go any further, I would just mention the public right of way which runs along the eastern boundary of the site and hardly gets a mention.
The footpath in question, extends for over a thousand yards from Eastfield Lane to Mill Lane; but there is already an issue. The first 150 yards has been fenced in by previous developments (seen here [Slide 1] and here [Slide 2]), and the proposed development would then present a housing estate for the next 300 yards, so the walkers and ramblers will have to traverse almost half the distance of the rural public right of way in an urban setting.
For now, this [Slide 3] is what greets the walkers and ramblers when they leave the narrow passageway, and this [Slide 4] is the westerly aspect as they move further on.
Not simply an untended tract of land; but a naturalised area of the village, and a haven for wildlife, which forms part of a wildlife corridor, and a treasured facility for all age groups.
In closing, I would ask the committee to remember that as councillors we are being offered £75 each to plant trees in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen.
How would that look if we allowed a developer to destroy over 350 trees, in a rural setting for the sake of 49 houses, when there is no immediate need?
In the fullness of time this tract of land may actually be needed for new housing; but not now, not in advance of a public consultation, and not during the Queen's Canopy initiative.
In deference to the requests of the tax-paying electorate of Welton I ask you as their planning regulators to refuse this application at this time and give nature a chance to recover from all the other developments that have engulfed Welton and Dunholme in recent years.”
The Chairman thanked all speakers and invited return comments from the Planning Officer. He noted that the proposal was on an allocated housing site in the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, it had been established and allocated for housing. In terms of ecology and biodiversity, the application came with a professional survey and did provide mitigations. In terms of the Public Right Of Way (PROW), it would remain, landscaping would be conditioned and the PROW would not be enclosed with fencing.
The Chairman queried the speaker’s reference to access and it was highlighted that the Highways Agency had not raised any concerns with access or pathways.
A Member of the Committee queried the allocation of the site under the CLLP, whether it was under review, and also enquired as to the provision for secondary schools in the area. The Officer clarified the area allocated within the CLLP and noted that the draft plan, under review, incorporated the same area. It would remain allocated. Additionally, provision for secondary school education would be paid through the CIL.
On hearing further comments regarding access to the site, the Chairman proposed a site visit, in order for Members to understand the layout of the site, specifically in regards to access. This was seconded and, on taking the vote, it was
RESOLVED that the application be deferred for decision at the next available meeting, in order for a site visit to be undertaken.