The report of the Chief Planning Officer sets out a reserved matters application for 785 dwellings relating to scale, layout, appearance and landscaping pursuant to Outline Application (17/02594/OT) at Land off Racecourse Approach Wetherby, LS22.
The Chief Planning Officer presented a Reserved Matters application to the Plans Panel for 785 dwellings relating to scale, layout, appearance and landscaping pursuant to outline application 17/02594/OT at land off Racecourse Approach Wetherby LS22.
Members had attended a site visit earlier in the day. Slides and photographs were shown during the meeting.
Members were informed of the following points:
· This site is a recognised development opportunity which forms part of the allocation in the Site Allocations Plan (SAP) on the northern edge of Wetherby.
· This application is pursuant to an outline consent which was granted approval at City Plans Panel in August 2020 subject to a comprehensive list of conditions and the completion of a Section 106 Agreement. The Section 106 Agreement was completed on 20th September 2021.
· This Reserved Matters application seeks consent for 785 dwellings
and detailed consideration of scale, layout, appearance and landscaping.
· This is a residential development of 785 units comprising of a mix of detached, semi-detached, apartments and terraced dwellings. There would be 713 houses and 72 apartments.
· The proposal also has 275 affordable units in a mix of 24 x two bedroom apartments, 122 x two bedroom houses, 105 x three bedroom houses and 24x four bedroom houses. This meets the affordable housing requirement.
· Members were advised that the Council is reviewing the demand for 4 bedroom houses in this area.
· The dwellings will be compliant with required internal space standards. The houses would be of traditional design with chimneys, using traditional materials. The housing mix was proposed as terraces, semi-detached and detached houses. Apartments were proposed as being 3 storeys, there would be 4 blocks sited close to the young offenders buildings.
· The site will be accessed from three access points from Racecourse Approach, a comprehensive internal road layout will serve the development. This would retain the tree lined ‘Avenue’ in the south- eastern area of the site.
· The proposed development features a central hub comprising of a primary school, retail unit and play area. Members were asked to note that the primary school and retail unit would be subject to separate planning applications.
· The existing Public Rights of Way are to be retained and connect to new footpaths.
· The design would see the retention and protection of natural features including Cockshot Wood and Sand Beck. A series of connecting green and blue spaces are proposed throughout the site. Various NEAP’s, LEAP’s and LAP’s are proposed as well as additional tree planting and landscaping.
Mr Owen from the Better Wetherby Partnership attended the meeting to inform the Panel why the Partnership objects to the proposals, along with Mr Catton of Wetherby Civic Society who was there to answer questions.
Mr Owen informed the Panel of the following points:
· The Better Wetherby Partnership had attended the workshops and he said for the record that officers had provided good work at these workshops.
· This scheme as it currently exists was proposed pre- recession. The country is now heading towards another recession with increased fuel costs etc.
· Concerns in relation to chimney pots was raised in relation to the climate emergency given the emissions into the atmosphere.
· He said that there was a reliance on brick and the group were requesting the use of more timber in the architectural design of the houses.
· The group had concerns about the location of the site close to the A1M in relation to air quality and noise pollution. It was noted that a site close to this proposed site already had issues with noise. It was noted that Mr Tim Summers had already undertaken a noise survey and this should be considered. Mr Owen appreciated that this survey was on the planning portal, however it would need to be updated. Mr Owen was of the view that some of the proposed affordable houses were situated close to the A1M and the families who would live in these would need safeguarding from the noise and air pollution caused by the A1M.
· It is envisaged there will be disruption during the construction process. Construction Management Plans are often required, but seldom adhered to and this needed to be thoroughly considered.
· Concerns were raised in relation to the access points along York Road, where there had been two fatal accidents. It was the view that traffic management should be looked at in this location.
· Mr Owen made mention of errors within the report and was asked to clarify these for the benefit of the Panel. The following was noted:
o Paragraph 45 in relation to consultation. The public consultation was stated as having been held on the wrong date.
o It was noted that a letter detailing various matters that the Partnership wished to raise following the event had not been replied to. This included proposals for mitigation measures to assist with noise pollution issues.
o Paragraph 48 in relation to flood risk management required more details and clarification.
o Paragraph 49 Yorkshire Water had been the subject of Ofwat in relation to the discharge of water into rivers. This had been red flagged due to lack of capacity.
o Paragraph 50 the air pollution report had not been updated
o Paragraph 55 the references to Public Rights of Way were believed to be the wrong way round.
o Paragraph 60 in relation to letters received were comprehensive but not noted.
o Conditions 31 and 32 offers electric charging points however, there would still be pollution through rubber shavings off tyres.
Mr Catton informed the Panel that there had in fact been 3 fatalities on York Road with the most recent in December 2021. He was of the view that there needed to be better connectivity between the site and Wetherby High School, and the town. It was his view that there would be more fatalities if this was not addressed as children would need to cross this busy road. Mr Catton recalled Cllr Nash suggesting a pedestrian crossing was required along this stretch of road at City Plans Panel. It was noted that there is provision further down the road, however people would have to walk along a narrow footpath to get to it.
Mr Catton was of the view that chimney pots were redundant and there was no reason for them to be incorporated into the design. He also raised the issue of the use of bricks in the design of the houses as manufacture of bricks caused high emissions.
Mark Johnson and John Hetherington attended the meeting on behalf of the applicant. They informed the Panel of the following points:
· Details relating to air quality and noise pollution were to be considered and discharged in the conditions attached to the outline planning permission. They said that so many reports had been submitted, however, they may not have been updated and submitted at the same time. For clarity, it was reiterated that these did not all relate to the application before Members for consideration as a Position Statement, but a number instead related to the separate discharge of condition applications.
· This site was an important site for the delivery of houses in the north of the city.
· They had submitted detailed design documents including changes which had been in consultation at the workshops. Included within the reserved matters were also information on drainage and carbon reduction.
· The developers had looked to be innovative in design. They acknowledged that innovation can be subjective, and that modern design can quickly become outdated. During the workshops the preference for design had been for traditional houses. The housing mix would replicate that of Wetherby. The development sought to be innovative in other ways.
· This report looks at the blue and green infrastructure, housing mix and what the developers propose for policy compliance in terms of carbon reduction.
· It is proposed that gas boilers would be used in the first phase of the site being removed through the further phases.
Member’s discussions included:
· The location of the retail unit which was proposed to be a small convenience store. It had been suggested at City Plans Panel that the location of this unit would be better suited at the edge of the development, so that it not only served the local houses but could pick up passing trade. It was also the view that the residents of the new development would still access the shop when accessing or leaving the estate. The applicant noted that locating the retail unit within was in the hope that this would create a central hub for residents.
· It was acknowledged that Education had requested the primary school should be located in the centre of the development.
· Members recognised that the developers had built the Church Fields development in Boston Spa which in their view was an exemplary and positive development. However, Members were of the view that this development before the Panel was underwhelming. The developer had said that they wanted to be innovative. However, Members were of the view that this proposal was not innovative enough and needed to be designed with the site and location firmly in mind.
· Members thought that the collaboration with the community and officers was commendable, but the developers did not seem to have listened to what was required in the locality.
· Members were of the view that this development should have bespoke houses, which were fit for purpose and that the scheme should be one which was award winning.
· Members had concerns about how the affordable housing was to be distributed through the site. They were advised that the affordable houses would be in clusters across the site. It was noted that the Housing Association were agreeable to this, but Members suggested more pepper-potting of affordable housing would be welcomed.
· Members wished to see the design bring in the countryside through design and materials.
· It was the view that this is a standalone scheme not blended to Wetherby, and it need to ‘sit right’ with the town.
· The development at North Stainley, Harrogate was suggested as an area to visit as this development was thought to be well designed with traditional houses.
· It was recognised that regulations in terms of climate change were changing fast. However, it was the view that the developers needed to be forward thinking in terms of ground source heat pumps being provided – as the developer had confirmed that dwellings in the initial phases would have traditional boiler systems.
· Members suggested that the green space could be used for communal gardens, to grow fruit trees and be planted with edible plants.
· Members were of the view that there was an over supply of 4-5 bedroom properties and that the area required more 3-4 bedroom properties. It was also noted that there was a demand in the area for bungalows.
In offering comments on the officers’ questions in the report:
1. Do Members wish to comment on the proposed housing mix proposed by the applicant in light of the requirements of Leeds Core Strategy policy H4 and Wetherby Neighbourhood Plan policy H1?
The area required more 3-4 bedroom properties. It was also noted that there was a demand in the area for bungalows.
2. Do Members wish to comment on the proposed affordable housing
provision, including matters of the house/apartment split, the mix of
unit sizes and the location of units across the site?
Affordable housing should be 35%. Members had concerns about the cluster of affordable houses. However, if this was the best solution then they should be innovative, those close to the boundary of the motorway should not have living quarters facing on to the motorway. There should also be boundary treatment to mitigate noise and air pollution.
3. Do Members wish to comment on the general approach to create
different character areas and design proposals advanced by the applicant?
It was the view that the approach was correct in terms of having different character areas. However, the execution was poor.
4. Do Members feel satisfied that the proposals will deliver a high quality
development and the approach with regards to ‘innovation’? If not, where would Member’s priorities lie in seeking further enhancements in these respects?
Members were of the view that the design was not innovative enough and that the houses needed to be bespoke having regard to its setting and context. This could include the use of timber frames in construction.
5. Are Members satisfied that the appearance and scale of the development will create a beautiful and distinctive place with a consistent and high-quality standard of design as per NPPF guidance?
Members were disappointed with the appearance and scale of the development. They suggested making more of the green and blue spaces and that the design of the houses should take advantage of the setting.
6. Do Members wish to make any comments on the layout proposed with regards to the provision of green spaces, connectivity, health, and wellbeing?
Some Members had expressed concerns that the proposed layout would mean that the shop would not survive if it was located in the centre of the development and should be moved to the edge of the development, so that it could catch passing trade. It was the view that having the shop close to the school was a good idea. Members had concerns that the only access along York Road was dangerous and that a crossing was required to access facilities such as medical centre and the town. The crossing would be an important part of place-making and encourage active travel.
7. Do Members wish to make any comments on the layout in respect of car parking provision?
Members expressed concerns that there may not be enough parking as many families now have two cars, it was suggested that there parking should be provided in accordance with the council’s guidelines. It was also the view that having parking away from homes would cause issues with residents parking on grass verges. Therefore, there should be dedicated on plot parking. Members also recognised that public transport in this area was difficult.
8. Do Members wish to make any comments on the landscape proposals with regards to biodiversity and linkages between SuDs drainage basins and greenspaces?
Members had concerns that in this area there were regular overspills into the River Wharfe. They wished to see innovative solutions to drainage and provision of adequate sewerage to take account of the large quantum of new dwellings.
9. Do Members wish to comment on the level of private amenity space proposed for the apartments?
It was recognised that there was a demand for smaller properties in the area. However, there was no dedicated useable private amenity space for the apartment blocks. Members suggested an innovative approach should be used to overcome this – such as the use of allotments, green walls and planting of edible gardens to be incorporated into communal areas.
RESOLVED - To note the content of the report on the proposal and to provide views in relation to the questions posed in the submitted report to aid the progression of the application.
Cllr B Anderson left the meeting at 16:25 during this item
Cllr Nash left the meeting at 17:10 at the end of this item