Agenda item

Carbrooke/Griston: Residential/Employment Development, Former RAF Watton Technical Site: References: 3PL/2005/0476/F & 3PL/2005/0477/O (Agenda Item 11)

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.


The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) explained that this report concerned proposals to vary the terms of section 106 agreements relating to residential/employment development.  Further information had been provided in a supplementary report.


Two permissions for over 600 houses, employment land, a local centre and open space were extant.  One had been granted by the Committee and the other had been refused by Committee and then allowed on appeal.  Both permissions were subject to legal agreements containing a range of planning obligations and requiring financial contributions toward public transport, education and library services.


The Company that had originally been granted planning permission (Cofton) had sold the land to a variety of developers but retained responsibility for infrastructure and section 106 contributions.  Cofton had since gone into administration leaving some of the contributions outstanding.


The developers were proposing a variation of the legal agreements to allow continued development.  The main outstanding issue was the construction of a roundabout at the second access to the site.  Money was available in separate accounts to meet future contribution requirements.  It was suggested that some of this money be released to fund the roundabout works.


The District Valuer had confirmed that due to the drop in prices caused by market conditions the development would not be able to fund the roundabout works.  Government guidance did encourage Councils to be sympathetic in reviewing the terms of legal agreements where it would allow development to continue, although this should not be done unless there was justification.


In this case it was considered that the provision of the roundabout did justify varying the terms as it would:


  1. allow for the delivery of housing, including affordable housing (when the Council did not have the required five year housing land supply and did have a shortage of affordable housing);
  2. directly affect the viability of the service centre and provide access to the employment land adding to the sustainability of the scheme; and
  3. improve highway safety.


Following extensive negotiations between officers, Norfolk County Council and the developers, two areas had been identified where contributions could be adjusted with minimal impact: i) a Breckland Council scheme for play equipment and open space and ii) public transport.


The contribution revisions were subject to claw-back if market conditions improved and to the timing of the completion of the roundabout.


Mr Bloomfield, Agent, explained that the cost of the roundabout had increased substantially.  It was currently partially completed and Norfolk County Council were incurring costs ensuring it functioned in that state.


A local Member was sympathetic to the developers but also concerned about reducing contributions to transport as a Sunday bus service had only recently been secured, enabling young people to travel in to Norwich for work and leisure.


Another Member suggested that the roundabout provision could be scaled down, or replaced by cross-roads, but it was pointed out that works had gone too far and changes would only increase the costs.


A Member asked about the amount of open space available and it was confirmed that the original provision had exceeded requirements.  Sufficient open space and play areas had already been provided.


RESOLVED to approve the variation of the legal agreements subject to the provisions set out in paragraph 12 of the supplementary report.


Supporting documents: