Thetford: Sweyn Close/Fulmerston Road/Ulfkell Road: Proposed Residential Development by Peddars Way Housing Association: References: 3PL/2010/0013/F (Agenda Item 10)
Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Principal Planning Officer presented this application, explaining that it concerned proposals to redevelop land on the Barnham Cross Estate. 34 of the existing (sub-standard) dwellings would be demolished to enable a total of 66 dwellings on the site, together with associated open space, roads, parking and landscaping. The proposed dwellings would comprise a mixture of units, including bungalows and apartment blocks, with a mix of affordable and open market housing.
The site was located within an established residential area, bounded to the north by open land, including a play area and some allotments. He confirmed that the line of pine trees at the back of the current development was protected by TPOs and would therefore be retained.
Finally, he confirmed that the proposed development fell generally in line, and was consistent with, the Council’s Planning Policy. The affordable housing proposed actually exceeded requirements. The open space provision fell slightly short of these. However, it had been proposed that there would be a financial contribution of £15,000.
It was acknowledged that the footpath would see heavier usage, but it was not felt that this would have a significant impact on neighbours. The Police Authorities had made no objections to the proposals on public safety grounds.
The Principal Planning Officer concluded by saying that that there were currently some outstanding queries from the Environment Agency. Any resolution for approval would need to be subject to these objections being withdrawn.
Mr Brand, speaking as an objector, raised concerns about the location of the footpath which was only about 1.2 m from his dining room. He felt that the increased traffic along the path would certainly have a detrimental impact on his property and he proposed a couple of alternative routes.
He also had concerns about insufficient parking spaces and wondered if some of the trees on site, many of which had been severely pruned or even lost over the past decade, could perhaps be replaced with new planting, thus making room for more parking spaces.
Ms Hanford (the applicant) said that many of the existing properties on site had problems and were arguably beyond the end of their useful life. There had been much local consultation about the proposals, both with groups and also individuals. Peddars Way Housing Association had worked hard to ensure that any residents who needed to be moved had received suitable accommodation. The application also proposed two car parking spaces for each dwelling, as well as an uplifting, contemporary design. She confirmed that there had been full consultation with the Council’s Tree and Countryside officer with respect to the location of the access roads and nearby trees etc. and that bird and bat boxes would be set up.
With reference to Mr Brand’s concerns about the footpath, she said that she had met with members of the Council’s Asset Team and was consulting about the possibility of moving this footpath slightly further way from this property.
A Member spoke positively about the ongoing regeneration of the estate and the impact that this application would have. Highlighting the fact that the proposals included a range of dwelling sizes, she drew Members’ attention to the fact that one of the 5 bedroom houses was earmarked for a family which worked closely with social services and fostered special needs children. In addition, some of the houses would benefit from rear access and improved boundaries. It was also hoped that this development would link in with other Moving Thetford Forward strategic plans, possibly bringing-forward some much needed nearby development and improvements.
Other points raised in discussion included:
· The possibility of suitable boundary treatment along the footpath to minimise the impact of increased usage on nearby properties.
· A Member reminded colleagues that the Council had a statutory obligation to provide allotment land, as well as affordable housing. He said that over 50 acres of allotment land had disappeared during a period when the local population had risen from about 5,000 to 25,000.
Thetford Town Council was endeavouring to increase the number of allotments available for the local community. Whilst the development was not sited on designated allotment land, it sat directly alongside it, and the proposed area of open space would prevent any future expansion of those allotments.
The Development Services Manager said that the Council was aware of the town’s allotment concerns, which were being re-addressed, and it was later confirmed that this was a land, rather than planning, issue.
· With regard to parking, the Principal Planning Officer clarified that there would be at least two car parking spaces provided for each dwelling, with extra parking available for visitors and existing residents whose properties were adjacent to the development.
· From an architectural perspective, a Member raised concerns about the glass frontage of the ground floor corner apartments, wondering if it might actually prove more practical to have more glass, or railings, to deter people leaning against the proposed ledges. In response, the Development Services Manager said that this could be dealt with as part of any boundary conditions.
Deferred, but the Officers be authorised to approve, subject to the satisfactory resolution of ground contamination concerns with the Environment Agency, as well as any Council-imposed conditions, on completion of the S.106 Agreement.