Shipdham: Residential Development, Land off Mill Road (Agenda item 8)
Report of the Development Services Manager.
The following public speakers were in attendance for this item:
- Mr Hewett, Ward Representative
- Mr Tindale, Objector
- Mr Edwards, Applicant’s Agent
- Mr Tracey, Norfolk County Council Highways Representative
The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) presented the report which concerned an application for full planning permission for residential development on land off Mill Road, Shipdham. The development proposed included the erection of 24 dwellings, a new access and estate road and associated landscaped open spaces. The development would include 3, 4 and 5 bedroom properties, in a range of sizes, and seven units of affordable housing. The existing residential house on the site would be demolished. The site itself, in the past, had included uses such as gravel extraction, a timber yard and a tip for builders waste.
The policy issues and the planning history relating to the application, as set out in the report, were explained. Members noted that Shipdham had, during the course of the preparation of the Local Development Framework (LDF), been identified as a potential local Service Centre and had therefore been considered suitable for further development.
The proposal had given rise to considerable concerns in relation to highway safety. Objections had been raised by the Parish Council, the Highway Authority and local residents. It had been considered that Mill Road, in its present condition, although close to public amenities, was not suitable to cater for any significant increase in traffic. Further to this, existing footways in the vicinity of the site were very narrow and the junction of Mill Road and the A1075 was also narrow and had limited visibility. In response to concerns raised, the developer had offered to install three mini roundabouts at different junctions to improve circulation of traffic. He had also offered to widen the existing footways, introduce traffic calming measures and improve local highway signage including further provisions to instate ‘keep clear’ road markings adjacent to the village school. However, the Highway Authority had objected to these proposals and as an alternative the developer had offered a financial contribution of up to £48k to be spent on local highway improvements. The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) explained that although this sum had been offered there was no guarantee that the monies would be spent on the scheme. If the aforementioned highway improvements were not implemented there was a real danger that the money would be paid back to the developer; that was the main reason that Officers were requesting a deferral of this application.
Video footage was shown of the site and the surrounding road network.
Mr Tindale spoke against the application. He felt that further expansion in the village was not needed; Shipdham was a rural community where the facilities were limited and the local bus service was insufficient. He had nothing against a smaller development, but felt that if the application was granted it could set a precedent for further larger developments in the village. Mr Tindale pointed out that the application made many references to Policy PPG3 which, in his opinion, referred to guidelines for towns and not villages.
Mr Edwards, the Applicant’s Agent, put his views forward and stated that the brownfield site was well located within the settlement boundary. The original application had been for the erection of 42 units; however, that application had been withdrawn and had been revised and reduced to 24 units. Mr Edwards explained that the proposal offered a range of highway improvements that would generate very few extra traffic movements. The applicant had tried to address local concerns and had offered a flexible approach to deliver these improvements.
Mr Hewett, the Ward Member, added that this had been a frustrating application and had divided the community of the village. He pointed out that Shipdham had been refused highway improvements in the past and therefore he applauded the developer’s willingness to amend his proposal to accommodate local concerns. However, the issue of highway safety had not been resolved and he accordingly supported the Officers’ view of deferral.
Mr Tracey, the Highway Authority Representative, was in attendance and he agreed that this application had been a difficult one. He explained that if the mini roundabouts were to be installed, all arms of the roundabout had to have similar flows of traffic. The junction off Mill Road onto the A1075 had poor visibility and inadequate footways. If the application was to be approved the traffic generated from one dwelling alone would create 8 to 10 movements a day, therefore the only solution to reduce the vehicular traffic would be to render Mill Road one way; however, for this to happen, the road would have to be narrowed to make allowance for the widening of the footpaths. This would offer a technical solution but the applicant had not put forward any vehicular proposals and for that reason the Highway Authority was not in a position to support the application.
A Member asked whether there was any possibility of closing Mill Road and making it a cul-de-sac and whether the Highway Authority would consider any traffic calming measures along the A1075 and by the church. In response, the Highways Authority Representative advised that residents would see it as a major inconvenience if Mill Road was turned into a cul-de-sac. As far as the calming measures were concerned, the Highway Authority had received a number of comments that the speed limit, currently in operation, was not being observed. Further to this, larger vehicles had always had difficulty navigating this stretch of narrow road, particularly alongside the church.
Another Member felt that the Highway Authority should consider improvements to the junction as it was an accident waiting to happen.
A Member asked whether an Environmental Assessment had been carried out as he had concerns about flooding. Further to this, other Members felt that to build 24 dwellings on this site, alongside an inadequate road, was inappropriate and it was proposed that the application be refused on highways grounds, overdevelopment and flood risk.
The Committee was informed that an Environmental Assessment had been submitted.
At the conclusion of the debate, it was
RESOLVED that planning permission be refused, contrary to the recommendation, on the grounds that the development would have a potential impact on highway safety.