Agenda item

Watton: Land off Brandon Road: Demolition of existing buildings and erection of housing, creation of new access road for Bowes of Norfolk Ltd: Application Reference: 3PL/2008/0547/O (Agenda Item 9)

Report of the Development Services Manager.


Cllr C Bowes and Mrs D Irving declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item and left the room whilst it was discussed.  Mrs A Steward declared a personal interest.  Mr W Borrett left the meeting before this item.


The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) introduced this outline application for approximately 130 dwellings on part of the Bowes of Norfolk site.  Currently much of this site was hardstanding, used for parking and storage.  A new area for employee parking would be provided within the Bowes site opposite.


A site location plan was shown and the nearby site of an application previously refused at Committee on 19 May 2008 due to noise concerns, was pointed out to Members.


Photographs were also shown to give context to the site and show its relationship to existing buildings and the open countryside beyond.


A further Noise Assessment had been submitted.  This had recommended various measures to mitigate potential noise problems from the road and from the Bowes’ site including enhanced glazing to the dwellings at the front of the site and measures to tackle noise from the plant at its source.  As both sites were in the applicants’ ownership it was possible to condition these measures.


With regard to the recreation provision it was proposed that only 25% would be met on site – with the provision of the children’s play area.  The other 75% of sports and playing field provision would be met off-site and the current proposal was for an area of approximately three acres at Saham Road to be transferred to Breckland Council and then on to Watton Town Council.  This land would fit well with Town Council plans to create a new park.


The District Valuer had been requested to confirm that this offer of land would sufficiently equate to the requirement.


Negotiations about when the land would be transferred had also taken place.  Normally the transfer would be triggered by the commencement of development.  However in this case the Town Council had asked for an earlier transfer and the applicants had agreed to this in principle.


In conclusion it was considered that this was a suitable site for housing and subject to conditions and a S106 legal agreement, the recommendation was for approval.  As the applicants were willing to transfer the land early they were requesting amendments to the other trigger points within the legal agreement.  The Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) suggested that the recreation provision should be the first requirement, followed by the affordable housing element, then education contributions and finally highway contributions.  He asked Members to confirm their agreement to this prioritisation of the requirements. 


Mr Wells, on behalf of the applicants, was present to answer questions and added that the possibility of an extension to the term of the permission had also been discussed.


Mr Horn and Mr Adcock, representing the Town Council, were excited about the chance of land in relation to the ‘Project Rainbow’ proposals for a new park.  Members were shown a plan of an indoor recreational facility that it was hoped would be built on the land, to provide the young people of Watton with somewhere to go and something to do.  The early availability of the land would enable a funding application to be submitted.


A Member said it was a shame that the application site was not to be kept as industrial.  He considered it a great loss to the town.  However, the Principal Planning Officer (Major Projects) explained that there was a significant shortage of housing land in Watton, whereas there were still vacant areas of industrial land and the remaining Bowes site had room for expansion.


Another Member felt that this was an ideal site for housing development.  He said it had always been under-used, was within the Settlement Boundary and complied with Policy requirements.  He thought it was exactly what Watton needed.


Approved, as recommended.


Members confirmed that they agreed with the priorities for the legal agreement outlined above.


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