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Sharphill development planning committee - speech by Rod Jones

September 29, 2017 10:51 AM
By Rod Jones

Sharphill aka Melton Rd. Outline Planning Application for 600 dwellings, Primary
School, Community Park and associated matters.

Ref: 17/00941/OUT.

Considered at Planning Committee on 14 th September 2017

Speech by Liberal Democrat Councillor Rod Jones

[with notes on other comments].

The principle of development is established and I do not like it but we are where we are. I
am pleased that 30% of dwellings are to be 'affordable' - there is a large need for rented
social housing. I hope that, unlike the recent Wilford Lane plan, affordable housing will be
dispersed in clusters throughout the estate not clumped in one place.

This being an outline application, makes it a puzzle for Members of the Committee and the
public to know what is being set in stone and what isn't. There are a lot of indicative plans
and I have comments on the plans put before us which I want to highlight for Members and
Officers- indicatively of course.


Musters Rd access & transport

I recognise that the developers have now got back in line with the requirement and say that
Musters Rd access will be confined by an automatic barrier solely to vehicles which are
buses and emergency vehicles.

Condition 4 still leaves the details to be submitted but avoids the mention of barriers and or
cameras as a means of control. I am told that the County still prefer cameras but residents
will want a requirement and assurance that any barrier is required for the lifetime of the
dwellings and that enforcement is tenacious. [Officers pointed out that condition 4 required
the means of control to be "maintained for the life of the development."]

A suitable area on the development side of the barrier for buses to pass each other and
other vehicles to turn with unmistakeable signage, is essential and I am assured that the
details are required to provide this.

The Transport Statement with this application was dated January and was based, contrary
to requirements, on a cut through route through Muster Rd. Q. Should an up to date
Transport Assessment be required showing the changed impact on the junctions with
Melton Road between Boundary Rd and the A52?


Environment & Impact

The Planning Inspector, who last looked at the area, laid great store on the protection of the
Wood and surrounding environment. This proposal takes properties to within some 40
metres of the Wood- this is cat striking distance. The Barrister for the developers in the
Planning Hearing recognised the environmental impacts, which includes loss of habitat for
some red listed birds, by stating that the badgers had a choice - they could relocate to the
west of the wood.

So I am surprised that para 6 states that an environmental impact assessment is not needed.

Q. Can you explain this especially as one such assessment is listed in condition 3 as having
been provided.

The applicant has submitted plans for substantial fencing and planting proposals but these
are not commented upon in the report which is silent on whether they are satisfactory or
needing improvement.

There are welcome plans for lighting to minimise skyglow and for bird boxes and bat boxes
to the provided on properties near the wood. These are covered in the conditions.

Q can the proposed bird and bat boxes simply be moved by incoming residents?

[It was later stated that they could be built into the structure of dwellings.]

I am pleased to see that condition 15 requires, in common with all the parcels of the estate,
both a landscaping scheme and a plan for the ongoing management and maintenance of the
common areas which includes the surface drainage areas. I hope that the Officers will insist
that this management company includes future residents in its structure not least because
they will be paying a considerable annual service charge. [Officers confirmed that residents
were to be on the board of the management committee.]

There is no comment in the report from Severn Trent. I can inform Members that they have
met a couple of residents and acknowledge there will be foul sewer capacity problems
lower down in West Bridgford. Severn Trent have said, that assuming the developers and
their pumping stations do as planned, this will require a pumping station at Etham Rd and a
holding tank in Valley Rd. Residents consider that the route for foul sewage from the estate
should go straight to Melton Rd and not through, as planned, through low lying Edwalton
Lodge Close. I would ask that officers pursue these issues so that this development does not
cause existing residents on Edwalton Lodge Close and elsewhere to suffer.

The opinion of the Flood Authority in the report understandably focuses on surface water
run- off from the slopes towards Edwalton Lodge Close and Melton Rd. I think it has not
addressed the run off on the north facing slope which will join the drains connecting with
Boundary Rd and downstream. In some roads downstream, storm surges already lead to
flooding and occasional discharge of sewage. I ask Officers that, in the detailed stage, seek
remedies for the northbound discharges of both surface and foul water. [It was pointed out
that the indicative plan showed a swale for excess surface water located in the northern
section to the west of the spine road. I pointed out that this was uphill from some of the
proposed housing and could not deal with all run off.]


Community Park

The Community Park - not as generous as it once was - is an area of serious slopes with
views over the conurbation and proposed to be planted with grass and wildflower mixes.
This is an area with several rights of way which the applicant's plans show and to their credit
look to plan more paths and cycle ways connecting to the development. This area is already
well frequented by dogs, walkers and runners and perhaps in future by the relocated
wildlife. In any event the steep slopes make this unsuited to any play for children such as
ball games. The plans show that the developer envisages an area of allotments and an
orchard. But these and boundary treatment are not mentioned in the report.

Proposed condition 1. There should be an addition to the conditions to the effect that
details should be submitted to the Council for approval of an area of allotments together
with appropriate store and secure boundary treatment and for an area of community
orchard. [Officers said that this was to be contained in the detailed application.]

In recent weeks an old grenade was unearthed in the proposed parkland and disposed of by
the bomb squad. It probably escaped the notice of the applicant's archaeology survey. This
area was used by the Home Guard in the 2nd WW. Elsewhere the specialist report notes that
there is evidence medieval ploughing and iron-age fragments.

So I fully support the extra condition which Mr Marshall has proposed in the meeting to the
effect that if, during excavations, any historic remains are found that, excavation in that
location should cease and an archaeologist report required.


Play Provision for children and young people

Whilst the slopes of the Park and allotments are great for adults, the opportunities for
young people provided on the total estate are negligible. The Council is plain wrong in using
a financial contributions to Gresham Fields. Gresham already includes a state of the art
floodlit football pitch and six full-sized and a further all-weather surfaced football pitches.
There are the high quality changing facilities and extensive car parking and the sports
pavilion. There is no space for more pitches. It is over 3 miles away from this estate by road
or bike. This is no use to kids on the new estate. Whilst this is not in the gift of the Planning
Committee, it is in the gift of this Council. I suggest to Councillors on Cabinet that the
contributions from all developers for playing fields should be invested in providing a playing
field plot with this developer on this site.

The provision of money for an all-weather pitch for Rushcliffe Academy to offset their
greater number of pupils, is also no use for teenagers on this estate. That pitch is within the
School's fenced off grounds and only accessed through formal costly bookings.

Teenagers need an area to kick a ball and mess around. There is a play area proposed next
to the primary school but it is designed to cover all ages and is tiny (an area equivalent to 20
mtrs by 10 mtrs). The proposed plan fills it with 14 items of equipment and seating. It
includes a 5 aside type goal adorned with a basketball hoop with a space which looks to be
around a third of the play area. This is roughly the area from the wall in line with the
chairman's chair to my left arm (9 mtrs by 10 mtrs). This is not big enough. No self-
respecting teenager come football enthusiast would be seen dead in such a small space.
This is the sole provision throughout all the other sectors of this site for teenagers to
exercise!

I am aware that this is indicative and that further details of the proposed NEAP have to be
submitted to the Council. I am indicating that those details should include a larger and
ideally separate, area appropriate for young people to play football or other ball games.

There are as yet no plans showing where staff for the 2 form entry primary school will park
nor plans which reduce the impact of drop-offs and pick-ups. The NEAP may generate some
parking in the same area and this should be in the planning mix.
I now turn to scale and landscape which in some ways are the most serious issues.


Scale

The Site History section of the report identifies that the number of dwellings for the 3
approved sites are 929 plus another 54 on east of Melton Rd. This application for up to 600
would take the total to 1,583. With 2 more zones allocated on top of that number.

The plans for all these dwellings provide no community run centre, no onsite health
provision, no church or church hall, no shops, and no Waitrose is in sight. There is no day
centre where the community can gather. My concern is that this is another soulless
expanse of housing.

Para 74 states the Primary School will include a Hall which will also be available for
Community Use and condition 28 requires details of this. I just don't believe this will work
in practice nor be open or relevant enough. [Later points were made strongly by other
Members that there were obstacles to multi-use -namely 'safeguarding', caretakers hours,
primacy of use and bookings.]

New schools are required to be either Academies or free schools. They will determine the
use of the premises and land they own. You only need to look at the sports halls and the
grounds of Rushcliffe Academy, once publicly owned and open out of school hours to the
public leisure services and, since Academisation, these are now exclusively run and booked
through by a Sports Management Company under contract to save the School expenditure.
I am opposed to such an area of dwellings with no daytime accessible community hall or
centre. Given the scale of dwellings, I propose that there should be an independent centre
where residents can develop playgroups, support and activity groups, lunch clubs, memory
cafes, guides, scouts, youth clubs and hold social events.

[The point was made that Planning Officers were working to the SPFD and the S106 was
made to conform to this. I suggested that the Council would receive money designated in
the SPFD for Gresham Fields and also from the sale of the land and surely it could find a way
to provide a community hall/centre and a better play area if need be.
Other Cllrs stated that future residents needed separate accessible community hall facilities,
meet the Council's strapline and hoped that if a detailed application came in with this as
they would prefer not to have to reject the application.]

Landscape and Impact on Existing Properties. The Planning Inspector [and local residents]
laid great store on the view of the ridgeline which can be seen from places in Rushcliffe and
the conurbation. The previous plan had the ridge road dug in to reduce the gradient. In
previous plans there was a serious border between any development and new housing.
The adjoining residents of Musters Rd, Boundary Rd, Willow Rd and Bracey Drive were
individually visited and consulted about a wide boundary planting.

There would be no houses towering or overlooking these properties and no flashing lights
cars from dwellings above them. Yet the site layout drawing [30713 SK01A] which is listed
as a requirement in condition 3 shows that dwellings would be higher and very close to and
severely damage the amenity and privacy of the adjoining properties.

This site layout drawing is unacceptable in its impact on existing dwellings, in the lack of
detail about the height of dwellings which will dominate the skyline and the absence of
turning, parking and adequate play areas. The wording of Condition 3 looks like giving
detailed approval to this site drawing. I appreciate that the word 'broadly' has just been
added. But this drawing is so unacceptable that I suggest that in planning terms it should be
noted and another acceptable one required at the detailed stage.

[The points having been made including by other Councillors and stated as noted for further
action; no change was made to the report and its recommendations. It was passed by 9
votes with 2 against.]

Cllr Rod Jones