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Agenda item

Proposed Residential Development Land, Worthen, Shropshire, SY5 9HT (14/00398/OUT)

Outline application (access and footpath) for phased mixed residential development; formation of vehicular access and new footpath.


The Principal Planner introduced the application and confirmed that Members had undertaken a site visit that morning to view the site and assess the impact of the proposal on the surrounding area.  With reference to the drawings displayed, he drew Members’ attention to the indicative layout, proposed access arrangements and topography.  A new access would be created off the B4386 Shrewsbury-Montgomery Road and a new 300m stretch of pedestrian pavement would also be provided on the applicant’s land along the frontage of the development, to improve local accessibility.  He confirmed that the application was in outline, with all matters reserved.  The proposal was for a mix of generally modest two-three bedroomed family homes designed to meet an identified local need and intended for ‘open market’ sale.  The applicant had recently confirmed that the development would be phased to prevent market over-supply. All would have adequate parking, turning areas and good sized gardens. The proposed site was at a lower level than the road and some two storey dwellings could potentially be considered with bungalows nearest the road.  It was proposed that foul drainage would go to the existing mains sewer. 


With reference to policy, the Principal Planner explained that the emerging SAMDev did not allocate the site. It advised that a total of 30 new homes would be accommodated as infill developments within the wider community cluster which incorporated Worthen and the adjacent village of Brockton.  However, the SAMDev had not yet been adopted and there was less than 5 years housing supply in Shropshire.  Planning decisions must therefore be taken in accordance with the NPPF which suggested that housing schemes should be approved if they were considered to be sustainable.


The Principal Planner explained that the Parish Council had objected on grounds of non-compliance with planning policy, flooding and highway safety.   Consultation had been undertaken and was as detailed in the report.  Clarification had been requested on whether the pavement scheme would include a safe crossing point. The Council’s archaeology section had requested a prior survey as there has been no previous archaeological research in the area. It was considered however that this was capable of being addressed fully at the reserved matters stage and an appropriate condition had been recommended.  An affordable housing contribution and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) pavement would be due. There had been no objections from the Council’s drainage and ecology sections.  Highway officers had indicated verbally that they had no objections and had provided further clarification on the footpath proposals for the area, which the current scheme would assist in delivering. Thirty objections had been received from local residents and the main concerns related to non-compliance with planning policy, sewerage, flooding highway safety and loss of amenity.


With reference to drainage, the Principal Planner explained that balancing facilities could be provided to prevent increased run-off so flooding of Worthen Brook would not be exacerbated.  In terms of sewerage connection, this must be provided statutorily if Severn Trent agreed to accept the effluent from the site.


The Principal Planner further explained that the indicative layout supported the conclusion that a sensitive design need not impact adversely on surrounding amenities in this sloping field location.  An archaeological investigation could be undertaken satisfactorily at the reserved matters stage. It was considered that the proposed pedestrian footway significantly enhanced the overall sustainability of the scheme.  There was currently no such footway between the nearby settlements of Brockton and Worthen and a number of significant community facilities were located in the intervening area. The current scheme represented the only way of delivering a major part of the footway project as the land required was in the applicant’s ownership.  Key community facilities were located to the north of the highway so a crossing point was required as part of the wider footpath scheme which the Council as Highways Authority was seeking to progress. Officers had requested that the applicant provided an additional financial contribution towards the cost of this crossing point and an appropriate legal clause was recommended.  However, the applicant had also pointed out that the scheme will generate significant CIL revenues and that it would be possible in principle to fund the crossing point out of this revenue stream instead.  If members were minded to approve the application it was recommended that a caveat be added to the legal clause to the effect that unless the Council agrees that the crossing point could be funded from CIL revenues that the legal agreement requirement remains.  He requested that delegated authority be given to Officers to impose a suitable phasing condition on any permission.


In conclusion, the Principal Planner explained that whilst the application might not comply with the emerging SAMDev it was considered that it would generally be sustainable and that accordingly the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in the NPPF should apply. The benefits which the proposed footpath would yield to the local community, in allowing improved pedestrian access to community facilities between the 2 settlements should be noted.  Accordingly, Planning Officers were therefore recommending approval subject to the recommended conditions and legal agreement.


Mr M Trevillion, a local resident, spoke against the proposal in accordance with the Council’s Scheme for Public Speaking at Planning Committees, during which the following points were raised:


·         The proposal would impact greatly on his outlook and south-facing aspect of his property;

·         He expressed concerns with regard to the drainage and its ability to cope with further development.  The land was continuously saturated and the soakaway would remain full.  A proper pumping system should be installed;

·         Access to the site was just before the brow of the hill and the road was subject to many speeding drivers;

·         The slope of the site was very severe;

·         The nature of the development would be out of character with the area;

·         The development was contrary to the Parish Plan and exceeded the agreed target figure of 25 homes for the area.


Councillor P Davis, representing Worthen with Shelve Parish Council, spoke against the proposal in accordance with the Council’s Scheme for Public Speaking at Planning Committees, during which the following points were raised:


·         The proposal would be contrary to their Parish Plan, which had been approved following extensive work over a number years;

·         30 objections had been made by local people – their opinions should be heard;

·         A preference for a housing mix of two and three bedroomed properties and bungalows had been expressed.  This should be achieved with infill housing not estates and large scale development;

·         Planning applications had already been approved for the area and there were others in the pipeline;

·         The proposal would be out of character for the area;

·         The developer did not own all the land so would not be able to deliver the footpath.


Mr G Maxfield, the agent, spoke for the proposal in accordance with the Council’s Scheme for Public Speaking at Planning Committees, during which the following points were raised:


·         Shropshire Council could not demonstrate a five year land supply;

·         The proposal would provide sustainable open market and affordable housing;

·         The proposed traffic calming measures and crossing would act as a speeding prohibitor;

·         The site would provide affordable housing located close to a doctors surgery, village hall and school etc; and

·         The location was sustainable.


In response to questions from Members, Mr Maxfield provided clarification on what land was in the ownership of the applicant and location and extent of the footpath.


In accordance with Council Procedure Rules (Part 4, Paragraph 6.1) Councillor Mrs H Kidd, as local Member, participated in the discussion and made a statement against the proposal but did not vote. She commented that the community, after an extensive consultation exercise, had expressed a desire for infill development; a crossing would have to be installed at the western end of the village; the brook flooded frequently; the field sloped very steeply; and the proposed dwellings would be out of character with the main housing in that area being single dwellings running along the side of the road.  She expressed concerns that the proposals could increase the level of strain on local sewerage and drainage capacity and hoped that the Parish Plan would be afforded sufficient weight. 


In response to questions from Members, Councillor Mrs H Kidd provided clarification on the number of existing houses in the village, the distance between Worthen and Brockton and the public transport links.  She commented that if the development did go ahead she would prefer the dwellings to run alongside the main road and be in keeping with the houses on the opposite side of the road.


In the ensuing debate, Members commented that the site would not be balanced or sustainable and suggested that the opposite end of the field would be more preferable for development.  They acknowledged that progress had already been made in fulfilling and providing the quota of housing in the area and expressed concerns regarding the ability of the drainage to cope with additional dwellings.


In response to comments from Members, the Principal Planner reiterated that in the current sub-five year land supply situation decisions should be taken on whether a development would be sustainable; it was not for Members to determine if other sites would be more preferable; no objections had been received from consultees with regard to drainage; appropriate landscaping would integrate the site with the existing vernacular buildings; the site was considered to be sustainable in terms of drainage and sewerage; and traffic calming measures would be installed.




That, contrary to the Officer’s recommendation, planning permission be refused for the following reason:


·                The proposed development would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the character and setting of the rural area and so would not be sustainable.  In particular:


(i)        It would result in an unbalanced distribution of development between the settlements of Worthen and Brockton and is contrary to the Worthen with Shelve Parish Plan;

(ii)       It would fail to promote or reinforce the local distinctiveness of the area; and

(iii)      The proposed built form would not reflect the scale and proportions of the existing nearby housing.

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