Minutes of the Planning Committee Meeting held on the 11th March 2013
Birdham Parish Council
Minutes of the Planning Committee of Birdham Parish Council
Held on Monday the 11th March 2013
At 8pm in Birdham Village Hall
Present: Cllr Tilbury (Chairman), Cllr Parks, Cllr Barker, Cllr Grafham, Cllr Cobbold (Vice Chairman).
Ex-Officio: Cllr Finch (Chairman of Council)
Apologies: There were none.
In attendance: The Clerk and 18 residents.
Prior to the start of the meeting the Chairman welcomed everyone and explained the process that the meeting would follow. He went on to outline the planning procedure and what part the Parish Council played in the whole process.
P16-12 Declarations of Interests:
There were no declarations of interest
P17-12 Planning Applications:
i) Applications to be decided.
a) BI/13/00284/FUL Mr John Matuszewski (Martin Grant Homes) Rowan Nursery Bell Lane Birdham
Demolition of existing 2 bungalows and construction of 27 dwellings (including 10 affordable units), access road and associated landscaping. Provision also of an alternative recreational area to the south, accessed via a footpath link.
Prior to opening the discussion the Chairman said that he would allow residents the opportunity to have three minutes each in which to make their points in favour for, or against the application.
A number of residents took the opportunity offered and their concerns are summarised below;
The area is prone to serious flooding as evidenced in June of 2012 and throughout the remainder of the 2012 and the start of 2013.
The foul water drains are incapable of coping with current development without adding any further.
The developers have said they intent to raise he height of the development which may well safeguard the new development but properties already in existence will be put at danger as a result.
The issues surrounding the A286 and traffic flows currently make it dangerous for existing residents to cross into the main village either by foot or car, any more will just add to the problem.
There are no doctors or dentists in Birdham.
There are concerns about the number of school places available.
There are additional concerns on noise and light pollution and the subsequent impact on wildlife.
Questions were raised about the methods of allocating the affordable housing.
There were concerns from residents in Bell Lane and Pipers Mead surrounding the method of dealing with water run-off into already saturated and overflowing ditches.
There have been many experiences of the foul water system becoming clogged and unable to cope to the extent that it has been impossible for some residents to flush their toilets.
Residents reported that foul water in the ditch system has seen an increase in the rat population.
Many reports of the pumping system turned off and untreated effluent flowing into the ditch system.
Some residents reported having written to CDC concerning the 3 ½ hour traffic queues experienced during the summer months with public transport being unable to progress.
At the conclusion of the residents opportunity to speak the Chairman offered the floor to Councillors.
Again in summary Councillors agreed with residents and added concerns of their own as below;
There appeared to be little or no thought about the accessibility of the potential new residents to the village and school.
The 1 in 100 year flooding events now seem to be more of 3 in 1 year event.
Concern was expressed about the impact on the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
The development was of a poor design in relation to the remainder of the village.
There is real concern about raising the land and the potential result of flooding.
The proposed development was attempting to change the shape of the village ahead of the Neighbourhood Plan.
There is real concern about the safety of children and residents crossing the A286.
Concerns were also expressed about the loss of the caravan storage and touring caravan business.
In detail the following statement was made.
This is an application to demolish two existing bungalows and construct 27 dwellings including 10 affordable units), an access road and associated landscaping and to make provision for an alternative recreation area to the south, accessed via a footpath link. The site lies outside the Birdham SPA but is contiguous with it on the north and eastern sides. It also lies approximately 0.3 miles south of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The character of this part of the village is transitional. The Parish Council’s strict defence of the SPA over the years has meant that Birdham has remained a compact village.
We were disappointed to find that, in the pack of papers supplied to us, there was not a copy of the Flood Risk Assessment. We were redirected to the website. On the Chichester District Council website the text of the report was available but none of the appendices. Similarly, the Tree Survey, while listing the trees in great detail, contained no map to enable us to identify trees. The Statement of Public Involvement highlights the weaknesses of not holding a public meeting.
The position of this site is such that it is subject to the District Council’s Interim Statement – Facilitating Appropriate Development. In the papers is a comment from the Council’s Planning Policy Adviser, written in August 2012 before the FAD document was revised and therefore the criteria numbers do not always match and are difficult to identify, because of the brevity of the comment. We are using the October 2012 version.
1-The site boundary is contiguous with a Settlement Policy Area [SPA] as identified in the Saved Policies of the Local Plan
2-The townscape and landscape character is conserved or enhanced, especially where the character of an area is specifically recognised, such as Chichester Harbour AONB and the South Downs National Park. There should be no adverse impact on the setting of the South Downs National Park or AONB or the purpose of conserving or enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park.
The key words in the criterion are “conserved and enhanced”. This part of the village has been the subject of incremental increase in the last sixty years which has resulted in a denser residential feel. This development will not enhance the town or landscape character and will certainly not conserve it but its effect will be mitigated by the enclosed nature of the site.
3-Archaeological sites, ancient monuments, listed buildings and other Heritage Assets (as defined in the glossary) and their settings are protected, in accordance with national guidelines and saved policies of the Local Plan.
The Parish Council notes that the applicant’s desk-based Heritage Assessment concludes that the development has a moderate potential for below-ground archaeological remains associated with a possible Roman road and a putative later prehistoric field system. It supports the comment of the Council’s Archaeology Officer that an archaeological investigation of the site by an appropriately qualified archaeologist should be carried out and results and finds published before any possible building works.
4-Biodiversity and protected species are conserved and enhanced in accordance with national guidelines, saved policies in the Local Plan, and the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan, especially within Pagham and Chichester Harbours (and other Special Areas of Conservation Areas; Special Protection Area’s; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Sites of Nature Conservation Importance) and the Medmerry Managed Realignment Scheme
The applicant offers two reports: an Ecological Appraisal and an Assessment of Potential Impacts on European Sites. Both are thorough pieces of work and we agree with the conclusions of the first document in paragraphs 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 on page 26 of the former document, and the some of the measures for mitigation in paragraphs 8.4 and 8.5 on page 20 of the latter document. However the Solent Disturbance and Mitigation Project has not yet reported and we would urge caution until that happens.
5-Existing natural features, such as watercourses, woodland, trees and hedgerows, which contribute to the existing landscape character, are retained wherever possible.
As mentioned above, the Tree Survey is thorough but the absence of any map makes it impossible to identify particular trees, especially the mixture of oaks and Monterey pines covered by a Tree Preservation Order. This would be of great importance when placing conditions on the protection of trees during any possible construction. Conditions to protect biodiversity during any possible construction work would be necessary here.
6-The site and proposed development are sustainable in transport terms. Sites where it is possible to walk easily to a range of facilities will be considered preferable to sites that are further away which would make car journeys into town/ village centres more likely.
The arguments on transport on the Manhood in general and on the A286 and its feeder roads in particular have been rehearsed frequently in recent years. The Transport Assessment is, as usual, based on what we regard as a flawed methodology in that it is too close-focussed on Bell Lane rather than the cumulative effect of other developments in the area. Bell Lane carries traffic not only from Birdham but from Bracklesham and East Wittering. A few hundred metres north of the site Bell Lane merges with traffic from West Wittering and West Itchenor. All of this traffic then uses a single road, the A 286, to access Chichester and the A27 trunk road. Developers have a habit of carrying out traffic surveys at times of the year when the flows are not typical. The TRICS assessment system is then applied, with all its “compensational” factors, on the basis of data derived from what the system believes to be comparable circumstances. In this case the comparisons are with edges of towns in Cumbria, Cheshire, East Ayrshire, Greater Manchester, the Highland Region of Scotland, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire and Worcestershire – with a nod to East Sussex. Birdham is in the highly-populated and mobile South East of England, close to a beach nationally recognised as being of outstanding quality and within 0.3 miles of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A recent survey showed two way movements of 7393 vehicles a day on Bell Lane alone. The hourly figures were remarkably even throughout the day. The claim is that there will be 10 traffic movements during peak hours from the 27 houses on the site. No figure is given for daily movements. It is claimed that this will be imperceptible to existing road users. We continue to dismiss this argument as it takes no account of the cumulative strain on the road infrastructure of the area. And in this particular case the statistics do not show the near standstills for four to five hours on any sunny day in the holiday season and particularly at weekends on the A286 through Birdham. The figures also fail to reveal that buses are trapped in these standstills (for example on July 24th 2012, when two hour delays were experienced according to the “technical expertise” of those trapped in it). Neither do they show the problems encountered by blue-light vehicles. The optimistic suggestions for cycling and walking are laughable to anyone who knows the dangers of any of the roads as they are at present. Presumably the poor peasants of Birdham were not meant to understand the hieroglyphics on pages 3 to 6 of the Appendix to the Transport Statement. In terms of access to and from the site there is no mention that residents of any new development here, including schoolchildren, will have to cross the A286 with its 40mph speed limit in order to get to virtually all of the village amenities. For many years there have been calls for a controlled crossing on the A286.
7-The likely impact of the development individually, or cumulatively, around the edges of a settlement does not result in the actual or perceived coalescence of Settlement Policy Areas (as defined by a SPA boundary identified in the Saved Policies of the Local Plan).
There will be no coalescence with the conservation area of Somerley.
8-The development is of a high quality, including its layout and design, and it properly addresses issues such as access, flooding, drainage, water quality, pollutants including noise and light, and should integrate successfully in design terms into the existing settlement character.
i) Design. The designs of the houses, despite the appeals to Sussex vernacular, are unremarkable and will contribute little of quality or style to the variety of village housing stock. The choice of materials makes nods in the direction of local materials. We certainly prefer warm brick. We assume that the flintwork will not be bought-in panels, as happened so disastrously at the Chichester Gate complex. The hanging tiles are a new element which differences this proposal somewhat from the bog-standard. We are surprised to see the number of chimneys on houses with high environmental credentials; there is no indication as to whether these are for open fires but there are fireplaces marked on the plans of the houses. (We are ambivalent about the false chimneys (some of them made of fibreglass) which have begun to appear locally) The colour palette needs to be carefully conditioned here too, to get away from stark white in a rural location.
ii) Sewerage. We have seen no confirmation from Southern Water that they will be able to accommodate the additional sewage at their Sidlesham Waste Water Treatment Works. The sewerage system throughout Birdham is less than satisfactory and frequently blocks at times of heavy rainfall because of the ingress of surface water. This has been particularly so in Bell Lane and especially since the building of Pipers Mead. Manholes leak sewage. The sewage pump in Pinks Lane often fails. We note that the intention is to raise the level of this proposed development to facilitate foul and surface water drainage. This was what was done at Pipers Mead and the problems began at the same time, with the result that a number of residents report that sewage backs up, and downstairs lavatories cannot be used. We understand that capital allocations for improvement to sewage facilities are agreed by Ofwat on a quinquennial basis so any improvement in the Bell Lane area will not be seen until 2018 at the earliest. The systems described for sealed sewerage units on the proposed development may well solve the problem on the site but will simply pass it on to the inadequate infrastructure further down the system
iii) Surface water drainage is a similar problem. A poorly-maintained ditch network designed for agriculture and two or three dwellings can no longer cope with the strains put upon it by development, and which are likely to get worse in summer and winter because of climate change. The intention to raise the site level in order to safeguard the new houses from the medium to high risk identified by the applicant’s consultants again ignores the downstream problems The suggestion is for the surface water to run off at a rate of 5 l/s into the ditches on the east and west of the site. Both of them drain eventually into the Earnley rife. This site and dwellings immediately adjacent to it were flooded last June with insurance claims of the order of £25,000, and some of them flooded again in December 2012. A proper assessment of the flooding problems of this area is now being undertaken jointly by all the parties involved, under the leadership of West Sussex County Council, and it would be unwise to pre-empt their conclusions. There is a Flood Action Group in Bell Lane and Bookers Lane, Earnley, and people have contributed their own money to improving the situation but there are still many problems to be solved.
iv) In a rural environment we must take account of light pollution, especially close to the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is therefore surprising that Sussex Police recommend that the parking court situated at the north west corner of the development be illuminated. Not only is this environmentally unfriendly but would involve a loss of amenity to residents of Pipers Mead. Perhaps the design needs to be looked at again.
9-There is a mix of housing sizes, types and tenures in accordance with the saved policies of the Local Plan and the Council’s Interim Statement on Affordable Housing.
We are content with the proposals for housing types. There is a need for smaller houses in this area. We assume that the guidance of the Rural Housing Enabling Officer will be followed in the size, siting and allocation of affordable housing. We expect the District Council to use the Rural Housing Allocation Policy to ensure that Birdham residents (as defined in saved policy H9) have preference, although we realize that this is not an exception site and they cannot be allocated in this way in perpetuity under present regulations.
10-Land should be used efficiently. Arbitrarily low density development in order to comply with the criterion 17 will not be acceptable. The density of housing should avoid harming the established character of the settlement.
We have some misgivings on the density of the development which is out of line with adjacent properties.
11-The proposal does not result in the material net loss of existing sport, recreational or open space including that in private ownership.
A unique feature of this development is the new recreational space accessed by a new footpath. This is to comply with the District Council’s Statement on Bird Disturbance in Chichester and Langstone Harbours as well as to provide recreational space for the residents of the proposed development. This seems to us to be misconceived in at least three respects. Firstly, it is suggested that people from outside the development will seek out this recreational area to walk their dogs. People come to walk their dogs in this area to enjoy the natural rural environment, not an artificial one with suburban overtones. Secondly, dog bins are only emptied by the District Council’s team if they are close to highways for ease of access. Thirdly, it is claimed by Sussex police that the space is overlooked on three sides by dwellings; it is not – even with a telescope or binoculars – and parents will not be happy for their children to play there unsupervised. There is also the question of upkeep. We assume that a management company/ residents association will be formed to take responsibility for the public spaces on this proposal but those arrangements must be in place before any development is undertaken. An alternative arrangement would be a section 106 agreement to cover maintenance costs for the next twenty years.
12-Sites that have been artificially subdivided to limit the proposal to a first phase of a larger development in order to comply with criterion 17 will not be acceptable.
It has not.
13-The proposal is not constrained by the needs for significant off-site infrastructure (as defined in the glossary) which may not be forthcoming but makes suitable provision for meeting needs in accordance with theSupplementary Planning Guidance Note ‘The Provision of Service Infrastructure Related to New Development in Chichester District – Part 2’ (December 2004).
We have highlighted above the problems of infrastructure on this site. It will take time to satisfy local people that these concerns have been addressed. To that extent this proposal must be constrained by the need for significant expenditure on infrastructure, which may not be forthcoming within the time frame.
14-Environmental quality is not compromised and high standards of sustainable construction are expected as well as the inclusion of the highest feasible levels of renewable and low carbon energy generation; and water and energy efficiency in accordance with the Council’s Interim Policy Statement on Planning and Climate Change.
See 8i above
15-The proposal complies with the provisions of any other Interim Policy Statements adopted by the Council and the Environment Agency.
See 11 above.
16-Demonstration of deliverability and the intention to develop will be required to support planning applications and to help enable the Council to resist applications for less suitable sites. Applicants must be prepared to accept time limited permissions of 2 years from granting of planning permission. Where a planning permission is not implemented within the time limit, it should not be presumed that the permission will be renewed.
The ability to deliver within the two year time frame is compromised by infrastructure delivery
17-The scale of the development should be appropriate to the Settlement Policy Area. As a guide, this is likely to mean sites of up to about 100 units adjoining Chichester City; up to about 50 units adjoining the settlement hubs of East Wittering & Bracklesham, Selsey, Southbourne and Tangmere; and up to about 25 units adjoining other Settlement Policy Areas. In deciding whether the scale is appropriate, account will be taken of extant unimplemented permissions for the Settlement Policy Area concerned.
The plan meets this criterion.
18-The impact of the development individually, or cumulatively, does not prejudice comprehensive long term development, such as may be set out in the emerging Local Plan.
The Draft Local Plan Key Policies – Preferred Approach was discussed in the Cabinet of the Chichester District Council and later in full Council today. Birdham Parish as a whole has been acknowledged by the District Council as an area preparing a Neighbourhood Plan. When complete, the Neighbourhood Plan will form part of the District Plan. The indicative planning housing number for Birdham for the period to 2029 is 50 and the Draft Plan states clearly in paragraph 4.41 that it is intended that the identification of sites and phasing of delivery will be determined primarily by local communities through a neighbourhood planning process. We would therefore contend that this proposal is premature. To approve a development now which may take up half of the housing allocation for Birdham for the next fifteen years will prejudice not only comprehensive long term development but also run the risk of that development taking place in on a site which will not emerge from the local consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan as a preferred site.
Economy. The economy of the Manhood is based on tourism and agriculture/horticulture. Many of the jobs are seasonal and have led people to question the need for housing development of a permanent nature in an area where there is no extra employment opportunity and where those seeking work will have to drive off the Peninsula. Rowan Nursery was originally a nursery and has been a caravan site and caravan store in recent years. The Draft Plan of the District Council identifies the need at paragraph 6.28 to demonstrate that tourist and leisure development is no longer required and that genuine attempts have been made over an extended period to market the site for such uses. No such attempt has been made here. This proposal would result in a loss of provision for touring caravans and for caravan storage when there is a proven demand in this locality and would be contrary to paragraph 25 of the NPPF. Nor have other sites been sought in the surrounding area. At paragraph 6.40 the Draft Plan also sets out an expectation that large scale horticultural operations will not occur in the Sidlesham and Almodington HDAs. We would contend that there is the opportunity in Bell Lane for small scale/market garden operations to be brought back into being with careful thought and planning and that this will preserve the environment of the west Manhood better than housing development.
Housing development on the Tawny Nursery site on the other side of Bell Lane was refused permission by the Chichester District Council’s Planning Officers for a number of reasons which apply equally to this site. It is in a peripheral location, relatively remote from the village core and its facilities, and therefore poorly integrated with the existing settlement. Development here would also signal a change to the shape of the village which would have repercussions for social integration. This development is premature because we await the Solent Disturbance and Mitigation Report and the ongoing efforts of all local interests to solve the severe surface water drainage problems of the area. The recommendations of the West Sussex County Council Highways Department on developments in this area have recently been rejected twice by the Development Management Committee (South) of Chichester District Council because local people now have no confidence in these desk-based exercises with their flawed methodology compared with the daily experience of local people. The infrastructure problems on transport and sewerage have been grossly underestimated and are probably not solvable within the time frame of this proposal. This development, by its scale, is premature because it will compromise the Local and Neighbourhood Plans and the ability of the local community to determine the future development of the village.
These problems are so fundamental to this proposal that, despite the pressures of the NPPF, Birdham Parish Council has no option but to OBJECT to this proposal.
b) BI/13/00317/DOM Mr Colin Sturch The Grange (Formerly St Christophers) Main Road Birdham
To construct a bedroom on the first floor immediately on top of an existing sitting room in place of a balcony terrace area.
This is an application to construct a bedroom on the first floor immediately on top of an existing sitting room, in place of a balcony terrace area. The dwelling lies outside the Birdham SPA and outside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Grange (formerly known as St Christopher’s) is on the south side of the main road at Birdham and is a substantial building which has been extended piecemeal over the years. The application is effectively to add a first floor to the rear of the building in place of a single storey extension used as a sitting room. This would provide an extra bedroom with en suite facilities. Since it is at the rear of the building it would be invisible from the main road. From the public footpath to the west the building would increase in mass but we do not consider this to be excessive as it would lend some symmetry to the building. There is no fenestration on the east elevation which faces towards the nearest neighbours, and the neighbours to the rear are approximately fifty metres away and there is an established hedge between the properties. The materials will match the existing house.
Birdham Parish Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
c) BI/13/00655/DOM 1 Pipers Mead, Birdham
Single storey addition.
This is an application to make a single storey extension to the north side of this property and to convert the garage into a study and store. It lies outside the Birdham SPA and outside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Parish Council has NO OBJECTION to the extension although we would prefer to see less use of white on the windows and the cladding to the pitch.
However we OBJECT to the conversion of the garage. Each house on this estate is provided with a garage and a parking space and this has proved adequate for the needs of the residents. The only visitor parking space on the estate is outside the house which is the subject of this application. We cannot take into account simply the circumstances of the present residents and suspect that at some point the visitor space will be used by the future residents of number 1. There is no other space and parking on the main B2179 is not an option.
It was resolved to instruct the Clerk to notify the Planning Authority of the decisions reached.
3- Delegate decisions to be noted.
a) BI/12/04458/PLD Mr Gary Burn 1 Bell Lane Birdham
Single storey side and rear extension, one new soak away in rear gardens and alteration to the existing foul drain. REFUSE
b) BI/12/04564/FUL Mr And Mrs Oliver Moorings Westlands Estate Birdham
Variation of conditions 2 and 3 of planning permission BI/12/02739/FUL to enable the use of alternative materials. PERMIT
c) BI/13/00039/DOM Mr Michael King 9 Longmeadow Gardens Birdham
Extension of existing detached garage. PERMIT
It was resolved to note the delegated decisions.
P18-12 Date of next meeting.
To be advised
There being no further business to discuss the meeting closed at 9.30pm
Signed ___________________________ Dated ____________________