To consider the report of the Assistant Director City Development.
The Assistant Director City Development presented the application for outline planning permission for 120 dwellings with associated infrastructure and open space (all matters reserved for future consideration apart from access).
Members were circulated with an update sheet - attached to minutes.
The Assistant Director City Development reported that two additional letters of objection had been received raising similar issues to those set out in the report and with reference also to flooding problems over the Christmas period. The Environment Agency had not objected, subject to the development proceeding in accordance with the submitted Flood Risk Assessment. The Devon Wildlife Trust had expressed concern that the proposal did not demonstrate that there would be no net loss of biodiversity. Further information was required relating to how much hedgerow would be lost and how much is proposed to be replaced to mitigate the impact. A site visit had been held.
Councillor Macdonald, having given notice under Standing Order No. 44, spoke on the item with reference to three circulated documents and photographs to back her statement. She supported the recommendation, requesting the refusal of the application and asking that, in addition to the reasons set out in the report, the following three additional reasons also be added:-
· no evidence that every existing source of potential flood-water was identified for consideration in the applicant’s calculations of what is needed to prevent the proposed development causing flooding;
· the applicant admits that its own calculations do not cover the entire site;
· balancing ponds are not suitable for use high up on a steep hillside area;
· the proposed solution is dependent on regular maintenance and there is no indication of who will carry this out;
· applicant does not recognise existing inadequacies of the rainwater capture and control system further downhill than Harrington Lane/Gardens;
· no offer of funding is made to sort out known flooding problems; and
· the applicant assumes that Devon County Council will take over the management of the ponds and crates.
She provided detailed evidence to back each of the above additional reasons for refusal including:-
Mr Wright spoke against the application. He raised the following points:-
· 126 letters of objection had been received to the scheme which is contrary to the Exeter Local Plan First Review which gives it important “Landscape” status, safeguarding Exeter’s distinctiveness and character;
· it is contrary to the Revised 2013 Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment where the Council has proved that there is enough housing to supply its needs;
· contradicts the recent planning refusal, on appeal, for just one dwelling nearby, the reasons stated for refusal including its proposed location on the ridge, the partial erosion of the landscape’s open character, the site is emphasised over the quarry and other developments which are not in a protected area and it would harm the character and appearance against Policy LS1 and CP16 in the Core Strategy;
· Church Hill is narrow, steep, on the ridge line and not conducive to people walking or cycling to school, work or shops;
· site access is poor and the proposed priority narrowing is impractical with high banks on either side making any improvements impossible. The access for emergency vehicle would also be less than ideal;
· there is little connectivity to public transport links;
· highways nearby are already unsafe, with dangerous parking outside the school and traffic congestion, chronic tailbacks and severe motorist frustration at the double mini roundabouts;
· the nearest bus and railway stations are too far for most people to walk, especially with a steep hill for the return trip;
· the RSPB had expressed concern that the development will cause harm to protected wildlife and the Devon Wildlife Trust are concerned at the loss of biodiversity habitat, particularly because of the presence of bats, including rare woodland Barbastelle Bats;
· the area suffers from significant flooding problems and the mitigation measures proposed by the developer do not go far enough; and
· to grant permission would give the green light to other unacceptable developments and significant developer land grabbing activity.
The recommendation was for refusal.
(1) outline planning permission for 120 dwellings with associated infrastructure and open space (all matters reserved for future consideration apart from access) be REFUSED for the following reasons:-
1) The proposal is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework 2012, Policies CP1, CP4 and CP16 of the Exeter Local Development Framework Core Strategy 2012, Saved Policies H1, H2 and LS1 of the Exeter Local Plan First Review 1995-2011, and policies DD9, DD21 and DD30 of the emerging Exeter Draft Development Delivery Development Plan Document 2013, because:
a) the proposal would harm the landscape setting of the city through development of protected land of particular importance to the setting of the city and of intrinsic landscape value in itself;
b) adequate information has not been submitted to demonstrate that the proposal is acceptable in terms of access and impact on the highway network; and,
c) it would set an undesirable precedent for other nearby residential development proposals that individually, or collectively, would harm the character of the area;
2) In the absence of a planning obligation in terms that are satisfactory to the Local Planning Authority, and which makes provision for a contribution towards affordable housing, the proposal is contrary to Exeter Local Development Framework Core Strategy 2012 Policy CP7, Exeter Local Plan First Review 1995-2011 Saved Policy H6 and Exeter City Council Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document 2013; and
(2) the Assistant Director City Development be granted delegated authority to add any further reasons for refusal after research into the issues raised by the Councillor attending under Standing Order No 44.