To consider the report of the Liveable Exeter Programme Director and Interim City Development Lead.
The Principal Project Manager (Development) (MH) presented the application for outline planning permission for the construction of up to 61 dwellings and associated infrastructure
With reference to photographs, illustrative plans and the relationship to the surrounding rural and urban areas and adjacent properties the Principal Project Manager referred to the following key issues:-
· the principle of development;
· affordable housing;
· impact on access, local highways, landscape, heritage assets;
· scale, design, impact on character and appearance; ecological issues/habitats mitigation;
· flood risk and surface water management;
· Sustainable Construction and Energy Conservation;
· Economic benefits and CI/Section 106; and
· visual impact on landscape setting – relevance of conclusions on importance of this site remaining undeveloped when previous development was considered on appeal.
The Principal Project Manager (Development) provided the following additional detail:-
· the relationship of the development to the neighbouring development currently under construction on land to the south. A singular access would be provided on the southern boundary of the site via this neighbouring development which would connect via the road network of that development onto Church Hill;
· the receipt of a series of slides provided by an objector showing the views of the site and the impact of the development from various vantage points from the neighbourhood, within the city and outside the city boundaries;
· the receipt of 93 objections;
· the submission of an e petition of over 2,000 signatures entitled – “Protect Green Infrastructure in Pinhoe” to be considered at the Council meeting on 21 July 2021;
· the impact the built development would have on the overall landscape character of the area both locally and a wider landscape setting, was a fundamental consideration as to whether the scheme was acceptable whilst also taking into account material planning considerations and the Council’s lack of a five year housing supply; and
· it was considered that the landscape quality of this valued site and the harmful intrusive visual impact created by the proposed housing development should be afforded greater weight, in this instance.
Councillor Harvey, having given notice under Standing Order No. 44, spoke on the item. He raised the following points:-
· welcome the recommendation for refusal;
· very strong opposition to the development in Pinhoe including the 93 objections;
· whilst issues of concern such as impact on the landscape and biodiversity and highway matters are important, of greater significance is the need to protect the Green Circle around Exeter for future generations;
· with no bus service proposed and with a considerable distance from retail outlets such as Sainsbury’s and a Spar shop it is not a sustainable development. Residents will need cars to access the shops as the distance to the development is too great to walk; and
· the development would not meet the Council’s ambitions to become a Carbon Free city.
Mr Michael Bennett spoke against the application. He raised the following points:-
· the proposed site, known locally as ‘Higher Field’, forms the beginning of Exeter’s Northern Hills, and as such is an important part of the City’s landscape setting;
· the ancient Pinhoe Church, an important city landscape feature, lies on the mid contour of Higher Field;
· the view is far reaching and to lose this amenity would be devastating to the Pinhoe community which has already lost so much green space to development;
· it is visible from many recreation points including Woodbury Common, Ludwell and Barley Valley Parks and points along the Green Circle;
· Higher Field offers a valuable habitat for many species. Mitigation measures cannot replace the balanced ecosystem this field supports;
· this application has galvanised a petition to Exeter City Council to provide formal protection of Pinhoe’s remaining green infrastructure which has registered over two thousand signatures;
· the recently adopted Exeter Transport Strategy outlines the ambition for 50% of trips to be made by walking or cycling but the applicant’s Transport Statement estimates only a 20% active travel split and expects the majority of journeys to be made by car. Residents are concerned that the sheer gradient of the location will deter even 20% from walking or cycling. There are also concerns regarding the traffic impact of further development in Pinhoe;
· flooding is a reality in Lower Pinhoe and the loss of another natural water management system will compound the problem. It is difficult to see how 61 new homes would outweigh the adverse impact on the local and wider community, when, in May 2021, the Council was able to demonstrate a housing supply of four years and seven months; and
· once this green fringe is lost, the impact on the city’s visual, ecological and human landscape is irreversible.
Members made the following comments:-
· the absence of an air quality assessment;
· unclear if the proposed mitigation measures would address possible problems of flooding;
· the Council’s current housing supply of four years and seven months is close to the five year housing supply guideline and there is therefore a better position than was the case in respect of the adjacent development to resist an appeal; and
· the impact on the ridge line on this northern area of the city is significant.
The recommendation was for refusal for the reasons set out in the report.
The recommendation was moved and seconded and carried unanimously.
RESOLVED that outline planning permission for the construction of up to 61 dwellings and associated infrastructure be REFUSED for the following reasons:-
1) The development would have a significant impact on the rural character of the area and landscape setting of the city by developing and urbanising a prominent ridgeline that will be visible from surrounding parts of the city and beyond. It will have a significant impact on the rural character of the Beacon Hill ridge and open undeveloped land forming part of the slopes above Pinhoe, which will detract from the landscape setting of this part of the city especially viewed from the south and south-west. The development is therefore contrary to the adopted development plan policies CP16 of the Exeter Core Strategy and saved Policy LS1 of the Exeter Local Plan First Review, and paragraphs 127(c) and 170 of the NPPF (2019). In regard to the presumption of sustainable development in the NPPF, it’s considered that the adverse impacts of the development on the rural character and distinctiveness of the area and landscape setting of the city would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of housing delivery on this site when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole.
2) In the absence of a Section 106 legal agreement in terms that are satisfactory to the Local Planning Authority which makes provision for the following matters:
· Affordable Housing
· Open space provision, maintenance and public access in perpetuity
· Education contributions
· GP provision contribution
· Highway/transportation related contributions
The proposal is contrary to Exeter Local Development Framework Core Strategy 2012 Objectives 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10, policies CP7, CP9, CP10, and CP18, Exeter Local Plan First Review 1995-2011 saved policies AP1, T1 and DG5, and Exeter City Council Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document 2014.