Agenda item

Planning Application No. 22/0537/OUT - Land at St. Bridget Nursery, Exeter

To consider the report of the Director City Development.




The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) presented the outline planning application for the demolition of existing buildings and structures and the phased development of up to 350 dwellings and associated infrastructure and open space. (All matters reserved except access).


The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) described the location of the site through photos, aerial views, an illustrative layout plan and drawings and its relationship to the adjacent road network.


The report also setting out the following key elements:-


·         the principle of development;

·         access and impact on local highways;

·         parking;

·         noise from A379;

·         impact on trees, biodiversity and air quality;

·         affordable housing;

·         contaminated land;

·         archaeology; 

·          flood risk and surface water management;

·         sustainable construction and energy conservation;

·         CIL/Section106, and

·         Development Plan, Material Considerations and Presumption in favour of sustainable development. 


The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) advised that:-


·         the proposal was to develop up to 350 dwellings on the site, including 35% affordable homes, together with supporting infrastructure and open space, following the demolition of the existing buildings and structures;

·         whilst an illustrative layout plan had been submitted, it was for information purposes only, and the final layout of the scheme, together with all other detailed design considerations, including open space and landscaping, would be subject to future reserved matters applications; and

·         in assessing the outline application and access the proposal was considered to be a sustainable development when balancing the Development Plan policies, National Planning Policy Framework 2021 (NPPF) policies, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11, National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG), and the constraints and opportunities of the site; and

·         the recommendation was for approval, subject to a Section 106 Agreement and the conditions as set out in the report.


The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) provided details on highway matters:-


·         in terms of access, a new road was proposed through the site, with alterations at both the western and eastern sides;

·         vehicle access to the site would be from Rydon Lane onto the new main street with closure of access through Old Rydon Lane from the west. Exits from the site would be at the Rydon Lane access point and a new access onto Old Rydon Lane (heading east) which would become a one-way street;

·         two secondary access points would be created onto Old Rydon Lane, as well as use of the existing access point (exit only). The section of Old Rydon Lane between these access points would be downgraded to a ‘green lane’; and

·         there could be a potential connection on the northeast site boundary to the adjoining undeveloped land and a pedestrian/cycle connection to the existing cycle route to the north to be secured in the Section 106 legal agreement to improve site permeability/connectivity.


The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) provided the following concluding points:-


·         the site was allocated for residential in the Local Plan, the Core Strategy, the Newcourt Masterplan and the draft Exeter Plan;

·         access points are not considered to generate significant safety concerns, with suitable capacity on Rydon Lane and improvements to Old Rydon Lane for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Potential for access to the north-east in future would further improve this;

·         affordable Housing of 35% to be secured via a Section 106 agreement;

·         noise impacts may occur from Rydon Lane, however mitigation is proposed and is considered acceptable in principle, subject to further details at Reserved Matters;

·         there were a number of trees on-site. Protection or mitigation measures will be dealt with at Reserved Matters; and

·         flood risk can be managed on site through swales and basins with full design at Reserved.


The following responses were given to Members’ queries:-


·         the County Council transport team would examine the bus route through the estate as part of Reserved Matters to ensure that the route linked appropriately to other City bus routes and that there would be sufficient space within the estate to accommodate bus movements;

·         similarly, pedestrian and cycle routes would be determined at Reserved Matters stage with linkage to the land to the north east in the event that this was also brought forward for development;

·         as part of planning applications, the highway team examine traffic accident statistics over the previous five years which had shown three personal accident injuries in that period;

·         the through road in the estate would relieve traffic pressure on Old Rydon Lane;

·         the status of the land to the north east of the site was not part of this planning application and it was not the responsibility of the County Council highways team to negotiate with third parties;

·         it was not possible to compare average traffic movements on similar junctions elsewhere in the County;

·         the Highway Authority had been consulted on the proposal and, having assessed the submitted Transport Assessment and associated drawings, considered that the proposal would not generate severe impacts on the local network and had raised no objections to the development;

·         the trees on the proposed main entrance and the two other entrances were of lower quality. Their future and final numbers would be determined at Reserved Matters stage as part of the landscaping scheme;

·         the play areas to be provided would cater for all ages; and

·         the proposed dwelling number of 350 was greater than the figure of 334 set out in the Local Plan and had been set to accommodate a mix of house types, appropriate garden size and green open space. This figure could change should there be on-site restrictions.


Councillor Ellis-Jones, having given notice under Standing Order No. 44, spoke on the item. He raised the following points:-


·         appreciate the need to meet the five year housing supply target and that the site is allocated for development in the Local Plan and the Newcourt Master Plan;

·         the proposal to alter the Old Rydon Lane and Rydon Lane junction and create a new road leading into the site will create dangerous traffic conditions;

·         there have been two near fatal traffic accidents, one in the last four weeks and one three years ago;

·         the proposal for a one way system into Holland Park will create a rat run elsewhere on the network;

·         a suitable alternative would be to secure access onto the A379 at the Newcourt Way roundabout and the offer of the third party to accommodate this should be examined; and

·         concern regarding the removal of condition 8 and its incorporation into the Section 106 Agreement relating to the requirement for agreement of any Traffic Regulation Order.


Responding to a Member, he detailed the route of the bus service through the local network and the Newcourt estate.


The Chair reported the following points made by Councillor Leadbetter who had apologised for being unable to attend the meeting under Standing Order No. 44 and wished to comment in his capacity as a County Councillor, asking that the application be turned down:-


·         the views of the residents, who have the necessary local knowledge and have highlighted the dangers of using the access off Rydon Lane should be supported;

·         there is another access available and offered up which has been provided for this development and the developer needs to facilitate this;

·         it is unacceptable that residents of Old Rydon Lane will lose the ability to turn out of their road onto Rydon Lane; and

·         this application should be refused, or deferred to allow further discussions on the road access.


The Principal Project Manager (Development Management) (CC) provided the following concluding points:-


·         the proposed development was considered to be acceptable. The site fell within the Newcourt strategic allocation (Policy CP19), which had been proposed for around 3,500 dwellings (which this development will contribute towards), employment land and associated infrastructure. In effect, the principle of allowing housing on this site had already been established through the adoption of this policy. The proposal was also consistent with the Newcourt Masterplan (2010), which indicated residential development on this part of the strategic allocation area. Furthermore, whilst it carries very limited weight at present, the site was allocated for housing (334 dwellings) in the new Exeter Plan (unadopted); and

·         the access proposals were considered to be acceptable, subject to securing additional links in a Section 106 legal agreement, to enhance the connectivity of the scheme to its surroundings. The Section 106 Legal Agreement must also secure 35% affordable housing and various other infrastructure.


Members expressed the following views:-


·         whilst the principle of development is accepted there is much concern regarding the access points, the impact on the existing road network and road safety. It is not a car free development, the detail of pedestrian and cycle provision is unclear and there are also question marks regarding public transport. The developer should be asked to think again;

·         Old Rydon Lane residents note the principle of development but have serious concerns regarding road safety;

·         the offer from a third party to help secure a safer access onto the A379 should be considered;

·         the status of Old Rydon Lane as a “green lane” will be finally lost with the provision of 350 dwellings;

·         given the concerns around traffic safety, further consultation should be undertaken to examine alternative options for the highway network and the access to the site. Alternative options, if supported at outline stage, could be incorporated into the reserve stage application; and

·         the offer to consult on the proposal put forward by the third party should also be  taken up.


The recommendation was for approval, subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement and the conditions as set out in the report.


A motion to defer the application for a review of options for the highway network was moved and seconded, voted upon and carried unanimously.


RESOLVED that the planning application for the demolition of existing buildings and structures and the phased development of up to 350 dwellings and associated infrastructure and open space. (All matters reserved except access), be DEFERRED for further consideration of highway matters.


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