Autumn Worries

The Horse Chesnuts are already producing an abundant crop of nuts. You will have seen the leaves beginning to turn, and in some cases with well-developed Autumn colours. Or have they?
We have heard much of the diseases attacking our trees. The Ash Dieback has been in the news lately, but a number of tree species are under attack. Oak, Pine, Sweet Chesnut amongst the most well known. The Horse Chesnut needs to be included in that list as the leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella) lives in these trees. It was first reported in the UK in 2002, in the London Borough of Wimbledon, and has since spread north, south and west to most of England and parts of Wales, and there has been one confirmed sighting in Scotland

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Its larvae (caterpillars) mine within the leaves, and at high population densities, they can destroy most of the leaf tissues. Although it can cause severe damage to horse chestnut leaves on an annual basis, hence the early ‘browning’ of the leaves in addition to the normal autumn shading.

While the tree seems to be able to deal with the invasion, coming up clean in spring, it is possible that differences in climate, or interactions with other pests and diseases, might lead to greater impact in the UK. Consequently, the effects of the moth and its interaction with other pests and diseases, especially bleeding canker of horse chestnut, is being studied through the long-term monitoring of more than 300 chestnut trees at several sites in southern England. These trees are assessed twice each year for infestation, disease crown condition, growth and signs of dieback.

Hill Close change to access conditions

Hill close plan

Developer: CB Homes

Application: 15/5783N

Application Granted: 19th April 2017

This application had a ‘grampion clause’ condition, meaning the development could go ahead if all legal issues were resolved to the benefit of the developer.

Planning consent conditions:

17/4220N relates to a condition of the consent which the developer wishes to vary. Essentially switching the pedestrian access ‘zone’ to the south side of Hill Close.

Comment:

This re-submission could be an outcome of a failure to establish ownership of land previously claimed by the developer. We need the information to judge whether the developer can in fact deliver the planning consent with a ‘grampion condition’.

Secondly, the reality of this plan is that the minimum acceptable width requirement of 4.8m is only met by making the pedestrian pavement accessible to vehicles. Is this acceptable? For pedestrians (2nd class users?) this is not an acceptable situation. Parents with prams and children will use this access route and be placed at risk by this solution. Cars cannot pass without mounting the pedestrian zone a situation facilitated by the 20mm kerb! Cars rule; pedestrians beware! And please show the indicative width of vehicles with wing mirrors as these do influence drivers reactions in tight spaces!

Cheshire East reply to footpath issue at Oak Garden site

This is the reply to the objection sent about the diversion and extinction of the footpaths across the site next to Oak Gardens:-
DATE: 8th September 2017 OUR REF: 055D/055E/521 YOUR REF:
TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990, SECTION 257
The Cheshire East Borough Council (Footpath No. 14 (Part) Parish of Bunbury)
Public Path Diversion Order 2017
The Cheshire East Borough Council (Unrecorded Footpath, Land off Oak Gardens, Parish of Bunbury) Public Path Extinguishment Order 2017
I acknowledge receipt of your objection to the above Orders; I believe your email was acknowledged by a colleague in my absence on 11th August 2017.
I would just like to make comment on a few points that you raise in your objection.
Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 was amended by Section 12 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 and now reads:
“(1A) Subject to section 259, a competent authority may by order authorise the stopping up or diversion in England of any footpath, bridleway or restricted byway if they are satisfied that—
(a) an application for planning permission in respect of development has
been made under Part 3, and
(b) if the application were granted it would be necessary to authorise the
stopping up or diversion in order to enable the development to be carried out.”
The change in the legislation now means the Borough Council, as Planning Authority, can make an Order diverting and extinguishing a footpath before planning permission is granted, providing that the application has been formally registered with the Council.
So, in this case, the developer approached the public rights of way team and began the process of applying to divert/extinguish the footpaths once they had submitted their planning application but before the planning permission was granted. The legislation states that an Order can be made before, but can only be confirmed once planning permission is granted. This does not specify the type of permission so it is possible to confirm an Order after Outline permission has been granted.
I appreciate from your comments that you believe it would be pre-emptive to lose and alter the rights of way before the detail of the planning permission is decided, however as stated above the legislation does allow the Borough Council to make the legal order. The public rights are not extinguished or diverted until such time that the Order is confirmed.
The Cheshire East Borough Council is satisfied that the Orders comply with the legal grounds and tests laid down in Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Borough Council’s Rights of Way Committee gave approval for the Orders to be made.
The Public Rights of Way team does wherever possible make contact with developers at an early stage in the planning process when rights of way are affected by development. We work with them to negotiate the best possible route for the right of way through the development and seek improved facilities for users.
With regard to your comments on the Borough Council’s Nature Conservation Officer; although he did not respond to the initial consultation on the proposals, he has now submitted comments to the Order. His comments will be put to the developer and his recommendation implemented wherever possible.
In your objection you refer to the various pre-commencement conditions, the only condition relevant to the public rights of way is condition 8. The ‘approved footpath plan’ referred to is the plan approved by the Borough Council’s Rights of Way Committee which is now the subject of these Orders. If the layout is significantly changed at the reserved matters stage then the Order(s) could either be amended or if necessary annulled and a new Order(s) made.
As objections have been made to both Orders the Council will now have to refer the Orders to the Planning Inspectorate for determination. An Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate will hear the objections at a public inquiry or hearing, or in writing if the objectors agree. The Inspector can confirm an Order, confirm it with modifications, or refuse to confirm it.
It should be noted that the right of objection to an Order is a statutory right, but it should be exercised in a reasonable manner. The costs involved in dealing with objections to orders can be awarded against objectors in cases of unreasonable behaviour. The pertinent factor in this instance is whether the diversion is necessary to enable development that has been approved. Our Rights of Way Committee concluded that this test had been met.
I would be grateful if you are considering withdrawing your objection if you would let me know by 22nd September 2017, after this date if I have not heard from you I will assume you are continuing with your objection and a file will be prepared and sent to The Planning Inspectorate.
Yours sincerely
Jennifer Tench
Definitive Map Officer
Tel: 01270 686158

 

 

The Footpaths across the field next to Oak Gardens

Update:

All submissions (all objections) on the removal and diversion of the footpaths across the field next to Oak Gardens have now been made and this  part of the process is closed. The inspector will shortly visit the site.  (S)he will not talk to you about the appeal! But we will hear the result soon afterwards.

 

This is the submission  I made  to Cheshire East in  objection to their order to divert footpath 14 and extinguish the Unrecorded Footpath that crosses the land off Oak Gardens. This Order is now going to appeal and those of you that put in objections and have not withdrawn them will have been notified of the procedure. Others can still put in objections in writing to :

Jean McEntee, 3G Hawk, Temple Quay House, Bristol, BS1 6PN

Email:jean.mcentee@pins.gsi.gov.uk

Reference all communications: ROW/3187612
Footpath Orders relating to planning application 16/2010N

From:

Peter Gorman

 

I would like to object to the above path orders on the following grounds:

1. The orders do not satisfy the criteria under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that: ‘Subject to section 259, a competent authority may by order authorise the stopping up or diversion of any footpath [F2, bridleway or restricted byway] if they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out— (a) in accordance with planning permission granted under Part III [ section 293A] , or (b) by a government department.’ Since only outline planning has been granted with all matters other than access reserved, such as housing type, design and layout then15 dwellings could be provided on this site without diversion or extinguishment of the footpaths, using different housing type and layout.

2. It would be pre-emptive to lose and alter these rights of way before full planning permission hasbeen granted on this site, because there are a number of conditions that need to be met before development can commence and these could prevent development taking place or plans to be altered compared to the illustrative plans submitted.

3. The proposed alternate route is damaging to biodiversity and contrary to duties under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

4. The Statement of Reasons states: ‘An assessment of the proposal has been carried out by the Borough Council’s Nature Conservation Officer and he has no objection to the proposals.’ However, having spoken to him he was not explicitly aware of the path order details until I drew them to his attention and now has recommendations to make.

5. Planning permission has been granted by considering the Neighbourhood Plan as out of date, since Cheshire East could not agree a 5 year housing supply, however, the Neighbourhood Plan was not out of date according to the recent ministerial statement and Cheshire East has now a Local Plan and 5 year housing Plan so it and the Neighbourhood Plan should be given more weight when deciding reserved matters, which is likely to change the design.

6. If the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to be considered then the loss of amenity value of these footpaths, particularly in the context of enjoyment of the countryside, should be considered along with loss of historic village character, loss of biodiversity, potential damage to protected species and the lack of sustainability of the proposed site, being in open countryside in an area with very limited public transport and no mains’ gas, as damage to noted interests which outweigh any presumption in favour of development. So in relation to carrying out the footpath orders and the illustrative plan the ‘adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole’ contrary to the NPPF.

Background

I live next to the field in question, across which the paths are designated. I have enjoyed using the three footpaths that cross the site of planning application 16/2010N, Bunbury FP14, Bunbury FP15 and the claimed diagonal path subject of a Definitive Map Modification Order Application, for nearly 3 years, because of the lovely views of open countryside, mature woodland, an ancient ash tree and associate wildlife, including many protected species. I see the frequent use of these footpaths were, by many people including, dog walkers, children using them as safe walking routes to and from school, rambling groups, locals and visitors.

The diagonal claimed path over the open field is the historic link between Bunbury and Spurstow and is the route used to connect to the Sandstone Trail, popular with tourists, so is important to tourists visiting Bunbury’s historic attractions, and therefore important to the local economy.

Bunbury FP 14 is used to connect Lower Bunbury to Long Lane and provides a pleasant walk over open fields with views to the protected Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Woodland to the south of the site. It connects to Bunbury FP15 along the south of the field, which then meets the claimed diagonal path at the bridge over the tributary to the River Gowy, to join the footpath to Spurstow.

All these attractive open rural footpaths, as well as providing useful practicable routes, are important to historic village character, enjoyment of the countryside and associate wildlife, health and social wellbeing and to the tourist economy.

Details of Objections

1. The orders do not satisfy the criteria under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that: ‘Subject to section 259, a competent authority may by order authorise the stopping up or diversion of any footpath [F2, bridleway or restricted byway] if they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out— (a)in accordance with planning permission granted under Part III [For section293A] , or (b) by a government department.’ Since only outline planning has been granted with all matters other than access reserved, such as housing type, design and layout and that 15 dwellings could be provided on this site without diversion or extinguishment of the footpaths.

Appeal Decision Ref: APP/R0660/W/16/3165643 states:

‘ 1. The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for a residential development for 15 dwellings with associated works at Land at Oak Gardens, Bunbury, CW6 9QN, in accordance with the terms of the application, Ref 16/2010N, dated 21 April 2016, subject to the conditions in the attached Schedule.

Procedural Matters

2. The application was submitted in outline. Whilst the application form indicates that layout is applied for, the Planning Statement and the Appeal Statement say that only access is for consideration and that the layout is for indicative purposes only. The layout plan is also marked “indicative”. I have dealt with the appeal on the basis that all matters are reserved except for access.’

This shows that planning permission is only outline with all matters reserved except for access.

You can see from the revised illustrative plan from the developer available at: http://doc.cheshireeast.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/07819545.pdf the area the 6 affordable 2 bedroom houses in Oak Gardens (south-east of the site) take up, so that 15 one bed apartments, for example, would not take up a much larger footprint and would leave space for the existing footpaths.

2. It would be pre-emptive to lose and alter these rights of way before full planning permission hasbeen granted on this site, because there are a number of conditions that need to be met before development can commence and these could prevent development taking place or plans to be altered compared to illustrative plans being submitted.

There are 14 conditions attached to the appeal decision planning permission and conditions 1, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 14 are pre-commencement conditions.

Under condition 1 ‘the appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale’ of the development need to be approved. This means diversion and extinguishment of footpaths in these orders may not be necessary.

Under condition 10 ‘Before the approval of the final reserved matters application, an updated protected species impact assessment and mitigation strategy shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.’

Condition 11 states: Before the approval of the final reserved matters application a habitat management plan to cover the life of the development shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. From the day of commencement of development, the management plan shall be adhered to thereafter.’

Cheshire East’s Nature Conservation Officer (NCO) in his submission to planning application 16/2010N available at http://doc.cheshireeast.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/07835630.pdf states in relation to great crested newts:

It should be noted that since a European Protected Species has been recorded on site and is likely to be adversely affected the proposed development the planning authority must have regard to whether Natural England would be likely to subsequently grant the applicant a European Protected species license under the Habitat Regulations. A license under the Habitats Regulations can only be granted when: • the development is of overriding public interest, • there are no suitable alternatives and • the favourable conservation status of the species will be maintained. Details of how the Habitat Regulations ‘tests’ were considered must be recorded within the committee/delegated report. Please refer to guidance issued by CE legal in respect of this issue. I advise that the proposed outline mitigation and compensation is acceptable and is likely to maintain the favourable conservation status of the local newt population. If planning consent is granted I advise that a condition must be attached requiring any future reserved matters application to be supported by an updated protected species impact assessment and mitigation [and] compensation strategy.’

Since this development is not of overriding public interest, there are suitable alternative sites for development in Bunbury (in fact with developments built and given planning permission since the start of the plan period in 2010 already exceed the target of 80 dwellings for the period 2010 to 2030) and the conservation status may not be maintained a license may not be forthcoming.

As you will also see from the NCO submission this site is rich in protected species including badgers, great crested newts, toads, grass snakes and many species of bats. The site is also used by many birds, including protected species such as buzzards and woodpeckers.

The NCO admits the illustrative plan does not have a scale so does not necessarily guarantee the required 15 m buffer to protect the wildlife corridor to the west of the site and therefore also makes it difficult to judge distances from the hedges and their undeveloped edges, which are important to wildlife and provide insects for bats, who use the hedgerows as foraging corridors. Loss of the grassland itself has an adverse impact on wildlife, but the corridors of uncut grassland bordering the hedges, trees and woodland are very important to biodiversity and this should be recognised at the reserved matter’s stage and suitable changes made to the illustrative application.

Condition 13 states: ‘No development shall take place until a Construction Method Statement has been submitted to, and approved in writing by the local planning authority.’ It then gives details of what needs to be covered.

Condition 14 states: ‘No development shall take place until the following information has been submitted to, and approved in writing, by the local planning authority: i) a full site survey showing: the datum used to calibrate the site levels; levels along all site boundaries; levels across the site at regular intervals; levels of adjoining gardens; and floor levels of adjoining buildings. ii) full details of the proposed finished floor levels of all buildings and hard landscaped surfaces. The development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details.’

Condition 5 refers to the proposed access and is a condition before the occupation of dwellings rather than commencement, however, it would seem more sensible to check that these access arrangements could be made before dwellings are built, given disputes over ownership of access in similar village developments.

Condition 8 states: ‘No development shall commence until the public right of way through the site has been diverted as shown on the approved Footpath Plan.’

I believe this should state until there is a fully approvedFootpath Plan, as the footpath diversion has not been fully approved and should not be changed until a detailed development plan has been approved and the need for footpath changes are shown to be necessary and that any changes take into account duties to conserve biodiversity and NPPF guidance.

Given all the conditions on this outline planning permission, it cannot be deemed ‘necessary’ under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to make these path orders. This situation could be reviewed after conditions 1,10, 11, 13 and 14 have been met, as well as confirmation that the proposed access arrangements are possible and that if any path alterations are required it is made sure they meet the criteria in section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, duties under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, where there is a duty to conserve biodiversity and ‘in particular have regard to the United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992’ and also follow NPPF guidance.

3. The proposed footpath diversion and alternate route to the extinguished path is damaging to biodiversity.

The proposed footpath diversion uses a compacted stone surface immediately adjacent to hedgerows and destroys the uncut grassland at the edge of the field, which is important to biodiversity, by providing higher diversity plant species than the cut grassland and homes and foraging for wildlife, including protected species like grass snakes, toads and great crested newts and is especially important to provide insect food for bats using the hedgerows as foraging corridors.

Under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 there is a duty to conserve biodiversity and ‘in particular have regard to the United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992.’ Where

‘Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.’

These path orders do not, therefore, meet the duty to conserve biodiversity.

4. The Statement of Reasons states: ‘An assessment of the proposal has been carried out by the Borough Council’s Nature Conservation Officer and he has no objection to the proposals.’ However, having spoken to him he was not explicitly aware of the path order details until I drew them to his attention. He has now advised me as follows: I have asked for the route of the diverted footpath to allow for a two meter undeveloped buffer from the hedgerow. I can also ask for this to be provided as part of the detailed design at the reserved matter’s stage.’

This suggests that there is much to be decided in relation to nature conservation at the reserved matter’s stage of this outline planning application and that path orders should not be made until a final plan is available and only if it shows footpath orders are needed and that any alterations to footpaths properly take in to account nature and biodiversity conservation should they be made.

7. Planning permission has been granted by considering the Neighbourhood Plan as out of date, since Cheshire East could not agree a 5 year housing supply, however, the Neighbourhood Plan was not out of date according to the recent ministerial statement.

Appeal paragraphs 7 and 8 states:

7. On 12 December 2016 the Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell, published a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) concerning neighbourhood planning. This requires that, where there are relevant policies for the supply of housing in a recently made neighbourhood plan, these policies should not be considered out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of supply and if a specific set of circumstances occurs at the time of decision making. These are that the WMS is less than 2 years old, or the NP has been part of the development plan for 2 years or less; the NP allocates sites for housing, the LPA can demonstrate a  3-year supply of deliverable housing sites. All these circumstances must occur together.

8. The Council reject the WMS relevance as they claim the criterion for maintaining the currency of the NP is not met. I dispute this. The Council has confirmed that it cannot demonstrate a current 5 year housing land supply (HLS) and that its current supply is 3.96 years. The figure of 3.9 years agreed exceeds the 3 years required by the Minister. The Bunbury Neighbourhood  Plan (BNP) was ‘made’ in March 2016 and therefore meets the time period criteria. The central weakness of our case the council claim is that although the boundary of the NP takes in land which has planning permission for housing..it does not specifically allocate sites for housing. Therefore, given the absence of allocated sites in the NP and the lack of a 5 year HLS, according to the WMS, the relevant policies for the supply of housing are out of date.’

r. The ministerial statement does not say the NP needs to allocate specific sites for housing just that it ‘allocates sites for housing.The  BNP Policy H1 makes this clear. I quote:

The Neighbourhood Plan proposes a Settlement Boundary for Bunbury based upon the existing defined Settlement Boundary in the Crewe and Nantwich Local Plan 2005. The purposes of the Settlement Boundary are:– A. Directing future housing, economic and community related development in the Neighbourhood Plan Area to the village of Bunbury, to enhance its role as a resilient and sustainable community and to protect the surrounding open spaces and countryside. B. Containing the spread of the village, by reinforcing its core area and maintaining an effective and coherent built up–rural edge. C. Proposals for housing development outside the Bunbury Settlement Boundary will only be granted where they comply with the criteria set out in Housing Policy H2 (Scale of Housing Development), or in exceptional circumstances; such as any new dwelling required for the essential need of an agricultural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside

Bunbury NP clearly designates sites available for housing adjacent to the existing boundary as well as within it   otherwise it would not be exceeding its target for the period to 2030 already so the NP should have been given weight.

Cheshire East have a Local Plan and 5 year supply of housing so it and the Neighbourhood Plan should be given more weight when deciding reserved matters, which is likely to change the design.

5. If the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to be considered then the loss of amenity value of these footpaths, particularly in the context of enjoyment of the countryside, should be considered along with loss of historic village character, loss of biodiversity, potential damage to protected species and the lack of sustainability of the proposed site. The site is in the open countryside in an area with very limited public transport and no mains’ gas. So in relation to carrying out the footpath orders and the illustrative plan the ‘adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole’ contrary to the NPPF.

Section 17 of the NPPF includes as ‘Core planning principles’ :

be genuinely plan-led, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, with succinct local and neighbourhood plans setting out a positive vision for the future of the area.

● take account of the different roles and character of different areas […] recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it;

contribute to conserving and enhancing the natural environment and reducing pollution.

● promote mixed use developments, and encourage multiple benefits from the use of land in urban and rural areas, recognising that some open land can perform many functions (such as for wildlife, recreation, flood risk mitigation, carbon storage, or food production);

● conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations;

● actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling, and focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable; and

take account of and support local strategies to improve health, social and cultural wellbeing for all, and deliver sufficient community and cultural facilities and services to meet local needs.

Section 69 of the NPPF states: ‘The planning system can play an important role in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities.’ Section 73 states: ‘Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities.’

These footpaths are important to walkers to have a pleasant place to enjoy the intrinsic beauty of the countryside and its wildlife and a place where people meet others out walking, so are important to healthy activities, social interaction and the well being of the community. They should be valued and protected.

Conclusion

These path orders are not ‘necessary’ under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as only outline planning has been granted with all matters, other than access reserved, such as housing type, design and layout yet to be decided.

It would be pre-emptive to lose and alter these rights of way before all other pre-conditions to development are met and a final design plan agreed, as there is no guarantee when and what plan will be able to go ahead.

The proposed alternate route is damaging to biodiversity and contrary to duties under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. I understand the Nature Conservation Officer is asking for changes to the proposed path orders and will be asking for changes to the layout at the reserved matters’ stage also, so no path orders should be made until all reserved matters are settled.

The NPPF ‘Core Planning Principles’ include taking ‘account of the different roles and character of different areas’ and ‘recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it’ and should ‘contribute to conserving and enhancing the natural environment.’ Losing these paths would harm historic village character, harm the enjoyment of the countryside, harm healthy and social pursuits, potentially harm tourism, would damage the natural environment and potentially harm protected species.

For all the reasons given please refuse both the above path orders, so that people can continue to use these attractive rural footpaths to enjoy the countryside and associate wildlife.

Thank you for considering my objections.

Oak Gardens application 16_2010N

Planning Application 16/2010N

The land off OAK GARDENS

This is an Outline planning application.

Why?

Bunbury has worked hard to produce a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) that had 96% support in the recent referendum. That plan envisions 80 dwellings being created in the village between 2010 and 2030. If developments currently accepted by the Parish Council go ahead that number has already hit over 100 and will reach in excess of 115 if this application is granted. We have not included the appeal on the 52 houses one field south of the Oak Gardens site which if granted together with this application would result in 67 additional dwellings in a single block representing in one site a 13% increase in Village size and in one year a 34% potential increase. Just what the NP is working to avoid. Bunbury is growing but the NP seeks to control that process so that nature and amenity of the village are not destroyed in the process. This application simply continues the process of obtaining planning permission and then sitting on the land. If this pace continues the potential (assuming all plans are built) would result in a doubling of the village size. Clearly, some method regulating the pace of development must be found if the new Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan is to function as intended.

1.Policy issues:

It is contrary to Local Planning Policy NE2 and RES 5 in that it is outside the village boundary and extends into open countryside and PG 5 of the emerging Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy – Submission version and the principles of the National Planning Policy Framework which seeks to ensure development is directed to the right locations and open countryside is protected from inappropriate developments. The application claims that Cheshire East has been unable to meet a 5-year housing supply despite the fact that this is at the final stage of consultation and should, therefore, be considered.

Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (2016) Housing Policy starts with the CE Local Plan PG2 for the period agreed 2010 -2030. As stated above the 80 homes minimum target assigned to Bunbury has already been reached in terms of agreed applications and any rise in that target to e.g. 95 would already have been met as well within 1 year. Bunbury is delivering its side of the bargain and cannot be responsible for the failure of developers to deliver the actual homes or use this as an excuse to demand more land.

Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (2016) Policy H2 notes that new greenfield ‘ developments should not be co-located with other new housing developments…’ The existing Oak Gardens site was built in the planning period in 2010 so it is designated a new development in terms of the policy and no new developments in the adjacent field should be considered before 2030.

Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (2016) Policy H3 Design states that ‘..the amenities of neighbouring dwellings will not be adversely affected through overlooking, loss of light or outlook, over dominance ….’ The indicative plan shows that this is what will happen along the northern boundary with two story dwellings within 5 – 6 m of existing rear gardens, located on ground 1-1.5 higher. Similar problems will impact on the existing Oak Gardens at the east end of the site. This problem arises from the need to put eleven 4 – 5 bedroomed properties on the site plus 4 2/3 bedroomed affordable homes.

In addition, the development would, therefore, be contrary to Neighbourhood Plan (2016) Policy H3 Design LC2 Backland Development, “Backland development will be resisted if it would impact upon existing residential amenity through overlooking, loss of amenity or intrusion of privacy

2. The development is not sustainable:

There is no identified need for this number of new dwellings in Bunbury. The most recent survey (2013) identified the need for more single bedroomed and two bedroomed properties. Only one 4 bedroomed dwelling was needed.

There is insufficient employment to support residents and public transport is not adequate to support journeys to work. Public transport access to other major centers is very limited with 3 buses a week. This will result in greater frequency of traffic movements than indicated in the planning submission.

3. Design:

The site has one access point already used by 6 dwellings in Oak Garden. The road width of 4.13 meters does not permit safe two-way passage of vehicles. In this context, the full width of vehicles must be considered including wing mirrors. The vast majority of cars exceed 2 meters including wing mirrors. The application uses the example of a refuse lorry with a claimed width of 2.4M. In reality, like cars, this type of vehicle has extensive side mirrors at a level that will increase it actual width to 2.9m. Two such vehicles could not pass on this road even if it can be widened to 4.8m. The south side of the road carries services to Oak Garden and cannot be used for widening as stated by Highways in their refusal of the last application on Oak Gardens (14/4065N). Therefore widening can only take place on the north side where the pavement is 2m wide plus kerb. Given the pavement is 1.5m this only allows 0.5 to 0.6 to be added to the 4.1 existing road width. A total of 4.7m in width at best. This ignores the existing hedge on the north side that would encroach onto the path and the doubt over ownership of the strip of land next to the house (see below).

 

Like many developers, the firm that developed Oak Gardens retained strips of land at various points. This included 0.8m strips on each side of the access road. Clearly, this would need to be resolved prior to any decision on approval of the application due to its potential for stopping road widening.

Illustration 1: Refuse lorry exiting Oak Gardens showing restricted access.

 

 


The road enters Bunbury Lane at a point close to a blind bend. This is already a major hazard that will be significantly worse with more cars and other traffic accessing Oak Gardens. The assumption made of an additional 11 traffic movements at peak times is questionable in a rural location where residents will have to travel to work. Around 60 vehicle movements, a day might well be the additional flow through Oak Gardens. Given its location Bunbury also see’s higher than average delivery vehicles through the village and to this site.

Illustration 2: View from Oak Gardens junction with Bunbury Lane toward the blind corner.


Visual Appearance and impact on the area:

The proposed development, both in itself and in relation to its surroundings, spaces, and views is inappropriate, out of proportion (high density of houses), and unsympathetic to the appearance and character of the local agricultural environment. The development will dominate the existing rural/agricultural view looking across from Long Lane to Bunbury, open fields, agricultural land, established hedgerows and veteran trees, being replaced by a modern development of four and five bedroomed houses of a generic “estate” nature similar to many built up and down the country.

The proposed development by reason of its proximity and scale represents an unneighbourly form of development that would have an adverse impact on the amenity of existing residents who would be impacted by overshadowing, overlooking, visual intrusion and hindering the use of their properties.

The site sits an estimated 1- 1.5 meters higher in elevation than the properties along Wakes Meadow, and the proximity of the 10 houses whose gardens will back on to the 6 houses along the boundary with Wakes Meadow (which in its own right demonstrates the significant difference in housing density associated with the proposed development), will result in significant visual intrusion, overlooking and dominating existing properties. Similarly, there would be a visual intrusion to the houses in Oak Gardens.

  1. Loss of Amenity and Environment:

The site is a field, previously used for grazing and hay. It is bounded by veteran and mature trees(many with TPO) and hedges. There is a woodland, with potential veteran and protected trees, and stream to the west this, according to the applicant’s tree survey, is designated as a Deciduous Woodland UKBAP Priority Habitat (England). Further woodland is located approx. 463m to the north-east, approx. 1250m to the south-east, approx. 1439m to the south-west and approx, 1646m to the west of the site (all designated as a Deciduous Woodland UKBAP Priority Habitats (England)). The field forms part of a historic pattern with adjoining fields. The field hedges, in their existing alignment, can be identified on 1836 tithe maps of Cheshire and are certainly older than that.

This site has three public footpaths running through it, so the wildlife is not only enjoyed by those who neighbour the site but also by all who use the footpaths. This is important for villagers and visitors alike.

The National Planning Policy framework includes policies on:

protecting green belts, sites of special scientific interest and sites with other environmental protections

protecting valued landscapes, trees, and woodlands

protecting open space and creating a new Local Green Space designation

helping to improve biodiversity

The proposed development would result in the loss of a valuable amenity, namely three attractive rural footpaths, well-used by local residents and visitors.

It provides the main walking access to the village from Spurstow and the Sandstone Trail beyond. It is also important to the street scene entering the village via Long Lane and Bunbury Lane providing rural views important to the character of the village, as per VDS.

Footpath 14 runs from Bunbury Lane south to Long Lane. It provides a safe walking route to avoid part of Long Lane without a footpath. Footpath 15 runs from Footpath 14 west along the south side of the field to the footbridge over the stream and on to Spurstow. A footpath crosses the field diagonally from where Footpath 14 enters the site to the footbridge to join Footpath 15 to Spurstow. This path has been used in living memory as the main walking route into the village from Spurstow and is the subject of a Definitive Map Modification Order Ref CN/7/25 submitted August 2006. The route to and from Spurstow is not only a safe walking route avoiding Long Lane, which does not have pavements, but also a vital link for walkers doing the Sandstone trail. This makes this route vital for tourism.

People also use the footpaths to do circular walks and they are also used by dog walkers.

The development would impact on the openness and character of surrounding countryside. People using the footpaths will be met with a housing estate instead of views of open countryside, woodland, veteran trees and associated wildlife. The diagonal path is the route many walkers and tourists take to and from the Sandstone Trail and to come and see the sights in Bunbury, like the Church and Mill, so a development here has the potential to damage tourism.

The proposed development would have people walking across the site road, through the site and taking paths that go close to peoples gardens front and rear, which will be unattractive to the walkers and a potential intrusion and security risk to householders.

This is the loss of a valuable amenity contrary to BCNRLP, RT1 and BE1.

Footpaths and open countryside are important to villagers according to the VDS and Neighbourhood Plan 2016.

Environment and wildlife:

The site and its boundaries offer a varied habitat for all sorts of wildlife, including protected species such as badgers, bats, buzzards, owls and thrushes. A number of species on the RSPB ‘RED LIST’ are found in this field, Song thrush, House and Tree Sparrows, Starlings as well many Tits, Jays, Buzzards etc. Clearance of undergrowth, younger trees etc. would have an adverse effect on all birds. There are certainly the usual mice, rabbits, foxes and a wide variety of birds including woodpeckers. A grass snake has been seen and there are many Toads in the area so there may be reptiles and amphibians not picked up in the Habitat Survey as it did not seem to consider the importance of the nearby stream. A full survey of the impact on Great Crested Newts is essential before any development takes place.

The indicative development poses a serious threat to the woodland, it threatens many mature trees that offer support a rich ecology. Many of the houses indicated at the west end and northern boundaries would be affected by tree shade and branch growth. While these trees are mostly protected by TPO’s, it will lead to demands for pruning and the inevitable damage to these fine specimens. The loss of the field and the unkempt edges will have a drastic impact on the wildlife, which uses it as a foraging site.

The applicant has only carried out a Level 1 Habitat Survey and further surveys need to be carried out to fully assess the site, including bat and owl surveys, as mentioned in their survey.

18/6/2016 lower Bunbury Action Group