Planning for the Future

White Paper on proposed changes to the planning system

The White paper put out for consultation proposes a radical change to the planning system. That consultation ends on the 29 October.

First you can read the White Paper by clicking here

However a summary of the 84 page pdf file may help.

This is the HM Government version:

The current planning system is complicated, favours larger developers and often means that much needed new homes are delayed.

We’re proposing a new system which is easier for the public to access, transforms the way communi-ties are shaped and builds the homes this country needs.

The changes will mean more good quality, attractive and affordable homes can be built faster – and more young families can have the key to their own home.

In the new system local areas will develop plans for land to be designated into three categories

:• Growth areaswill back development, with development approved at the same time plans are pre-pared, meaning new homes, schools, shops and business space can be built quickly and efficiently, as long as local design standards are met.

• Renewal areas will be suitable for some development where it is high-quality in a way which meets design and other prior approval requirements the process will be quicker. If not, develop-ment will need planning approval in the usual way.

• Protected areas will be just that development will be restricted to carry on protecting our treas-ured heritage like Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.

Communities will be consulted from the beginning of the planning process and help shape the design codes to guide what development can happen in their local area.

The reforms will mean:

Much-needed homes will be built quicker by ensuring local housing plans are developed and agreed in 30 months down from the current 7 years it often takes.

Every area to have a local plan in place currently only 50% of local areas has an up-to-date plan to build more homes.

The planning system will be made more accessible, by harnessing the latest technology through online maps and data.

• Valued green spaces will be protected for future generations by allowing for more building on brownfield land and all new streets to be tree lined.

The planning process to be overhauled and replaced with a clearer, rules based system. Currently around a third of planning cases that go to appeal are overturned.

A new simpler national levy to replace the current system of developer contributions which often causes delay this will provide more certainty about the number of affordable homes being built.

• The creation of a fast-track system for beautiful buildings and establishing local design guidance for developers to build and preserve beautiful communities.

• All new homes to be ‘zero carbon ready’, with no new homes delivered under the new system needed to be retrofitted as we achieve our commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A Response:

As part of the White Paper a series of questions is put to the reader with a request to respond. These can be posted or email to in the following ways:

  1. Go to the website https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future

2. Alternatively you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk.

3. If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to. Written responses should be sent to:

Planning for the Future Consultation,

Planning Directorate, 3rd Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

My Response:

1. What three words do you associate most with the planning

system in England?

!

2(a). Do you get involved with planning decisions in your local area?

[Yes / No]

Yes

2(b). If no, why not?

[Don’t know how to / It takes too long / It’s too complicated /

I don’t care / Other – please specify]

3. Our proposals will make it much easier to access plans and contribute

your views to planning decisions. How would you like to find out about

plans and planning proposals in the future?

[Social media / Online news / Newspaper / By post /

Other – please specify]

Planning applications and all relevant details should appear on the public planning authorities website. It is inappropriate to outsource such information to private company facilities whose continuity is uncertain, whose objectives are not aligned with public service and which are NOT inclusive. Surprisingly 33% of the population are not on any form of social media and 4% do not have access to the internet (ONS 2020).

Email could be offered as an additional service alongside the continued use of the postal service to ensure complete inclusion within a neighbourhood.

Much disparagement is made of notices on lampposts, etc. Their function is to alter other interest parties in what is happening in their area, many people are interested in developments that do not directly impact on them. They have a broad concern for the town\village where they live. How will they be informed?

Build on firm foundations rather than scrap everything unless it can distributed over the internet.

4. What are your top three priorities for planning in your local area?

[Building homes for young people / building homes for the homeless /

Protection of green spaces / The environment, biodiversity and action

on climate change / Increasing the affordability of housing / The design

of new homes and places / Supporting the high street / Supporting the

local economy / More or better local infrastructure / Protection of

existing heritage buildings or areas / Other – please specify]

1. Increasing the affordability of housing

2. More and better local infrastructure

3.Protection of green spaces, biodiversity and the environment

5. Do you agree that Local Plans should be simplified in line with our proposals?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

They do not make sense in our area or, I would suggest in most rural areas. These would be designated as either ‘renewal’ where ‘small sites within or on the edge of villages’ would be developed – on what basis? Or as ‘protected’.The only difference between a renewal zone and a growth zone appears to be scale. Does that mean any plot that comes available could be built on as long as the development criteria in the Local Plan are met? Local communities would have no ability to either plan where sites should and should not be developed only their scale and design.

In Bunbury we are surrounded by open countryside that currently is protected from development. Where development does take place is identified and agreed through consultation with the local Planning Authority. (Cheshire East). Under these proposals no such ‘protection’ is available to ‘open countryside and farmland. Only in ‘Protected Zones’ is there any possibility of building into a local plan the option of saying NO to development. As the white paper states “There would be a statutory presumption in favour of development being granted for the uses specified as being suitable in each area”. The ‘uses’ are of course defined tin the new ‘Use Classes’ none of which cover open spaces or open land. They are Use Classes of buildings (commercial or Public). The Local Plan can only specify use in terms of those ‘Use Classes’ and cannot protect any land from development outside of Protected Zones.

The White paper does mention in the definition of ‘Protected Zones’ “ areas of open countryside outside of land in Growth or renewal area.” Who makes that decision? What consultation will be held on open countryside question? These are critical questions in our village that the Local Plan would not be able to answer. If the Local Plan, with local consultation, can decide to place open countryside into the protected zone with much reduced development objectives then villages may be protected from cherry-picking developers and productive farmland can be retained.

Where is the parallel discussion about the protection of farmland from development and the need to maintain our own food supply? Not a word.

Who gets to make these ‘zonal’ decision? Yes the Local Authority in the first place in consultation with the public (Stage 1) but the HM Inspector can simply override that decision (Stage 4).

The suggested Alternative of combining Growth and Renewal Zones is much worse. Such an approach is highly threatening to the retention of village character.

The other suggested Alternative of limiting automatic permission to land in the Growth Zone while retaining the power of the local authority to identify where and what permitted development may take place in the renewal zone, is acceptable. As long as it retain the current feature to allow citizen representation as part of that decision-making process.

6. Do you agree with our proposals for streamlining the development

management content of Local Plans, and setting out general development management policies nationally?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

I agree that repeating Government policy in Local Plans is a waste of time

But Local Authorities should retain a level of flexibility to set development management policies that do not duplicate NPPF policies.

7(a). Do you agree with our proposals to replace existing legal and policy tests

for Local Plans with a consolidated test of “sustainable development”,

which would include consideration of environmental impact?

No.

The inadequate detail provided makes it very unwise to go down this path. The UK is the most environmentally impoverished country in Europe. (On target? Five environmental challenges for 2020 and beyond – HoC report 2020)

‘Sustainable Development’ can become meaningless without a clear definition that has teeth. Currently it is little more than a ‘catch phrase’ trotted out to justify yet another development in ‘walking distance’ of ‘facilities’ (a shop and bus stop).

7(b). How could strategic, cross-boundary issues be best planned for in the

absence of a formal Duty to Cooperate?

Restore the duty to co-operate.

8(a). Do you agree that a standard method for establishing housing

requirements (that takes into account constraints) should be introduced?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

1. The problem in our village is delivery and provision of affordable housing. Only 50% of the houses with permission to build in the last 5 years have been built. Make it hurt to cling on to land that has been granted permission and not used. This is the cause of house shortages. Developers do not want to build affordable houses in our village to meet real need. Their objective is maintain the profitability of the development. That means NOT building if it impacts on market prices.

More details needed on the Housing Delivery Test to make any judgement. Why? Delivery is OUR problem, in the South you may have other issues.

2. Centralisation of housing need calculation into one algorithm is inappropriate. Needs vary across the country and this approach is just unnecessary in Cheshire. We have land supply.

3. Preferred option is:

It would be possible to leave the calculation of how much land to include in each category to local decision, but with a clear stipulation in policy that this should be sufficient to address the development needs of each area (so far as possible subject to recognised constraints), taking into account market signals indicating the degree to which existing needs are not being met’

8(b). Do you agree that affordability and the extent of existing urban areas are

appropriate indicators of the quantity of development to be accommodated?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

‘Affordability’ is yet another weasel word in the lexicography of development. It just means small houses that get smaller as the local house prices rise. We have ended up with some of the smallest houses in Europe. In Bunbury we have ‘affordable’ houses that have smaller ground floor footprint than the garage space on adjacent ‘market’ properties.

‘Urban area’ as a criteria for permitting more development? Big gets bigger? I’ll leave that to the residents of towns to explain.

9(a). Do you agree that there should be automatic outline permission

for areas for substantial development (Growth areas) with faster

routes for detailed consent?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

A cautious yes.

I want Growth areas clearly defined with a focus on brownfield sites and protection of green spaces and avoidance of massive ‘monochrome’ sterile environments.

9(b). Do you agree with our proposals above for the consent arrangements for Renewal and Protected areas?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

But only if ‘Open Countryside’ is included in the Protected Areas.

9(c). Do you think there is a case for allowing new settlements to be brought forward under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes
But these are the exception not the norm, provided legislation is clear that they can’t be used to override local planning decisions or to build in areas of open countryside.

10. Do you agree with our proposals to make decision-making faster

and more certain?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Appropriate speed is good. But it is not the most important requirement of a planning process. An open democratic process is more likely to yield a good decision. It is the quality of the decisions that emerge that is the criteria to judge the system. Speed is easy if you ignore everybody. Authoritarian governments claim speed is a virtue of their approach but end up with corruption and terrible decisions.

It is not the local authorities that are to blame to the degree the White Paper suggest. From my experience it is just as frequently developers errors, changes of mind, lack of experience, etc. that slows and delays the system.

11. Do you agree with our proposals for accessible, web-based Local Plans?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

Cheshire East has offered web based access to all planning information for sometime. You seem to suggest that this is a rare experience. Really? No recognition of what Local Authorities have already invested in their systems despite dramatic reductions in their budgets.

I have never heard of ‘PropTech’ before and as you don’t really explain what it is or its putative role I cannot comment. However experience of government involvement with IT firms and projects is not encouraging. Caution should be your watchword and my advice is to stay away from things you don’t really understand.

12. Do you agree with our proposals for a 30 month statutory timescale

for the production of Local Plans?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

Again you are blaming the Local Authorities for the delays in the system. It is true the Local Plan takes about 7 years to complete but that is entirely due to to the heavy burden placed on the LA in terms of the work needed to meet all the criteria set by the Government policies, unclear methods of housing need, and meeting the demand of HM Inspectors. In your attempt to sort this mess out you are also throwing out the part of the process – making decisions on individual planning applications – out as well. It is that part of the process the citizen engages with as it represents his/her right to participate in decision-making that directly impacts her/his life.

Stage 1 represents the only stage at which citizens might get some say. Their expertise and motivation is often limited to the immediate area where they live. Will they engage with such broad based planning? In Bunbury the strongest engagement derives from residents impacted by the planning applications. Outside that ‘zone of impact’ other citizens do engage but at a less frequent level. This suggest that the particular rather than the general is what engages the citizen. And (s)he has only 6 months to engage and then his/her role has ended.

Stage 4 – It seems that the Inspector has too much power – “all at the inspector’s discretion”. This is likely to lead local resident’s losing faith in the system as the Inspector can simply choose not to listen to their concerns. The choice of inspector will therefore be key and this process needs to be defined. An inspector with political links or strong links to developers will lack credibility

This White paper represents an attempt to remove the citizens meaningful participation in planning decision-making just where it matters most.

13(a). Do you agree that Neighbourhood Plans should be retained

in the reformed planning system?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes
We have a Neighbourhood Plan in place that has served us well. We should make it clear that the Number 1 issue from residents is the number of houses being built followed by the housing mix. This section implies that NP’s will be limited to the design style which while a priority issue, is further down the list given below.. It is hard to reconcile the top down approach of this White Paper with the ability of a locality to influence how it is developed.

A NP that only addresses design style will be viewed as ineffective and no amount of digital tools will compensate for the disillusionment of 100 new homes being built on a greenfield site where we can only influence how they look. Clearly the government view NP’s as a mistake and the interference of citizens in the development of where they live is no-longer to be tolerated.

With our NP Bunbury has controlled the size of developments and their proximity to each other. Developers have respected the size constraint but with the support of inspectors attached and undermined the wishes of Bunbury citizens to avoid the formation of large conglomerations of new houses on the edge of the village. Active citizens were able to take their concerns to open planning meetings where with councillors and developers a democratic and open process was seen in action. That is real engagement

The White paper will strip away any pretence of serious involvement in local planning through the means of the creation of the NP – powerful motivating experience for the whole village -, automate consent on applications. Leaving the citizen devoid of democratic powers to influence anything but the choice of brick colours and style of roof.

If the White Paper seeks to engage the local population on a street by street basis then it will need to address the means by which the citizen can participate in decision about

  1. Housing numbers
  2. Housing mix
  3. Local infrastructure
  4. As well as Quality of Design

13(b). How can the neighbourhood planning process be developed to meet our objectives, such as in the use of digital tools and reflecting community preferences about design?

‘Digital tools’ is a vague term. We have websites with clickable maps, access to digitised plans and documents. Yes I am sure they can be enhanced. They do not however take the place of real democratic participation in making decisions. That is what engages citizens.

Of course citizens want to see what proposed developments might look like but more importantly the want a say in the number , distribution and type of those dwellings near them that directly affect their lifestyle.

14. Do you agree there should be a stronger emphasis on the build out of developments? And if so, what further measures would you support?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes
This really applies to larger developments but the principle of engaging a wide range of developers is one to be supported

15. What do you think about the design of new development that has

happened recently in your area?

[Not sure or indifferent / Beautiful and/or well-designed / Ugly and/

or poorly-designed / There hasn’t been any / Other – please specify]

Locally we have small (15 or fewer homes) developments, they are very specific to the actual developer but largely they have been accepted by the local community. The houses are unremarkable but perfectly adequate and inoffensive, utilising the space allocated as well as can be expected.

16. Sustainability is at the heart of our proposals. What is your priority

for sustainability in your area?

[Less reliance on cars / More green and open spaces / Energy

efficiency of new buildings / More trees / Other – please specify]

So what does ‘Sustainability’ mean? Apparently it could be ‘ more trees’ or ‘less reliance on cars’. Did I miss the definition? So once again we meet one of those weasel words that people use to get round having to specify real things. What do I think it means in a partical way in Bunbury:

A decent public bus service that offers a real alternative to cars. That means serall journeys everyday that would enable travel to local towns and back again to support workers and shoppers, as well as recreational users. Rural concern are ignored by the urban focussed writers of this paper.

Children should be able to walk or cycle to and from school an other facilities in the village, in safety. Adults should also feel safe and encouraged to walk and cycle as government papers have indicated is their goal That means suitable pavements and speed limits (20mph) on cars that are enforceable. No on street parking, cycling parking facilities

A serious move to enable rural areas dependant on carbon fuels (oil boilers are common in Bunbury as we have no gas pipe to the village) to move to sustainable energy sources.

The encouragement of home based working where possible and consideration given to ways of reducing developments that simply increase traffic through the village to the detriment of the environment (noise and air pollution).

‘Best in Class’ broadband provision and appropriate levels of accessible computer terminals in local cafes or village halls.

Within the residential zones around the centres of villages the emphasis must move away from the domination of vehicles to prioritise walking and cycling in clean air and quiet movement.

17. Do you agree with our proposals for improving the production and

use of design guides and codes?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes
In principle these codes are a good idea if the stimulate high standards. But as is common in the White Paper the focus is urban not rural. I propose that rural developments have a separate code. As mentioned previously most rural housing developments are small in size (less than 50 houses), we need cycle and walking routes within villages in order to access facilities such as GP surgeries, schools and shops. The code should therefore extend to linking a development with these facilities and not be limited to within the actual development itself.

18. Do you agree that we should establish a new body to support design coding and building better places, and that each authority should have a chief officer for design and place-making?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Not Sure

Another quango stacked with political appointees to be the government bidding? Would we end up with better design or ‘Poundsbury style’ and fake Costwold? Appointments should be made by appropriate bodies and not the Minister. Unrealistic? Yes probable but on can hope that politisationn of our world has its limits.

19. Do you agree with our proposal to consider how design

might be given greater emphasis in the strategic objectives

for Homes England?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

But it need to reflect both the wide variety of vernacular styles across England and the need to blend new and traditional and develop new styles. Beautiful can be modern.

20. Do you agree with our proposals for implementing a fast-track

for beauty?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

54 |

No

Automatic consent is not a good principle in a democratic society where the outcome impacts directly on peoples quality of life. What is the style that Cheshire would go for anyway? We have a considerable diversity. Victorian polychromatic brick work, sandstone lintels, slate roof tiles, stone walls, carved soffits etc. Different villages have different mixes dependent on their history e.g. Historic estates have particular styles.

From the White Paper this sentence stands out as one I can support: To enable further tailoring of these patterns to local character and preferences, we also propose that local planning authorities or neighbourhood planning groups would be able to use local orders to modify how the standard types apply in their areas, based on local evidence of what options are most popular with the wider public.

21. When new development happens in your area, what is your priority

for what comes with it?

[More affordable housing / More or better infrastructure (such as

transport, schools, health provision) / Design of new buildings /

More shops and/or employment space / Green space / Don’t know /

Other – please specify]

In Bunbury the housing needs are for 2/3/4 bed homes and not the 5/6 bed executive house that dominate the developments. Currently we cannot get housing needs met.

The affordable housing that is built gets ever smaller in an attempt to make them actually affordable. They still remain unattainable on a mean salary of 25k. I know you are concerned about this but political ideology dominates thinking.

Redefine affordable housing in a meaningful way:

Rentable or shared ownership housing through (Housing Associations)

Mixed Housing with a range of need appropriate sizes

Infrastructure requirements are a function of size and social progress. The issue needs to be dealt with in its own right independent of the mix or ‘affordability’ of the development.

The Tory government under Harold MacMillan managed 300,000 houses a year under the 1947 housing Act that you so readily condemn. They did it with a massive expansion of Local Authority building as well as private developers each focussed on what they saw as their priority. But you will not do that and why? Perhaps a discussion with the ghost of Margaret Thatcher will explain.

22(a). Should the Government replace the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 planning obligations with a new consolidated Infrastructure Levy, which is charged as a fixed

proportion of development value above a set threshold?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

Certainly the 106 Levy needs reform as it fails to deliver what communities want and they are too easily excluded from any benefit. However the proposed ‘reform’ is naive at best. As we have seen over the affordable housing debacle, developer will wriggle their way out of their obligations if at all possible. The number of affordable houses built has therefore fallen dramatically (CPRE 2019).

So no do not allow developers a way out of their obligations once agreed. Yes include the land value uplift as this will discourage ‘land banking’ but I remain concerned over that ‘threshold level’. Who sets that level? Where is the detail needed to make an informed judgement? So much here can be turned against the benefit of the community and used by the developer to avoid their social responsibility and enhance their profitability while claiming the opposite with evidence from cunning accounts that know the loopholes buried in the detail.

I also suspect the threshold would remove any levy to many rural communities from the small developments they may encourage.

22(b). Should the Infrastructure Levy rates be set nationally at a single

rate, set nationally at an area-specific rate, or set locally?

[Nationally at a single rate / Nationally at an area-specific rate / Locally]

Nationally at an area specific rate.

22(c). Should the Infrastructure Levy aim to capture the same amount of value overall, or more value, to support greater investment in infrastructure, affordable housing and local communities?

[Same amount overall / More value / Less value / Not sure.

Please provide supporting statement.]

More value

Evidence (see above) shows that the provision of ‘affordable.’ housing in rural areas has declined while profit (until the pandemic) have risen. Many developers also provide shoddy ‘little boxes’ and pay massive increases in ‘compensation’ to their CEO (Persimmon and others). So, yes we should expect more and make sure there are no loopholes or ‘tax breaks’ they can use to avoid them.

22(d). Should we allow local authorities to borrow against the

Infrastructure Levy, to support infrastructure delivery in their area?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No.
Councils should not be taking all the risk, it should be risk sharing with developers. The White paper proposes to collect on sale of the development, this favours the developer over the local community and the developer is taking no risk. I suggest that the infrastructure levy should be collected at a number of stages, i.e. on planning consent, during development and the end. You could incentivise developers to complete on schedule to avoid unnecessary delay.

23. Do you agree that the scope of the reformed Infrastructure Levy should capture changes of use through permitted development rights?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

All should contribute and thereby lower the burden on all.

24(a). Do you agree that we should aim to secure at least the same amount of affordable housing under the Infrastructure Levy, and as much on-site affordable provision, as at present?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Not sure

As discussed above many developers are claiming they cannot deliver the affordable housing that was agreed at consent. Too often LA’s acquiesce in this to avoid the battle of accountants and lawyers with the resultant delays. This, as mentioned above, has resulted in a crash in the provision of ‘affordable’ and social housing especially in rural areas (CPRE survey 2019).

Seeking to maintain that situation is not want we want and one I am sure the White paper seeks to remove and return to the actually agreed provision at base.

However more affordable and social housing is an urgent matter in Bunbury and many other rural communities. The fail to provide adequate housing of this sort means local communities suffer a number of consequences. The forced dispersal of family generation, the inability to downsize in later life and the lack of accommodation for all the key workers who then have to live miles away and travel in causing additional traffic, pollution and expense.

24(b). Should affordable housing be secured as in-kind payment towards

the Infrastructure Levy, or as a ‘right to purchase’ at discounted

rates for local authorities?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

No

Another loophole to attract cunning developers and their accountants.

Build Affordable house to a set standards and targets based on need surveys in each area.

24(c). If an in-kind delivery approach is taken, should we mitigate

against local authority overpayment risk?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

Share the risk

24(d). If an in-kind delivery approach is taken, are there additional steps

that would need to be taken to support affordable housing quality?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes, yes, yes

We must have better standards in all housing but especially in social and affordable housing. The lack of proper enforceable standards is a disgrace and resulted in the smallest houses in Europe.

25. Should local authorities have fewer restrictions over how they spend

the Infrastructure Levy?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Not sure

Currently Bunbury does not directly benefit from the 106 Levy as Cheshire East takes the money and uses it on affordable housing and infrastructure. Moe push on infrastructure would benefit communities generally.

25(a). If yes, should an affordable housing ‘ring-fence’ be developed?

[Yes / No / Not sure. Please provide supporting statement.]

Yes

Critical to all rural communities.

26. Do you have any views on the potential impact of the proposals raised in this consultation on people with protected characteristics as defined in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010?

Community engagement is complex. Why you believe some sort of digital revolution is going to improve matters is the sort of lazy, cheap idea that people without real knowledge of community come up with. Direct personal involvement where opinions are sought and responded to in meetings exhibitions. Social media used by activist to engage might have some impact with some sections of society but not all.

Thoughts on the Pandemic

1. Do masks help?

Cultural differences are always interesting, and I’m defining culture as ‘the way we do things around here. One such difference that has leapt to the foreground during this pandemic is whether we wear masks or not. In many far eastern societies it is taken as normal that as soon as you have symptoms of a cold, flue, or something nastier you cover up with a mask when you go out. The reason is to stop infecting others it’s your responsibility to protect other people. But in the UK and Europe generally wearing masks is more likely to provoke staring and smirking. A visit to the Co-op this week had exactly that effect – although it was a minority of those present I’m pleased to say. Yes, I wear a mask when enter shops. To me its a no-brainer and I have been puzzled by the advice we have been given on the subject. Am I wrong?

What is the evidence on masks and does it square with the official advice? That advice has been pretty clear up to now – don’t bother with masks, just wash your hands and stay 2 meters apart.

WHOIf you do not have any physical symptoms, such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a medical mask. Masks alone can give you a false feeling of protection and can even be a source of infection when not used properly.” Dr. April Baller WHO Health Emergencies Programme (Ref 1).

CDC: “If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers” (Ref 2).

US Surgeon General: “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” (Ref 3).

UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer (Dr Jenny Harries): “If a healthcare professional hasn’t advised you to wear a face mask, it’s usually quite a bad idea. People tend to leave them on, they contaminate the face mask and then wipe it over something. So it’s really not a good idea and doesn’t help” (Ref 4).

The arguments against masks are:

1. A mask gives a false sense of security

2. Transmits infection by not being used correctly

3. Depriving medical staff of scarce resources

The evidence:

One of the best sources of evidence based medical research is the Cochrane reviews. These follow strict protocols looking at all the data available. Two reviews on masks have been undertaken in 2011 and 2020. In the 2011 (Jefferson et al. “Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. 2011” )(Ref 5) The key data is presented as a table shown below:

The Effect size is given as an odds ratio for 9 interventions. The smaller the number the greater the positive effect. All the interventions had a statistically significant result. The effect size indicates how low was the chance of infection. So, N95 masks – the ones used in hospitals came out best (0.17) and wearing a mask was also well worth it.. And wearing a mask is more effective than just washing hands (11 times a day!). Clearly the best strategy is to COMBINE these interventions – Gloves, mask, handwashing and eye protection.

The 2020 review was a follow up on the first metaanalysis. (Burch & Bunt. Can physical interventions help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses? 2020) This paper concluded

The best evidence (moderate certainty) was for handwashing plus masks.

Why wouldn’t the results show that mask are effective when they are taken for granted in a medical setting? The evidence then supports the wearing of masks as they provide real protection. Of course its not perfect protection but lets not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

The second point is that you have to handle masks carefully or they spread infection. So we should wash our hands after taking the masks off? Of course Why is that a greater risk for members of the public compared to medical staff? Not clear. Take the mask off carefully lay it on a disposable paper towel. Use this to place it in the washing machine – Ill get to this in a moment – and wash your hands after putting the paper towel in an appropriate bin. Yes you can re-use masks if kept for personal use and washed after each use. Best washed at a high temperature.

Final question is about what mask to wear. This is irrelevant to the primary question of do masks work. If they do then we should use them. If you don’t wish to use medical masks because of the concerns over the supply chain then do as I do and make your own. Or just cover your face with a closely woven fabric yes its that simple and CAN cut transmission by up to 50% our way our of lockdown!

Here are some ideas:

My preferred option is made from a HEPA vacuum bag. The filtration is better than the N95 respirators (the ones used by the NHS):

However lots more options are available and a good place to start is #Masks4All (ref: 7) good luck and meet me (at 2m separation!) in the Co-op wearing your mask!

More to follow. Watch this space.

A recent update has begun to strengthen the case for wearing masks/face coverings in places where social distancing is difficult (public transport?) or places of work. A recent study from the University of Hong Kong has made a strong case for covering up to protect others and also ourselves. Have a look at this summary from Dr. John Cambell:

Ref 1: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
Ref 2: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html?
Ref 3: https://twitter.com/surgeon_general/status/1233725785283932160
Ref 4: Dr Jenny Harries with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, at 10 Downing Street, March 11th, 2020. https://twitter.com/10DowningStreet/status/1237760980450451456

Ref 5: Jefferson et al. Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21735402

Ref 6: Burch & Bunt. Can physical interventions help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses? 2020 https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cca/doi/10.1002/cca.2965/full

Ref 7: https://masks4all.org/story

Parish Council notes 2020

Please note that the agenda for each Parish Council can be viewed on the official PC website here  The minutes of each meeting are also available on the same web page. Our service is ‘unofficial’ but much quicker!

Please note that each month the latest update will appear at the top of this post:

N.B. The parish council does not hold a meeting during August.

The PC meeting for April is cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Council now has virtual meetings. If you wish to listen in then please contact the PC Secretary. Details on the official PC website:

www.bunburyvillage.info

From our Parish Council correspondent:

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 9 September 2020

An incomplete record this month due to a loss of phone link during the proceedings. Our apologies.

Borough Councillor Report

The Borough Councillor reported that Cheshire East Council is facing serious financial concerns with the extra expenditure due to COVID and a reduction in income from such sources as car park charges and business rates. Cuts are being looked at to fill the gaps and ‘Soft’ reminder letters have gone out for outstanding Council Tax payments. Council owned Gyms and Swimming Pools have resumed opening. Cashless car parking introduced in the borough during COVID has now reverted back to taking cash. Some of the travellers who had taken up residence on the outskirts of Bunbury have now moved on.

Parish Councillor Reports

A Police alert had been received about the theft of bikes and tips have been issued about keeping bikes safe. PCSO is visiting the village regularly particularly in the evening and can be seen around the Co-Op pop up shop and Hurst Close.

Residents had raised concerns about the state of the hedges along Birds Lane.

The Chairman reported that the Chairman’s Cup presented to a resident for services to the community was being awarded to Fiona’s Parker this year for her work on the COVID Support scheme.

Planning Matters

The Cedars, Whitchurch Road, Bunbury 20/2479N, Erection of a detached family dwelling and Garage, new access and associated landscaping. Approval of all reserved matters). No comment from the Parish Council.

Little Orchard, College Lane, Bunbury 20/3289N and 20/3290N. Listed building consent for two storey rear extension with minor alterations. No comment from the Parish Council.

Greenacres, Wyche Lane, Bunbury 20/3555N alterations to front elevation roofs and new finish render finish throughout. No comment from the Parish Council.

Heath House, Bunbury Lane, Bunbury 20/3647N, infill existing covered car port with new dining room and build single storey utility room extension. No comment from the Parish Council.

Rowton Cottage, Bunbury Lane, Bunbury 20/3641N, construction of windowless timber shed and garden studio and associated landscaping to include screening of existing oil tank and waste bins. No comment from the Parish Council.

Decisions made by Cheshire East for information

20/2307N South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011)

Decision: approved with conditions Decision Date: 18/08/2020

Location: Brantwood, School Lane

Proposal Listed building consent for partial removal of lower section gable wall to side of property forming part of internal partition following previous approval 0/0250N & 20/0251N.

20/2304N South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011)

Decision: approved with conditions Decision Date: 18/08L/2020

Location: Brantwood, School Lane

Proposal: Non-Material Amendment to 20/0250N

20/1698N South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011)

Decision: approved with conditions Date: 26/08/2020

Location: The Old Coach House, Bowes Gate Road

Proposal: Conversion of redundant outbuilding to residential use and extension to existing dwelling linking the outbuilding and dwelling

Playing Fields

A wasps nest from the Pavilion roof has been removed. A playground safety inspection has been undertaken and a report recently received with a couple of recommendations. These would be considered by the Playground Committee and reported back to the Parish Council.

With regard to a donation to fund a second outdoor public access defibrillator, the Parish Council has agreed to contribute to the installation of one of the defibrillators on the outside of the Pavilion on the Jubilee Playing Fields.

Consultation – Government Planning White Paper

A consultation on the Government’s White Paper proposing reforms to the planning system in England has been issued. The deadline for comments is 29 October 2020 and the Parish Council agreed to form a sub team to consider the White Paper and formulate a response for consideration at October’s meeting.

Note: Loss of phone link at this point means we are unable to present details on the remaining agenda items.

Bunbury Parish Council meeting – 8 July 2020

A virtual meeting held on line. Unfortunately our correspondent was unable to listen in. The official (Draft) minutes are available here

Bunbury Parish Council meeting – 10 June 2020

Tribute to Eric Lord – former Parish Councillor

Members of the Parish Council paid tribute to former Parish Councillor Eric Lord who had died recently. Eric had served on the Parish Council for 14 years and had particular responsibility for preservation of footpaths and trees and identifying potential flood sites in the village. He was instrumental in drawing up the Village Design Statement which was in place before the current Neighbourhood Plan and used by Cheshire East Council when considering planning applications. His local knowledge, hard work and tenacity to complete tasks made him an invaluable Parish Councillor who made a difference.

Parish Councillor Reports

The Acting Chairman reported that the Bunbury Community Scheme supporting residents during the Covid-19 lock down period was continuing to support residents. The Village Hall will now become the permanent Food Bank collection point with a box for donations being located outside the Hall. A second box would also be added for books, DVDs and jigsaws as part of a community swop scheme.

A second Parish Councillor reported that the Police had sent out an alert to residents of scams in relation to Covid-19 testing warning against making any payments and giving personal details over the phone.

A couple of footpath issues were raised. The possible obstruction of a resident’s fence to the footpath across the field leading to Wyche Road. A Parish Councillor had checked the footpath and found that although the fence had bowed somewhat with the elements the footpath was currently still passable. Any future deterioration of the fence might require intervention should it interfere with the footpath. A second footpath issue relates to Birds Lane and concerns an unmarked footpath on 12 acres of land up for sale alongside Woodworth Green farm. A stile exists but Footpath 13 linking up to Haughton has been lost over the years and a resident has asked that it should be re-instated before the land is sold. Attempts to contact the Cheshire East Footpaths Officer had been unsuccessful. The Parish Council agreed that the footpath should be re-instated and agreed to contact the Borough Councillor for assistance with the matter.

At the last meeting, the Parish Council heard that the consultation on the Local Plan, Site Allocations and Development Policies (SADPD) which includes recommended housing numbers for Bunbury will be delayed due to Covid-19. The latest update is that 2,700 responses had been received to the publication of the draft SADPD and that these would be collated and reported on by September 2020.

A Parish Councillor reported that they had received complaints about people parking cars across residents’ driveways in order to walk their dogs in Saddlers woods; an associated problem was dog poo in the woods. The wider issue of dog poo in the village was discussed and the Parish Council agreed to look at increasing the frequency of collecting bins and putting up posters.

Affordable housing in the village was raised again; one local resident has been on a housing waiting list for two years. Home Choice is the organisation which Cheshire East Council uses for allocating social housing and it was agreed that the resident could contact the Clerk to the Parish Council for advice on how to apply. The Clerk also agreed to send a briefing note to new Parish Councillors about Home Choice.

Planning Matters

Land Adjacent to Woodworth House, Birds Lane, Bunbury, 20/1930N, Proposed small agricultural shed. No objection.

2 Swan Lane, Bunbury, 20/1964N, proposed garage. The Parish Council noted a comment from a neighbour that the garage should be moved slightly to allow for better access and splays and that Highways had no objection to the application. Discussion took place around the height of the garage to incorporate a studio and the fact the application does not mention a studio nor describe its purpose. The Parish Council agreed to object to the application on the grounds that Section 4 of the application does not reflect it as a two-storey building with a studio above the garage and asked that the views of the neighbour on the siting of the garage be taken into consideration.

Variation of condition 8 to allow residential use on existing permission 13/0193N: Conversion of Redundant Stable Block into One Holiday Let Unit, Brook House, Birds Lane, Bunbury, 20/2197N. No objection.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

20/1399N 31/03/2020 South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011) Decision: approved with conditions Decision Date: 15/05/2020. Location: Heath Croft, Whitchurch Road, Bunbury. Proposed Single Storey enclosed porch extension, single storey rear extension and associated internal alterations.

Housing Strategy Consultation

The Parish Council heard that Cheshire East Council has revised and updated its Vulnerable and Older Persons’ Housing Strategy. The document sets out the strategic direction and priorities which will ensure that vulnerable and older residents are able to access safe and suitable accommodation across the borough. The draft strategy and an online survey are available on the Cheshire East Council website. The closing date for comments is 5pm on Monday 13 July 2020.

Cheshire East Licencing Consultation – for comment

The Orchard, Whitchurch Road, Bunbury – Application for a Premises Licence: Licensing Act 2003

Notice is hereby given that Love Delivery Limited have applied on 20 May 2020 to Cheshire East Council in respect of the premises known as The Orchard, Whitchurch Road, Bunbury for a premises licence to provide the following licensable activities:

  • Late Night Refreshment and Sale and Supply of Alcohol (consumption off the premises) for online sales only: Monday to Sunday 12:00 noon to 3:00 am hours.

The Parish Council heard that concerns had been raised by neighbours about disruption to the local community and residential area of a business operating until 3am and agreed to make representations that the hours of business are unacceptable.

Requests from Retailers

The Parish Council received an application from the Bunbury Co-operative store who wish to place a ‘pop up shop’ on the car park whilst the permanent shop is refurbished. The plan is to close the shop from Monday 10 August for 11 weeks. They requested to site the pop-up shop on the Jubilee Fields car park against the hedge backing onto the bowling green to the left of the gate.

The Parish Council supported the application but made a request that the Post Office be included in the temporary arrangements and that the Co-Op should contribute to the Playing Fields in the form of a ground rent. Barriers would be erected to prevent out of hours cars onto the site and local residents would be informed of the arrangements.

Representation had been received from Nantwich Plant stall about selling plants from the Jubilee Car Park on a weekly basis. Currently they deliver but are looking to the future after Covid-19 and are asking the Parish Council to approve in principle and they will make a detailed proposal on timings if approved. Similarly, if the Ocean Wave fish van is not able to use the Nags Head car park once it re-opens then could this be considered in principle too.

The Parish Council felt that if such stalls were to go ahead some fundamental rules would have to be established, such as timing, nominal rent etc. Local residents might have a view and it was agreed to put more thought into such a move and discuss again at a future meeting.

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 13 May 2020

Borough Councillor Report

Issues raised by the Borough Councillor:

  • During the Covid-19 pandemic Cheshire East Council is focusing on support and recovery for the local economy and has been lobbying for local business and directing them to any grants and funding that is available. Vital public services such as bin collection has been maintained throughout the period. For the recovery period, safe work practices are being devised; first virtual Cabinet meeting has taken place and this will be extended to other Council meetings such as Planning so that business can continue. Support has also been provided to Care Homes, Care Leavers, Schools and Childcare Providers.
  • Borough Councillor reported that she is mayor elect for the borough and assured the Parish Council that she would be continuing with her ward council duties.
  • A Parish Councillor asked about the type of affordable housing (for sale, rent or combination of both) on the newly developed site at Hill Close, Bunbury Lane. The Borough Councillor agreed to investigate and report back at the next meeting.

Parish Councillor Reports

The Acting Chairman referred to the Bunbury Community Scheme supporting residents during the Covid-19 lock down period which would continue until lock down is eased. The Parish Council thanked the Chair for organising the scheme. The Playing Field remains open but the play equipment is closed.

A second Parish Councillor reported that she had been approached about the Muller milk tanker using the canal bridge to visit the local farm in contravention of the allowed weight limit. The Parish councillor agreed to contact the company to point this out.

Planning Matters

Stablecroft, School Lane, Bunbury, 20/1403N, To erect an oak framed implement store on a concrete raft under a slate roof. Comment had been raised on the website with regard to the location of the store. No objection was raised by the Parish Council but they supported the comments already raised.

Stoneleigh, Vicarage Lane, Bunbury, 20/1474N, Proposed single storey rear extension and internal alterations. Concerns were raised about the potential loss of car parking space if the extension proceeds. No objection in principle but asked that the car parking issue be reviewed as part of the application.

Land at Bowes Gate Road, Bunbury, 20/1329N, Amendment to the Section 106 Agreement relating to planning approval 15/1666N for 11 dwellings including affordable housing. The Parish Council heard that this application was related to a second application alongside the Medical Centre, whereby the Land Agent for both sites has requested that the affordable housing on the Bowes Gate site be moved to the Medical Centre site which has no allocation of affordable housing due to its size. There are no physical changes to both applications other than the request to move the affordable housing element. The Land Agent is trying to appoint one developer to manage both sites to ensure the affordable housing is delivered.

The Parish Council heard that there was some confusion over the amount of affordable housing contained within the 106 Agreement (8 houses) and the amount proposed by the revised proposal (4 houses). The Borough Councillor agreed to obtain further information from Cheshire East Officers on the position regarding the 4 shared ownership homes that had been in the original application, in addition to the remaining 4 affordable rented properties. Based on the information available at the meeting the Parish Council resolved to object to the homes being moved and the reduction, in number of the 8 homes in the original approved application.

Wyche House, Wyche Lane, Bunbury, 20/1551N, First floor rear/side extension replacement of single storey rear lean-to extension. No comment.

New garage outbuilding, Robins Croft, School Lane, Bunbury, 20/1462N. No comment.

The Old Coach House, Bowes Gate Road, Bunbury, 20/1698N. Conversion of redundant outbuilding to residential use and extension to existing dwelling linking the outbuilding and dwelling (all to become enlarged single dwelling house). No comment.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

19/5534N 29/11/2019 approved with conditions. Decision Date 17/04/2020. Land at Oak Gardens, Bunbury. Reserved Matters

19/5489D 27/11/2019 approved with conditions. Decision Date: 14/04/2020. Land off, Oak Gardens, Bunbury. Proposal Discharge of conditions 6, 7, 9, 12, 13 and 14 of existing permission 16/2010N: Residential development of 15 dwellings with associated works at land at Oak Gardens, Bunbury.

Neighbourhood Plan

The Parish Council heard that the consultation on the Local Plan, Site Allocations and Development Policies (SADPD) which includes recommended housing numbers for Bunbury will be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The original number of additional houses contained in the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan was 80; the SADPD identifies a recommendation of 105 with houses already built or proposed currently standing at 107. The Parish Council recommended that the figure of 105 should be considered as part of updating the Neighbourhood Plan in due course.

The Acting Chairman reported that there had been a meeting with Fisher Germain via Zoom at their request about a possible future housing application; no site identified. The Parish Council referred to the content of the Neighbourhood Plan and the SADPD.

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 11th March 2020

Public session:

One resident spoke during the public session before the formal commencement of the PC meeting. He addressed two issues. Road Traffic speeds and what could be learnt from recent planning decisions that need to be considered during the review of the Bunbury Neighbourhood |Plan.

Traffic Speeds in Bunbury:

A recent survey of traffic speeds in Bunbury noted that average speeds on the three routes monitored, Bunbury Lane, Vicarage Lane and School Lane, all showed mean speeds under 30mph. Did the speed data meet the criteria set out by Cheshire East for the introduction of 20mph zones? Can we see the data? The Cheshire East policy is stated in the document ‘Speed management Strategy’ (2016). The criteria reflect the ‘car centric’ view that has dominated thinking for many years. But things are changing. In the Stockholm Declaration a British Government Minster signed up to a statement along with 129 Minters from other countries. The local authority needs to update its approach and place more emphasis on the protection and encouragement of ‘active’ transport – walking and cycling.

Secondly the speaker address two points that have emerged from recent planning decisions that should be addresses during the forthcoming review of the Neighbourhood plan (BNP). The Oak Gardens (the field adjacent to Oak Gardens is more accurate but not often used) appeal succeeded because the planning Inspector was able to exploit some degree of confusion over the definition of co-location and the ‘start date’ from when the policy should apply. Secondly in the new Duchy development off Bunbury Lane, The Planning Office rejected the objection to the mix of housing on the basis that the BNP contained no explicit policy on what a ‘suitable mix’ of housing means. It has to be spelt out. Likewise with the need for ‘buffer zones’ to protect wildlife corridors as in the case of Oak Gardens again. No policy no protection.

Agenda items:

1 – 3 standard admin items.

4. Borough councillor’s Report: Cllr. Sarah Pochin absent due to illness.

5. Parish councillor Reports:

(I) Cllr. Leila potter:

PC heard of plans to celebrate 700 years of the village Church. (Check for current status)

The retirement of Dr. Helen Black and the presentation of a memento to express the great appreciation for her work in Bunbury Medical Practice.

Spring Fayre on the 28 of this month (cancelled)

Commemoration of VE Day on 9th May (Please check current status)

(ii) Cllr. Ron Pulford:

The forthcoming review of the BNP was discussed and how that process was to managed.

(iii)Cllr. Nick Parker:

A number of points were raised by the Playing Fields representative. The removal of flying tipping items has been carried out. The two fridges have been disposed of appropriately at a cost of £40 to the PC. Discussions followed on how to deter future tipping in the car park using the large bins used by the pavilion users and the field linesman. They could be place in a ‘cage’ but this must be negotiated with the collection service as they would need a key or combination.

6. Planning:

(i) Deed of Variation of Land adjacent to Oak Gardens planning consent. This relates to the changes in the nature of the affordable homes under the 106 agreement with the developers, Crabtree Homes. The application now included 4 one-bedroomed apartments located in the NE corner of the site. These are all rented properties and the option for shared ownership has been lost as a result. This lack of appropriate mix may be contrary to the BNP. In addition the wording of the amendment was considered so open ended as to give the developer ‘carte Blanche’ to make changes to the plans without public consultation. The PC will object to the changes.

(ii) 20/0857N. Resubmission for an extension at the rear of a property. No objections.

(iii)20/0963N Extension at rear in Acreage – no objections.

6.2 Decisions made by Cheshire East:

20/0432N 30/01/2020 South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011)Decision : refused Decision Date : 20/02/2020Location : 4, QUEEN STREET, BUNBURY, CW6 9QYProposal Non-material amendment to application 16/5185N -Proposed rear extension and internal modifications19/5671N09/12/2019 South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury (2011)Decision : approved with conditions Decision Date : 10/02/2020Location : 12, DARKIE MEADOW, BUNBURY, TARPORLEY, CHESHIRE, CW6 9RBProposal Proposed Single storey side extension to form extra living accommodation

6.4 New homes at Bowes Gate and medical practice – no progress on the issues related to these sites.

The council will send representative to a meeting requested by a new developer. |It was emphasised that the PC uses the BNP at these meetings and points to the current situation of housing supply target in the village and Local Plan.

7. Local Policing:

A meeting with the local police team for Bunbury was attended by 1 person despite widespread advertising of the event around the village. Another ‘open’ session in may is planning using the new Police van.

8. Highways and pedestrian issues:

(I) No profess on Cheshire East Sustainable modes of travel to schools Strategy. Concern was expressed at the slow rate of progress.

(ii) The PC is looking at ways in which satellite navigation companies can be informed that the lock bridge is unsafe for heavy goods vehicles and that their software systems may need to be update to avid such vehicles coming through the village.

(iii) Training will be offered on the village sprees camera

9. Footpaths & Rights of way:

Complaints were made about the state of Footpath 17 (near the Yew Tree off Bunbury lane). The muddy conditions were made worse by the vehicles used to access the sheep in the adjacent field. The CE Footpath Officer attended and met the owner of the sheep and requested the path be repaired. It was found to have been improved on a subsequent visit by the same officer. It may be that there is private access rights along part of the path.

11. Playing Fields:

Replacement of the Pavilion building was mentioned but not discussed at this meeting as further reports awaited.

See notes above in Cllr. Reports for details of Fly Tipping.

It was agreed that the Salvation Army clothing collection facility will have to be rejected due impossibility of finding a save location. It was also felt that adequate alternative recycling schemes existed.

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 12 February 2020

Two residents who live in the newly completed Grange Homes that sit alongside the playground area on the Playing Fields on Wyche Lane addressed the Parish Council to express concerns about the number of youths (30-40 one Friday evening) that are congregating post daylight hours and engaging in anti-social behaviour – bad language, smoking and possible drug taking. The incidents are being reported to the Police 101 service but have not been deemed a priority for Police attendance. Incidents have also been reported to the PCSO, Sharon Jones who has visited the residents but not at a time when the youths congregate. Cheshire East Council has also been contacted concerning intimidation of residents and the health issue of some of the rubbish being left behind. The Parish Council had also been contacted and would discuss ways of working together to solve the issue. The Borough Councillor suggested that if such a number of intimidating youths turned up again that the resident should call 999.

A resident from School Lane had previously e-mailed the Parish Council with regard to traffic speeding on School Lane and attended the meeting to hear the results of the autumn speed survey. The Borough Councillor reported that the results on the three areas surveyed in the village, i.e. Bunbury Lane, Vicarage Lane and School Lane showed that traffic speed on average was below the speed limit in all three areas. This gave no leverage to take further action at a Borough Council level. Discussion took place on where the survey was undertaken on School Lane as it was felt speeding occurs nearer the junction as further along the Lane traffic is calmed by parked cars. Signage including a flashing warning 30 mph sign, the potential for ‘sleeping policemen’ and the use of the Parish Council speed gun closer to the junction on School Lane were discussed.

Borough Councillor Report

Issues raised by the Borough Councillor:

  • Interviews are nearly complete for the new Chief Executive for Cheshire East Council and full Council on 20 February will vote for a new mayor.
  • Council Land Housing Supply as part of Local Plan has been re-assessed and demonstrates a seven-and-a-half-year supply well above the requirement of five years. This is good news for preventing speculative housing development.
  • A Brown Field land register is now compiled for Cheshire East area to encourage more use of such sites for development.
  • Site Allocations and Development Policy document which forms part of the continuing Local Plan work has completed its consultation phase with 2,700 responses. These will be worked through. Potential ratification of the process could be during summer 2020.
  • Cheshire East Council has secured £430,000 Government funding for homelessness and prevention work, including supporting offenders released from prison.
  • Cheshire East launched Nominated Neighbour Scheme to support and look after vulnerable neighbours. A Parish Councillor also pointed out that the British Legion has two posts to keep in touch with lonely and vulnerable residents in Bunbury.
  • Two new grant schemes from Cheshire East Council – ‘Bright Ideas’, fund of £250 for an individual to drive an idea forward and ‘Our Bright Idea’, fund for organisations with appropriate governance in place.

Parish Councillor Reports

A Parish Councillor had heard from a resident of Saddlers Wells about the use of the unmade path/road by school traffic explaining that this was not a public road. The Borough Councillor agreed to make enquiries about erecting a ‘Private’ sign on the unadopted road.

Anchor

A second Parish Councillor reported that she had attended the quarterly Police Cluster meeting where no crimes were reported for the autumn period for Bunbury. Speed camera data was also shared. A new Rural Crime Team has been established and the Parish Council wondered if this could assist with anti-social behaviour around the playground area. It was also suggested that the PCSO visit local secondary schools to discuss the issue.

The request to turn a number of stiles into kissing gates on a couple of the village footpaths was discussed again after the failure to gain permission from the land owners. The Parish Council agreed to write to the Walking for Health Club to explain the situation and the Borough Councillor agreed to contact one of the landowners again.

The removal of a fridge and freezer that had been fly tipped on the car park would cost £40 to remove. Other fly tipping had been reported down Birds Lane. The locks on the two black bins used by the Lengths Man had been damaged. It was suggested that the bins be placed into a cage and this would be discussed at the next Council meeting. A Salvation Army recycling bin will be placed in the car park shortly on a three-month trial.

Two trees were reported to have fallen in the recent windy conditions – an Oak with a Tree Preservation Order between Oak Gardens and Wakes Meadow and one along Vicarage Lane.

Planning Matters

Brantwood, School Lane, Bunbury, 20/0251N, Listed Building Consent for demolition of outhouses to the rear and replacement with two-storey outrigger and Garden Room. Two public responses had supported the proposal and the Parish Council agreed not to object to the proposal, but pointed out that the guttering should be cast iron and not plastic, also there appeared to be a discrepancy in roof heights on the plans that need clarification.

The Old Post Office, Bunbury Lane, Bunbury, 20/0492N, change of use of an ancillary building to back of house retail. No objection to this application by the Co-Op to provide more storage space.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

19/0803N Decision: Withdrawn Decision Date: 23/01/2020. Location: Land adjacent to Wyche House, Wyche Lane (Outline permission for 7 houses).

19/5060N Decision: Withdrawn Decision Date: 13/01/2020. Location: Church Bank, Wyche Road. Proposal Listed Building Consent for new vehicular access on to the highway.

New Housing Developments in Bunbury

Strutt and Parker are still in discussions with the Council about the division of the affordable houses between the proposed sites by the Church and Bunbury Surgery. Drainage issues are still outstanding for the Oak Gardens site and building is unlikely to start this year.

Highways Issues

The use of the Parish Council speed gun was discussed which would result in police writing a warning letter to those found to be driving over the speed limit. The Parish Council agreed to put a plan together to undertake speeding surveillance in the future.

Seasonal Events

The Parish Council heard that the church would be celebrating its 700 years anniversary this year and discussed how it could contribute. It agreed to offer the playing fields and pavilion free of charge for any events.

Anchor

VE day will be celebrated on Friday 8 May with a 3pm toast to veterans by the three village pubs as part of a community celebration. A church service will also take place over the weekend.

Bunbury Village Website

The Parish Council will be taking on the website from the previous volunteers and

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 9 January 2020

The Chairman is currently unwell, so the Vice-chairman will be chairing meetings for the time being.

Before the meeting proceeded, representatives from the Royal British Legion attended the meeting to mark the 26-year contribution of Councillor Nick Parker to the organisation of the annual Remembrance Sunday Commemoration. The Chair of the local British Legion made a presentation to Councillor Parker as a thank you for all his work over the years.

Borough Councillor Report

The Borough Councillor presented her report and received questions from parish councillors, as follows:

Cheshire East is to commence a kitchen waste collection service from 6 January 2020. All households will receive a caddy with biodegradable bags for the collection of the waste which can then be put in the green/brown garden waste bin. This will then be collected and taken to the new food processing plant at Leighton to be turned into compost. The service will only work for those residents who have a garden waste bin. The Ward Councillor suggested a Bunbury Ward visit to the Plant to understand the processes and end product to report back to residents.

The state of Brantwood was raised again and the Borough Councillor agreed to contact a family member of the owner for an update on the sale of the property.

The request to turn two stiles into kissing gates along two footpaths to aid wider access for walkers was raised as no progress had been made. This would be looked at again. In addition, progress would be checked on the painting of the ‘dropping off bay outside the school, including the cutting back of nearby tress; and the potential for a strip of land on school lane to be made into a footpath for families walking to school.

A resident had raised the issue of speeding along School Lane; the results of the Autumn speed survey in the village are awaited and would be reviewed when received. The Council heard that Cheshire West and Chester Council has adopted a policy of 20mph within all village locations, but that Cheshire East has not adopted this policy and given the closeness to the border of the two councils this maybe causing confusion.

The state of the local highways, particularly the number of potholes, road sweeping, and gully emptying was raised. With regard to potholes, people were advised to report them on the council website as this would raise t he council awareness of the most offending areas. The Borough Councillor agreed to check with Cheshire East Council with regard to frequency of road sweeping within the village.

Parish Councillor Reports

A Parish Councillor referred to social media feedback via the Bunbury Journal website concerning the erection of the P parking sign at the entrance to the playing fields. Whilst some of the comments were negative about the need for a sign, the majority were supportive of it encouraging people to use a car park and avoid parking on the village lanes.

A second Parish Councillor had been contacted by the PCSO for the village with regard to a complaint she had received from a resident about the anti-social behaviour by a number of youths in the play area late at night over the Christmas period. The PCSO had met with the resident and given her number should this continue to be a nuisance in the new year. It is hoped that a police surgery event could be held in the Pavilion soon so that residents can discuss issues occurring in the village direct with representatives from the Police.

Consultation

Cheshire East Council has been running a survey for the public and Parish Councils to respond to a Community Governance Review. The Parish Council offered feedback to the question of Parish Councils being ‘effective and convenient Local Government? Feedback included the use of the adopted Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan as a framework for considering planning applications, public meetings as necessary, good contact with Police and an active full membership council. Another question referred to the interface between the Parish Council and Cheshire East Council – some members of the Parish Council felt that the pace of progress at the borough council sometimes reflected badly on the work of the Parish Council. Boundary issues was also a question and the Parish Council discussed the fact that the Yew Tree and nearby houses were actually in Spurstow although from a community point of view the Yew Tree is regarded as a village facility.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

19/3767N Decision: approved with conditions – 6 and land rear of 6, Bunbury Lane, Bunbury. Proposal Reserved Matters – Erection of 15 Dwellings

The Parish Council heard that several objections had been made to the application against the number of large houses being proposed (9 five bed homes). The Planning Officer explained that the Neighbourhood Plan only refers to a mix of houses and as there were smaller houses included in the overall figure of 15 there was no basis to refuse the application.

19/4983N Decision: approved with conditions – Brook View, Sadlers Wells, Bunbury – Single storey rear extension, single storey link and partial garage conversion with associated alterations.

Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan

Notification had been received from Cheshire East Council that modification to the Neighbourhood should be considered. This is a long-term process that would be considered over the next one to two years.

Correspondence

Mid-Cheshire Grounds Maintenance Company have written to the Parish Council offering to continue with the current grounds maintenance work for the village at the current price fixed for the next two years. The Parish Council agreed to accept the offer.

A request had been made for permission to sweep the playing field with a metal detector following the loss of a medal on the field. The Parish Council agreed but asked that if any significant digging was required Councillor Nick Parker be contacted in the first instance.

Christmas

Good weather on Christmas Eve aided a good turn-out for carols round the Christmas tree and £307 was raised for Tarporley Hospital.

A Non-Material Minor Adjustment

Bowes gate Development (20/1406N)

This is an application to make a ‘minor adjustment’ to the original application.(15/1666N). This application was for 11 dwellings to include affordable housing ‘on-site’. Now the developers wish to ‘transfer’ the affordable housing to the development next to the medical centre off Vicarage lane.

Let’s remind ourselves of the consent given to the Vicarage Lane site. The site has a longer than normal planning history that took the size of the development from 12 dwellings (3 affordable to 9 market) down to 7 that were eventually approved (4 ‘town houses’ (terraced), 1 pair of semi-detached & 1 detached) but no affordable housing. At the time of the original application the developer claimed

The ethos of this scheme has been to deliver new housing which reflects and respects Bunbury’s distinct historic character and appearance, whilst delivering a mix of houses which meets the needs of the community.

(Supporting Planning Statement – Land at Vicarage lane.)

Subsequently(19/0371N) the developers applied for 8 dwellings all to be town houses. It wasn’t clear why this adjustment had been made. The site did not at the time reach the threshold of 15 dwellings that would require the inclusion of 30% affordable housing. No mention was now made of affordable housing.

The original Bowes Gate application was proposed by the Rural Housing Trust Ltd who sought to build 11 dwellings, 4 socially rented, 4 shared equity, and 3 market houses. They have now sought to build 11 market houses on the Bowes Gate site and designate some or all of the Vicarage Lane dwellings as ‘affordable’ i.e. social renting or shared equity. The details have not been given as yet and technicaly neither site need deliver any afforable housing.

Comment:

Why would I oppose this move? Three reasons come to mind. First, eight affordable homes will be lost from the Bowes Gate Road development together with the original 3 from the vicarage Lane site. From a total of 11 affordable houses to some unknown number, if any. If the ‘transfer’ of all 8 affordables to the Vicarae Lane, we are still down by 3 from the original total that justifiably, it may be argues, helped get the developers the consent in the first place.

Essentially this is looks like an attempt to up the amount of profit that the developer can obtain overall. In itself, that would seem fairly normal. But from the villages point of view this may come at a cost.The Bowes Gate Road site has considerable ‘potential’ in marketing speak. It will have open view to the south in lies in a very attractive location in Upper Bunbury. Just as we saw in the two Duchy developments I have little doubt we shall see plans for large expensive properties.

We already have enough large expensive 4 – 5 bedroomed houses either built, building or due to start; the Grange has 9, Hill Close another 9, and east off Bunbury Lane , on the new Duchy site, another 9 are due, plus the 9 expected on the Oak Gardens development arriving some time in 2021.

Bunbury has more than delivered it fair share of the ‘executive’ housing and gone above and beyond on meeting its Local Planrequirement. Time to call a halt on this type of speculative land grab. And is it the role of a rural housing trust to deliver this type of property? I hope I am mistaken and they will produce something that meets the needs of the village and those seeking to gain a foothold on the property ladder in the area where they grew up and/or work. When need more semi-detached 3 bedroomed dwellings – an increasingly rare type of housing where the ‘executive’ house

Thirdly, this plan smells of socal ‘cleansing’. The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan, in line with what I would say is the dominant British trend seeks to maintain a mix house types. With a mix of housing can come to some degree at least a socal mix. Perhaps its more an income mix but the two are related. In a number of reports on planning appications the Cheshire East Officers refer to ‘pepper potting’ of different houseing types and affordable homes across a given site. The Bowes Gate Road site had a large social housing element with a modest but appropriate market sector. Appropriate in the sense that Housing Associations need to self-fund their developments so each one must ‘seed’ the next. Now, the Bowes Gate Road site has the potential to become another Duchy style ‘mega bucks’ development. Nodoudt the land holders will reap a reward as will the rural trust IF they remain the developers and don’t also ‘transfer their interst to the Vicarage Lane site. Wheels and deals?

In the worse case senario therefore we will have a group of 11 market houses designed to generate considerable profit. To help ensure its commercial success, someone thinks it necessay that all social housing is now eliminate from the site. On the Vicarage Lance site, some at least of the dwellings will be reclassied as ‘afforable’. The effect of this shuffling about will be a form of ‘gettoisation’ or a complete lack of mixing. That is bad planning and is socially unhealthy. We don’t become a better society by livving apart, or allowing people to shut themselves away with other ‘People Like Us’.

Progress on Brantwood

Brantwood Applications: (20/0251N and 20/0250N

The Brantwood story continues with a couple of new applications (see above). This property has been a bit of a ‘rotten tooth’ stuck at the centre of the village. Their have been several attempts at getting this property upgraded to a standard that will make it saleable. Let us hope this version is successful.

Why two applications? Both contain much the same information but the second is in the form of an application for demolition of parts of the listed building. (Grade 2).

Successful applications were made (17/3559N & 17/3560) but the owners were unable to proceed at that time. It has now been decided to renovate the property for their own occupation. Many people would like to see a successful renovation and the occupation of Brantwood. But it is important that the village gains a good quality dwelling. So, what are the details?

Firstly, the demolish ion is of the wood store and outbuildings. These are recent (20thC) additions whose removal will not disturb anyone. In there place the plans envisage a separate garage and additional space amounting to 1.5 times the size of a single garage. A new Garden Room is added to the design that was given the go-ahead previously. The essential ‘historic’ part of the building is retained.

Front elevation:

The side elevation shows the first floor extension at the rear as well as the garden room:

Here are the floor plans:

finally the site ‘bird’s eye view’:

On balance the applications are a good solution. We have the removal of some shabby outbuildings, the retention of the historic core of the property and some new additions that will make the place livable. Purists might complain about modern additions to a listed property. The price of leaving well alone would be more years of steady decay and possible neglect until some use is found for the site or even the total demolition if it becomes unsafe. This seems to be a workable solution.

Duchy have a new development (19/3767N)

Update October 2020

Duchy make a hurried return!

Yes folks, Duchy Homes are back in charge of the development to the east of Bunbury Lane. This development is now being referred to as Cardamine Gardens.

The five’ Affordable’ houses have been acquired by Guinness Partnership and the remaining 10 houses are already being snapped-up.

Update July 2020

Duchy exit stage left…..

During our ‘confinement’ the development of this site has switched back again to the original applicants, The Guinness Partnership. We don’t know the reason, a falling out, or the impact of the pandemic on development plans? Your guess is as good as mine. Housing Associations have a reputation for ‘glacial progress’ and this development s appears to bare out that accusation. In their recent letter to local residents they declare the involvement of Duchy Homes has now ended and that involves some changes to the application that was originally given consent to the reserved matters. Essentially Duchy wants the look of the houses altered so they no longer look like Duchy Homes. The site layout and the provision of the affordable Homes is not altered.

Update January 2020

I regret this news has been delayed due to the website crash in December last year.

The Duchy has now been given the go ahead on this site. No changes to the application have been made and the dwellings will remain as:

2 x one bedroom bungalows

2 x two bedroom dwellings

1 x three bedroom dwelling

1 x four bedroom dwelling

9 x five bedroom dwellings

Much of the objection to this application focussed on the mix of housing. The original application that received consent proposed just 4 five bedroomed properties. The current proposal is to have 9 five bedroomed houses. Why were these objections ignored? Put simply there is no policy on mix of housing on new development. This what the PO has to say:

The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan states within the consultation section that ‘all new housing developments shall provide a mix of size, design and type of dwellings including social, low cost market housing and starter homes’. The glossary to the BNP also includes reference to dwelling mix as ‘the mix of different types of homes provided on a site. A mix may typically include a range of house types from 2 to 5 bedroom houses’. Despite these references there is no specific policy relating to housing mix/sizes within the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan. (My emphasis).

Officer‘s Delegated Report 19?3767N

Perhaps that is something to consider when we get to the time that the BNP is to be revised. It is not the only ‘gap’ in the ‘defence system’ that the BNP was to provide. But that is a topic for another day.

The Report goes on to reject the objection to this application on the grounds that the developer has not provided 30% of affordable housing. This debate centres round the demolition of the Retirement bungalow (No. 6) to improve access to the site. While the new build of affordable homes meets the 30% target the overall effect on the village is that we have a net gain of 4 not 5 affordable homes. If that calculation is done then the provision falls to 26.67%.

 Update September 30 th 2019

Land off Bunbury Lane: ( New Duchy Development)

My first observation about the progress on this site is what a contrast with the previous site off Oak Gardens. Duchy are experienced and know how to deal with the reserved matters, like it or not. This week has seen the arrival of application 19/4418D to discharge (most of ) the conditions laid down at the appeal 16/0646N . We have statements on construction and environment, drainage, ecological management, a topographical survey, traffic management and a Geotechnical Report on the site. Some of this work is new but others were clearly begun under the previous owner, Guinness Partnership. A couple of interesting points from the ecological work is that hedgehog gaps will be made to ensure they have free movement to the other fields around the site. As well as some planting along the eastern boundary the ‘ecological enhancement area’ on the northern edge of the site will be sown with wildflowers and native fruit trees.

The bulk  of the objections on this site point to the miss match between the original consent where the majority of houses were 4 bedroom properties and the move to 9 five bedroom dwellings. As I have pointed out elsewhere the problem with outline consents is that you just don’t know what you are going to get. Much of the material presented at this early stage can be window dressing much as we have seen in the struggles with the O ak Gardens development but also with the Saddlers Wells site that changed from the original consent. The trend is always to put in more houses and make them larger.

 

Original Comments:

At long last we have details of the development behind the retirement homes along Bunbury Lane. This site shares a bit of history with the Hill Close development. The original application was made by Wulvern Housing Association just after the afore mentioned site. The consensus at the time was broadly in favour of the site and opposed to the Hill Close development. However,  Hill Close application was, after a number of permutations, approved before the Wulvern. The original Wulvern application was then refused  on the grounds of co-location (see Policy H2a in the Neighbourhood Plan) with the Hill Close site. A battle then ensued over this application with much discussion of the meaning of ‘co-location’ ; . It went to appeal and the Inspector came down on the side of the developers and defined ‘co-location’ as being next door to another site and agreed that a small paddock was sufficient distance to meet the requirements of the policy. A serious blow to the ‘co-location’ principle. That was in 2016 and since then the Wulvern has become the Guinness Partnership and they have now sold the site to Duchy Homes. It they that have put in the application ( 19/3767N )

What has emerged? Here is the proposed layout:

Layout of site to the east of Bunbury lane

What we have then is a site dedicated to the construction of large 5 bedroomed properties squeezed into about two-thirds of the site. Four ‘affordable ‘; dwellings are planned in the least favoured part of the site where else ? direct ly behind the retirement homes. Here are the details of the affordable housing planned.

Number Plots Type of homes Tenure
2 4 & 5 1 bedroomed 2 person Bungalows Affordable rent
1 3 2 bedroomed 4 person house Affordable rent
1 1 3 bedroomed 5 person houses Shared Ownership
1 2 2 bedroomed 4 person house Shared Ownership

Next is the  market orientated housing plans :

Number Plots Type of homes Tenure
1 6 4 bedroomed Freehold
9 7 – 15 5 bedroomed Freehold

The space at the end of  plot is described as a … retained ecological area . . ‘;;; and  . . This is an important feature for the local residents and has been retained in order to strengthen links to the existing PROW while retaining the rural character.’

That is a welcome feature but also exists as a potential area of expansion for a further  6 to 7 additional houses at some point in the future. Will it have a legally binding covenant protecting it from development rather like, we are told, the paddock to the south of the site?

How has the application changed from the one presented in 2016?

It is perhaps worth looking back at the application that was given consent and looking at the allocation of housing types then envisioned.

The affordable houses were 5 in total although with the loss of the retirement bungalow on Bunbury Lane this was a net of 4 dwellings. No change. These smaller properties are sorely needed in Bunbury, a situation reflected in the most up-to-date housing needs survey completed in 2013. People want to stay in the village but down size and thereby free up family accommodation for other villagers and new comers. The real shift in provision comes in the ‘market sector’ of the  application. The original application only provided for four 5 bedroomed houses not the 9 we now have. That is a massive shift in the target market the developers are aiming at

Why we should object to the proposal in the new Duchy Home application.

A perpetual problem with developers is their unwillingness to to provide the sort of homes that are needed by the community. This problem brought about the requirement of developers to provide a specific number of affordable houses if the size of the development exceeds a certain level. The original act in 1990 was seen by the current government as a barrier to building new homes. Developers were, apparently reluctant to build because of the burden of the affordable housing requirement specified by the act and negotiated with the local authority. The new act in 2013 gave developers the ability to question the ‘viability’ of any affordable housing requirement. The result has been a significant reduction in the number of affordable houses being built.(Homes England – Housing Statistics).

The Duchy Development off Bunbury lane is pretty typical of the allocation of housing types we have seen in the village. While the building of 5 new ‘affordable’ homes appears generous we should remember that it is only a net addition of 4 homes as one of the retirement homes on Bunbury lane is being demolished to improve access to the site. That is 26% of the site allocation of 15 homes. The bare minimum .

The remaining 10 houses also reflect the market driven approach of development these days. One 4 bedroomed house and 9 five bedroomed homes . Given the evidence of the The Grange development and the prospectus provided by Duchy Homes this are set to sell at premium prices. Apart from the possibility of purchases by retired couples, the majority of houses will attract working couples and families commuting in and out of the village.

The village doesn’t need more of these large houses. The current housing needs survey(2013) did not show anything more than the addition of 1 four bedroomed per year. What it did show was the need for many single and double bedroomed houses and that scarce commodity the 3 bedroomed semi-detached house. The development next to the medical Centre offers some relief for people wishing to stay in the village, both downsizers and first-time buyers with 7 affordable homes available. A further 20 (including both Duchy sites) affordable homes are completed or due to be built from existing planning consent. That is out of a total over 100 houses built in the village since 2010.

Oak Gardens Development

Yes another update on oak Gardens! When will it end.

Having been refused on several reserved matters , Crabtree are back in double quick time with a new applications (19/5534N and 19/5489D).

What Crabtree has now created is four 1 bedroomed apartments. These replace the two two bedroomed semi-detached properties as shown on this site plan:

It has long been argued that the site was overcrowded. This was due primarily to the desire of the developer to build as many 4 and 5 bedroomed ‘Executive’ homes as the site could bear. The Planning Officer has clearly been at work and made it clear that Crabtree must respond seriously to the issues raised by Cheshire East Officers and members of the public in the comments made on previous plans. In the latest iteration they have made a number of important changes:

1. The number of houses across the western boundary has been reduced from 6 to 5

2. We have more 3 bedroomed (shown in yellow) properties

3. The 4 affordable homes have been converted to single bedroomed apartments.

Extra room has been created by the reduction in space allocated to the ‘affordable homes’ and the introduction of ‘market’ directed semi-detached homes next to those affordable dwellings. This has allowed the developers to give the required space to the veteran ash tree and as noted above, put in few houses in the west

The Parish Council remains concerned about the change to the affordable houses. Here are its latest comments:

Bunbury Parish Council objects to the application on the grounds that the four affordable homes that are mentioned are not clear from the diagram or the design statement. It is believed that the original application may have contained a different mix of affordable housing. The detail needs to be more specific

The design statement attached the application is noteworthy for saying very little of substance despite looking a bit more professional. Again, the contrast with the Duchy Homes statement on the site they have acquired off Bunbury Lane is a sharp lesson in how to do it right first time. That said the need for single bedroomed homes in Bunbury is clearly evidenced. Likewise we have to be pleased to see more three bedroomed properties as these are often in short supply in Bunbury but in strong demand.

Full report by the Planning Officer is available here:

report on refusal of reserved matters _ Oak Gardens

In Summary:

The layout does not make adequate provision for the veteran Ash tree.

The layout would be dominated by parked cars at the entrance of the site.

Hence, it fails to comply with policy SE1 of the Cheshire East Local Plan and policy H3 of the Bunbury neighbourhood Plan and the Cheshire East Design Guide.

The separation distances are in places below the recommended distances set out in the adopted guidance.

Those houses numbered 10-14 on the plan would be 1 metre above houses in Wakes Meadow. ‘;This would exacerbate the impact of the development.(Properties 5 – 7 Wakes meadow are identified).

Again this would be contrary to policy BE1 of Nantwich & Crewe Local Plan and BNP policy H3.

How long this refusal will delay matters is difficult to estimate. The developers need to come up with a site layout that deals with all the issues identified in the Planning Officers report. To me, the underlying issue that emerges once again,  is that the plan to put 15 dwellings on this site is just not achievable if all you want to build is 4-5 bedroom detached ‘executive’ style properties. Fewer, smaller houses of the type needed in the village would not be such a problem but potentially less profitable.

Latest Update October 29th 2019:

Cheshire East has refused reserved matters consent on the land at Oak Gardens!

Announced yesterday the planning officer has refused to discharge the reserved matters conditions 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, & 14 listed in application 19/3992N The reason given by the planning officer, Simon Greenland, is that no agreement has been made on an acceptable layout of the site. It is clear from the comments made on each of the conditions that they were close to agreement but continue to be held up by the lack of details on the floor and ground levels so that a proper evaluation of the site layout can be made. This is of key importance to local residents impacted by this development. From the start there has been concern of the height ad proximity of the dwellings on this site relative to existing properties and trees. It was a point made by the HM Inspector in her report on the appeal:

Condition 14

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

Appeal Decision APP/R0660/W/16/3165643

The department at Cheshire East raising this objection was Heritage & Design – Forestry. Their comment was :

The condition requires a full site survey and datum, levels across all site boundaries and across the site and adjoining gardens including floor levels of adjoin buildings. As far as I can ascertain all that has been provided is finished floor levels. Given the topography of the site, the provision of existing/proposed levels are critical to enable assessment of the impact on existing site constraints.

I am assuming that a new application will be presented shortly to cover this refusal. Time is starting to become an issue however. The Appeal result is dated 31st May 2017 and the developers have until the 31st of may 2020 to resolve all matters. If not the process will start have to be restarted with a fresh application. However, it is important to remember this is effectively the last condition, a really key one, and while  details on condition 6, 7, 9, 12 and 13 are refused along with condition 14 the real issue is the later.

 

The original comments:

Many of you will now have had notification of the developers plans for the field next to Oak Gardens

Development plans for the field next to Oak Garden have been lodge with Cheshire East planning department. They can be viewed on their website here. If you wish to do your own search the planning reference is 18/6338N.

This is part of the ‘reserved matters’ relating to the outline planning permission granted to Crabtree Homes on 31st May 2017 at appeal. Under the schedule laid (Appeal Decision on Application 16/20210N) down by the HM Inspector in Item 1:

Details of the appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale, (hereinafter called “the reserved matters”) shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority before any development takes place and the development shall be carried out as approved

Here is the proposed layout of the site (updated 29/01/2019):

Amended Layout of Oak Gardens development showing distances to points on adjoining properties. (NB ‘OG’ indicates obscure glass.

The Existing Site:

Without wish to alarm residents I do wish to draw your attention to the Existing Site Plan submitted with application 18/6338. You can see this just below:

 

Existing Site Plan for application 18/6338

The red line defines the site, or does it? The line is a series of straight lines drawn on the plan that ‘roughly’ marks out the site. But it does not follow the boundary fences. It cuts across some gardens and in places locates substantial trees in peoples gardens as being in the site. Probably just a draughting error. May be not. We must speak to the developer to clarify this one.

The Proposed Layout plan (1418-P005):

This plan shows a number of radical changes to the one submitted as part of the original 16/2010N application.

 The important changes that I have noted are:

a) The location of the houses on the western border has increased to 6 properties with No 6 coming very close to the back garden of No 9 Wakes Meadow. Such a location must seriously reduce the privacy of the existing and future residents. I would think this gable end must be within 2 or 3m at best (guesstimated until I can measure the plan). Is it not normal to allow 10m to preserve privacy and existing resident amenity?

A similar problem occurs at the other end of the site where the affordable homes now encroach on the amenity of the three homes that front onto Bunbury Lane at this point to the north of the access road.

The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) states under Housing Policy H5 Design:

Demonstrate that the amenities of neighbouring dwellings will not be adversely affected through overlooking, loss of light or outlook, over dominance or general disturbance.

This point is emphasised by BNP Policy LC1 – Built environment:

..demonstrate a high quality of design and a good standard of amenity for existing and future occupiers of the proposed development, at the same time ensuring that the amenities of neighbouring properties will not be adversely affected.

These plans therefore pose a serious loss of privacy and amenity to existing residents. It is not beyond the wit of skilled architects to solve this problem.

In her report on the appeal of application 16/2010N on the land off Oak Gardens, the Inspector laid down a series of conditions. This forms the schedule at the end on the document and stipulate what MUST be done and in what order. A number of these conditions have relevance to any of our objections to these plans. The inspector identifies condition 1, 8, 10, 11 and 13 as pre-commencement conditions as they cannot be satisfactorily dealt with any other way

Condition 1: requires the developer to submit ‘Details of the appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale, (hereinafter called “the reserved matters”) shall be submitted

That would appear to have been fulfilled by the plans currently on display on the Cheshire East (CE) website. Click here to view

Condition 8 of the schedule:

No development shall commence until the public right of way through the site has been diverted as shown on the approved Footpath Plan.’ (Schedule 8)

While the appeal against the original path orders was rejected, a new appeal against the subsequent amendments to those orders is still ongoing. It is good to note that the Cheshire East Footpath Team are on the job , spurred on by Susie Reed -and have already lodged an objection to the application.

Their comments are worth attention because the project must stop until the issues are dealt with:

We wish to object to the Reserved Matters planning application (18/6338N) as the developers Landscape Plan does not reflect the proposed widths of FP14 Bunbury as recorded in the Footpath Diversion Order and previously agreed with the developers.

FP14 runs from the gate into the field to the kissing gate in the middle of the southern boundary (and onwards over the next field), near to the west end of Oak Gardens. Footpath 15 the runs from the kissing gate along the southern boundary to the style leading to the small bridge over the Gowy brook. the Footpath team comment:

Public Footpath No.15 – although this section of public footpath has not required a diversion, it has previously been mentioned that as it is proposed to enclose the path a minimum of 2.5 metres for the footpath would be required. However as this footpath also follows a existing hedge to the southern boundary of the site, it is assumed the Nature Conservation Officer will be recommending that a buffer is also required for this section. Therefore a greater width would be required.

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. Development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details.
No such updated impact assessment or mitigation strategy has been forth coming.

Condition 11 is addressed further down the page.

b) Secondly are concerns related to the proposed gardens of these houses and the extent this poses a serious threat to the local ecology and an attack on the BNP Landscape and Environment Policy.

In outlinning its polcy toward the environment the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) states that one of the key issues it wishes to address is:

To continue to protect wildlife, especially those endangered species such as great crested newts, birds of prey and owls. (BNP p22)

The specific policies that it uses to enforce this are:

Policy ENV3 -Woodland, Trees, Hedgerows, Sandstone
Banks, Walls, Boundary Treatment and Paving

Incuded in the policy are the statements:

All new developments should seek to protect local woodland, trees, hedgerows, wide verges, sandstone banks, walls, boundary treatment

All new development close to existing mature trees will be expected
to have in place an arboricultural method statement to BS5837
standard or equivalent before any work commences. This will detail
tree protection policies to be employed during construction.

No such statement has been made.

Policy ENV7 – Buffer Zones and Wildlife Corridors opens with the statement:
The existing woodlands, wildlife sites, drainage ditches, brooks and culverts
will be maintained and enhanced and, where appropriate, new buffer zones and wildlife corridors will be created to increase the biodiversity of the plan area.

The western border of the site backs onto a stream – a tributary of the River Gowy. This is designated in the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) as a Wildlife corridor in Policy BIO 1 – Bunbury Wildlife Corridor ( Map Reference Appendix C Map 1 BNP).

A key passage in the Justification of this policy is

The designated area should incorporate all semi–natural habitat along the river corridor and include a non–developable buffer zone to protect the corridor from issues such as ground water and light pollution, and the spread of invasive garden species.

This is specified in the CE Principle Nature Conservation Officer and repeated by HM Inspector in giving her consent to the development at appeal.

I understand that the application site falls within an indicative wildlife corridor as shown in the NP. The NP recommends a 15m non-developable buffer zone adjacent to the wildlife corridor. The Council has acknowledged that this appears to have been achieved in the indicative layout and I have no reason to find otherwise.

Now the proposed site and landscape plan show the ‘buffer zone’ has gone and gardens appear to extend to the banks of the stream. The developer has even indicated a gate is to be provided to better access the wildlife corridor! If the corridor and its protective buffer zone are subsumed into the gardens we can clearly see the dangers to the wildlife and the environment. Undergrowth will be cleared, trees will be cut back ‘the threat of falling branches poses a danger both to my house and children cut them down!’, people will invade this quiet area and drive out the wildlife. This amounts to a cynical rejection of the BNP polices designed to protect these essential environments. It is also a complete reversal of the plans presented that can be seen below comparing the landscape plans before and after planning consent has been granted.

Here is the current proposal for landscaping the site:

New landscape plan of site showing position of houses and some limited planting of hedges.

Here is the amended version that now puts back many of the mitigation features originally proposed. Why did we not get this plan first time ?

Latest landscape plan (29/01/19) showing restoration of many of the ecology mitigation features not included in the first version shown above.

It is interesting to view the original layout and features to support the ecology of the field. Here is the original plan:

Indicative layout of site showing position of houses roads and ecological enhancement items required.
Original Landscape plan submitted with application 16/2010N

The latest landscape plan now shows the pond, the Hibernacula Mounds, Habitat Mounds, Wooden Compost Bins, and apart from some planted fence lines no additional planting round the pond or the old ash tree. Much of the area behind the row of house adjacent to the brook still is incorporating the 15m buffer zone required by the Nature Conservation Officer and shown on the original landscape plan. This has now been included within the gardens. The ‘buffer zone’ protecting the wildlife corridor has gone. the wildlife corridor on this side of the brook has also effectively gone.

Condition 11 specifies:

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.

No such plan has been submitted.

These matters will be decided by the assigned Planning Officer, Simon Greenland. It is important to register your concerns about these proposals by the 13th February. I will make available some of my concerns as soon as possible but numbers and specific concerns about the plans really do matter. It is pointless to rehash points made in the original debate about this development. The focus has to on these particular plans, such as impact on existing dwellings, privacy, protection of landscape as specified in the various environmental assessments and agreements. More on this soon.

This application is therefore incomplete and cannot be considered as it does not comply with the conditions laid down by the inspector. Both conditions 10 and 11 come with the preamble:

Before the approval of the final reserve matters application…

Neither have met. The Planning Officer assures me that the information is on its way. But the point is, it is not available now for proper scrutiny. The clock is running and unlike council officer members, the public need time to check the website, think, and marshal their comments. Presenting critical information late in the day is just another variant of the ‘A good Day for bad news’ strategy that governments, corporation and businesses are inclined to use when they do not want the hassle of accountability.

November Parish Council Notes 2019

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 13 November 2019

A member of the public thanked the Parish Council for the superb organisation of the bonfire and firework display on 5 November.

Policing Issues

The Chairman reported that the future policing for the village on Remembrance Sunday is under threat due to resourcing issues. The Chief Police Officer has given notice that this will be the last year but the Police Commissioner has stated that he is keen to see such police support continue.

The Parish Council had received a list of police surgeries for the area; all held outside the village with the nearest being at Calveley.

Highways

The wording for marking on the road outside the school to identify a bus/taxi bay is still under discussion at Cheshire East Council. The erection of the parking sign for the village is also still with Cheshire East Council.

Planning Matters

19/4983N Brook View, Sadlers Wells, Bunbury CW6 9NU

Single storey rear extension, single storey link and partial garage conversion with associated alterations – Proposal for the current large garage next to the house to have a 2-bedroom extension plus a garden room at the rear. The Parish Council noted that this is a proposed extension to a recently built house and questioned the conversion of a garage to accommodation. The Parish Council did not object to the proposal but agreed to draw the Planning Officer’s attention to a recently built separate garage being linked to the main house with the addition of 2 bedrooms.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

19/3985D 21/08/2019 South (CE) Delegated Agenda Bunbury

Refused Decision Date: 29/10/019

Land off, Oak Gardens, Bunbury

Proposal Discharge of conditions 6,7,9,12,13 &;14 of existing permission

16/2010N approved under appeal; Residential

Development of 15 dwellings with associated works at Land at Oak Gardens, Bunbury, CW6 9QN

The Parish Council heard that most conditions had now been met with the exception of Condition 14 – site levels to include a full site survey across site and adjoining gardens – still remains outstanding.

New Housing Development in Bunbury

Strutt and Parker had contacted the Parish Council to update them on the two approved housing developments at Vicarage Lane and Bowes Gate Road. They are currently in consultation with Cheshire East Council concerning their proposal to move all the social housing element from the Bowes Gate Road development to Vicarage Road with the potential for the whole development at Vicarage Road to be affordable housing. The Parish Council agreed to ask the Ward Councillor to obtain more information from the Planning Officer involved and report back.

Pedestrian Issues within the village

A proposal for a pavement on a current strip of land on School Lane is under consideration following the offer of the land by the owner. The Parish Council is still awaiting advice from Cheshire East Highways on the feasibility of constructing a pavement in that location.

Playing Fields Report

The recently repaired ceiling following a water leak was showing signs of further leakage and the builder would be contacted. The Wednesday Club has asked if it will be possible to site another bench near the Pavilion for elderly walkers to sit on. The Village Day Committee had agreed to fund the bench. The potential for the replacement of the Pavilion building in the long term was discussed and initial research work would be done, including costing and funding of other village buildings such as at Eaton/Cotebrook.

Brantwood, School Lane

The Borough Councillor had spoken to a family member of the owner of Brantwood in the centre of the village and been advised that the property had now been sold subject to contract. The person also undertook to contact Environmental Health to look at the pest infestation that had been reported.

Parish Councillor’s report

A Parish Councillor had been contacted about the development at Greenway, Wyche Road not complying with planning requirements concerning the erection of screened glass and had used plain glass instead. The Parish Clerk agreed to obtain the details and contact Cheshire East Planning to clarify the situation.

Large pot holes were reported outside the new Duchy development on Wyche Lane with the suggestion that the developer should re-instate the road. The Parish Council would contact the developers direct to raise the issue.

Cheshire East Council is undertaking a consultation on its proposed 4-year budget proposals – 2020-2024 and the Parish Council agreed to respond to the consultation.

Correspondence

An e-mail has been received about a drainage problem outside a house in Wyche Lane. The Ward Councillor was investigating the problem.

Bonfire Night

The successful Bonfire Night made an income after expenditure of £1,117.

Christmas

The Christmas tree would be erected on 1 December. Crewe Brass band had confirmed that they would be attending the carols round the tree and an extra speaker was being purchased for the event.

New Housing site identified for development.

Update September 30th 2019

No progress on this development. While only a small site of 7 proposed dwellings, it has provoked a considerable number of objections. The original decision date has moved away the last being in July although the date for last comments was August. Odd. Nonetheless we are left in the dark as to what the issues are that are delaying the decision. It may be good news but I would be cautious in coming to any conclusions.

Wyche lane Application 19/0803N

A new application for 7 dwellings has been lodged with East Cheshire Council for a site located off Wyche Lane.

Site Location of proposed Wyche Lane development

This application is, regrettably, for outline permission so we will not really know what is going to be built there during this stage of the planning process. All matters are reserved or as the ‘Design statement’ somewhat ominously states:

1.7……Access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale are reserved for future determination. (my emphasis)

Planning, Design and Access Statement (Land at Wyche Lane, Bunbury) Savills

What that means is that the applicants want consent with minimal restrictions on what they eventually build. There is some reasonable commercial logic in that as it does not tie the hands of the developer who remain able to respond to market trends. However they claim the site lies in ‘..a strong market area and as such if successful the scheme will be brought forward in 2020, subject to planning.’ (1.8)

This would suggest they must already have a clear idea of what would best sell in this location. Housing trends do not change in little more than year, but given Brexit who knows!

Indicative Layout of 7 dwellings on the site.

Unlike the recent Oak Gardens application all the basic material is present on the Cheshire East Planning website HERE

We knew that the Parish Council have held discussion with two potential developers – Fisher German and Savills. Confidentiality has meant only now have Savills plans been revealed. I have my suspicions about the Fisher-German site but that’s just a guess.

What does surprise me is the summary of what advice was given and discussed between the developers and the PC. Here is what Savills say :

1.11 The Parish Council viewed the proposals in the context of the adopted Neighbourhood Plan, in particular Neighbourhood Plan Policy H2 which supports small scale development of greenfield sites which are
located immediately adjacent to the village and below 15 units in scale

1.12 The pre-application advice also provided the following comments:

  • There would be no policy conflict with the Neighbourhood Plan in Principle;
  • There is a need for intermediate/ small scale housing which the illustrative layout shows can be delivered on site;
  • Access and highways would need to be reviewed in detail; and,
  • Whilst a number of other sites have been approved and the housing need is considered generally met,

Firstly, the BNP states that Bunbury has to provide space for at least 80 new house between 2010 – 2030. We have exceeded that minimum target by over 30 homes. So far as we know that figure has not been increased in the new approved Local Plan. Phasing is also required so that the community facilities can cope (BNP p11). Acceptance of this recent application therefore suggests there is no limit to the expansion of Bunbury, no phasing in any meaningful sense, and ever elastic boundaries to the village.

Secondly, while the developer suggests a mix of housing would be their intention, we have no guarantee that this is what will emerge after outline consent is granted. Experience suggests that the outcome of a development is often very different from that proposed before consent is given.

Below are the comments made during the Parish council Meeting 13th March 2019

Comments on Planning, Design and Access Statement – Savills

  1. 1.10. Savills met with the Parish Council on the 10th October 2018 to discuss the development proposals prior to the submission of this application. At the meeting, the Parish Council expressed their general support for the principle of the development.
  2. 1.11. The Parish Council viewed the proposals in the context of the adopted Neighbourhood Plan, in particular Neighbourhood Plan Policy H2 which supports small scale development of greenfield sites which are located immediately adjacent to the village and below 15 units in scale.
  3. 1.12. The pre-application advice also provided the following comments:
    • – There would be no policy conflict with the Neighbourhood Plan in Principle;
    • – There is a need for intermediate / small scale housing which the illustrative layout shows can be
    • delivered on site;
    • – Access and highways would need to be reviewed in detail; and,
    • – Whilst a number of other sites have been approved and the housing need is considered generally met, this should be seen as a minimum figure and new sites can be supported commensurate with the size of the village to support its long term sustainability.

1.13. In conclusion, during the pre-application discussions, the Parish Council regarded the proposed development favourably, noting how in principle it would be supported by Neighbourhood Plan Policies.

1.14. In short, there were no insurmountable issues raised which would prevent the principle of developing the Land at Wyche Lane, Bunbury.

Object to 1.10 – 1.14 as this is a mis-representation of the meeting as per EMail from our Chair

In this case the broad outline we were given did comply with the main provisions of the Neighbourhood Plan. We also emphasised the need for intermediate/small scale housing that would be more affordable. This provides more opportunity for young people who have grown up in the village and wish to purchase a house here. It also provides opportunities for existing residents to downsize and for young families who would not normally be able to afford to live in Bunbury, to move to the village. On small developments of this type there is no obligation on a developer to provide this type of housing but we strongly emphasize the need for it.

I can assure you that the words used in the application, i.e. “the Parish Council regarded the proposed development favourably, noting how in principle it would be supported by Neighbourhood Plan Policies” is an interpretation that I do not agree with. We would never use the word “favourably,” or anything like it because that would imply that we may have predetermined our support for the application. When Councillors consider this application, at our meeting on 13th March, we will do so with open minds and will only make a decision after we have listened to anything that residents have to say and after we have debated the issue.

2.2 The site is currently undeveloped and has no planning history.

Object as this statement is incorrect, planning has previously been refused in 1965 4/5/5020 and 1989 7/16940.

2.7. Splays

Object as per comments on the Optima report (below).

2.8 Bunbury, a Local Service Centre, is considered to be a sustainable location for development, with a range of services and facilities to meet the needs of local people, including those living in nearby settlements. Bunbury benefits from a supermarket, a post office, a church and a number of coffee shops, all located within a 400-800m walking distance of the site.

Object: There is nothing within 400M, there is only one coffee shop and the distances are 700-800m

2.11 Bunbury is located directly east from the A49, meaning it is accessible by public transport links. To detail the site’s closest bus stop located circa 0.5 miles from the site. The existing number 70 provides sustainable travel options to Nantwich with a frequency commensurate with its rural location.

Object as the A49 is 0.9 miles away and there is no accessible public transport on the A49. See https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/pdf/public-transport/cheshire-east-borough-public-transport-map-29th-october-2018.pdf. You would need to walk to the Red Fox, 3 miles and 1 hour walk to access a bus.

Regarding the bus service see comments on Optima Transport policy (below) where Service 70 does not offer sustainable travel options.

2.13. To detail, the local Co-Op store, butcher and fish and chip shop are located 750m from the site, the local primary school (Bunbury Aldersey Church of England Primary School) is located within 1km of the site and is accessible by foot and by cycle, and the nearest bus stop is located 700m from the site.

Object the wording should read: ..the only accessible bus stop which only has buses on 3 days a week.

4.18 Neighbourhood Plan Policy H1 seeks to accommodate a minimum of 80 new homes in Bunbury over the Plan period. The same policy outlines that development in the Neighbourhood Plan Area will be focussed on sites within or immediately adjacent to Bunbury Village, in order to achieve the aim of enhancing its role as a sustainable settlement whilst also protecting the surrounding countryside.

Object: We ask CE to consider that they have already approved 108 properties and this is to cover the period up to 2030 and this should have been referred to in the Design Statement.

4.21. The Emerging Local Plan Site Allocations and Development Policies document is currently being prepared by Cheshire East Council. The Local Development Scheme suggests that it may be adopted in early 2020. The council consulted on their first draft Site Allocations document until October 2018. Whilst the scheme has been considered in the context of this emerging document where appropriate, it is considered that given its early stage of development, limited weight will be attributed to any policies or allocations within this document.

4.22. Within the Adopted Local Plan Strategy, Local Service Centres such as Bunbury are expected to provide 2,500 houses through the plan period as whole. Within draft policy PG8 this equates to a minimum of 110 properties in Bunbury over the years 2010 to 2030, taking into account completion rates.

We object as this is not a minimum, but the number allocated so as CE meet their national target and we have 108 already built or in plan. The period runs until 2030 so we ahead of the plan and this should be taken in to account.

4.29. Paragraph 73 of the NPPF states that housing delivery figures should be considered as a minimum and there should be no cap on sustainable development.

Object to term ‘no-cap’ as this infers to there is no upper limit. The minimum of 80 was considered to be a number that was consistent with national and local plans and allow reasonable growth, no-cap implies this number has no validity, currently 108 have been approved and we ask CE to consider this in their deliberations.

5.5 Object as this repeats the number of 110 see response to 4.22

5.6. With their being no ceiling figure to each of these policies the proposals would be in accordance with this need, subject to it not impacting the core shape and form of the settlement. Further, discussions with representatives of the Parish Council made clear that this development could be in direct response to Bunbury’s housing need, with the applicant working with the Parish Council to revise the illustrative layout and demonstrate a greater proportion of smaller / intermediate scale units to meet the specific housing need of the Parish.

Object as this is we do not believe there is ‘No ceiling’. It is also “misunderstanding” as the PC does not work on layout, this is CE Planning responsibility and if we worked with the developer it would not enable us to give a judgement without pre-determination.

5.23 Object see comments on Optima report 2.1.10 (width of road)

5.26. The site is in a sustainable location, within close proximity to existing shops and services within Bunbury. The development of this site would achieve strategic Priority 4 by reducing the need to travel by building homes that are close, or easily accessible to where people work, shop, and enjoy recreational activities.

Object as the site is not within walking distance of where people work and as shown elsewhere there is no viable public transport. The only accessible employment is in retail or pub/restaurants e.g. Co-op or a small number of family retail outlets or the local pubs. There is no commercial land identified in Bunbury for future commercial development. There are limited recreational facilities within walking distance e.g. there is no swimming pool, fitness club, cinema or theatre.

Comments on report from Optima, document titled Wyche Lane, Bunbury Proposed Residential Development Transport Note

2.1.10 The carriageway on Wyche Lane measures between 4.8m and 4.9m in width. With reference to Manual for Streets, this is wide enough for two cars to pass and a car to pass an HGV.

Object as this is incorrect, the width narrows to 3.2M in places, and this should be taken into account, not just the road at its widest point.

2.2.5 Table 2.1

Object as this implies 2 buses a day to and from Nantwich, it is one bus a day leaving at 10.27 and returning at 14.22

2.2.8 and 2.2.9

The nearest rail station is Nantwich, which is 13km from the Site. Nantwich Station can be accessed via the bus service shown in Table 2.1 or via the dial a ride services.

Transport for Wales provides services to Manchester, Stockport, Crewe, Shrewsbury and South Wales. Major interchange opportunities are available at Crewe, which is located on the West Coast mainline and enjoys services to most areas of the country.

Object as this statement is untrue. Nantwich station is not accessible via the bus service. Buses only run 3 days a week, one per day and it is 1/2m walk from the bus to the train station. You can’t get to and from anywhere since you only have 3 hours in Nantwich.

For example to get from Bunbury to Crewe, take the 10.27 bus on a Tuesday, the 13.05 train and arrive in Crewe at 13.15, you then have to spend 2 nights in Crewe, on Thursday take a train back to Nantwich and the 14.22 bus back to Bunbury, at total of 52 hours.

The Little Bus service is only for older/disabled people not the general population. Quote from Cheshire East website: Flexible transport is a ‘demand responsive’ transport solution which provides an alternative means of travel for older and disabled people. All journeys must be pre-booked so that routes can be planned efficiently. The service works on a demand responsive basis.

3.2.2 Drawing 18128/GA/01, contained in Appendix C, illustrates the most desirable access option onto Wyche Lane. (Splays)

Object as this drawing only references the road access, the 2 drives at either end of the frontage are not accommodated and the splays cannot be adequate without significant removal of further hedging in front of Wyche House and the proposed garden/planting area.

3.3.4 Table of traffic based on TRICS

Object as these numbers seem to be wrong, but there is insufficient detail in Appendix D to challenge these conclusions and we request that CE ask for further backup.

The low number may be due to the assumption that people can walk or take public transport to work, see 4.1.4.

4.1.4 This report has provided a commentary on the existing Site and its conditions. It has demonstrated that the Site is in a relatively sustainable location, given its rural setting and that there is access by appropriate public transport and sustainable links to some services. This provides future residents with opportunities to travel via alternative modes of transport and minimise trips by the private car.

Object as this untrue, it is not possible to use public transport to commute to work outside Bunbury and as has been demonstrated there is no link to other services such as the train. You cannot access public transport on 4 days of the week.

Further Developments on Oak Gardens

Up da te September 30th 2019

A pplication 16/2010N continues to struggle with the reserved matters. These are being dealt with under application 19/3992N and 19/3985D . A number of reports from CE officers have been added during September.

1 . PROW troubles continue with several errors and corrections being made to get the design and maintenance of footpath 14 and 15 to a satisfactory level. We are still awaiting the outcome of HM Inspectors report on the diversion o FP14 and condition 9 cannot be met until that decision is made. However the PROW officer is still unhappy with the FP as they do not include the buffer zone between the hedge and the path as recommended by the Nature Conservation officer.

2 Nature Conservation officer :

This report, although not wholly supportive, does make the point that a number of residents and PC have also done that current site layout does not allow room for the ‘buffer zone’ between the woodland wildlife corridor and the gardens of houses 1 – 6 identified on the new layout. I quote from James Baggaley’s report:

The application site also falls within an indicative wildlife corridor, as shown in the neighbourhood plan, associated with the adjacent stream corridor. The neighbourhood plan recommends a 15m non-developer able buffer zone adjacent to the wildlife corridor. The currently proposed buffer is reduced to 7.5m at its narrowest and therefore is not in accordance with the Neighbourhood Plan policy.

Other concerns refer to the fact that the veteran ash tree supports a bat roost and lighting on the site must be of a type and duration not to interfere with their habits. That means low level lighting in all senses and with an appropriate ‘lighting regime .

3 . Principle landscape Architect’s report:

Again the Officer starts by making the same point about the 15m buffer zone… ‘

The layout appears to have changed significantly from the Revised Indicative Layout drawing (Ref B050-160831-7022 ) submitted as part of the outline planning permission 16/2010N which provided a 15m non-developable buffer zone, as recommended in the Neighbourhood Plan and also specifically referred to by the Appeal Inspector (Appeal Decision APP/R0660/W/16/3165643 , para 28). This boundary buffer now appears to have been significantly reduced. (my emphasis)

They are listening or at least seeing what we are seeing !

He continues by pointing out a number of problems on the site layout with missing hedges and the fact that the red line outlining the site is not accurate – a point I have mentioned before as it strays into peoples properties at times. It also appears that the gap between Plot 9B and the site boundary is less than 2m while not showing the hedge at that point. And having footpath 14 running along this strip.

4. Strategic Housing Officer’s report:

Object to this application’

The problem here is that the site shows only 4 affordable properties and the officer says that it should be 5! he points out that Bunbury has a waiting list of 28 (18x 1 bedroom, 8x 2 bedroom and 2 x 3bedroom dwellings). Three units should be for rent and 2 for ‘intermediate tenure’ code for shared ownership. And where is the affordable housing statement!

So this development is not going to progress until all these issues are dealt with and resolved.

 

Update August 28th 2019

A new reserved application ( 19/3985D ) has been lodged with Cheshire East Planning Dept. The documents deal with a series of conditions laid down by the HM Inspector namely 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14. Perhaps of immediate interest to residents is the changes in the site layout. While no formal document is titled ‘New Layout’ i is quite clear that some note has been taken of the objects to the layout given in previous versions of the application. The best way I can illustrate this is through a direct comparison of the new layout and the previous version.

1 . Vesrion issued in 18/6338N


 

New layout in 19/3985D

The first change that pops out of the new documents is the alterations to the site layout. They are not dramatic. Adjustments might be a better expression of what they show. 

A major concern was the proximity of house 6 to the rear of No. 9 Wakes Meadow. It is now shown moved back from the rear fence creating more separation space. This has been partly achieved by moving the house westward so that the planned rear garden is reduced and the space at the front increased. Number 6 also appears to have lost a separate garage while the new dwelling to the east , number 7 on the plans, has gained a garage. House 6 and 5 are now fully aligned while house number 4 has been moved forward and the hard standing has switched sides.

The next important change is the space given to the root area around the vintage ash between houses 7 and 10. The tree survey (see below) indicated that the original plans had reduced the protection afforded to the tree with both properties intruding into the ”protected root area. This has been achieved by pushing house number 7 westward and reducing space between the house and the garage it has now acquired. It also appear that number 7 has also have been moved forward toward the fence separating it with No. 8 Wakes Meadow. This would mean the major part of its garden would lie under the canopy of the oak tree T2 shown in the tree survey. Apart from the obvious objection I can anticipate considerable struggles to get the canopy reduced if not the felling of the tree.

 

Update  August 10th 2019:

Application 18/6338D withdrawn.

This application sought to discharge planning conditions 6, 7, 9, 12, 13 and 14. So why has it been withdrawn? Once the site was given outline planning consent the Planning Officers must guide the applicant to a successful outcome if at all possible . We know that a meeting was held in the field between the developer and the Planning Department representative to resolve some problems. I believe the outcome of that meeting was the recognition that the application would be refused in it current form. Rather than let that happen the developers have with drawn and will now consider how to make a successful application to obtain agreement on the reserved matters.

Did the objections we made have an effect ? . Undoubtedly. Here are some of the key points made in the PC’s submission:

It does not fulfill a number of pre-consent conditions listed in HM Inspectors report schedule (Appeal Decision APP/R0660/W/16/3165643 ) namely:

Condition (8) with reference to the objection to the current (modified) site layout made by Jennifer Miller, Definitive Map Officer, PROW Team, Cheshire East Council. An appeal is ongoing and this condition CANNOT be met until the outcome is decided.

  Condition (14) i ) levels of adjoining gardens; etc … still no shown on any plan. It is not possible to identify the levels of adjoining gardens. This is necessary to be clear about the impact this development will have on existing residents.

The proposed development does not comply with a number of Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan policies:

1 . The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) states under Housing Policy H5 Design:

.. not be adversely affected through overlooking, loss of light or outlook, over dominance or general disturbance.

The inspector also commented on the problem in that the field is in fact higher at several points than houses in Wakes Meadow and that needs attention…I appreciate that existing occupiers would have their outlook changed but not so much as to cause unacceptable harm to their living conditions. ( para. 21) These plans propose a serious loss of privacy and amenity to existing residents. Specifically along the northern boundary where they would dominate over existing, lower properties. In the case of house C2 in plan E, it comes very close to their boundary and represent a complete loss of privacy to No 9 Wakes Meadow. To the east , the affordable houses also dominate the gardens and outlook from the three dwellings along Bunbury Lane.

2 . The application also fails to meet BNP Policy LC1 – Built environment: namely that new developments should:

. . . demonstrate a high quality of design and a good standard of amenity for existing and future occupiers of the proposed development, at the same time ensuring that the amenities of neighbouring properties will not be adversely affected.

These poorly and uniformly designed executive homes fail to meet many of the Village Design Statements (appendix 2) resulting in a congested development. Inadequate planting and unfriendly high fences.

Policy ENV3 -Woodland, Trees, Hedgerows, Sandstone Banks, Walls, Boundary Treatment and Paving.

Included in the policy are the statements:

A ll new development close to existing mature trees will be expected to have in place an arboricultural method statement to BS5837 standard or equivalent before any work commences

The new site plan seems to be an attempt to fulfill this requirement. All it shows is the root Protection Zones of each of the major trees in and around the site and how the houses trespass on these zones This does not meet the standards of BS5837

Missing :

Future Growth Potential (Crown height and spread).

No shade footprint throughout the day based on future growth potential.

Stem Diameter

Documenting health and any defects

Preliminary management recommendations

Remaining useful life of the tree etc.

3 . The western border of the site backs onto a stream – a tributary of the River Gowy and designated a Wildlife Corridor:

Policy ENV7 – Buffer Zones and Wildlife Corridors opens with the statement: The existing woodlands, wildlife sites, drainage ditches, brooks and culverts will be maintained and enhanced and, where appropriate, new buffer zones and wildlife corridors will be created to increase the biodiversity of the plan area.This is designated in the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) as a Wildlife corridor in Policy BIO 1 – Bunbury Wildlife Corridor (Map Reference Appendix C Map 1 BNP).The designated area should incorporate all semi–natural habitat along the river corridor and include a non–developable buffer zone to protect the corridor from issues such as ground water and light pollution , and the spread of invasive garden species.The 15m buffer zone is specified by the CE Principal Nature Conservation Officer and repeated by HM Inspector in giving her consent to the development at appeal.

 

Finally in reference to 18/6356D the results of the infiltration testing revealed that the site will need a substantial drainage system that will feed into the brook. This needs an environmental assessment of the impact on the brook before being approved. Such a proposal could pose a serious threat to the wildlife corridor.

>

Upd ate July 10th 2019

A new element in application 18/6338N appeared earlier this week. It was under the heading of ‘Reserved matter application for the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale of outline planning permission 16/2010N ' ; ; ; ; . But what it  actually boiled down to was a tree survey or rather parts of a tree survey as I will explain. 

I was not familiar with BS5837 (2012). Like many BSi proclamations I know they are there to set standards in a wide range of fields. If a tool or product carried a BS Kitemark it was a guarantee of basic quality. So, when this update to the Oak Gardens field development arrived, I was unclear as to what it was all about. It appeared to be the same site plan with additional data about the trees. That then leads to the interest in BS5837or to give it its full title:

Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction

The process of developing a tree Protection Plan is laid out in the documentation and requires the following stages:

1 . Topographical Survey – a map showing the location of the trees , relevant spot heights adjacent tot the trees. The position of the all treees on the site, or overhanging the site. The crown spread (shown in green and blue areas on the map . the extent of hedges, stumps and shrub masses.

2 , Soil Assessment:

This is undertaken to assess whether the soil is shrinkable which could cause damage to structures without appropriate protection.

3 . Tree Survey

Thi s is clearly a key part and I want to quote directly from the Standard to make my point.

The survey classifies trees according to a standard set of criteria:

U : Not worth keeping ast they have little ‘value’ ;i.e. they are dead, dying or won’t last 10yrs .

A: Trees of high quality. Life expectancy of 40 years or more. Many examples around the site of English Oaks and Ash trees and fall into this category. They are seen mainly as visual assets of the landscape. ( A2 ) . The canopy of these trees are shown in green.

B: Moderate quality with a life expectancy of at least 20yrs . The canopy of these trees are shown on the plan in blue.

C: Tree of low quality

 

It states:

4.4.1.2 Tree surveys undertaken after a detailed design has been prepared can identify significant conflicts: in such cases, the nature of and need for the proposed development should be set against the quality and values of affected trees. The extent to which the design can be modified to accommodate those trees meriting retention (see Clause 5) should be carefully considered.

However, it is my contention that the survey or the report of the survey as presented in the new plan and the subject of the current consultation is incomplete. What additional data that needs to be included is specified in BS5837(20120? Well, what I can’t find is :

  • Height
  • Stem diameter
  • Branchspread
  • He

i g h t above ground of the first significant branch and direction of growth. This is needed to inform ground clearance, crown\stem ratio, and shading.

  • Life stage ( e.g. young , mature, etc )

    •  

     

  • Preliminary management recommendations
  •  

The purpose of the survey is to inform the site layout design. As the design of the layout has not changed following the  that suggests the survey is either irrelevant or has been ignored. I believe the evidence suggests that the design of the site should be altered. In a number of places proposed house locations intrude into the root protection areas (RPA’s) (Houses, 1A , 7B , 10B , 11B )

A number of the trees have protection orders but this is ignored. All the oak trees and Ashes are protected and this should place constraints on the site layout design and the impact of the construction process. No mention of these aspects are currently mentioned in any new documentation. The BS5837(2012) states:

5.2.4 Particular care is needed regarding the retention of large, mature, over-mature or veteran trees which become enclosed within the new development (see 4.5.11 ) . Where such trees are retained, adequate space should be allowed for their long-term physical retention and future maintenance

Yet we still see serious trespass into the RPA of the veteran Ash tree 5T by plot 10(B) and 7(B)

The tree protection plan also appears to be missing. It may appear later but should show:

the location of protect barriers to form construction exclusion zones around retained tresss (all TPO’s) Where access to RPA’s is required then ground protection measures need to be in place and shown on the plan.

There is much more that could be said on this topic but I have gone on at some length already and many may feel that enough is enough. I will end with the following quote from the Standard :

6.1.1A precautionary approach towards tree protection should be adopted and any operations, including access, proposed within the RPA (or crown spread where this is greater) should be described within an arboricultural method statement, in order to demonstrate that the operations can be undertaken with minimal risk of adverse impact on trees to be retained.

 

Update: April 23rd 2019

The Planning Officer e-mailed to say the missing Species impact assessment update’ specified in condition 10 of the consent will be ‘confidential’ and only seen by the Nature Conservation Officers.

The report of the Principal Officer again reinforces the points made in their original response to the reserved matters application ( 18/6338N ) . Better protection for the vintage Ash, a 15m buffer zone against the woodland on the west of the site and other details list below. However, the Officer goes on to agree that the Wildlife Habitat management Plan is OK and the impact on species is mitigated by the plans submitted.

Disappointing.

Update May 1st

It appears the issue that requires a ‘confidential’ update relates to the badger sett adjacent to the site. Apparently the sett is described in the words of the conservation officer as ‘inactive’ at the time of the survey.

Badgers and their setts are protected and it is an offence to disturb badgers, to damage their sett or restrict access to the sett. Was this sett to be included in the extended gardens on the original plans? Those gardens on the properties adjacent to the wildlife corridor originally had gates leading into the corridor and fence lines that extended to the banks of the brook.

 

Original Comment

As noted in several of the comments on this proposed development (18/6338N) a number of details were missing from the application. That meant it failed to meet all the conditions of the consent. Despite the public consultation having ended on the 13th February additions are still being added by the developers.

A couple of new tactics has emerged that I have not seen before on an application. Firstly, has been the astonishing failure to submit a full application that at least attempts to meet the conditions laid down at the time of the consent (see previous Oak Garden blogs). Why the developers thought this would a sensible approach is hard to fathom. It may lead to delays and request to re-submit. Although neither has happened to date the decision date is less than a fortnight away (16th April).

Secondly we have seen the use of secondary applications alongside the main submission. Next to 18/6338N we have had 18/6356D both of which closed for public consultation on the 13th February. Did you notice 18/6356D? Well most of us missed it and nobody but the Parish Council made a submission. While it deals a lot with drainage issues the impact on the environment of any subsequent scheme is potentially serious. The plan is to install a system that drains into the adjacent brook. The PC is rightly demanding an environmental impact assessment before any work goes ahead.

Now we have a new application 19/1582D that seeks to discharge conditions 10 and 11 that was ignored in the original application. To remind you theses were:

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. Development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details.

11) 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.

The main substance of the application is the habitat maintenance report. Note that this is NOT the updated protected species impact assessment and mitigation policy. It comes with an amended layout plan (see below) to show some mitigation features, namely Compost Bays (7), Hibernacula Mounds (3), habitat Mounds (3) and the Ecology Area (pond and surrounding area. The layout also gives details of planting. This is to be welcomed. we may regret the original consent but we can still hope for the best development.

In correspondence included on the site the developers have responded to the criticism by the environment (Heritage & Design-Forestry) officer. This is the changes they have made:

1. Reserved Matters – Access gates have been removed from the rear garden fences belonging to the houses on the western boundary preventing access into the Ecological area (read ‘Wildlife corridor’)

2.   The ecological area is now not divided into separate areas, but is now an open stretch of land to maintain the favourable conservation status of the affected great crested newt population and will deliver adequate compensation for the priority/protected species present.

3. There is a gate now placed at one end of the ecological area to allow access for management purposes.

4. Lighting – Only low level pillar lighting is proposed for the development to allow for illuminating the road and pathways for each home. A example attached (see CE site). No high level street lighting is therefore proposed.

The developers then go on to seek assurance that these amendments and the Habitat Management Report will secure approval of the conditions 10 and 11. The Habitat management Report is good in my inexpert opinion, although one must add the usual caveat that it does have to be implemented.

However as the updated impact assessment on protected species is missing the application is still fundamentally flawed. Furthermore, the revised layout plan does not show any buffer zone to protect the wildlife zone. Without such a zone will the ecology of the corridor be safe? It is also in contravention of the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) Policy ENV7-Buffer Zones and Wildlife Corridors. This was the subject of several comments in the public submissions on the application. It has been ignored so far. Also the BNP Policy ENV3-Woodland, trees, hedgerows, etc., requires that :

all new development close to existing mature trees will be expected to have in place an arboriculural method statement to BS5837 standard….

(BNP page 24 )

At present I can find no such statement. Another ‘satelite‘ application may address these deficiencies we live in hope, I suppose.