Planning Application 16/2010N

The land off OAK GARDENS

This is an Outline planning application.

Why?

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

1.Policy issues:

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

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

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

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

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

2. The development is not sustainable:

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

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

3. Design:

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

 

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

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

 

 


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

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


Visual Appearance and impact on the area:

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

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

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

  1. Loss of Amenity and Environment:

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

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

The National Planning Policy framework includes policies on:

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

protecting valued landscapes, trees, and woodlands

protecting open space and creating a new Local Green Space designation

helping to improve biodiversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environment and wildlife:

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

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

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

18/6/2016 lower Bunbury Action Group

About the Author

Peter Gorman ()

Now retired from teaching. Involved in supporting the Village Day Committee, Village websites and Secretary of the Bunbury Action Group.