Planning Application 21/2010N
Land West of Bunbury Lane, Bunbury, CW6 9QZ
Closing date for comments: 26th may 2021
You can view the application here:
Update 28th July:
The application was called to the South Cheshire Planning Committee for decision.
You can read the Planning Officers full report using the link at the top of the page. It is listed on page 1.
Main Points for refusal:
The proposed development would be contrary to Policies PG6 & SD1 of the CELPS &;Policy RES5 of the Crewe and Nantwich Local Plan as the development would result in development in the open countryside and would not meet any of the exceptions noted within open countryside Policy PG6 . Given that Cheshire East can demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites, significant weight is given to these factors.The proposal is also contrary to Policies H1 & H2 of the BNP as the site is not considered to be within or immediately adjacent to Bunbury village, would not enhance its role as a sustainable settlement and does not protect the surrounding countryside. The site would also be co-located with the consented Oak Gardens site to the north-west. Although there is some conflict between Policy PG6 of the Local Plan and Policies H1 &;H2 of the BNP, when this occurs section 38(5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that the conflict must be resolved in favour of the policy which is contained in the last document to become part of the development plan. In this instance the Local Plan is the most up to date document and is therefore given more significant weight in the decision-making process.The proposal would also result in some landscape harm for all but one receptor and there will be adverse effects and for most receptors the longer-term visual effects will remain adverse.The development would provide limited benefits in terms of open market housing and delivery of economic benefits during construction and through the spending of future occupiers. The proposal would also provide some benefit in terms of affordable housing provision, however the weighting to be attached to this benefit is considered to be limited given the siting within the open countryside and given the strong affordable housing provision within Cheshire East which is exceeding the expected level of provision for the Local Plan period.
The development would have a neutral impact subject to conditions upon flooding, living conditions, design, highway safety, air quality and contaminated land.The proposed development is contrary to the Development Plan. In the light of section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 planning permission should be refused unless material considerations indicate otherwise. It is not considered that the benefits outweigh the adverse impacts and there are no material considerations which outweigh the harm caused. As such it is considered that the development does not constitute sustainable development and should therefore be refused
A significant victory for appropriate housing development in Bunbury.
- Open countryside is valued for its aesthetic and importance in maintaining the character of a rural village.
- Attempts by developers to move into the open countryside will be resisted where the site moves away from the heart of the village.
- The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan has gained real support in the protection in that policies H1 and H2 were cited in the grounds for refusal.
- The Co-location policy (withing H2) has gained support in that it was specifically identified as a reason for refusal of this application.
Update 23rd July:
- On the 5th May the Parish Council agreed to object to this development. You can read their comments along with all the others if you follow the above link.
- United Utilities have registered an objection to the application. This appears to be the failure of the developer to provide some information so may be easily resolvable.
- This application is now going to the planning committee for decision on the 28th. it will be heard in the Ballroom, Sandbach Town Hall, Sandbach CW11 1AX. It is the first item on the agenda starting at 10am.
- Amendments announced 13th July. Follow the link above these changes. Hee are my comments that were posted in time but have not appeared!
Additional Comments on the updated outline application 21/2010N
The amendments, such as they are fail to address any of the concerns itemised in my previous response to this application. We are still faced with an accumulation of new housing developments in one area of the village. This application will add and exacerbate that situation and is therefore contrary to Bunbury Neighbourhood Policy H2. The co-location definition within policy H2 is a necessary means by which the accumulations of new housing in one area of the village is to be resisted. The current application is a direct contradiction of that policy. If allowed, a single block of new housing, built in the CELP period of 2010-2030 would result thereby damaging the character of the village.
Policy LC4 Backland Development continues to be ignored for good reason. This is defined by the BNP as
“The Development of ‘landlocked’ sites behind existing buildings such as rear gardens and private open space, usually within predominantly residential areas. Such sites often have no street frontages’
This plot is not a garden it is a privately owned open space without a street frontage and positioned behind existing properties. The policy requires such development to be resited.
These point and others clearly establish grounds I believe for the rejection of this application.
The latest application (for outline planning has been submitted for a site to the west of Bunbury Lane behind Parkside bungalow. The bungalow will be demolished to provide the access route into the development in the field behind. See below.
It is for the usual 15 dwellings (net 14) 4 of which would be ‘affordable’ (namely 2 semidetached 2 bedroomed properties and 2 semi-detached 3 bedroomed properties). As this is for outline consent any view of the site is provisional as everything is ‘reserved’. That means while the developer may sketch out attractive features for the development all of those matters will be decided after the initial outline is agreed. How the site may end up may be markedly different from the design illustrations presented at this stage. Here is the developers illustration:
Comments on the Supporting Planning Statement:
The paragraph number relate to that document
The developer makes a series of questionable claims at the start of its Supporting Planning Statement (SPS):
Provision of high‐quality market and affordable homes;
Judged by what standards? We cannot know this until the reserved stage after outline planning has been granted. What the developer says at this stage is intended to obtain outline consent and the final result may differ considerably to the ‘suggestions’ in the Design and Access statement. It is also significant that no reference has been made to the Village Design Guide.
Community Infrastructure Levy contributions of about £100K, of which 25% will be payable to the Parish Council;
This appears to be is incorrect. Where is the money from sites that have extend beyond the boundary? Surely the Parish Council knows if is going to get 106 money. But more importantly why is the offer of £100k considered an appropriate reason for giving consent to this application?
It is irrelevant to the planning decision.
Local benefits through investment in the local community;
Unclear to what this refers. Does it refer to the 106 agreement with Cheshire East as mentioned above or to something other than providing more houses hence more residents? In either case why is it being suggested as factor to sway the decision in favour of the applicant?
Provision of a housing scheme which would be attractive to small and medium builders in accordance with national and local policy objectives;
Good, but who are the builders? Unknown. Will this be a condition of any consent? No. Just wishful thinking and irrelevant at this stage. Just ‘policy washing’ the application.
Improvements to biodiversity;
None of the documentation explains how this will be achieved or assessed as an ‘improvement’.
District wide benefits in terms of contributing to housing supply and economic objectives; and
National objectives in boosting the supply of homes and delivering sustainable development.
More ‘policy washing’ the application. Cheshire East already has more than enough land to supply its housing objectives until 2030. It has not increased the allocation of houses to the Local Service Centres. Bunbury has or will build 108 new houses well before the end of the Local Plan period 2010-2030. ‘Windfalls’ will easily add several more dwellings.
Section 5: The Development Plan
5.2 Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy 2010‐30
The applicant refers to the CELP 2010-30 and the Revised Draft Site Allocation Document (SADPD). The later has now been submitted to the minister for final approval so should be given more weight than the applicant suggests. Importantly that document (SADPD) in Policy PG5 refers to ‘in the order of 105 new homes in Bunbury’ a number that the village has already exceeded.
Since 2015 Bunbury has grown from 550 to 656 dwellings. If this application were granted that figure would rise to 671 and represent a growth of over 20% within 6 years. That leaves out the 6 dwellings at Oak Gardens which were built in the Local Plan period (April 2010 – 2030).
With a land supply in excess of the required level of 5% there should be no presumption in favour of additional development given that the village has delivered more than required by the planning authority
5.2.3 The applicant claims:
New development is required to meet local needs and help retain services and facilities so that residents can continue to enjoy these benefits and reduce the need to travel elsewhere.
The facilities were extant in 2010 and before at which point they were fully sustainable given the population at that point. A further 108 home have already been built or will be built by 2021-2. It is incorrect to claim that existing services and facilities require further housing development to sustain them. There has been no additional space reserved for business in Bunbury during the current plan period. We already have what we need.
5.2.9 The applicant claims incorrectly that most development is outside the settlement boundary and asserts ‘Development in the open countryside is therefore acceptable in principle in the context of Bunbury’
Some sites were given consent prior to the BNP being made. The Local Plan was delayed due lack of land that made housing policies ‘out-of-date’. To argue that past mistakes are justification for further errors and that building in the open countryside is acceptable is ‘self-evidently’ untrue. See below (5.3) for additional points.
5.3 The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan 2015‐2030
The Applicant seeks to build in open countryside outside the settlement boundary.
Bunbury has already seen the construction or consent for 108 homes. The applicants claim in 5.3.4 that Bunbury must deliver 112 houses is ‘self-evidently’ wrong. The CELP does not intend to disaggregate the remaining house supply and expects to meet its targets in al Local Service Centres through ‘windfalls’. In Bunbury’s case that amounts to 4 more dwellings in the remaining 9 years to 2030.
5.3.9 A fundamental purpose of BNP policy H2 is to avoid the clustering of developments in a given area of the village and the formation of large blocks of new development that detract from the character of the village. This has already begun to happen in the area of the village along Bunbury Lane where the applicant seeks to site a further 15 houses. This is clearly displayed on the attached map below:
An existing 4 sites have been built, are building or been given consent (Oak Garden, Hill Close, the field next to Oak Gardens and the site east of Bunbury lane)within the time period of the CELP (2010April – 2030. Each development mostly ignores the existence of the others but where they do acknowledge their presence the decisions by HM Inspectors on appeal, have undermined the clear intention of the citizens of Bunbury, the Cheshire East Councillors who accepted the policy and the HM Inspector who agreed to it before ‘making’ the NP in 2016. They were not confused about what it was trying to do, in resisting co-location of new developments and the clustering of development in a given area of the village.
(5.3.16) The current applicant clearly expresses disrespect for the policy H2 and its intention of resisting co-location stating:
‘it is unclear what land use planning harm arises from the term ‘co‐location’ in any event.
It is ‘self-evident’ that if this application is agreed a solid block of 40 new (2010 – 2021) housing will emerge to the west of Bunbury Lane with no separation.
This application should be refused on these grounds alone if policy H2 of the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan has any meaning at all.
5.3.19. The applicant claims this development is not on ‘backlands’. The definition given in the glossary of the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan (BNP)(2016) :
‘Backland Development – The Development of ‘landlocked’ sites behind existing buildings such as rear gardens and private open space, usually within predominantly residential areas. Such sites often have no street frontages.’
The applicant merely asserts it is not ‘backland’ but as it meets the above criteria that clearly is exactly what it is.
It is also important to point out that the SAPD policy HOU8 states:
Proposals for tandem or backland development will only be permitted where they:
- demonstrate a satisfactory means of access to an existing public highway that has an appropriate relationship with existing residential properties;
- do not have unacceptable consequences for the amenity of the residents of existing or proposed properties;
- are equal or subordinate in scale to surrounding buildings, particularly those fronting the highway; and
- are sympathetic to the character and appearance of the surrounding area through its form, layout, boundary treatments and other characteristics.
The only access to this site is through the demolition of a building in keeping with the character of the other properties of Bunbury lane. Clearly this development would adversely affect the amenity of the existing residents, with 15 dwellings behind 6 properties fronting the lane and damaging to the character of this area of the village.
This application should be refused on these grounds alone.
As with all such surveys they look only at the impact and circumstances of the particular site in question. This leads to a number of failings in assessing the real impact of the development.
In the space of little more than ½ mile 5 junctions would occur along Bunbury Lane if consent is granted on this application. This would result in a total of 138 properties accessing Bunbury lane through these junctions.
On the south side we have:
1.Queens Street with 28 existing dwellings
2. Hill Close with 15 dwellings finishing
3. Access road to the new Duchy Site of 15 dwellings building
On the North Side :
4. Oak Gardens 6 existing and 15 dwellings agreed
5. Parkside application for 15 dwellings
Using the flow data used in the impact assessment for daily movements in a 12 hour period each 15 dwelling generates 62 movements. Assuming that such a pattern also hold for other sites (why would it not using this method for the same sized developments?) and making a modest assumption of a similar level for Queen Street then the 5 feeder junctions into Bunbury Lane will contribute a total of at least 310 daily movements. This must be added to the flow generated by residents fronting the Lane. The 20 properties would generate on the same model used above, about 65 movements. In total we therefore can estimate a minimum of 375 movements (7 am to 7 pm) plus all the through traffic along this lane.
In the NFFP 2019 says:
Development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe.
What are the criteria for ‘severe’ impacts on the road network’ from cumulative impacts. How does 5 junctions within ½ a mile raise the risk level and reduce safety? Has this been appropriately assessed?
For many facilities, theatres, secondary schooling, swimming pools, cinema or spectator sports people have to travel out of the village and by car. Has this been assessed?
3.3.8 Typically transport surveys also fail to report the poor bus service from the village. It is twice weekly not every weekday and the route only goes to Nantwich as the largest town. No route to Crewe or Tarporley or Chester. Clearly with little opportunity for employment in the village the only viable transport to work is the car. References to commuting by bike in the current situation is just ‘green policy washing’ the report and nobody is expected to take it seriously. And how is this therefore considered as ‘sustainable’?
I believe these questions must be answered as part of any decision on this application and provide a prima facia case for refusal.
Design and Access Statement:
Where is the reference to the village policy document – the Village Design Guide? This is a major oversight of the developer and indicative of the general disrespect shown toward local village objectives.
4.1 Many of the points made in the HM Inspector’s report rejecting the previous application on this land are still valid:
(Paragraph numbers refer to the HMI report)
16……The first buildings that are visible on Bunbury Lane are traditional farmhouse dwellings with a range of farm buildings visible from the highway. This emphasises the rural feel of this part of Bunbury. Further along the lane, dwellings begin to line the highway on ither side at more regular intervals. The dwellings have a linear pattern of development and glimpses of the open countryside to the rear of the dwellings,
17. This establishes a spacious pattern of development which contributes to and enhances the rural character and setting of the southern approach to the village along Bunbury Lane and assists in transitioning the character of the area from rural open countryside to that of the more developed area close to the centre of the village.
26…The proposed development would also be visible in the gaps between dwellings that form the linear development on Bunbury Lane leading towards the village centre. This would detract from the spacious pattern of development that contributes to the rural character of the lane.
32. for the reasons I have described above, the appeal site is visible from several public viewpoints in both direct and glimpsed views and it makes a highly positive contribution to the rural character and setting of the village in its current form
34. Accordingly, I conclude on this issue that the development proposed would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area. The development proposed would therefore be contrary to policy NE.2 of the LP and policies H1 and H2 of the NP (as set out above). The proposal would also conflict with one of the core planning policies of the Framework which state, among other things, that planning should recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside (paragraph 17) and paragraph 61 which seeks to ensure that planning decisions address the integration of new development into the natural and built environment.
In dismissing the Appeal for houses on this site in 2016 – The rural character of the Lanes close to the village is identified as a particular feature of Bunbury and one that local policies, such as the Village Design Statement (March 2009) seeks to maintain so that the rural character of the village is not eroded. The HM Inspector argued that development would detract from the spacious rural character of the area when approaching Bunbury village along its southern gateway. The proposed development would also be visible in the gaps between dwellings that form the linear development of this part of Bunbury Lane leading towards the village centre. This would detract from the spacious pattern of development that contributes to the rural character of this part of the Lane. These reasons all still apply to this site. It is the separation area between the village and the beginning of ‘creep’ into the open countryside out towards Spurstow and infilling up to the A49.
The developer makes a series of claims that cannot always be substantiated. This development would damage the views, rural character and amenity of the area. It seeks to justify a development in direct contradiction to the CELP, Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan and should be rejected.