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Agenda item

DM/18/02937/OUT - Land To The South East of Fieldfare Court, Crookgate Bank

Outline planning application for up to 105 dwellings (97 shown on indicative plan) with all matters reserved except access (amended description 20/12/2018).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer regarding an application for up to 105 dwellings with all matters reserved except access (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

L Eden, Senior Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, aerial photographs, site photographs and an indicative site layout.  Members of the Committee had visited the site the previous day and were familiar with the location and setting.

 

C Lawson, local resident, addressed the Committee in objection to the proposal and on behalf of a number of residents.

 

He referred to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the negative impacts which had been reported in 2008, advising that residents would propose that nothing had changed since that time.

 

The junction on to the A692 was already a problem, at peak times especially and turning right due to a blind summit.  An increase in traffic would only exacerbate this problem and the reduction in the speed limit to 40mph was inadequate, it should be reduced to 30mph as a minimum.   This development would increase the potential risk for accidents, and encourage traffic to divert into the village where there were already traffic and parking problems. 

 

Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps would cause immense problems in inclement weather and were also contradictory to the speed limit proposed – traffic calming measures were designed for 20-30mph zones.  They would increase the risk to HGV’s in winter weather, given the gradient which is already problematic.

 

Street lighting proposed amounted to light pollution in an area which currently had no street lighting at all.  There was an increased fear of crime and antisocial behaviour – as a retired police officer, he confirmed that play areas attracted crime and disorder.

 

In conclusion Mr Lawson asked the Committee to refuse the application on the grounds that it would cause significant harm to the local landscape, have a negative impact on wildlife, the lack of amenity, increase in traffic and air pollution, and the extension of the local hamlet boundary into greenfield land.

 

The Applicant, N McMillan, addressed the Committee to respond to the points raised.  After listening carefully to residents’ concerns with regards to the speed and volume of traffic, he advised that the Highways Agency considered the access was suitable to address concerns.  With regards to crime and disorder, Durham Constabulary had stated that the design was good and had made a number of comments on the positive aspects of design.

 

Responding to the Officer’s decision to refuse, he confirmed that the site does not lie within a locally or nationally designated landscape but notwithstanding, the Applicant had employed one of the leading Landscape Architects in the region to employ extensive technical analysis and a full review of the local landscape character and then designed a sympathetic, low density scheme and included full mitigation fully in-keeping with the local landscape features found in this part of the County. 

 

With regards to sustainability, the Councils own settlement study identified this location in the top 15% of all settlements in the County.  Once developed it would allow people to stay in this part of the County by providing much needed new housing in the area, providing, affordable homes, bungalows and much needed family homes.  The development would support and help maintain local services, enhancements to the local footpath network, the local bus stop was less than a five minute walk and it is agreed to pay £100k to strengthen the existing service, the industrial estate was a 17 minute walk and we want to support them by providing the choice of housing.

 

A Foster, Local Resident, spoke in support of the application.  As a family who worked locally, they were looking to buy a four bedroom family home in the area with a garden.  They currently rented a small cottage with no garden and there was a lack of suitable houses in Burnopfield.  This opportunity would be a benefit to a great community.

 

Councillor Jewell was Local Member and he considered the application difficult to determine.  With an equal number of objectors and supporters it had both negative and positive aspects to consider.  There had been comments raised with regards to other housing developments in the area such as The Sycamores and Fairfield Court and he would appreciate Officers to explain why permission had been granted for those developments.

 

The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that developments were assessed against policy in place at the time of the application and in this particular case, the settlement had a well-defined edge and allowing further development would result in an incursion into the countryside.

 

With regards to sustainability, there was a limited bus service which didn’t stop at Burnopfield and for the nearest primary school and convenience store, residents would need to walk in excess of 1km.

 

Councillor Wilkes commented that for the amount of investment being put into the site, the developer should have been looking for an alternative, sound location.  He could not support the application.

 

Councillor Clare commented on the topology of the site and the location being at the highest point, which meant it would be visible for miles around.  This application for 105 houses was for an area with approximately 200 houses, it would increase the size of the community and place additional pressure on an area which was already unsustainable.  Local people were desperate for housing however it was not in the right place and he proposed the application was refused as per the recommendation outlined in the report.

 

Councillor Shield confirmed that the view from the site was magnificent and the reason people wanted to live in the Countryside, however the application breached policy and it didn’t enhance the landscape of the area.  The applicant was attempting to make use of the existing contours of the land by creating a linear extension, however it was too conspicuous and therefore he seconded the motion to refuse.

 

Councillor Richardson also highlighted the loss of agricultural land, however it wouldn’t be out of place.

 

Resolved:

 

That the application be REFUSED subject to the recommendation outlined in the report.

Supporting documents:

 

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