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Agenda item

DM/19/02141/FPA - Site of Former Magistrate's Court, Ashdale Road, Consett

Proposed 20 new build residential units – 2 and 3 bedroomed with associated infrastructure


                Prior to consideration of the item the Planning Officer confirmed that since the report had been published an update had been received on the validation of costs for the development. She noted that additional abnormal costs would be incurred for grouting and tiling works following feedback from  consultees.  She informed the committee that the applicant could not increase any financial contributions as it would make the development unviable but would in fact half the financial contributions that had been initially proposed.


                The Committee considered a report of the Planning Officer regarding an application for the proposed 20 new build residential units – 2 and 3 bedroomed with associated infrastructure (for copy see file of minutes). 


                The Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, aerial photograph of the site, site photographs and site layout. 


Councillor Temple, local ward member addressed the Committee to object to the planning application.  He gave a detailed presentation regarding his issues as since the outline planning application had been submitted to a committee meeting 18 months ago and given approval for 20 units nothing had progressed. He informed the committee that in the outline application a tree survey had been requested but in the new application the trees were to be removed. 


Councillor Temple stated that the police had objected to the new application as the proposed shared drives would create neighbour disputes that would place pressure on them to resolve.  The police also felt that the proposed alley way that led to the rear gardens of some properties would give rise to anti-social behaviour and burglaries that would add further pressures on them to resolve.  Councillor Temple noted that the nearby school had similarly objected as additional vehicles from the development would cause further obstructions on the footpath that was used by children.


Councillor Temple emphasised that the area around the site had undergone major investment with the new academy and leisure centre complex being built.  He deemed that the proposed high-density housing development would undermine those improvements as it had disregarded the attractive curved landscaped layout set out in the outline application for a bland alternative. He was disappointed that the section 106 monies the applicant had offered as compensation for loss of quality of life to the area had decreased by nearly half.



Councillor Temple concluded that the application should be rejected on three counts:

·        It conflicted with the Derwentside plan on GDP1 as the design was not of a high standard and was detrimental to the vicinity;

·        It conflicted with EN11 as existing trees would be removed; and

·        It conflicted with TR2 given the police’s objection regarding parking issues both now with shared drives and in the future with additional cars as teenagers start to drive.


Councillor Watson, local ward member addressed the committee as he similarly objected to the application.  He noted that he shared the same concerns that Councillor Temple had raised but additionally was worried about vehicles accessing the busy main road from the site.  He considered the road to be dangerous and had reported it on several occasions to the Council and thought it warranted a one-way system installed to ensure public safety. 


Councillor Watson suggested a site visit should take place in peak times to show how busy and dangerous the road could be.  He noted that there had been no fatalities but there had been several accidents and near misses on the road. Councillor Watson also felt that there would be insufficient parking for residents with a likelihood of four cars per household being required.


The Planning Officer stated that the application had been altered in order to satisfy the Durham County Council’s parking standards and because the urban drainage was too close to the existing trees.  She confirmed that the design of the scheme had been well received with affordable housing aimed at the younger end of the market.


The Planning Officer explained that the NPPF did not quantify density figures and the scheme’s high density and shared drives were in keeping with other developments in County Durham.  She confirmed that the footpath at the rear of the properties would be private and not easily accessible to the public.  She acknowledged that the loss of trees would have a negative impact on the environment, but the trees were not protected by tree preservation orders (TPO) and no requests had been made to place TPO’s on the trees.  She explained that highways had raised no objections or issues with either access to the site from the main road or with parking around the school.






The Highways Officer notified the committee that the outline application had been granted approval with access to the site from Ashdale Road.  He explained there were no issues with the standard access road into the new estate and it complied with Durham County Councils guidance. He informed the Committee that a one-way system had been explored as an option for the main road, but this was discounted as it would not reduce the speed but increase the speed of traffic as it tried to get through. 


The Highways Officer noted that the parking standards were applied and the development was over and above the requirements with two spaces allocated per household and additional parking for visitors making a good parking ratio for the site. 


Miss Howard, representative for Believe thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak in support of the application.  Miss Howard clarified that there had been abnormal additional costs identified with the development, but the properties once built would be 100% affordable.   She explained that there was a shortfall in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and a need in this area for additional properties which would be owned and managed by Believe Housing who had a track record of providing a local housing service to fit local housing needs.


Miss Howard confirmed that there would be 3 bedroomed properties to rent or buy with 20[NC1] % discount to get people on to the property ladder along with two bedroomed properties to rent.   She acknowledged the concerns of local Councillors regarding the density of the development but the NPPF did not quantify density and she confirmed that the development would sensibly reflect other houses in the area with strong frontages on Ashdale Road giving respect to the war memorial. She also noted that the area would be highly sustainable with open spaces available to residents that would bring a disused site up to a high standard.


Councillor Shuttleworth commented that the Committee should listen to both the concerns of the two local members who had local knowledge of the area and those of the Police.  He suggested that the application should either be deferred until a site visit could be arranged or refused.


Councillor Brown was disappointed that no elderly accommodation had been included in the application and wanted to know how many trees would be felled in the process of building the new properties.


Councillor Martin requested clarity on how density was measured within planning if there were no quantity measures given in the planning policies.  He wanted to know if it was based more on a character or a design test.


The Planning Officer informed the Committee that there was a need for elderly housing and normally 10% was requested in most planning applications but elderly housing had not been requested or put forward in this application because the site was aimed at a younger clientele to get people on the property ladder.  She explained that with regards to the density factor within the NPPF it did not prescribe a figure to apply but it did consider other factors that looked at the local market, sustainability and attractiveness of the area to see if density was appropriate.


Councillor Wilson wanted to know if there would be adequate parking with 2 spaces per dwelling making 40 spaces in the development with an additional five spaces for visitors with mixed drives.


The Highways Officer noted that there would be 43 parking spaces available in total with one space per unit and visitors requirements met with 25% additional parking on the site.


Councillor Wilson wanted to know what the capacity of the road would be.


The Highways Officer explained that with 20 units in peak times it would create an additional 12 trips which was moderate.  He explained that highways would not normally assess anything under 32 trips.


The Planning Officer confirmed that there would be 30 trees removed after consultation with the arboriculturalist who objected to the removal of the trees but had not requested any TPO’s to be applied to them.


Councillor Thompson wondered if there were any elements of the planning application that looked at climate change.  He also commented that at every PACT meeting he attended the topic of debate centred around obstructive parking. He was aware the police had limited resources to stop people from parking obstructively and that the Police had a major concern with the design of the development. He felt that lessons should be learnt in the design process to eliminate these issues in the future.


The Senior Landscape Officer informed the committee that he was unaware of what was mentioned in the planning application but assumed it was in relation to the frontage trees that were important as the public saw them. He clarified the methodology that a tree officer looked at. He explained that in the assessment an Officer would look at the health of a tree, the life expectancy of the tree as to whether it would last 40 years and the visibility of the tree including the characters of groups of trees together.   He was concerned about the loss of trees but accepted that this was a matter to be taken into account as part of the planning balance.



Councillor Jewell was aware of information that had been circulated to Members on climate change that would have answered the questions posed by Councillor Thompson on the wider scope of climate change.


The Solicitor - Planning and Development sought clarification from the Committee as to the reasons why the planning application should be refused. He noted that the conflict with GPD1 with the poor design and standard of the development and EN11 with trees being lost would be adequate reasons to refuse the application. He felt that the conflict with TR2 regarding parking and highway safety would not be upheld at appeal as the committee had heard extensively from the highways Officer that safety was not of concern.


Councillor Shuttleworth agreed that the application should be refused based on GPD1 and EN11.


Councillor Brown stated that it should also be refused based on the element of the NPPF regarding a crime free community.


The Solicitor - Planning and Development was advised that the Committee already had sufficient reasoning to refuse the application should the Committee wish to, so there was no need to add to those reasons.


Councillor Shuttleworth proposed the refusal of the application, seconded by Councillor Brown


Upon a vote



That the application be REFUSED.


Councillors Bainbridge, Thompson and Shuttleworth left the meeting.


 [NC1]I think this is probably a reference to 80% of open market value so should probably read ‘20% discount’

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714