Agenda item

DM/20/00189/OUT - Land south east of William Steet, Auckland Park

19 no. dwellings (Outline – All matters reserved)


The Committee considered a report of the Planning Officer regarding an application for 19 no. dwellings (outline – all matters reserved) at Land south east of William Street, Auckland Park (for copy see file of minutes).


The Senior Planning Officer gave a detailed presentation which included a site location plan, aerial photographs and photographs of the site. 


Councillor Tinsley confirmed that according to the GIS the access road was unadopted and he asked what implications that could have for the application, particularly with the ownership and ability to access over it.  He also noted that access was not included in the application which was unusual. 


The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that there had been no objection by Highways.  It was an outline application with all matters reserved, but an assessment of the likely traffic associated with 19 dwellings had been undertaken and highways considered it was suitable.  The road had recently been re-laid and was deemed suitable to serve 19 units.


The Principal DM Engineer confirmed that the road had been improved by the Council in 2011 as it had been in a poor state and it was a private road, but the assumption was that it would be adopted as part of the Section 38 agreement.  He confirmed that under Section 228 of the Highways Act, the Council could adopt a section of highway of unknown ownership, if to do so was of public benefit.  The principle of ownership had been considered in 2011 and remained unchanged.


Councillor Tinsley confirmed that outline permission could be granted if the Committee believed the reserved matters were not fundamental to the scheme however, he believed the access was fundamental and would have felt more comfortable if the Applicant had included access.


Councillor Atkinson asked referred to the planning history of the site, outline permission had been approved in 2012 and reserved matters of consent agreed in 2015, he wondered why it had not been implemented.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that he believed the land had been sold since then and this was a different Applicant.


Councillor Quinn was pleased to see the proposal of recreation provision which had been omitted from other new developments in the area and asked for further information with regards to the content of objections received. 


The Senior Planning Officer agreed that the current scheme had much better contributions than the previous application.  In terms of objections, 3 letters had been received.  The suitability of the road infrastructure related to the junction at the bottom which linked to the development, existing traffic and congestion resulted from new builds nearby, the disruption caused by construction traffic could be conditioned, lack of amenity space which was offset by a £33k contribution and the loss of green space and impact on wildlife.  Ecology had not objected and there was a contribution to offset the impact on wildlife, this was a green field but was not designated green space.


In response to a question from Councillor Richardson with regards to the Coal Authority recommendation and local mineworking’s the Senior Planning Officer confirmed that there was a standard condition which was relevant to many parts of the County to investigate whether further works were needed.


Councillor Jewell referred to the mention of visitor parking and suggested introduction of a one way system and the Principal DM Engineer replied that a one way system could not be imposed as William Street was a private road and therefore not in control of the Highways Authority and the parking in the indicative layout did not meet the councils current parking standards and that had been highlighted prior to a reserved matters application so the Applicant was fully aware.


In response to further questions from Councillor Tinsley the Solicitor confirmed that the right of access was something that the Applicant should resolve prior to commencement of development and if he could not legally obtain access to the site, it was a private matter.  She confirmed that the only circumstances the Planning Committee could consider would be if they believed there were no prospects at all that satisfactory access could be obtained.


The Chair asked the Principal DM Engineer to confirm the process of adopting the road and he clarified that it was improved in 2011 and constructed to an adoptable standard and although it was unadopted the Council were of the view that public highway rights had been established due to the passage of time. 


The Principal DM Engineer confirmed that sometimes the ownership of land could not be fully known, hence the section of the Highways Act for roads of unknown ownership and the process for adoption would be that notices would be posted inviting objections which could be considered at court, but there would have to be strong reasons why it should not be adopted and the basis for an objection in this case would be weak based on the benefit it gave to existing residents.  The Highways Authority had never been of a view that the adoption of the road would be prevented.


Councillor Tinsley confirmed that this was an important issue and he was satisfied with the explanation and on balance content enough to move forward with the Officers recommendation for approval.


The Chair referred to previous permission having expired and raised concerns about deliverability, particularly in the current climate.  He confirmed that permission had been granted for the site for a considerable length of time and had not been implemented and the Senior Planning Officer confirmed that council could demonstrate that they could meet housing need so the site wasn’t essential to meet housing targets, but they should be supporting the application given the benefits.  There could be economic issues from COVID-19 that put a delay on it but introduction of 19 houses would not be significantly detrimental to county housing figures and it would be good for the area considering the mix of house types and contributions.


With regards to the condition on the time limit, the Chair confirmed that with 3 years for a reserved matters application and 2 years to start the build and asked whether this was a normal amount of time.  There was pressure from the Government is to stop approving applications for land to sit undeveloped for years and he asked for confirmation that the five years was in line with the County Durham Plan.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that it was a standard condition and the Planning Authority had considered reducing reserved matters, but due to the current circumstances it was not deemed appropriate and they reverted to the standard condition.


Councillor Atkinson confirmed that he didn’t feel he could reject the application having been approved previously, especially given that this was an improved application and despite being concerned about potential delays he couldn’t find a reason to reject.


Councillor Atkinson moved the proposal, seconded by Councillor Shuttleworth who confirmed that he did not feel the Committee could reject this having been already approved previously.




That the application be APPROVED subject to the completion of a Section 106 Obligation to secure the following:


·        Provision of 15% affordable housing on site

·        Financial contribution totalling £33,201.00 towards offsite open space and recreational provision, payable in a single instalment prior to the occupation of the first dwelling

·        £2563.39 towards offsite biodiversity improvements, payable in a single instalment prior to the occupation of the first dwelling;


And the conditions outlined in the report.

Supporting documents: