Residential development of up to 46 dwellings with new access from Cadger Bank and associated works.
The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer which sought outline planning approval with all matters reserved for a residential development of up to 46 dwellings with new access from Cadger Bank and associated works (for copy see file of Minutes).
The Senior Planning officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included aerial photographs and proposed indicative site plan and photographs. Members had visited the site the previous day.
The Senior Planning officer advised the committee that the proposed development fell outside the settlement boundary defined in the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021, and it was therefore in countryside and without justification contrary to Policies 6, 10 and 11 of the County Durham Plan 2020, Policy LNP1 of the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021. This reason was omitted from the officer report and the Senior Planning Officer requested that this be included in any motions.
Mr Friesner addressed the Committee on behalf of Lanchester Parish Council. He stated that the proposed development was outside of the Settlement Boundary as defined by the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021 (Policy LNP1). He advised that there was also considerable planning history to the site including applications that had been refused, withdrawn and an appeal that was dismissed. He noted that the SHLAA assessment had previously considered the site unsuitable for housing development and advised that the Council had a 5.9 year supply of housing land available.
He highlighted the objection made by Historic England on heritage grounds and the impact the development would have on the setting, referencing ‘the high heritage value of the Fort and its civilian settlement thereby contributing to its national importance’. He noted that concerns were endorsed by the county archaeologist, spatial policy and landscape officers. He praised the work of friends of Longovicium and explained they were a very active local group who had worked tirelessly over many years to demonstrate its communal and national value.
He noted that there were many areas for concern as listed in the Officer’s conclusion and referenced paragraphs 213 to 228 of the report and stated that this led to the recommended refusal at paragraph 229. He explained that the report listed eight reasons for refusal, and which included several policies within the County Durham Plan and policies LNP2, LNP3 and LNP4 of the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021.
In summary, he hoped the fort along with other facilities would feature within the County’s bid for UK City of Culture, Durham 2025 and therefore confirmed that Lanchester Parish Council objected to the development and agreed with the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
Local Member, Councillor Oliver addressed the committee in objection to the application and advised that many residents shared his concerns.
He described Lanchester Roman Fort as a unique site and believed it could attract more attention in the city of culture bid. He stated that the proposed development would significantly harm the site and that the damage would be irreversible and permanent.
He pointed out that access to the site was poor and raised concerns regarding the capacity of the development and the impact it would have on traffic and the lack of visitor parking. He raised further concerns regarding amenity pollution, water management and added that the development would impact on green space and the rural environment.
He made it clear that he did encourage new housing but disagreed with a development in this area. He confirmed that he supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
The Agent, Mr Ketley addressed the committee and expressed the development would be beneficial for the County. He commented that the site had been previously deemed accessible and questioned why this had changed. He noted that the appeal submitted previously by Barratt Homes was solely refused because the harm to the heritage interest outweighed the public benefit. He accepted that there was a level of harm with the proposed development but believed there were several benefits that outweighed this.
He went on to advise that the development would boost housing supply and had the potential to contribute to new housing which was urgently needed.In addition, he believed that sustainability of the area could diminish in future years if new housing was not supported. He further added that the development would provide 20% affordable housing and Biodiversity net-gain achievements.
In reference to the scheduled monument, he advised that section 106 funding could enhance the understanding of this, and he believed there would be limited environmental harm to the area. He asked that members approved the application.
In response to Mr Ketley, the Senior Planning Officer advised that there had been a significant change since the previous application was submitted by Barratt Homes and clarified that up-to-date development plans had been adopted and were available to officers to help determine applications.
Councillor Brown commented from previous experience that archaeology should remain in the ground as it could be studied further in the future and stated that the area should not be built on.
Councillor Wilson noted that the development was outside the settlement boundary. He raised concerns regarding the impact it would have on the heritage and moved the application to be refused in line with the officer’s amended recommendation.
Councillor Marshall expressed that the development would have an ecological impact and agreed with the concerns raised regarding housing amenity standards and the lack of visitor parking. He seconded the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
Councillor Quinn asked for clarification on the average house size and price of the properties. Mr Ketley advised that it was difficult to predict an average price for the houses. In terms of size, he advised that the scheme proposed a range of two, three and four bedroom bungalows and dorma bungalows, keeping the scale and height of the development to a minimum.
Councillor Quinn raised concerns regarding the trees that were in the centre of the plan and advised that he would not want these to be affected.
Councillor Earley agreed that the development would have a significant impact on archaeology and supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
That the application be Refused as per the officer recommendation with the addition of the following reason for refusal: the proposed development falls outside the settlement boundary defined in the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021, and is therefore in countryside and without justification contrary to Policies 6, 10 and 11 of the County Durham Plan 2020, Policy LNP1 of the Lanchester Neighbourhood Plan 2021.