Application to remove condition 13 (highway improvements) pursuant to APP/X1355/W/20/325169 (our ref. DM/17/02333/OUT) for 105 dwellings (outline - all matters reserved except access).
The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer which sought approval to remove condition 13 (highway improvements) pursuant to APP/X1355/W/20/325169 (our ref. DM/17/02333/OUT) for 105 dwellings (outline - all matters reserved except access).
The Senior Planning officer provided a detailed presentation of the application which included an aerial photograph, site photographs and an indicative plan of the roundabout.
Local member, Councillor Walton addressed the Committee in objection to the application. She asked the Committee to question why Condition 13 was applied in the original application and then subsequently removed.
She referred Members to paragraph 51 of the report where it explained that a survey taken in September 2021 indicated a 40% reduction in traffic flows since the survey taken in 2017. She disagreed with the results of the survey explaining that the nature of the businesses in the local area had not changed their working hours or conditions post-pandemic. Furthermore, she advised that the survey did not include the traffic levels at school drop off/pick up times and explained that it was taken at a time where road works were being carried out resulting in many drivers avoiding the area. She stressed that the results of the survey were not a true reflection of the daily traffic flows and should not be relied upon.
In addition to this, she explained that new housing developments in Consett had been proposed and could result in 750 extra households and that local businesses had created an additional 350 jobs, both of which would impact on the levels of traffic in the area.
She also shared residents’ concerns and frustrations of the ability for builders to remove previously approved conditions from their applications.
She respectfully urged members to uphold the previous decision and to refuse the application.
The applicant Steve Burn (Gleeson) addressed the Committee. He advised members that as the number of dwellings for the development had reduced from 120 down to 105 and traffic had also reduced by 40%, condition 13 was no longer required.
Councillor Wilson along with other members believed that the results of the survey were not a true reflection of the current traffic flows for 2022 post-pandemic and suggested the application be deferred until a new surveyor could be carried out.
In response to the points raised, the Principal Highway Development Management Engineer advised that historical survey data for Delves Lane covering the period of 2016-2020 (pre-pandemic) was held on file. He explained to Members the technicalities of the surveys and the modelling that was used. He noted there were queuing delays at the roundabout for some of the p.m. peak hour but confirmed that the roundabout was not over capacity, and that traffic flowed well for most of the day.
He advised that he had recently visited the site and stated that the markings on the roundabout would be refreshed. He noted there were no accident trends or adverse implications to highway safety and confirmed there were insufficient grounds to refuse the application.
Councillor Brown pointed out that the appeal was successful based on 105 dwellings rather than the original 120, and that improvements to the roundabout were agreed as a condition at that time and asked why this was no longer required.
The Principal Highway Development Management Engineer explained that the Highways development manager who assessed the original transport assessment based upon 120 dwellings felt it was correct to secure the mitigation. This current application submitted a revised transport assessment for 105 dwellings which had been scrutinised and the mitigation was no longer viewed as necessary.
Councillor Earley raised his concerns regarding a new nursing home which was being developed and the increase in traffic levels due to staff and visitors travelling to and from the home. He stated that individual developments may not justify changes to be made to the highway but asked whether developments were considered cumulatively.
Councillor Marshall commented that carrying out a further survey would not give the Committee the material planning grounds needed to refuse the application and therefore accepted the officer’s recommendations to approve the application. He expressed his disappointment for the residents of Delves Lane on this matter.
Councillor Quinn shared Councillor Walton’s concerns on the ability to remove conditions from applications. He raised further concerns regarding the large area of land behind the application site and hoped the land would not be used to increase the number of dwellings in the future.
Councillor Haney reiterated the suggestion for a new traffic survey to be carried out and felt this was still necessary.
Councillor Peeke asked whether it was possible to monitor the traffic levels following a six-month period and impose the need for improvement works if levels had increased.
In response to the points raised, the Senior Planning Officer confirmed that there were three new developments pending applications which totalled 750 units. She confirmed that they had all submitted individual transport assessments and that the cumulative impact had been considered and that this included improvements to the junction. She explained that the application for 105 units had to be considered on its own merit and that this could not be refused on the grounds of highways. She added that they had received the detailed reserved matters and confirmed that the development was ready to commence soon and clarified that the applicant had not sought any additional units.
Councillor Brown asked whether the application complied with policy 21c. The Senior Planning Officer confirmed that it did and assured members that the cumulative impact on the area of Consett was important and would be addressed in all future applications.
The Principal Planning Officer advised that traffic levels had fluctuated pre and post pandemic, but that historical data was sufficient for the application and felt a further survey to identify current traffic levels was unnecessary. He went on to explain the voting options available to members.
Councillor Marshall commented that deferring the application was not appropriate due to the risk of non-determination and moved the application for approval in line with the officer’s recommendation. Councillor Brown seconded this.
Councillor Currah confirmed that he would prefer the application to be deferred until a full survey was undertaken and moved the application for deferral. Councillor Wilson seconded this.
Councillor Brown asked for clarification on the risks if the application was deferred. The Principal Planning Officer explained that deferring the application could result in more data being obtained but advised that this would not necessarily change the officer’s recommendation.
The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) asked whether the applicant could appeal against non-determination should the application be deferred. The Senior Planning Officer advised that they could and that this would impose a risk to the Council.
Upon a vote being taken it was
That the applications be Approved subject to the conditions as contained in the report and subject to a Section 106 Deed of Variation to secure the planning obligations contained within the Section 106 pursuant to the original planning permission DM/17/02333/OUT.