Erection of 80no. dwellings with associated works (revised description 16/11/2021).
The Senior Planning Officer, Laura Eden (LE) gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes). Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site. The application was for the erection of 80no. dwellings with associated works (revised description 16/11/2021) and was recommended for approval, subject to the conditions and s106 Legal Agreement as set out in the report.
The Senior Planning Officer (LE) noted that an additional condition was requested in relation to the provision of six car parking spaces replacing the seven spaces that would be lost as a consequence of the development, with those six to be completed prior to first occupation. She added that an amendment to the condition relating to drainage materials would be required as they had been agreed and therefore the condition would be for adherence, rather than agreement.
The Chair thanked the Senior Planning Officer (LE) and asked the Committee Services Officer to read out a statement from the Local Member, Councillor I Cochrane.
“I wish to confirm the withdrawal of my previous objections to the intention to build dwellings at the land north of Windsor Drive, South Hetton.
Now that the developer has reduced the number of properties to eighty, and all my other concerns have been addressed, I am happy to support the progression of this development”.
The Chair thanked the Committee Services Officer and asked the Committee for their comments and questions.
Councillor L Brown noted paragraph 106 of the report referred to the Building for Life Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), adding she felt the number of ‘amber’ ratings was too high. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) explained that there had been no ‘red’ ratings and the application had passed the threshold test, but also had included a number of enhancements. Councillor L Brown reiterated she felt eight amber ratings was a lot and noted she would have been happier with four or five.
Councillor C Kay asked as regards the total number of properties within South Hetton, in order to understand the scale of the development. Officers noted that they would find the information while other comments and questions were made.
Councillor A Bell noted that there were s106 contributions in relation to primary school places and asked as regards the position in respect of secondary school places. He also asked as regards any s106 for onsite or offsite play areas. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) noted that the School Places Team had indicated insufficient primary school places, hence the s106 in that regard, however the number of secondary school places had been deemed sufficient. In relation to open space, it was noted that it was proposed for an enhancement to existing provision. Councillor A Bell asked if such was not onsite, whether it would be ringfenced to the Electoral Division. The Principal Planning Officer, Graham Blakey noted it would be within the Shotton and South Hetton Division. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) explained there were five types of open space set out within the Open Space Needs Assessment (OSNA) adding that the onsite provision was only for open space, natural or green space. She noted that the calculation for the other four types had produced the figure within the report, to be ringfenced for the Electoral Division as stated. She added that the reason for no onsite play space was due to an existing play space nearby to the site.
Councillor J Elmer noted that, where the entrance to the proposed development would be created, there would be the loss of a number of trees in addition to loss of trees where parking would be provided. He asked if the parking could be provided within the site and therefore retain those trees and vegetation. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) referred Members to the proposed site plan and explained that the access proposed was the only option, being between two existing properties. Councillor J Elmer asked as regards the seven parking spaces from Ravensworth Court and loss of trees and whether Officers felt the conditions were sufficiently robust in terms of planting, landscaping and maintenance, noting the latter was often something not followed up with by some developers.
The Senior Planning Officer (LE) noted the condition within the report relating to landscaping and management, with residents contributing to a management fund. In respect of biodiversity, she explained the s106 referred to a s39 Agreement relating to 30 year management and monitoring of biodiversity.
Councillor J Elmer noted the design of the buildings, complying with Part L of Building Regulations and asked what was being done in relation to County Durham Plan (CDP) Policy 29. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) noted that previous application would seek 10 percent reduction in CO2, however, Part L regulations would provide greater benefits and therefore conditions under Policy 29 were not required. Councillor J Elmer asked as regards solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging points. The Senior Planning Officer (LE) noted that EV charging could be provided at all properties and there was also outside cycle storage provision.
The Principal Planning Officer (GB), in reference to the question from Councillor C Kay, that the population in South Hetton was approximately 1,500, with that split into three roughly equal population areas, therefore the development represented 80 additional properties within an area of around 500 existing properties. Councillor C Kay thanked the Officer and noted that he was not minded to support any refusal, especially given the support for the scheme by the Local Member. He did note that it was interesting that the development was considered undeveloped land, and was not being considered under CDP Policy 4, rather with CDP Policy 6 appeared to be superseding.
Councillor A Bell noted there had been little objection to the scheme, the Local Member supported the development and therefore he would propose that the application be approved, subject to the conditions and s106 as set out within the Officer’s report. Councillor K Shaw seconded the proposal and upon a vote being taken it was:
That the application be APPROVED, subject to the conditions and s106 Legal Agreement as set out within the report.
Councillor I Cochrane entered the meeting at 10.00am