Recommended for Approval
The Head of Planning and Building Control recommended that in respect of application 3/18/2457/FUL, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed in the report now submitted.
The Principal Planning Officer, on behalf of the Head of Planning and Building Control summarised the full application and detailed the relevant planning history. She stated that the site was an allocated site in the District Plan for around 56 dwellings and this application had increased that number by 9 to 65 residential units.
The Principal Planning Officer talked Members through the proposed layout of the site and detailed the location of the Sustainable Urban Drainage Solution (SUDS) area and the open space. She also referred to the footpath linkages across the river and the access road and the linkages to the residential area to the East. This was in line with policy in terms of improving footpath networks and connectivity in respect of pedestrian routes.
Members were advised that a Section 278 agreement was proposed to improve Aspenden Road as this was not wide enough in places for 2 cars to pass. The agreement would facilitate improvements to pedestrian crossings although existing sight lines were good. The proposed widening would be in sections only and elements of the road would still be too narrow for a large vehicle to pass a car.
The Principal Planning Officer stated that the site provided an acceptable percentage of affordable housing with this provision being pepper potted throughout the site. Officers believed the scheme to be well designed and the houses and parking would meet the required standards.
Members were further advised that the Highways Authority had not objected to the application subject to the Section 278 agreement, and the design of the houses and the proposed building materials were in accordance with the requirements of the adopted East Herts District Plan.
Ms Allwood addressed the Committee in support of the application. Councillor Waite addressed the Committee as the Town Mayor on behalf of Buntingford Town Council.
Councillor S Bull spoke in support of the position of the Town Council and referred to Aspenden as one of the prettiest villages in East Herts. He stated that he failed to see that there had been any improvement in the situation regarding road movements. He referred to Aspenden Road as being dangerous in terms of sightlines, HGV movements and the chicanes. He commented on whether there was any possibility of a deferral to address these concerns.
Councillor A Huggins stated that he could attest to the near misses between road users and he had witnessed HGVs mounting the kerb in this area. He believed that the only suitable highway solutions were to either widen the road or install a single use traffic light system.
Councillor P Ruffles sought guidance on the matter of a deferral. He referred to the justification for the 16% increase to 65 dwellings and stated that he would welcome input from Officers in respect of the proposed pepper potting of the social housing.
Councillor T Stowe commented on the highways matters and sought clarification in respect of a number of points in respect of the SUDS solution and the flood attenuation pond. The Principal Planning Officer stated that the test was not whether there was a better scheme but whether the highways matters were in accordance with planning policy and highways safety. Members had to determine what was in front of them and should not debate what might be a better arrangement given that the Highway Authority were satisfied with the application.
Members were advised that the Lead Local Flood Authority was satisfied that the SUDS scheme provided adequate sustainable drainage. The Principal Planning Officer confirmed that the pepper potting of the affordable housing was in accordance with planning policy.
The Legal Services Manager advised Members that a deferral would give rise to a risk that the applicant could lodge an appeal on the grounds of non-determination. She confirmed to Councillor S Bull that the statutory deadline for determining the application was 28 June 2019 and a decision on the application could therefore be taken out of the Council’s hands.
Councillor B Crystall referred to the biodiversity assessment and the predicted water usage of 125 litres person per day when compared to a target of 110 litres. He believed the design for cycle storage and routes was commendable but he was concerned should cyclists be routed to the town centre via Aspenden Road. The Principal Planning Officer stated that a biodiversity impact assessment had been completed in compliance with policy in terms of enhancing biodiversity.
The Principal Planning Officer responded to a number of points made by Councillor I Kemp in respect of conditions and enforceability. Councillor A Huggins referred to village 3 policy in light of the fact that 2 further fields were due to be developed in the vicinity of this site. He commented that this application should be the last development off Aspenden Road to avoid an encroachment into Aspenden that would be a breach of village 3 policy.
Councillor P Ruffles proposed and Councillor T Beckett seconded, a motion that in respect of application 3/18/2457/FUL, the Committee support the recommendation for approval, subject to the conditions detailed in the report submitted.
After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED. The Committee supported the recommendation of the Head of Planning and Building Control as now submitted.
RESOLVED – that, in respect of application 3/18/2457/FUL, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed in the report submitted.