Agenda item

3/21/1756/FUL - Demolition of all existing buildings. Erection of a Class E retail food store, with associated car parking, reconfigured site access, servicing, landscaping, swale, and installation of plant equipment at Gates of Stortford, 295-297 Stansted Road, Bishop's Stortford, CM23 2BT

Recommended for Approval


The Head of Planning and Building Control recommended that in respect of application 3/21/1756/FUL, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed in the report and subject to a Section 106 legal agreement, and with delegated authority being granted to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the detail of the Legal Agreement and conditions.


The Team Leader (Strategic Applications) talked about the planning history of the site and summarised in detail the main issues for Members to consider. He presented a series of plans and elevation drawings and detailed the location of the site. He also summarised the use types of all the surrounding buildings on Stansted Road.


The Team Leader (Strategic Applications) said that the resolution of the committee in December 2022 included the option to refuse if the Section 106 agreement had not been completed. Members were now being asked to extend the resolution to permit the signing of the Section 106 agreement.


The Team Leader (Strategic Applications) detailed the amendments to the internal site layout, the pedestrian access improvements, and improvements to bus stops. He mentioned the level access to the building and addressed the committee at length in respect of the Council’s public sector equality duty.


The Team Leader commented on the material considerations in respect of the District Plan and referred to the late representations and additional planning matters within the committee addendum. He said that the representation letter from Tesco’s Agent had raised matters that had been addressed within the report.


Cheryl Sauvery addressed the Committee in objection to the application. Laura Beech spoke for the application.


Councillor Devonshire expressed a concern relating to traffic on Stansted Road during the morning rush hour. He said that upgrading the footpaths would be a waste of time as he did not believe that shoppers from the town centre would walk from there to shop at LIDL on this site.


The Team Leader said that the matter of traffic congestion was considered as part of a traffic assessment submitted by the applicant and considered by Hertfordshire Highways in 2021/22. The increase in traffic was judged to be within acceptable tolerances and the increase did not in itself give rise to a reason to refuse the application. Members were advised that the scheme would not create unsafe highways conditions.


The Team Leader said that improvements to footpaths should be viewed as a benefit of the scheme in terms of encouraging people to walk to the site and a move to a more active and sustainable way of accessing facilities.


Councillor Copley referred to the planning conditions and possible consultation with the resident of 289 Stansted Road to better understand the needs of the disabled resident at that address. The Team Leader said that conditions 3 and 35 required that there be consultation and liaison with the occupiers of 289 Stansted Road in respect of landscaping and boundary treatments.


Members were advised that Officers would only discharge that condition if it had been demonstrated that the applicant had consulted and worked with the occupant of 289 Stansted Road to achieve an acceptable outcome. The Team Leader referred to a previous slide in respect of a landscaping scheme including hedgerows around the edges of the site and a noise buffer.


The Team Leader said that, in respect of the protected characteristics under the equalities act, Officers had identified specified conditions in respect of the design of the junction and conditions in respect of landscaping and boundary treatments. He said that the existing access had been made safer by pulling the crossing back into the site and had been made of a certain width to accommodate the movement of vehicles coming to and from the site. He also referred to identified conditions in respect of noise levels, deliveries, refuse collection times and store opening hours.


Councillor Holt asked about the location of the nearest public transport and in particular bus stops. The Team Leader displayed a plan to answer this question. Councillor Hill referred to active travel and asked about individual cycle paths.


The Team Leader referred in detail to the representations from the HCC Highways Officer. The Team Leader confirmed that the highways authority was no longer a capacity-based organisation, and the local transport plan made it clear that the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users must be accommodated ahead of the needs of the private motor car.


Members were advised that the highways authority had concluded that they were satisfied that the proposals had included sufficient measures which had meaningfully put the needs of people who chose to travel by sustainable modes above the needs who travel by the private motor car. The Team Leader referred Members to the advice of the Highways Officer and said that as accommodating the convenience of motorists was no longer in line with both national and local policy it would not be reasonable to expect the applicant to undertake vehicle capacity checks on the wider highways network and carry out vehicle capacity improvements.


The Highways Officer had concluded that the application would not result in an increase in traffic through the Hockerill junction and the impact on other neighbouring junctions would not result in additional traffic or result in harmful highways conditions within the wider area. Members were advised that the measures included within the scheme sought to reduce the numbers of vehicles on the road and there was a travel plan that was secured by a planning obligation.


Councillor Buckmaster referred to conditions 30 and 31 and the proposed retail opening hours. She commented on whether it would be neighbourly to restrict the delivery times under condition 31 to alleviate the concerns of neighbours.


The Team Leader said that Environmental Health had been consulted and had raised no objections to the proposed hours of operation and conditions were proposed in respect of noise from the proposed change of use. He said that hours of closing had been reduced to 4 pm on Sundays and there was no policy to request or require that the delivery hours were restricted as this had not been set out as a requirement of Environmental Health Officers.


Councillor Watson proposed and Councillor Copley seconded, a motion for an adjournment from 19:52 to 20:00, to facilitate the remote attendance of an Officer from Hertfordshire County Council highways. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that the meeting be adjourned from 19:52 to 20:00.


The meeting reconvened at 20:00 and Matthew Armstrong (Highways Officer from Hertfordshire County Council) said that in terms of safety, there was no compromise regarding the access to the site. Members were reminded that in terms of capacity and the free flow of traffic, there might be an impact. He said that there would be tactile paving and the access had been safety audited in the form of a stage one road safety audit.


Matthew Armstrong referred to the NPPF and LTP4 in respect of sustainable and active travel. He referred at length to vehicle crossover guidance and said that there was no obvious intrinsic safety issue. He said that from a highway perspective, there had been no details as to the frequency of the large tail lift vehicle pick up or how long this vehicle was parked outside the property. He concluded that in practice there were no obvious safety issues.


Councillor Hill referred to the speed differential between cyclists and motorists being a deterrent to cyclists. He said reducing the speed limit should be considered in terms of safety and active transport. Matthew Armstrong said that there was a speed management strategy at HCC and that the overriding message was that the legal speed limit should match the look and feel of the road. He said that Stansted Road did not look of feel like a 20-mph road and there would have to be very significant changes in the form of a full route treatment and there was a test of reasonableness. Members were advised that the applicant had included some very good sustainable active travel improvements.


Councillor Estop and Councillor Copley both enquired whether the proposed site access could be moved further north and whether the delivery hours could be modified to reflect the hours of operation on a Sunday (i.e., no deliveries after 1600 hours). The Team Leader advised that the delivery hours condition could be amended subject to agreement with the applicant. The Team Leader advised that there was no planning or highways design requirement to justify relocating the access subject to the recommended conditions.


Councillor Buckmaster proposed and Councillor Watson seconded, a motion that application 3/21/1756/FUL be granted planning permission, subject to the conditions detailed at the end of the report (and the late representations addendum document) and subject to a Section 106 legal agreement with delegated being granted to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the detail of the legal agreement and conditions.


After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED that (A) in respect of application 3/21/1756/FUL, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions detailed at the end of the report and subject to a Section 106 legal agreement; and


(B)   delegated authority being granted to the Head of Planning and Building Control to finalise the detail of the legal agreement and conditions.

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