Saturday, 29 March 2014

New Ridley: Appeal and New Application

The deadline for making representations on the New Ridley planning appeal looms fast, so I thought I'd outline the basic points I am making in my response. Before I do that, I will mention that Esh have now also submitted a new planning application to build 16 houses rather than the original 22. I am assuming that if the appeal goes in their favour then they will withdrawn the new application and proceed with the original, so this looks like Plan B in case the appeal is unsuccessful.

I will know more after the Parish Council meeting on 7 April to which Esh have been invited to present their new plans. Parish Council meetings are, of course, open to the public but please note that the PC is not proposing to discuss the new application at April's meeting; rather it will be much like the previous meeting at which Allendale Estates attended to present their outline proposals for developing the fields opposite the school. The Council will, of course, consider the new proposals fully and, in due course, will engage residents much as they did with the public meetings for the original application.

I will make a separate post to look the details of the new proposal in due course.

Anyway, back to the appeal. We have until 8 April to submit representations to the Planning Inspectorate. The Parish Council will be approving its submission at the meeting on 7 April which is currently with all the councillors in its proposed draft form. When writing your own letter you should consider the basis on which the appeal is being made. It centres around the four reasons for refusal of the application last July and Esh's response to them. The first four pages of the appeal document giving the grounds for refusal and Esh's response can be downloaded here.

Grounds for Refusal

The four reasons for NCC's refusal of the application are:
  1. The proposed development, by virtue of its scale and location within the Green Belt does not constitute “limited” infilling in New Ridley of “limited” affordable housing for local community needs, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The proposed development is therefore inappropriate development within the Green Belt for which the applicant has not demonstrated that very special circumstances exist. The proposal is therefore contrary to the provisions of the NPPF in this respect, and also the provisions of Local Plan Policies NE7 and H23 which are considered to align in principal with the provisions of the NPPF. 
  2. The proposed development, by virtue of its location within a smaller settlement poorly served by services/facilities and which has limited access to the public transport network, is not a sustainable location for new housing development, contrary to the sustainability objectives of the NPPF and to the provisions of Core Strategy Policies GD1, H1 H3 and H7 and Local Plan Policy H23.
  3. The proposed development, by virtue of its internal highway layout as shown on the submitted amended plans would encourage the parking of vehicles on the public highway in a location which would adversely affect both the visibility splays from the proposed development and visibility in a forward direction for vehicles passing the development necessary for highway safety and would also interrupt the free flow of traffic and prejudice the safety of all road users of the highway, contrary to the provisions of Core Strategy Policy GD4 and Local Plan Policy GD4.
  4. There is a deficiency in the amount of outdoor sports facilities across the former District area of Tynedale. There is not appropriate provision in place to secure a contribution towards outdoor sports facilities arising from this development as required by the Council’s Supplementary Planning Document “New Housing: Planning Obligations for Sport and Play Facilities” and the proposal is therefore contrary to the provisions of Core Strategy Policy GD6 and Local Plan Policy LR11 and the Supplementary Planning Document “New Housing: Planning Obligations for Sport and Play Facilities”.

Esh's Response

  1. The development represents a sustainable location for new development, when considered in the context of Stocksfield and New Ridley as closely allied settlements and is in fact in a similar situation to other recent approvals within Central and West Northumberland.
  2. The scheme can be rightly considered as providing “limited affordable housing” when considered in the context of Stocksfield and New Ridley.
  3. There is a proven under-supply of both market housing and affordable housing across Central Northumberland and that there are no alternative sites which are in the public domain which are available to meet the affordable housing needs within Stocksfield and New Ridley.
  4. Detailed matters such as highways were capable of being resolved through minor adjustments to layout and landscaping and potentially incorporation of traffic regulation orders on the main road.
  5. The applicant is committed to the provision of informal open space within the development and an area of this land could easily be given over to formal play space and details provided by way of a condition. Off-site sports provision could have also been secured by way of a s106 agreement, or an opportunity provided to negotiate provision based on the viability of the scheme.

Making Representation

Sustainability 

I do not agree with Esh's assertion that the location represents a sustainable location for new development. The recent approvals to which Esh refer are quite different in nature and not comparable to this case. In the Humshaugh/Chollerford and Medburn/Ponteland applications there are regular and frequent bus services between the major and minor settlements. New Ridley is not well served by public transport with only a single bus each week. Cycling is not a viable option for elderly residents, the infirm, or those with young children who are, presumably, the main groups to which the housing would be targeted. Walking times to the nearest shops are in the order of 30 minutes or more each way. Other facilities (train station, school, sports fields) are even farther away.

Further, New Ridley, lacking essential services does not meet the national planning framework's criteria for exceptional circumstances.  Local demand for affordable housing is already being met on previously developed land through the partnership between Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm and Isos Housing. This housing is being build in sustainable locations close to local services and facilities.

The development is not, as Esh claims, compatible with the Parish Council's Parish Plan as New Ridley is NOT mentioned as a location for development.

Limited Affordable Housing

Esh claim that in the context of New Ridley and Stocksfield the proposal represents limited affordable housing. However, New Ridley is a quite separate settlement which is not served by public transport. The prosal would constitute a close to 40% increase in the number of houses in the settlement and, therefore, cannot be considered 'limited'.

Housing Under Supply

The Parish Council conducted a Housing Needs Survey in 2013 which showed strong local support for the development of affordable housing provided that it was not on green belt land. Seven affordable homes are already being built on previously developed land in Stocksfield and there is more PDL available in sustainable locations to meet the County Council's projected need for affordable housing within the Stocksfield area.

In summary, I do not feel that the fundamental conditions upon which refusal was predicated have changed and, therefore, the appeal should be refused.

Have Your Say

Please make your own representation to the Planning Inspectorate and feel free to comment in your own way on the above issues. The Parish Council will be able to say a great deal more about the Housing Needs Survey conducted last year. You might wish to focus in more detail on a particular issue. The link for making your comments is: http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2213838&coid=115776

n.b., at the time of writing the Planning Inspectorate web site is generating some errors, so the above link may not be working when you click on it. I expect it will be fixed soon.

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