We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was recommended for approval subject to the conditions outlined in the report with an additional condition to secure the provision of electric vehicle charging points on site in accordance with details to be agreed with the local planning authority prior to works commencing on site, and to be installed in accordance with the approved details and available for use by customers prior to the development being brought into use.
The local Member for Bulwark and Thornwell, County Councillor Sue Riley, also a Planning Committee Member, outlined the following points:
· The petrol station will take pressure off Highbeech roundabout.
· The employment prospects are welcome.
· Concerns were expressed regarding the safety of the roundabout where some pedestrians will take the shortest route. Further consideration is required regarding the safety of the most direct route from Bulwark to the takeaway site.
· Complaints have been received regarding accumulation of rubbish at a takeaway site. A request was made for additional bins to be located on the route to and from the site.
· A request had been made for additional bins to be located on the site plan. The public is expected to be socially responsible and to use the bins provided on site. However, this is not an issue for the Planning Department to manage.
· The Planning Department wants to actively discourage pedestrians crossing the roundabout. Crash barriers are in place to prevent pedestrians from doing this. The underpass nearby allows pedestrians to safely travel from Bulwark to the south of the roundabout. The pedestrian route then continues towards the site.
· The applicant will provide additional signage regarding access to the site along the route which will be secured via a Section 106 agreement.
The Member for Wyesham outlined the following points:
· Information was requested regarding how the site will be used by passing motorists and its effect on the vitality of neighbouring town centres.
· Consideration should be given to the provision of a controlled pedestrian crossing near the site.
· Litter on the site is a concern.
Councillor Dominic Power, representing Chepstow Town Council, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:
· Chepstow does require enhanced employment opportunities for its young people.
· Concern was expressed regarding the safety of people using the site via pedestrian access.
· The site neighbours Thornwell and Bulwark and there will be many people attracted to the site from these locations. Concern was expressed that the roundabout will be used as a direct route to the site rather than using the conventional safe routes. This is an overriding safety concern.
· Chepstow Town Council considers that insufficient consideration had been given to this proposal to allow it to progress.
The applicant’s agent, Matthew Gray, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:
· The site has been allocated for employment generating development and planning policy at a local level for in excess of 10 years.
· Viability issues surrounding development of the application site are significant. The most recent employment land review identified topographical challenges and limited options for access meaning a viable solution coming forward enabling its development was deemed as unlikely.
· The application proposes slightly in excess of 9000 sq.m of floor space which accords with the long-term unfilled allocation of the site. To enable the floor space to be delivered in accordance with market requirements and operator interest it is proposed in outline form.
· The roadside services scheme comprises enabling development adding viability to the scheme.
· The site location south of the M48 comprises evidence to serve passing motorists. A need for the facility has been evidenced and accepted by Council officers.
· The proposed development will serve the requirements of passing motorists including EV charging at a level in excess of the 10% requirement of Planning Policy Wales (PPW) with the ability to increase provision over time.
· Comments from objectors have been noted and acknowledged. However, the proposed development has been deemed acceptable by Welsh Government Transport, Monmouthshire County Council’s Highways Engineer and via third party independent review undertaken by highways consultancy.
· The development is clear in its intentions to serve passing motorists primarily. At the request of officers, a pedestrian crossing and shortening of the walking distances from residential areas are proposed. Evidence has been provided and accepted by officers highlighting that the topography of the wider site, including a 30° slope would result in engineering and earthworks which would result in the development being unviable if lines of desire on 2D plans are followed.
· Beyond Highways, statutory consultees confirm no objection to the proposed development in respect of land use policy, ecology, archaeology, amenity, flood risk, noise, drainage, and arboricultural matters.
· The roadside services will deliver around 75 jobs based on employment density guidance provided by the UK Government. It would be a realistic expectation to result in the creation of in the region of 200 new positions. The significant job creation across a wide range of job types comprises of a material consideration in the determination of the application.
· This proposal will enable the development of a site which has been allocated for employment purposes for in excess of 10 years and will result in significant job creation in the region of 275 jobs.
Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:
· Concern was expressed that the two further access points on the slope road to the roundabout could be a cause for future road traffic accidents. It was suggested that a filter lane be installed at the first entrance to the services and have a no right turn into the industrial unit. The applicant’s agent responded stating that the application had been rigorously assessed by Welsh Government Transport, the County Council’s Highways Engineers and twice by a third-party independent consultant. All had deemed the highways proposals as acceptable in terms of a safety perspective.
The Development Management Area Team Manager responded to questions raised, as follows:
· The site is allocated for employment. It had been considered by the Inspector via the Local Development Plan (LDP) process and had been viewed as an appropriate site for employment use. All forms of access to the site are encouraged and the underpass provides suitable access from Bulwark to the south to the industrial estate. Appropriate signage will be put in place. Access to the site across the roundabout is not to be encouraged and measures have and can be put in place to deter access in this way.
· The roundabout is in Welsh Government ownership. Any alterations to the roundabout would need to ensure that they are compliant with highway safety and the visibility off drivers.
· The pedestrian linkage is not exactly on the desire line but in order to achieve a desire line as one comes from the underpass towards the site one would have to climb up the embankment which is a significant slope. In order to provide a fully accessible ramp up the slope would require a significant engineering operation to ensure the gradient is suitable for all users. This would be financially costly and ‘land hungry’ which would impact on the viability of the site.
· There are two pedestrian crossings, one which connects the Wales coastal path, and the additional crossing is proposed at a place that is considered most convenient to provide a ramp of an appropriate gradient.
· With regard to the potential impact on retail in Bulwark, surveys have indicated that items mainly being sold are not comparison goods. The offer at the site is not a primary trip attractor. Access to the site would generally be undertaken by car. It would not divert from the comparison offer from Bulwark.
· A full traffic assessment has been undertaken for this application which has been reviewed by the Authority’s Highways Officer. Also, an independent review has been undertaken to ensure highway safety and compliance. The data compiled is sufficient and the conclusions drawn are reasonable and acceptable. Therefore, there is no need for a further traffic assessment to be undertaken. Monmouthshire County Council’s Highways Officer accepts the findings of the review that the two accesses off the slip road are considered to be safe.
· The addition of a third lane had originally been a concern of the Highways Officer. However, the traffic assessment indicated that the data does not suggest that that is a safety problem and is therefore not necessary. Creating a third lane would be ‘land hungry’ and financially costly and would significantly impact on the viability of the proposals.
· The infrastructure for EV charging would be put into the ground under the main parking area for future use. There is a condition proposed to ensure the additional 10 EV chargers are to be installed prior to occupation. Full details of those chargers could be requested at the appropriate time to ensure the kilowatts provided are sufficient.
· There will be an additional pedestrian crossing resulting in two crossings at the site.
In response to a question raised, the applicant’s agent confirmed that speed surveys had been undertaken.
The Development Management Area Team Manager informed that Committee that the pedestrian crossing is a dropped curb with tactile paving.
It was proposed by County Councillor Jan Butler and seconded by County Councillor Maureen Powell that application DM/2022/01155 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report with an additional condition to secure the provision of electric vehicle charging points on site in accordance with details to be agreed with the local planning authority prior to works commencing on site, and to be installed in accordance with the approved details and available for use by customers prior to the development being brought into use.
Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:
For approval - 10
Against approval - 1
Abstentions - 1
The proposition was carried.
We resolved that application DM/2022/01155 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report with an additional condition to secure the provision of electric vehicle charging points on site in accordance with details to be agreed with the local planning authority prior to works commencing on site, and to be installed in accordance with the approved details and available for use by customers prior to the development being brought into use.