Agenda item

Application DM/2018/01741 - Proposed development of 15 dwellings and associated works - Land Off Well Lane For Development Of 15 Houses Cwm-fagor Road, Devauden


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was recommended for approval subject to the 21 conditions as outlined in the report and subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement.


The local Member for Devauden, was unable to attend the meeting.  However, he had produced a statement and the Vice-Chair agreed for County Councillor P. Murphy to read it to the Committee, as follows:


“Unfortunately I will not be able to attend the Planning Committee on Tuesday, but I would like to comment on the application.  There can be no doubt of the need for more affordable housing provision throughout the County. The Strategy and Policy Officer has confirmed that within the Devauden area there are 214 households in housing need, far more than can be provided by this 60% affordable development. Good housing should not be a privilege, it should be a right for every British citizen. I do not believe there is a potential housing site left within the County that does not have some disadvantages so if we are to meet the pressing need, especially for people on lower incomes, we are going to have to consider the merits against the disadvantages of every application that comes before the planning authority.


The site is included in the current Local Development Plan (LDP) and so even if this application was unsuccessful, in time another proposal would undoubtedly come forward. I have been part of many public discussions about this site from the time of the original LDP proposals and there have been many objections put forward against allowing development on the site. In my view one or two of the points raised have been very compelling and needed satisfactory solutions to make the development acceptable. Devauden Community Council has discussed the development on a number of occasions and their concerns encapsulate the issues raised by members of the community. So in reaching my own conclusion on the application I will address their points of objection.


A small part of the development is outside the area allocated in the LDP; true but the additional land enhances the public green amenity offered by the development. I welcome that.


It is important that any new development does not exacerbate existing drainage issues. They cannot necessarily be expected to cure existing shortcomings within the area as well. What I was looking for here was confirmation from Welsh Water that the drainage proposals were sustainable. This is met by condition 6.9.1. They have also confirmed that foul drainage can be accommodated adequately within the nearby Welsh Water sewage plant by the use of small tankers. Neither would there be an appreciable increase in the number of times vehicles would need to visit the sewage plant.


For me, the major issue of this site has been around road safety; traffic and pedestrians. The junction adjacent to the site between Well Lane, the B4293 and the village green has very poor visibility for traffic emerging from Well Lane towards Chepstow. The latest proposal in this application to close Well Lane to traffic and use the new road through the development will improve the situation markedly. For pedestrians the ideal solution would be to provide a footway to modern standards. As the report explains that is not possible. The use of the top of Well Lane for pedestrians only will help. As suggested pedestrians could cross the road. Accompanied by suitable road markings that warn motorists of the shared space would be an acceptable solution. Highways, who are always cautious in these circumstances, are confident such a scheme can come forward. I would also suggest that advisory 20mph signs be placed approaching point on the highway from both directions of the B4293. In addition I would like to see the 30mph restriction extended for traffic coming from the Chepstow direction, leading to lower speeds around the top of Well Lane. It should also be noted that there are hundreds if not thousands of examples in the UK of safe developments in villages where no pavements can be provided.


Condition 14 covers lighting restrictions for ecology reasons. No doubt that will also protect neighbours to an extent. However, it is impossible for any residential development not to include lighting visible from adjoining properties. That is a downside of development. Lighting from this development will be seen from neighbouring properties. I believe it can be controlled to make it acceptable.


There is one further point that I would like to raise. Despite the poor access onto Well Lane, it has been used inappropriately by heavy vehicles, sometimes becoming stuck further along the lane. The improved access through the development onto Well Lane might further entice heavy vehicles, especially using satnav to use it as a short cut. I would like to see warning signs, including those for satnav users at the entrance to the development and at the lower end of Well Lane.


In conclusion I feel that following the lengthy negotiations with planning officers, what has emerged is a development that meets the exacting standards required and I support the application.”


Councillor A. Williams, representing Devauden Community Council, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         Devauden Community Council is opposed to the proposed development in its current form.


·         The Highways Department considers that it is unfortunate that the site is unable to comply with the sustainable transport hierarchy as specified in Planning Policy Wales edition 10 nor can footways be provided in accordance with the Design Guidance Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. The Community Council considers that this is not unfortunate but is inexcusable. Concern was expressed that approval of the application would result in the community becoming split by a major road.


·         There is no provision for any safe access for pedestrians or cyclists. It was left to a private discussion between the Highways Department and the developer before it is known which measures can or cannot be taken.  The community was excluded from the discussion.


·         Concern was expressed that families might be required to drive a distance of 40m in order to take their children to the local playground due to road safety concerns. Provisions need to be discussed and addressed in respect of this matter should the development be approved.


·         The waste treatment plant in Devauden is currently not working properly and is at capacity. The proposed 15 dwellings will place the waste treatment plant at over capacity.  The solution by Welsh Water is to schedule more tankers, potentially an additional three tankers per month. Access to the waste treatment plant is currently through the proposed new development. A more sustainable sewage solution needs to be created and the proposed development should not go forward until such a solution is addressed.


·         With regard to surface water drainage, a SUDS compliant proposal has been put forward.  However, Welsh Water, on numerous occasions, has stated that it does not want surface water run-off connected to this sewage system.  In the current proposal, Welsh Water is the level 4 SUDS option and the drainage supplier of last resort.


Mr. H. Williams, representing objectors, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         The site has been rejected for development by Monmouthshire County Council on three occasions in the past, a view substantiated by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.


·         The site was one of five sites considered at the Local Development Plan (LDP) stage.  It was deemed unsuitable by Monmouthshire County Council’s Highways Department on the grounds that no adequate footpath could be provided.  Also, the site had been deemed unsuitable from an aesthetic view.


·         Despite this, the site has been favoured above alternative sites that had no traffic issues and were less visually intrusive.


·         The Planning Inspector approved the site under the impression that the site was feasible in traffic and pedestrian access terms. However, The County Council now concedes that this is not the case.


·         Two of the original four sites in the village have already been resubmitted for development. One of these sites was originally identified as the preferred site for inclusion in the current LDP establishing at least one other alternative to the Well Lane site.


·         The current plan bears little resemblance to the plan presented for approval.  The plan exceeds the approved area and its design differs significantly from the approved site.  Therefore, it should not rely on LDP approval but be judged as a new site. There will be significant visual impact.


·         Well Lane is a natural boundary to the village.  The plans include a new road junction, the removal of 200 plus metres of hedgerow and the installation around the site of close boarded timber fencing.  This will change the character of the site from rural to urban.


·         Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has submitted a range of objections and conclude that the site should only go ahead if it can be demonstrated that the development cannot reasonably be located elsewhere.  However, it is known that other sites are available.


·         The ecology report states that the field was being managed to minimise biodiversity.  Welsh Water has concerns regarding storm water which is not adequately covered.


·         The proposed development will take the local sewage plant capacity very close to its limit.  Therefore, it might not be feasible to develop houses at the site.


·         Well Lane is a through road with regular agricultural and heavy traffic including Welsh Water waste tankers travelling along this route.  These vehicles will be travelling through a housing estate should the development be approved.


·         Seven houses will share two exits directly onto Well Lane.


·         A footway along the B4293 that satisfies current design standards cannot be provided.  The Highways Department considers it inappropriate to provide a footway and associated engineering works for only an additional 15 dwellings.


·         The proposed development is also unable to provide a clear pedestrian link and is unable to actively promote pedestrian links to the village.


·         A new development of 15 houses will result in an increase in the number of pedestrians using the link,  many being children walking to school buses or to local play areas.


·         It was considered that the proposed development will isolate the residents from the safe passage to local amenities.


·         Objectors asked that the Planning Committee considers refusal of the application as it did not comply with planning policies.


·         If approved, the proposed development would cause unacceptable harm to the character, appearance, amenities and environment of the local area and fails to provide safe and convenient pedestrian access from the site to the village which contravenes local and planning policies.


Mr. S. Harris, the applicant’s agent, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         On balance, the proposed development is considered to be one that is suitable for support.


·         The site is a housing allocation within the Local Development Plan (LDP). Subject to material considerations, proposals for the designated use should be supported.


·         The principle of development of the site for residential use is firmly established.


·         Objectors have made reference that the site has been subject to refusal for residential development in the past. Those refusals were in 2002 and 2004, prior to the current LDP.  At that stage an independent inspector had decided to allocate the site for housing based on sound and balanced judgement.


·         In response to the highways based objections to the proposed development, various options have been offered for the access route into the village including the version that the LDP inspector favoured. The solution that has been reached was in conjunction with the Highways Department and has its support. This solution does not rely upon the use of third party land.


·         The Highways Department’s comments conclude that for only 15 units it would be unreasonable to require more onerous measures than those currently proposed.


·         The developer’s proposal includes a safer route into the village via a new pedestrianised area at the head of Well Lane on a route that already serves existing properties.


·         In addition, vehicle tracking has been undertaken that demonstrates the new route through the site and on to Well Lane is usable by vehicles measuring up to 16.5m in length.


·         In terms of the foul sewage treatment works, Welsh Water has also commented that the proposed development will not result in a substantial increase in the number of visits to the treatment plant.


·         There are limited opportunities to provide new social housing in Monmouthshire’s rural towns and villages which is why allocations such as this proposal are included within the LDP.


·         There are 214 households in need of accommodation in the Devauden area.


·         The need for social housing is a material planning consideration.  The site layout and house types have been designed with engagement with the Planning Department. A high quality design solution is being offered.


·         Through the allocation of the site within the LDP there was going to be an impact on the existing hedgerow but the mitigation proposed has been supported by the County Council’s ecologist.


·         The proposed communal orchard and meadow will enhance the area providing public access to a previously private field parcel.


·         A balanced assessment has been reached after a long period of careful consideration.  The applicant’s agent therefore asked the Planning Committee to grant approval of the application.


Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:


·         The issues relating to the site have been mitigated.


·         The site is allocated within the LDP and is contributing to providing towards the shortage of affordable housing across the County.


·         Approval of the application will broaden the character and diversity of the village.


·         Planning Policy Wales (PPW) states that it is the key role of the planning system to support sustainable transport by facilitating developments which are sited in the right locations where they can be easily accessed by sustainable modes of travel without the need for a car that make it possible for all short journeys within and beyond the development to be easily made by walking and cycling.  Welsh Government requires the use of the sustainable transport hierarchy which priorities walking, cycling and public transport. Paragraph 4.1.16 of the report of the application suggests that in rural areas one can consider the sustainable transport hierarchy differently.  However, the whole paragraph states that local authorities could apply the transport hierarchy by first considering how the location and design of new development could encourage walking and cycling.


·         Reference was made to TAN 18, Paragraph 6.2  - in determining planning applications, the Authority should ensure new development encourages walking as a prime means for local journeys. Pedestrian routes provide a safe and fully inclusive pedestrian environment, particularly for routes to primary schools.


·         Reference was made to the LDP policies S16 where development should propose sustainable safe forms of transport which reduce the need to travel increase provision for walking and cycling.


·         Reference was made to Policy MV2 in which developments of sites dependent on their location, size and local need, include provision for an integration of appropriate sustainable transport links including walking and cycling.


·         Reference was made to Policy DES1 – to ensure a safe, secure, pleasant and convenient environment that is accessible and encourages walking and cycling.


·         It was considered that the proposed development does not address any of the aims of the Active Travel Bill and there was conflict with national Planning Policy.


·         The pedestrian access is dangerous and it is inappropriate to encourage pedestrians as the only walking route to the village enters a busy classified road and into conflict with traffic.


·         It has been considered that low cost housing residents have lower levels of car ownership and will rely more on public transport where the bus stop and the school bus stop is on the opposite side of the village green. The route is dangerous to walk especially for children.


·         It was considered that the inspector’s report had been interpreted incorrectly as it suggests that the inspector came to the view that walking access to the site could be dealt with. A Member’s interpretation of this is that the inspector allowed the site to form part of the LDP on the basis that a pedestrian route seemed feasible by the normal means.


·         If the Committee was minded to approve the application, a Member asked that consideration of the application be deferred to ensure whether the scheme can be safely provided and that work on the access be provided up front.


·         In response, the Development Management Area Team Manager informed the Committee that rural villages are not designed to be fully accessible for pedestrians.  There are numerous villages and settlements across Monmouthshire which do not have pedestrian links.  There are different circumstances depending on the development.  It is frustrating that there is no scope to produce a pedestrian link for this proposed development. However, the applicant has agreed to a Section 278 Agreement. Also, enhancements are being proposed with mitigation that could be established on the site. Therefore, the proposed development is considered to be acceptable, on balance.


·         In response to a question raised regarding drainage, it was noted that Welsh Water has stated that it has no objections to the proposed drainage and to the number of tankers, if there are any additional tankers required in the area.


·         The application would not be subject to Welsh Government Call In as it is allocated within the LDP.


·         Condition 18 of the report of the application outlines that no development shall commence until detailed design, safety audits and technical approval for the re-location of the Well Lane junction and associated works on the B4293 have been submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority. The development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details.


·         In response to the road layout, how the speed limit will be controlled through the village to ensure pedestrian safety and the quality of materials that are to be used, it was noted that in relation to the highway matters officers will receive the amended plans from the developer. It is anticipated that there would be footways minimising the amount of time that a pedestrian would be within the carriageway and there would be further features in terms of signage and road features to highlight awareness that there will be pedestrians in the carriageway.


·         In terms of materials, condition 7 of the report of the application covers this matter and officers would ensure that the materials used are appropriate for the edge of a village settlement.


·         The site is already located within a 30mph speed limit. However, signage will be improved to highlight further the shared space element of the scheme.


·         There have been a number of different variations to the layout.  If Well Lane was kept open, this would result in two points of conflict onto the B4293.  Therefore, the scheme is attempting to reduce this issue as much as possible. A number of different designs have come forward. However, the proposed scheme, as outlined in the report, is considered to be appropriate for the type of development proposed.


·         Concern was expressed that there was no commitment to reduce the speed limit through the village.


·         It was noted that there was a number of villages across Monmouthshire with similar issues to this site.  It was acknowledged that all risk could not be eliminated at this location.  However, it was considered that measures had been put in place to mitigate the concerns that had been raised. The benefits of the proposed scheme outweigh the negative elements that have been identified.


·         There will remain two lanes of traffic and the speed of the two lanes will be managed.


·         Headers and cills are required to the rear of the proposed dwellings as well as to the front of the dwellings.


·         In response to a question raised regarding the need for a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph, it was noted that the mandatory traffic speeds will be considered as part of the safety audit. There is a 30mph speed limit currently in place through the village.  However, the local Member had suggested a 20mph advisory speed limit for the village.  If this forms part of the scheme, than that could be considered.


 It was proposed by County Councillor G. Howard and seconded by County Councillor L. Brown that we be minded to defer consideration of application DM/2018/01741 to allow time to see all of the highway details.


Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:


In favour of deferral             -           3

Against deferral                    -           5

Abstentions                           -           1


The proposition was not carried.


It was proposed by County Councillor P. Murphy and seconded by County Councillor R. Harris that application DM/2018/01741 be approved subject to the 21 conditions as outlined in the report and subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement. Also that headers and cills are required to the rear and front of the proposed dwellings


Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:


In favour of the proposal                -           5

Against the proposal                       -           3

Abstentions                                       -           1


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that application DM/2018/01741 be approved subject to the 21 conditions as outlined in the report and subject to a Section 106 Legal Agreement. Also that headers and cills are required to the rear and front of the proposed dwellings.



Supporting documents: