This started last year with an initial submission to Wiltshire Council and a rather lacklustre exhibition. The application was retrieved by the applicant (Hollins Strategic) last year. The application has now been resubmitted with some amended plans and a revised description.
The initial 85 dwellings have been reduced to 61 and are now a mix of housing types, before they were all market houses. So, a quite different proposal to that presented before. Consequently, a public consultation should be carried out as this is a different proposition to the one earlier proposed.
The master plan has been updated, more detail provided on the access off Restrop Road, proposed access to Reid’s Piece, proposed traffic calming measures on Restrop Road and some ecological detail. A covering letter dealt with some archaeological matters.
There are several features which give rise for concern:
- Part of the proposed development is outside the settlement boundary and therefore non-compliant with the Neighbourhood Plan. Whilst it is conceivable that future development may continue south of the current settlement boundary, such strategic change should be a function of the next round of local development planning which is in its early stages, rather than be driven by a single, speculative planning application;
- The access onto Restrop Road appears to be inadequate and would require much longer sight lines with consequent destruction of the hedgerows. This is an issue that we have now seen with the adjacent Persimmon development and was not appropriately conditioned, resulting in a much more extensive loss of the existing hedgerow than originally envisaged during the public consultation. The covering letter nuances this with, “…some element of vegetation clearance”;
- In presenting the proposals, the applicant notes that comments by Wiltshire Planning Officer, statutory consultees, Wiltshire Council’s Landscape Officer, by Purton Parish Council and by the County Archaeology Officer have been taken into account. It is not evident that comments made by the public at the Exhibition (it was not advertised as a public consultation) have been taken into account. Indeed, in the “Welcome” poster at the Exhibition it states: “…this is part of the consultation process…”. There was every expectation that there would be a follow-up consultation when someone would stand up and present the proposals. A few flimsy sheets lying on tables that we all had to crowd round to see did not constitute a consultation.
The Statement of Community Involvement of this limited consultation noted:
- “…30% of the written comments received indicate support for a mix of housing including more affordable homes and bungalows…” and the Covering Letter stated (on page? none of the pages are numbered). “The 61 dwellings will include a mix of housing, including 40% affordable units, and a mix of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bed properties and bungalows” ~ the proposals remain silent on the number or, indeed, any bungalows;
- More than 75% expressed concerned “…about the Impact on village facilities (e.g. GP, Schools)” ~ the proposals remain silent on this issue;
- The fifth most common concern (request) was for a road link between the development site and Reid’s Piece not just a pedestrian link ~ the proposals remain silent on this. The Statement does refer to “Ensuring that potential future links are safeguarded, allowing for a potential future road connection to Brandon [sic] Forest School”. Despite the mis-naming of the school, it is not clear that a road link will be safeguarded since the applicant is not the developer. History tells us what happens to inconvenient items nominally agreed at the Outline stage;
- So, not much of a “taking into account” the concerns of the public; and
- The November 2018 Transport Assessment is out of date.
In summary, the proposals are not compliant with the neighbourhood plan, seriously expressed concern arising from the Exhibition has not been taken into account and some data are woefully out-of-date.
With an outline application and key issues being “reserved” (that is, left to a later date for consideration) there is no guarantee that what is being presented would resemble the final outcome anyway.
So, lots wrong with this application:
- A public consultation should be carried out as this is a different proposition to the one earlier proposed;
- Part of the proposed development is outside the settlement boundary and therefore non-compliant with the Neighbourhood Plan;
- Strategic changes to the settlement boundary should be a function of the next round of local development planning rather than by a single, speculative planning application;
- Access onto Restrop Road appears to be inadequate and would require much longer sight lines with consequent destruction of the hedgerows;
- Proposals remain silent on the number (or any) bungalows;
- Proposals remain silent on the impact on village facilities (e.g. GP, schools);
- A road link between the development site and Reid’s Piece is not certain since the applicant is not the developer; and
- The November 2018 Transport Assessment is out of date.
At the recent planning appeal (for 81 houses opposite Mouldon View) the planning inspector gave considerable weight and respect to the Purton Neighbourhood Plan when refusing the appeal.
If you are concerned about all this, to make comments on this application either go to the Wiltshire Council web planning portal (here), or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Land at Restrop Road (19/03731/OUT). The closing date is 5 pm on Thursday, 14 May 2020.
Do remember to use your own words when commenting.
…and do keep safe