PA13/11291: Erection of 16 dwellings, estate roads, footpaths and landscaping: Land off The Green Lane (Church Street): Mrs H Withers
The Parish Council objects strongly to this application because:
1. the proposed development does not satisfy an identified local need;
2. the proposed development would significantly extend the village in a way that would fail to integrate with its compact character and would harm the setting of the settlement in general and the St Erth Conservation Area in particular;
3. the vehicular access off Church Street would create highway dangers;
4. the refusal of the previous application on this site (PA11/03116) is still an important material consideration when considering the current application because it is recent, the physical and policy circumstances have not changed and the refusal was not challenged by an appeal; and
5. there is no community support for such a development in this location.
Current housing need
The Parish Council has not been shown all the information submitted by the applicant and has to rely on local knowledge and experience of housing need derived from, for example, what happened with recent affordable housing scheme at Lanuthnoe.
The planning officer’s report on PA11/03116 noted that the twenty affordable dwellings built at Lanuthnoe had struggled to find occupants and only twelve indications of interest in the Green Lane/Church Street proposal (the ‘current’ proposal) have been received from people on the Home Choice Register with a connection to the Parish. This was regarded as strong evidence that PA11/03116 would not meet a local need and the situation is unlikely to have changed materially in the following nine months.
The Parish Council does not deny that there is some housing need in the Parish but argues that the current proposal still does not accord with what is believed to be the need, in terms of scale.
The setting of the current proposal is physically the same as in April 2013 and while the site is smaller and the point of vehicular access has changed, the current proposal would still create a significant extension to the village. Perhaps more importantly, it would not directly adjoin existing residential plots so that there would be a sense of detachment and separation which is reinforced by intervening hedges and green spaces.
It remains the case, as with the refused application, that the current proposal has no frontage onto existing streets. Consequently, the Parish Council believes that it would continue to be poorly integrated with the compact character and pattern of the village and does not reflect past extensions (e.g. at Lanuthnoe) which are more clearly within its built-up framework.
Cornwall Council’s on-line records say that the site is Grade 3 land, but this is contradicted by the information obtained by the St Erth Residents Association and also by a map accompanying the 1985 Cornwall Countryside Local Plan – both showing it to be Grade 2.
In this situation, the Parish Council objects to its permanent loss under Penwith Local Plan policy E-5 and emerging Cornwall Local Plan policy 22(d).
The Parish Council is aware that Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee is also concerned about the loss of good quality and versatile agricultural land – please refer to the recent Mably Solar Farm decision.
PA11/03116 was criticised because there was restricted visibility at its junction with The Green Lane which is narrow but well-used by pedestrians in particular. The Parish Council believes that Church Street is similarly constrained (e.g. by on-street parking and congestion) so that the amount of traffic likely to be attracted to the current proposal would unacceptably harm highway safety here. In fact, all roads leading to and from the site of the current proposal are effectively one vehicle width only – a point which should not be overlooked by Cornwall Highways.
The numerous vehicle movements and manoeuvers which the current proposal would create would be unneighbourly and there is anecdotal evidence that the emergency services would find access very difficult due to the consequent increase in congestion.
The current proposal omits the southern half of the previous application site but the block plan shows an estate road running up to the boundary of this land as well as to the applicant’s other land extending to the east.
The Parish Council believes, therefore, that approval of the current proposal would lead to future applications for more development in one or both directions which it would be difficult for Cornwall Council in equity to resist, especially because the principle of building in this poorly-integrated location would have been accepted already.
The Parish Council believes that the current proposal does not represent the best way of addressing current local housing need because of its location and also because of its scale. The Parish Council has previously identified two other sites in the village which it considers more suitable for affordable housing development and considers that either or both would perform better and so should be developed in preference to the current proposal.
When the Parish Council considered the current proposal, the meeting was well attended by 20 plus members of the community, many of whom, based on many years of first-hand experience, were greatly concerned about the increased risk of flooding from both rain water run-off and foul water drainage which the current proposal would create. It was the unanimous view that both the existing and proposed infrastructure will be inadequate to cope with the significant increase in demand.
Having taken into account all of the foregoing, St Erth Parish Council concludes that:
1. the revised scheme does not overcome all the reasons for refusing PA11/03116;
2. the revised scheme does not provide enough benefits to local housing need to outweigh its harmful physical effects (in itself and the precedent likely to be created if approved);
3. there are better, alternative sites to satisfy current housing needs in the Parish which should be developed first and in preference to the current proposal; and
4. there is no community support, which has been evidenced by: the 20 plus members of the public who attended the meeting of the Parish Council, all of whom confirmed that their letters and emails of objection sent to the Parish Council had been forwarded to Cornwall Council; and that the 40 or so residents who had attended a meeting of the St Erth Residents Association (held on 2 January, 2014), were all opposed the current proposal.
There continues to be widespread local opposition to a scheme with several similarities to PA11/03116 which was rejected by Cornwall Council less than a year ago and that this significant and consistent opposition should be given weight in Cornwall Council’s decision-making process.
However and notwithstanding these objections, if Cornwall Council is minded to approve this application, the Parish Council seeks the following:
1. a Section 106 obligation requiring all the dwellings to be for affordable rent and regulating who can occupy them and their rental prices;
2. such obligation (or other agreement) to include community benefits such as a contribution towards providing more play facilities currently provided by the Parish Council.
The Parish Council understands that the current proposal seeks to provide an affordable rent scheme and that the tenants will need to demonstrate a local connection to St Erth.
Some of them, therefore, may already live in the Parish and some, of course, may not but regardless of that, the predominance of family homes will undoubtedly generate a good number of children and young adults – perhaps 20 or more – who will create additional demand on the Parish Council’s play sites which are in close proximity to the current proposal and so will have a direct impact.
As more children and young adults will use these nearby play sites, so additional equipment will be needed and the increased use will necessitate additional maintenance.
The Parish Council acknowledges that it will not be cost effective for the developer to provide a purpose built play site and so would seek a one-off open-space contribution, via the S106 obligation or by some other agreement, to enable the Parish Council to purchase and install additional play equipment and safety surfacing at its nearby play sites and a further sum which will contribute to the on-going maintenance of the equipment to ensure its safe longevity in the future; and
3. the Parish Council would wish to see this application be determined by the Planning Committee if the Planning Case Officer is minded to approve it under delegated powers.