Outline planning permission with all matters reserved except access for the erection of up to 180 residential dwellings (Use Class C3); site servicing; laying out of open space and associated planting; creation of new roads, accesses and paths; installation of services; and drainage infrastructure.
Graham Hill spoke in objection to the application.
Simon Tesler spoke in objection to the application.
Geoff Whiffen spoke in objection to the application.
Nick Matthews (agent) spoke in support of the application.
Lance Allan (Trowbridge Town Council) spoke in objection of the application.
Ruaridh O’Donoghue (Senior Planning Officer) presented a report which recommended that the Head of Development Management be authorised to grant planning permission, subject to first completion a planning obligation / Section 106 agreement and subject also to the planning conditions listed within the report, for application 20/00379/OUT - Land South of Trowbridge, Southwick, Trowbridge, Wilts (H2.6). Which was for outline planning permission with all matters reserved except access for the erection of up to 180 residential dwellings (Use Class C3); site servicing; laying out of open space and associated planting; creation of new roads, accesses and paths; installation of services; and drainage infrastructure.
The officer highlighted some corrections as follows:
In Section 3 (site description and location) it stated that, in archaeological terms, the site appears to represent water meadows from the post medieval period.
The officer clarified that it was only land to the west of the Lambrok where historic water meadows may have been present i.e., not where the housing development was going.
In section 9.6, the final paragraph on page 194 of the agenda pack concluded on the heritage balance by stating that the substantial public benefits outweigh the harm to heritage assets. It should be noted that great weight was to be given to the less than substantial harm identified. As written in the report it reads as though this is an even balance however, the ‘great weight’ means it is a tilted balance in favour of conserving the asset.
In section 11 on page 207, the planning balance appears to solely rely on paragraph 11d of the NPPF. However, requested it was recorded that it should also state that the proposal complies with the development plan as a whole, as per the requirements of s38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
Condition. No. 6 should be deleted as it was recommended by officers that the decision not be issued until trial trenching occurred.
The officer then proceeded to detail the application which concerned 18.8 acres in Southwick Parish as part of an outline application. There were several Rights of Way (RoW) running across the land which would remain. The land was classified as grade 3 agricultural land. Southwick Court Farmhouse was located adjacent to the site and was Listed at grade II* along with its gatehouse and bridge over moat. The site lay within the Yellow Zone (Medium Risk) defined in the Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy.
The officer took the meeting through the slides for the application as published in supplement 2. These included photographs of the site, the indicative layout, green infrastructure plan, lighting parameters plan, site access and emergency access.
The application met with core policies and subject to conditions, there would be no increased flood risk. He concluded by saying that as no significant harm had been identified which outweighed the benefits of the application, he recommended approval.
Members of the committee then had the opportunity to ask technical questions of the officer.
Details were sought on the viability of alternative access to the site, the officer explained that it had been considered but the residential road identified was not deemed suitable and access from the north was not viable because of conflicting land ownership.
Councillors sought further detail on the archaeological, flooding, landscaping, and bridge-building elements of the application, with many expressing discomfort with the lack of information at their disposal concerning these important factors.
Members queried whether another informative would be appropriate to ensure a controlled pedestrian crossing, to which the Highways Officer responded that there was a condition relating to the design of the access road that could be amended to include a full assessment of a possible pedestrian crossing.
Members of the public then had the opportunity to present their views, as detailed above.
Councillor Horace Prickett, local Division Member (Southwick) spoke in objection of the application. Councillor Prickett expressed concern over the lack of information regarding the archaeological details of the site.
Councillor David Vigar, neighbouring division member (Trowbridge Grove) spoke in objection to the application, voicing similar opposition towards the applicant’s approach to the archaeology of the site. Councillor Vigar expressed the view that due to the dig being carried out as such short notice and the vast number of objections, the most appropriate action for the Committee to take was either to refuse the application or to defer it until an archaeology report could be fully undertaken.
The planning officer responded to points raised in public participation and by local Members stating that although this was an outline application, the parameter plans shown would have to be adhered to. If there was important archaeology discovered on site, permission would not be given.
The Chairman proposed a motion that the Committee refuse the application, against officer recommendation, as he was not happy with the impact on Frome Road, he felt that the access was too small and would be better located elsewhere. He was also concerned regarding the amount of detail being left to the reserve matters application, as he felt it was hard to make a decision based on what was before the Committee. The archaeological factors were a further concern, which needed to be resolved prior to a decision. The effect on the nearby heritage asset was also an issue. The Chairman felt that the application failed to comply with the following policies:
• CP1, Settlement Strategy
• CP2, Delivery Strategy
• CP51, Landscape
• CP57, Ensuring High Quality Design and Place Shaping
• CP58, Ensuring the Conservation of the Historic Environment
• CP60, Sustainable Transport
• CP61, Transport and Development
• CP64, Demand Management
• NPPF 194, relating to proposals affecting heritage assets
• NPPF 201, related to potential impacts
Councillor Pip Rigout seconded the motion to refuse. She was very concerned about the lack of information and would not want to grant permission while she had so many concerns and there was much that was not clear from the outline application.
Issues raised during debate included the effect on the 5 year HLS figure if this application was refused. It was clarified by officers that the number of houses would stay in the equation as it was an allocated site, however the anticipated delivery date would change, shifting backwards, meaning that it may well be outside the 5 year delivery period, so refusal would affect and reduce the 5 year HLS figure.
Some Members suggested a deferral rather than a refusal, stating that they would be far more inclined to grant permission to a full application rather than an outline application depending on the outcome of various archaeological tests.
Others agreed with the Chairman and felt that the negative environmental and heritage impact of the application would be unlikely to change after a deferral, and so voiced a view to refusing it.
Members sought advice from planning officers regarding the robustness of the proposed motion. Officers recommended the removal of the reference to CP1 and CP2 as the land was allocated under the WHSAP, so the principle of development and the issues in those policies had already been considered. Likewise, removal of CP60 was recommended. The motions proposer and seconder were happy with those amendments, final wording of the reasons for refusal would be delegated to officers.
At the conclusion of the debate, it was;
That the application be REFUSED planning permission.
1. Core Policy 58 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy requires new development to protect, conserve and where possible enhance the historic environment. Core Policy 57 seeks a high standard of design in all new developments; the policy further requires applications for new development to be accompanied by appropriate information to demonstrate how the proposals will make a positive contribution to the character of Wiltshire, specifically, through … (i) enhancing local distinctiveness by responding to the value of the natural and historic environment, relating positively to its landscape setting and the existing pattern of development and responding to local topography by ensuring that important views into, within and out of the site are to be retained and enhanced; and (vi) making efficient use of land whilst taking account of the characteristics of the site and the local context to deliver an appropriate development which relates effectively to the immediate setting and to the wider character of the area. Core Policy 51 requires development to protect, conserve and where possible enhance landscape character; and more particularly requires proposals to demonstrate that (v) landscape features of cultural, historic and heritage value have been conserved and where possible enhanced through sensitive design, landscape mitigation and enhancement measures.
The Southwick Court Farm complex lies to the south of this application site. It comprises a Grade II* Listed moated medieval manor house and Grade II* Listed gatehouse and bridge, and related traditional farmyard buildings (some of which have been converted to other uses), all of which are situated at the centre of a system of fields and water meadows historically associated with the complex.
The outline planning application proposes to construct a road across the field which lies to the north of the Southwick Court Farm complex. Being in outline, the planning application provides insufficient detail of this access road to enable a full and proper assessment of the extent of the acknowledged ‘less then substantial harm’ it would cause to the significance of the Southwick Court Farm complex and its setting and the contribution the setting makes to the significance, and in view of this it is not possible to rationally ‘weigh’ the harm against the public benefits of the proposal as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 202). The proposal is, therefore, contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework. It is also contrary to the Core Policies of the Wiltshire Core Strategy referred to above by not demonstrating and/or proving a “high standard of design” and “an appropriate development” within its context, and not demonstrating and/or proving that a landscape containing features of historic and heritage value would be conserved.
2. Core Policy 58 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy requires new development to protect, conserve and where possible enhance the historic environment. The historic environment is defined as including (i) nationally significant archaeological remains. Paragraph 194 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that where an application site on which development is proposed includes, or has the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.
The application site lies in area where there is potential for significant archaeological remains. Although the application is accompanied by a desk-based assessment, this is not considered to be sufficient in the context of the potential. The application’s failure to include a field evaluation is, therefore, contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 194). It is also contrary to the Core Policy of the Wiltshire Core Strategy referred to above by not adequately demonstrating that the proposal would protect potential archaeological remains.
This reason for refusal may be addressed by carrying out the necessary trial trenching in accordance with a written scheme of investigation to be first approved by the County Archaeologist.
3. Core Policy 60 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy supports and encourages the safe and efficient movement of people and goods within and through Wiltshire. This will be achieved by (ii) promoting sustainable transport alternatives to the use of the private car. Core Policy 61 requires new development to be located and designed to reduce the need to travel particularly by private car, and to encourage the use of sustainable transport alternatives.
The proposal, by reason of the lack of a formalised pedestrian and cycle crossing facility on the Frome Road, would have potential implications for how occupiers of the development would choose to travel, the lack of a facility being a disincentive to travel by foot and bicycle, so leading to increased car dependent travel. This is contrary to the sustainable development objectives of the above Core Strategy policies.
4. The proposal does not make provision for essential infrastructure made necessary by the planned development – specifically, affordable housing, education facilities, recreation/open space, essential highway works, waste collection facilities, ecology mitigation, air quality improvements and public art. This is contrary to Core Policy 3 (‘Infrastructure Requirements’), Core Policy 43 (‘Providing affordable homes’), Core Policy 50 (‘Biodiversity and geodiversity’), Core Policy 55 (‘Air Quality’) and Core Policy 61 (‘Transport and new development’) of the Wiltshire .
This reason for refusal may be addressed by the completion of a legal agreement (a ‘S106 agreement’), in the event of an appeal.
Note: At the meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee on 2 March 2023, the Committee re-considered the reasons for refusal for this application, following officer advice. The reasons detailed above are the final reasons for refusal. These were clarified at that meeting, and minor amendments to the reasons the Committee originally provided were agreed. Full details can be seen in the minutes of that meeting.
The meeting was then adjourned from 15:30 – 15:40 for a short break.
Councillors Newbury and Clark left the meeting at this time.