NOTES OF VIRTUAL (TEAMS) MEETING HELD ON 29 JULY 2021, ATTENDED BY:
Cllr. Katrina Wood Buckinghamshire Councillor representing Tylers Green & Loudwater
Chris Steuart Major Development Team Leader for Planning, Wycombe West Area
(Case Officer for Ashwells)
Claire Bayley Major Development Manager, Buckinghamshire Council
Miles Green Chair, Ashwells Forum (P&TGRS)
Ken Cooke Ashwells Forum
Gerry King Ashwells Forum
Alec Harrow Ashwells Forum
Purpose of Meeting:
The subject of the meeting was for P&TGRS to seek clarification from Chris Steuart of certain issues
related to the application submitted by Savills for the discharge of Conditions 4 & 5 of the outlineplanning Decision Letter dated 12 March 2020.
Following introductions, MG opened the discussion by thanking CS for agreeing to meet, and explained why this meeting was important and needed, in order to provide the Ashwells Forum with a clearer understanding of the current status of the project. MG said that during the early years following the launch of the project in 2015 there had been regular and consistent arrangements in place involving the local community. But during the last two years, communications had been adversely affected by disruptive changes to Council administration structure, Covid lockdowns, changes in architects, and morerecently, radical changes in the project’s development process
The following notes cover the topics listed in a meeting agenda circulated before the meeting.
Update on recent major changes in scope of the project: Concerns were expressed over the recent proposal to combine two quite different development sites (Ashwells and Bellfield Road) under a single contract. CS advised that this was a matter for the applicant and not a planning issue, applications being judged on their merits and not whether the proposals may or may not be beyond the developer’s capabilities. Any concerns over this issue should be addressed to CB. Similarly, the decision to change from a Council-led to developer-led infrastructure does not involve the planners. As a general comment, CS informed the meeting that the consideration of planning applications was a complicated process, often with many ‘grey areas’ including matters subject to interpretation. But always, each case had to be assessed within the boundaries of planning statutes and considered on its merits, following a prescribed procedure.
Status of the ADRC application: CS advised that feedback on the ADRC application had now been issued to the applicant. As there was likely to be an element of negotiation in the process of approval, CS was unable to make the details of this feedback publicly available. However, he assured the meeting that he had taken into account the comments received from MG on the application (though not necessarily agreeing with all of the suggested changes), and that Charles Brocklehurst (CB) had had copies of MG’s correspondence describing areas of concern. CS had spoken to Savills about this and was expecting there to be a follow-up response, but could not predict what this would be.
Discharge of Conditions: CS said that it was very rare for a deemed discharge notice to be issued, and in this case most unlikely because the landowner was the property arm of the Council itself. The suggestion to link the discharge of Conditions 4 & 5 to Conditions 28 & 29 seemed to be a sensible thing to do, but it was standard practice for each ADRC application to be dealt with in the order in which they were received. Mention was made of the potential, in the interests of expediency, for Reserved Matters applications to include details to support the formal discharge of some Conditions on the outline planning consent, and CS said that this was becoming a frequent request from applicants.
Changes to masterplan: CS said that, by definition, the masterplan accompanying the outline planning application was to illustrate the general arrangement of the development proposals, with details being dealt with later as Reserved Matters. In the event of a refusal of the application, the masterplan would have to be re-submitted under a new ADRC application. Likewise, if at any time there were to be any material changes in the masterplan, this would require the applicant to submit a new masterplan for approval.
Consultation process: CS confirmed that there is no formal consultation process required with ADRC applications, including any resubmissions. Accordingly, any resubmissions will be posted on the Council website page for Ashwells, and a regular check of any new uploaded documentation would provide a means of identifying any new masterplan submission. Any comments on a resubmitted master plan should be registered via the website and will be reviewed by Planning as before. Any follow-up questions which do not fall under the formal planning process should be addressed to CB. At such time that any Reserved Matters application is received, this will be posted on the website, notifications sent to neighbouring properties, and therefore subject to the normal public consultation process.
Legal agreement: CS informed the meeting that there was a legal agreement (S106) uploaded on the Council website (providing details of obligations on the landowner for affordable housing, a DOMVU scheme, green infrastructure – including LAP/NEAP provisions, SUDS, and other commitments).
Copse: Preservation of green infrastructure: AH drew attention to the outline of the Copse shown on the ADRC masterplan not conforming to that shown on the consented masterplan, or the description contained in the Development Brief. This needed to be revisited to avoid any encroachment. GK pointed out that any routing of the pumped sewer through the Copse would require the destruction of more than 100 trees, because of wayleaves required by Thames Water. The latest advice from CB was that this diversion would now be outside the Copse and fall under the responsibility of the successful developer, as the re-routing of the sewer would now form part of their work. CS provided reassurance that Thames Water would be a consultee at Reserved Matters stage and would be expected to submit details for approval. GK and AH had both written to CB about these issues.
Car parking: CS agreed that more detail was required. This should include a breakdown of allocated spaces, unallocated spaces, and visitor spaces, as well as guidance on the provision of garages or open car ports.
Housing typologies/reference images:
According to CB, housing typologies, types of tenure, building heights, etc, were now to be decided by the developer and submitted under Reserved Matters. CS confirmed this to be the case, and that the briefing to be given to the prospective developers for these aspects of the proposals was therefore in the remit of CB. Accordingly, this aspect does not form part of the ADRC application. There was some discussion about the various provisions for 2½ story houses, as described in the Development Brief, Condition 9 of the Decision Letter, and the draft Design Code, and CS advised that in planning terms, the arrangement of housing on the site would be judged on whether there was any impact on the living conditions of neighbouring properties, and not simply on what was visible. It would be for CB and the developer to agree on housing typologies and this would therefore form part of the Reserved Matters application. KC said that the reference images contained in the ADRC documents were misleading for a village development, and the description of these as ‘townhouses’ was inappropriate.
Details of NEAP/LAP’s: CS advised that obligations for provision of play areas were covered by the legal agreement. Whether this would include a basketball area would be subject to the developer proposals, but allotments could not be considered part of a NEAP provision.
Custom & Self Build Units: KC advised that in light of the recent meeting, there was still some uncertainty about what is proposed. Apparently, CB believes that developers would be in favour of providing opportunities only for custom-build and not self-build, as this would allow a discrete part of the site to be allocated and avoid the distribution across the site of individual self-build plots. The consented masterplan submission included details of where these would be located on the site, however the latest ADRC submission, is silent on this. This is a matter is to be referred to CB.
Design Code: KC gave CS a summary of the dialogue which was in progress with CB’s architect on the content of a Design Code, including the drafting of a Vision Statement. CS agreed that a Design Code is an important tool to be issued to prospective developers, but if this requirement was not included as part of the planning application and not defined as a Condition in the Decision Letter, then this could not be enforced in planning terms.
Trees: Inclusion of a 25% tree canopy cover was not discussed.
Follow-up with CB: AH suggested that a meeting be arranged with CB to follow up matters that remain outstanding from this meeting, and to seek agreement on several issues discussed at the meeting held on 8 April 2021.
It was agreed by all present that this had been a very useful meeting and long overdue. Representatives of the Ashwells Forum hoped that future meetings with CS could be arranged at appropriate times in the development process. Meanwhile there were several issues which needed to be taken up with CB, and a meeting with him and his team would be requested.
All present, plus