Homes Plan - The battle is won but maybe not the war
Many people around the village will have heard that Charnwood Borough Council refused planning permission on the 4th March 2010 for around 300 homes proposed for land off Melton Road, as detailed in the Spring 2010 edition of the Barrow Voice. Members of the Barrow Residents Action Group (BRAG), villagers and the Barrow Parish Council attended the planning committee with a full to overflowing public gallery. Many points were put across and a lengthy debate between members of the planning committee ensued.
The members of BRAG were proud to represent the village. Considering the village only had days to object to the development, this would not have been achieved without all of you who wrote to object at short notice. All your letters made a difference and all were considered by the planning officers who commented on their numbers and the feelings about the application they expressed across the village.
What many won't know is why it was refused and what happens next. Well, Jelson can appeal against the decision within 6 months of the refusal date, but if they address all of the issues for refusal raised by the Borough Council they can resubmit their application within the next 12 months.
So, what were the issues that the Borough Council refused the application on? There were 9 issues. In summary these were;
1. The proposed development, would result in harm to the biodiversity of the site, and harm nature conservation. The applicant's ecological report was vague and proposals to consider closing some Badger setts temporarily, whilst construction takes place, was considered unacceptable and unnecessary. The proposal was contrary to Government advice to planning officers on protection of biodiversity and geological conservation
2. The Flood Risk Assessment did not comply with Government requirements, which is to ensure that flood risk is taken into account at all stages in the planning process to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and to direct development away from areas of highest risk. The technical analysis provided by the developers was unacceptable for the Fishpool Brook area and they should make sure that the development is not likely to lead to flooding elsewhere in the village.
3. Insufficient archaeological information was provided to properly assess the effects of the development on the potential archaeology of the site . The proposed development site is thought to be a site of both Neolithic and Roman occupation including the Roman Saltway, a significant Roman Road which some think was developed before the Romans. There may also be Roman and Medieval lime kilns across the site.
4. The proposal failed to ensure a sufficiently high quality design, or provide sufficient assurances and evidence with regard to sustainability of the built design, or adequately show that the appearance shows variety of designs and a sufficiently individualised response to create a distinctive development that will have a sense of place. Due to its outline form, and lack of evidence to demonstrate the delivery of a high quality and sustainable development, the site scored poorly when assessed against planning criteria and the proposal was considered contrary to a number of policies.
5. The Charnwood Borough Local Plan indicates that developers should contribute to the cost of infrastructure and facilities required to support development such as educational requirements, library facilities, waste provision, health facilities etc. At the time of the decision of the application, no completed agreement was in existence. The proposal was lacking in the provision of these facilities that would have been secured and controlled through these contributions and therefore the development would place unacceptable burdens on the provision of public facilities in these areas and would not meet the requirements of the Local Plan.
6. The proposed roundabout at the entrance to the development would result in the unacceptable loss of public open space on the north side of Melton Road, private land, which would be detrimental to the visual appearance of the site and would detract from this lands purpose to provide public open space.
7. There were inadequate technical details of access into the site from Melton Road to satisfy the highway authority that access can be satisfactorily achieved to their standards. The proposal as submitted was contrary to the aims of policy in the Local Plan.
8. The proposed development would result in an increase in vehicle traffic on the local highway network in the village, particularly the existing signal controlled bridge on Barrow Road and the Jerusalem roundabout junction of Barrow Road/South Street/High Street. The Transport Assessment identifies the potential for additional traffic using the Jerusalem roundabout and going over the bridge in a westerly direction at peak early morning hours, resulting in likely additional delays for vehicle users. Given the limited scope for improving the flow over the bridge due to structural and listed building issues, the reduction in background traffic could only be sought through significant reductions in vehicle movements from the development through a shift to other forms of transport. The proposed package of measures put forward by Jelson was vague and lacking. The lack of a definitive bus service through the proposed development site, would mean that parts of the site would be more than 400m from a bus stop and not likely to result in a shift to public transport. The lack of definitive proposals to ensure a fully accessible route across the railway line would also limit access to the bus route, and industrial units on Sileby Road, thereby increasing the likelihood of cars being used to travel south, even for relatively short distances. Insufficient information was provided to indicate whether or not there is sufficient capacity within the rail network to accommodate the additional demand for those services from potential occupiers of the development. On the basis of the provided information, the proposal would result in significant additional journeys, resulting in congestion within the village and thereby likely to cause additional delays and a detriment to the overall operation of the highway network, contrary to local and national policies.
9. The existing junction of Grove Lane with South Street/Sileby Road is lacking in adequate visibility to the left out of Grove Lane. The proposal if approved would lead to increased dangers for road users and not be in the interests of highway safety and is contrary to Charnwood Borough Council policy.
BRAG wanted a further condition to be considered by the planning committee which was the suitability of the site and its impact which was not considered to be consistent with previous Council policy decisions regarding this site in the Local Plan. The development would destroy the natural gateway to the countryside with its open aspects for all to enjoy.
In the consideration of this site in the local plan it was discarded for development because it was considered "an intrusive development in a prominent and highly visible area of open countryside" and BRAG asked the committee to include this as an additional reason for refusal along with the other points identified. Unfortunately after lengthy discussion by the planning committee this condition was not included.
As you can see some of the points for refusal are more easily addressed than others, but everything can be bought at a price, and if these nine issues are addressed satisfactorily then this could open the village to even further development! BRAG will continue to fight this development.
Barrow's community spirit is strong. We may need to demonstrate this again.
More recently, residents may have noticed surveying activity around the village. It is likely that this is connected to the proposed development and Jelson and its contractors are preparing to address the Charnwood Borough Councils 9 points of objection to their Plan and then re-submit it seeking agreement.
To contact B.R.A.G.:
Telephone: 01509 – 414094
This article was written and submitted by BRAG member, Trevor Burton.