Develop land by the erection of 25 No. dwellings, form vehicular accesses, parking and landscaping (Outline application to determine access)
The Planning Officer presented the report showing Members all the relevant plans and drawings. Members were informed that the proposal description should read: “Development of land by the erection of 2 – 23 Units, form vehicular accesses, parking and landscaping. (Outline application to determine access).” Members were also informed of an additional late representation received that raised no further issues already covered in the report.
It was stated that in conservation terms, that the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the setting of the Conservation Area and the grade II listed water trough. Great weight should be attached to the less than substantial harm. On balance, the benefit of providing market and affordable dwellings was considered to outweigh the identified conservation harm.
Oral representations in objection to the application were received from Ms C MacKay (Local Resident), Mr A Watson (Agent of Behalf of Local Residents), Ms C Langham (Local Resident), Ms J Upton King (Shaftesbury Civic Society) and Cllr P Proctor (Shaftesbury Town Council). Concerns were raised over the visual impact to the landscape character of the slopes, road safety and highway issues, the lack of infrastructure, the future loss of trees and ancient hedgerows, the lack of viability and sustainability leading to a loss of affordable units, the lack of footpaths from the site to the town centre, the impact on the listed trough, and the unsuitability of the land for development.
Oral representation was also received in support of the application from Mr M Holmes (Agent for the Applicant). He stated that the proposal was devised following thorough assessments and addressed the shortfall of housing supply in the area. He stated that the site was suitable and visually well contained, benefited from good access, provided additional landscaping, and provided affordable housing. He highlighted the detailed highways assessment improving safety for pedestrians and providing acceptable access and parking. He felt the benefits outweighed any harm and the development was appropriate and sustainable preserving the character and appearance of the area.
Members’ Questions and Debate
Members raised concern over road safety and the proposed pedestrian crossing. Officers stated that the point of crossing was determined following speed surveys to ensure visibility met national standards. There was no consideration for further traffic calming measures as traffic generation figures provided no significant grounds for refusal.
Members felt that the proposal would change the character of the site and impact on the landscape and the setting of the conservation area and listed building. It was stated that the slope policies were there for a reason and the historic nature of the town had to be taken into account. It was felt that the impact was not outweighed by the benefits of the proposal.
Members appreciated the affordable housing provided, but concern was also raised over the site location being next to a spring and impacting the amount of affordable housing proposed.
Members also felt that the site was unsustainable due to the lack of safe pedestrian access and that there were more suitable areas in Shaftesbury for development.
It was proposed by Cllr Ridout, seconded by Cllr Cook and agreed contrary to the officer recommendation that the application be:-
REFUSED for the reasons set out in the appendix to these minutes.