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Letter to council 31 may 2011


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Letter to council 31 may 2011

  1. 1. Unit 11 Bridge Wharf 156 Caledonian Road London N1 9UU Tel: 0845 481 8136 Fax: 020 7147 1374 www.sarahyouren.comPlanning DepartmentMole Valley District CouncilPippbrookDorkingSurreyRH4 1SJ30 May 2011Dear Sirs,Planning Application Reference MO/2011/0528Development of land at Springfield Road, Westcott, SurreyWe act for the Westcott Meadow Action Group (“WMAG”) which represents 757members who are residents of the village of Westcott. 44 of those members are onthe committee of WMAG and the names of the committee members are listed on adocument appended to this letter. We trust this illustrates the breadth of objection tothe proposed development throughout the village and that the views of localresidents will be given significant weight in the determination of this application.The proposed developmentTaylor Wimpey have submitted an application for planning permission to construct14 dwellings (including affordable housing) together with vehicle and pedestrianaccess from Westcott Street, associated parking, landscaping and public openspace.The application proposes 2 x 3 bed houses and 8 x 4 bed houses plus 4 affordableunits however the submitted plans do not show this mix of dwellings rather theyshow 5 x 5 bed houses, 5 x 4 bed houses and 2 x 2 bed affordable houses and 2 x 3bed affordable houses. The exact mix and size of houses should be clarified. 1. Prematurity based on overall housing targetOne of the fundamental flaws with this application is that it would be premature togrant planning permission for this site at this time. The site remains a reservehousing site. It has not been released for development for housing and should not bedeveloped until other more suitable sites identified in the Strategic Housing LandAvailability Assessment (“SHLAA”) as being currently available for development forhousing have been exhausted. Only then should the Council consider releasing thereserve housing sites in the order required by policy HSG6 as set out in the MoleValley District Local Plan 2000 which is the adopted local plan for the area withinSarah Youren Planning Solicitors Limited is registered in England No. 06866594. Registered office: Unit 11 Bridge Wharf, 156Caledonian Road, London N19UU. Director: Sarah Youren LLB Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – authorised number: 511854.
  2. 2. which the application site is located. We set out below a more detailed explanation ofwhy this is the case as it is important that committee members are very clear aboutthe actual current status of this site which has been misrepresented in the supportingstatement submitted with the planning application.Policy HSG 6 in the Mole Valley District Local Plan 2000Planning applications must be determined in accordance with the policies of thecurrent development plan and any other material considerations (section 70 of theTown and Country Planning Act 1990). The current development plan for theapplication site is the Mole Valley District Local Plan 2000 (“the Local Plan”) whichprevails until such time as the replacement policies in the Local DevelopmentDocuments have been adopted.When the Local Plan was adopted the housing policies were based on the housingtargets set out in the Surrey Structure Plan 1994 (“the Structure Plan”). Policy DP4 ofthe Structure Plan required that provision was made for a net increase in thedwelling stock of Mole Valley of about 1,900 units in the fifteen years between 1991and 2006 and it highlighted the need to provide smaller dwellings in the 1 or 2bedroom range.The Local Plan therefore aimed to identify sufficient land to allow for a net increasein dwelling stock in the period to 2006 in line with the requirements of the SurreyStructure Plan. To safeguard the land supply position in case identified housingrequirements could not be met from land within the built up areas, Policy HSG6 inthe Local Plan identifies five reserve housing sites of which the application site isone.Policy HSG6 states that the District Council will continue to monitor housing landsupply on an annual basis. If, as a result of this process, the Council is satisfied thatland is required in addition to that allocated in Policy HSG5 to meet the identifiedhousing requirements of the Surrey Structure Plan 1994 for the period between 1991and 2006, one or more of the reserve housing sites will be released: the plan listsfive sites of which the application site is the fifth. It goes on to say that if, as a resultof monitoring, a deficit is anticipated then the sites will be released so far as possiblein proportion to that deficit but with a safety margin in favour of exceeding therequirement as follows:Anticipated deficit sites to be released25-50 site 150-75 sites 1 and 275-100 sites 1, 2 and 3100-150 sites 1, 2, 3 and 4Over 150 All sites (ie including site 5)Therefore site 5, which is the application site, should only be released for housing ifthere is a deficit of over 150 dwellings in the Plan period against the numbersrequired by the Structure Plan. Paragraph 6.32 in the Local Plan explained that theorder for release of the sites has been arrived at by taking account of their locationalcharacteristics and respective relationships to the District’s major urban centres as
  3. 3. well as their size and potential contribution to affordable and other identified housingneeds. In other words, the application site was to be released last as it wasconsidered that sites1-4 were preferable housing sites in planning terms.The supporting statement submitted by the developer with the planning application isdisingenuous as it states that the site is one of 5 reserve housing sites which are tobe released if based on the results of monitoring housing delivery there is likely to bea deficit. The applicant fails to mention that Policy HSG6 relates strictly to thehousing target of provision of 1900 dwellings in Mole Valley as set out in theStructure Plan and that in fact on those figures there is no deficit. The 2009 SHLAAwas finalised on 20 October 2009 and identified that if the housing figures in theStructure Plan were used, there would be no shortfall of available housing land forthe period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2014. As there is no shortfall of housing landover the five year plan period to 2014 any release of the application site fordevelopment would be contrary to Policy HSG6. It is therefore premature to evenconsider the release of any of the reserve housing sites for development.MVDC Statement March 2010The supporting statement submitted with the planning application is misleading inthat it states that the MVDC statement dated March 2010 justifies the release of theapplication site, confirming the principle of providing for the development of the siteas a result of its long standing allocation as a housing site is well established.It is important that committee members are made aware that the statement referredto was based on a decision by the Council in October 2009 to release the reservehousing sites because the Executive had received a report that based on thehousing targets in the South East Plan the Council could not show a five year supplyof housing land sufficient to meet this target. However, that decision was thenrescinded in June 2010 because the housing targets in the South East Plan havebeen revoked by central Government using their powers under section 79(6) of theLocal Democracy Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. TheGovernment expressly stated in a letter dated 6 July 2010 from the Department forCommunities and Local Government to all local planning authorities in England that,with immediate effect, regional plans no longer form part of the development plan forthe purposes of section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.Whilst the Courts subsequently decided that the Government could not abolish theSouth East Plan without enacting primary legislation, that primary legislation is thecurrent Localism Bill which is expected to become law toward the end of this year. Inthe meantime the Government issued a statement in November 2010 to all planningauthorities to say that RSSs including the South East Plan are re-established as partof the development plan at present but that the Government expects local planningauthorities to have regard to the Government’s intention to abolish RSSs in theLocalism Bill. This statement of intent is a material planning consideration that mustbe taken into account in planning decisions being taken now. The Courts ruled thatthis is entirely appropriate and the Government’s statement of intention is a materialplanning consideration. In addition, in line with the desire to see housing targets setby local people rather than central Government Mole Valley District Council is in theprocess of revising the housing targets in the Core Strategy to reflect what local
  4. 4. people in the area want and need rather than the current target which simply statesthe central Government housing target for the area.Committee members must therefore take into account and give weight to the factthat the Core Strategy is based on central Government housing targets set out in theSouth East Plan, by the end of 2011 the South East Plan will be abolished and withthat in mind the Council is currently revising the housing targets in the Core Strategyto reflect the needs and wants of local people. It would be premature to release landfor housing at this point based on a housing target figure which the Council itself is inthe process of revising and the revision of which has the full support of theGovernment.Core Strategy October 2009In the Core Strategy adopted on 1 October 2009 in paragraph 6.1.6 it states that “theindicative housing trajectory in appendix C of the Core Strategy illustrates theforecast supply of housing land over the period to 2026 based on the 2008 StrategicHousing Land Availability Assessment. It shows that there is sufficient land to meetthe five year housing requirements for the period to 2014. It also demonstrates thatthere is potentially sufficient previously developed land in the built up areas to meetthe District’s housing requirements until 2015-2016.” This is a greenfield site and itought not therefore to be released for housing development at a time when it is clearthat there is sufficient brownfield land to accommodate housing development until2016.Setting new housing targets for the DistrictParagraph 10 of the letter of 6 June 2010 from central Government is absolutelyclear that it is now the Council’s responsibility to set their own housing targets toestablish the right level of local housing provision for their area without the burden ofregional housing targets. The Council is now undertaking a review to decide whatlevel of housing would be appropriate in Mole Valley and justify that decision withevidence to support it. This will then reflect local people’s aspirations.Once that work has been done by the Council to decide on the new housing targetfor Mole Valley, the Council may in fact be able to show a five year supply of housingland if their new housing target is lower than that in the former South East Plan.. If sothen there is no justification to release the site for housing development at thepresent time. The planning statement submitted by the applicant is fundamentallyflawed, if the Council does not yet know what its housing target is then the developercannot assert that it is self evident that MVDC cannot demonstrate an up to date 5year supply of deliverable housing and accordingly applications for housing shouldbe considered favourably.In fact it is premature to consider releasing any of the reserve housing sites untilsuch time as the Council has decided on an overall target for housing provisionwhich it considers is suitable for its area, supported by evidence and reflecting theaspirations of local people in line with the new Government agenda. Once that targethas been decided then it will be formalised through the Land AllocationsDevelopment Plan Document and then those policies will replace Policy HSG6. Until
  5. 5. that time, Policy HSG6 stands and under that policy there is no housing deficit andtherefore none of the reserve housing sites can be released including the applicationsite.We consider that the above argument is so compelling that the application must forthis reason alone be refused. Should the Council decide to grant permission therewould be clear grounds for legal challenge. However, for completeness we have alsoassessed the application against the existing development plan policies below. 2. Location of developmentWhilst the application site is within the defined settlement boundary for Westcott, asa result of its reserved housing status, it is nonetheless a green field site. Policy CS1in the adopted Core Strategy states that development should take place onpreviously developed land within the built up areas of the most sustainable locationswithin the district. It goes on to specifically identify the most sustainable locations inthe district as being Leatherhead, Dorking, Ashtead, Bookham and Fetcham. Itexplains that they have been identified as being the most sustainable locations inplanning terms due to the level of community services and facilities available, accessto public transport and supporting infrastructure. It is clear therefore that newdevelopment should first be located towards these locations as they are moresustainable than the application site.Policy CS1 then goes on to say that limited development and infilling will take placeon previously developed land within the identified larger rural villages of whichWestcott is one. As explained, the application site is a green field site and does notconstitute previously developed land.It would clearly be contrary to policy CS1 to grant permission for housingdevelopment on the application site when there are more sustainable sites availablein Leatherhead, Dorking, Ashtead, Bookham and Fetcham which should be broughtforward first. Even when such sites are exhausted, policy CS1 requires the use ofpreviously developed land within the larger rural villages so development of a greenfield site would still be contrary to policy CS1.The supporting statement that accompanied the planning application is misleadingwhen it states that policy CS2 states that the Council must make provision for atleast 3,760 dwellings in the period 2006-2026. The supporting statement fails tomention that policy CS2 specifically states that this target was set purely to accordwith the South East Plan which is soon to be be revoked and the target is currentlyunder review by the Council. As explained above, it is entirely possible that when theCouncil complete their review of housing targets for their area they may in factimpose a lower housing target for Mole Valley than the target imposed through theSouth East Plan. Policy CS2 also states that “the Council’s indicative housingtrajectory shows that the District’s housing requirement can be met without the needto use green belt/ green field land until around 2016-2017”. As the application site isa green field site, it is clear that, even if the Council were to choose to continue torequire the same number of additional new dwellings as in the South East Plan whenthey set their own housing targets for Mole Valley, the current application is still 6-7
  6. 6. years premature as there are sufficient previously developed sites which should bebrought forward before green field land is used.The text that accompanies policies CS1 and CS2 makes it clear at paragraph 6.1.7that the Land Allocations Development Plan Document will allocate sufficient land tomeet the housing needs of the District and will include a policy mechanism tomanage the release of land so that priority is given to previously developed land inthe built up areas in accordance with policy CS1.Paragraph 6.1.10 in the Core Strategy says that “in accordance with the principles ofsustainability, the Settlement Hierarchy (October 2008), and the results of theSustainability Appraisal, it is proposed that development will be focused on thedefined built-up areas of Leatherhead and Dorking (including North Holmwood)followed by Ashtead, Bookham and Fetcham, where there is the greatest potentialfor the re-use of previously developed land and access to services and facilities”.The use of the application site for housing is not therefore considered to accord withPolicy HSG6 in the local plan nor with Policies CS1 and CS2 in the Core Strategy atthis time and any grant of permission for residential use would, at present, bepremature. 3. Density of developmentThe developer is proposing to construct 14 dwellings on the application site. Only1.75 hectares of the application site is developable as the remainder is unavailabledue to flood zoning. We object to the proposal as it attempts to construct too manyhouses on the site in disregard of the unique constraints that restrict the applicationsite. Whilst the number of dwellings has been reduced from the previous applicationfor 34 dwellings, the amount of built floorspace remains remarkably similar as theindividual dwellings are considerably larger. In addition, several two storey garagesare proposed which would not strictly count as dwellings yet they are similar in sizeto a two bed house and indeed could easily be converted to such accommodationgiven that they have toilets, sinks and in some cases showers shown on thesubmitted plans. The development therefore remains crowded and committeemembers should make enquiries as to how much of a reduction in built floorspacethis revised proposal actually achieves.Dorking Area Local Plan 1982In considering the original designation of the site as a reserve housing site as partof the Dorking Area Plan in 1982 it was envisaged that it could accommodate up to20 houses which would consist of 1 and 2 bedroom units. This would have beenlikely to result in about 30 residents on the site.At this time the Chief Planning Officer of the Mole Valley District Council indicatedthat “the location and nature of the site is such that it would be suitable for about 20small dwellings which is the type of development most needed. It is not anticipatedthat about 20 one and two bedroom dwellings will make an appreciable differenceto any existing problems as it will only constitute a marginal increase in traffic
  7. 7. generation. In the Council’s view the need for more small dwellings in the Westcottarea during the 1990’s outweighs any net traffic problems that might arise from thissmall proposal.”The current proposals are for 5 x 5 bed houses, 5 x 4 bed houses plus 2 x 2 bedaffordable houses and 2 x 3 bed affordable houses. If all properties are full occupiedthis would result in approximately 55 residents. However when one looks closely atthe submitted plans it is clear that the 4 bed unit on plot 11 has a study with showerroom that is separate to the remainder of the living accommodation at ground floorso would easily be converted to a 5 bed dwelling. In addition, 4 double height doublegarages are proposed with accommodation over which is labeled as a work shop butwould easily accommodate a bedroom and living room and the plans already showshower rooms on the first floor of the garages. Each garage is the size of a twobedroom house. This has the potential to add a further 5 residents to the sitebringing the total number of residents to approximately 60 which is twice the numberof residents originally anticipated by the Dorking Plan and therefore twice thenumber of traffic movements. It should be noted that the size of dwellings proposeddiffer on the submitted plans to those presented elsewhere in the applicationdocuments and this should be clarified with the applicant.Mole Valley Local Plan 2000The local plan Inspector’s report relating to the allocation of the Springfield Road siteas a reserve housing site from the Local Plan 2000 inquiry states at paragraph 7.176that the site is not suitable for high density development.Paragraph 7.195 acknowledges the difficulties posed by the traffic and highwayscontext, in particular the limited width of both Westcott Street and Springfield Road.Paragraph 7.197 states the Inspector’s view that development of the site should bemodest in view of the locational, highways and policy context of the site and whilsthe does not suggest an appropriate density, he does note that the objector’ssuggestion of about 26 dwellings may prove appropriate albeit that such a limitcannot be binding. This is considerably less than the 34 dwellings now proposed.In addition, in the Local Plan stated at paragraph 6.5 that there was a need for small1 and 2 bed dwellings at this time. As above, this would generate approximately halfthe number of residents and therefore traffic movements compared to the currentproposals.Core StrategyParagraph 6.1.12 in the Core Strategy does allow for limited development withinthe boundaries of Beare Green, Brockham, Capel, Charlwood and Westcott (asshown in the Local Plan 2000) providing that the proposed development is at anappropriate scale in relation to the size and character of the village. As explained inthis statement we believe that 14 dwellings is an inappropriately large number ofunits for this site and does not constitute limited development which would be anappropriate scale in relation to the size and character of Westcott. As such it doesnot accord with the Core Strategy.
  8. 8. In terms of the appropriate housing mix, Policy CS3 in the Core Strategy is veryclear that “in seeking to provide a balanced housing market, the Council will requirehousing proposals to take into account and reflect local housing needs in terms ofthe tenure, size and type of dwellings. The Council will particularly seek theprovision of two and three bedroom dwellings suitable for occupation for all sectorsof the community including newly forming households, young couples andexpanding families”.In fact the applicant is proposing 5 x 5 bed houses and 5 x 4 bed houses which aretoo large to meet the Council’s stated requirements and which significantly increasethe likely number of residents on the site and the cost of the housing on the sitemaking it unsuitable for many existing residents of Westcott.Policy ENV24 in the Core Strategy also addresses density of development statingthat “development will not be permitted where it would result in a crampedappearance having regard to the general space around buildings in the locality.”Paragraph 4.118 notes in particular that “the larger the property the larger the spacethat there should be around it.” It notes that larger detached houses should have atleast 2m between them. Whilst the current proposal reduces the number of dwellingsin the same space as the previous proposal, the dwellings themselves are far largerand together with the double height double garages proposed leave little spacebetween each plot which is undeveloped resulting in a cramped layout.Strategic Housing Market AssessmentThe applicant has proposed that the market housing should be 5 x 5 bed houses and5 x 4 bed houses. It is not in accordance with the Strategic Housing MarketAssessment which recommends that the Council should encourage a mix of markethousing of 10% 1 bed, 20% 2 bed, 50% 3 beds and 20% 4 beds. If the Council wereminded to allow 14 dwellings on the application site, which we would argue is in facttoo many, then on this calculation the appropriate sizes of dwelling would be 1 x 1bed house, 2 x 2 bed house, 5 x 3 bed house and 2 x 4 bed house with no 5 bedhouses at all.Making this change to bring the proposed scheme in line with SHMArecommendations would result in a more appropriate mix of housing on the site tobring it in line with the SHMA, reduce the number of occupants and allow forprovision of small market starter homes to allow the young people in the village theopportunity to purchase their first home and stay within the village rather thancatering predominantly to large family homes which are simply not affordable for themajority of people on the open market. It would not however overcome theinsurmountable problems regarding flooding, harm to a listed building, highwayssafety, harm to bats and badgers, development on a Greenfield site, insufficientavailability of public transport and the premature release of a reserve housing siteassociated with the proposal for residential development of this site.Mole Valley Housing Needs Study 2007The Mole Valley Housing Needs Study 2007 confirmed that the largest demand formarket housing is for two and three bedroom homes. It also confirmed that the
  9. 9. largest need for dwellings by type is for flats and semi-detached homes. Theproposed mix and type of housing (all market housing is proposed to be detached)in this application is not reflective of market needs and as such is contrary to CoreStrategy policy CS3.In summary therefore, we object to the size of the proposed development atSpringfield Road. The whole site was originally designated in 1982 for 20 x 1 and 2bed houses and then 26 x 1 and 2 bed houses when the site was increased in sizein 2000. The number of dwellings now proposed is 14 dwellings but such largedwellings that the resulting numbers of occupants are more than this site cancomfortably sustain and twice what it was originally intended to house.The original scheme proposed in 2010 for 34 houses which was refusedpermission by the Council would have contained about 90 bedrooms on sitecompared to about 30 bedrooms envisaged when the original designation wasmade. The existing scheme significantly reduces the number of dwellings on sitebut they are so large that the number of bedrooms only falls to approximately 60which is still twice the number of occupants originally envisaged. The Council wantto see 2 and 3 bed houses. This scheme proposed 4 and 5 bed market houseswhich are larger than those required by the Council therefore increasing thenumber of occupants on site. If the need now is for 2 and 3 bed houses rather than1 and 2 beds as originally proposed when the site was allocated then the numberof properties proposed should decrease in order that the number of occupants onsite and affecting the highway network remains similar. 4. TransportSustainable development and public transportThe Core Strategy notes at paragraph 2.40 that Surrey has the highest level of carownership and the most congested roads in the country outside London. Nearly halfof Mole Valleys households own two or more cars compared to the national averageof 29.5%. Emissions from car use contribute toward green house gas emissionswhich in turn accelerate climate change. As a result one of the key goals of the CoreStrategy is to create sustainable development which minimises the need to use theprivate motor car.Paragraph 2.56 of the Core Strategy states that “the impact of climate change on theglobal environment is recognised as a serious threat to communities. TheGovernment expects local authorities to play an important part in reducing emissionsthat contribute to climate change and reducing the consumption of natural resourcesto limit climate change. For example, the impact of new development on climatechange can be reduced by locating it in places where it is not entirely necessary torely on having access to a car”. It then goes on to say at paragraph 4.9 that “theprivate car is the principal means for getting about the District. This is not sustainablein the long term. Alternative transport modes will be supported and new developmentprovided in sustainable locations where access is not solely dependent on use of theprivate car.”
  10. 10. In addition, paragraph 6.1.2 of the Core Strategy explains that “within the context ofnational and regional guidance and based on the principles of Core Strategy PolicyCS 1 Where Development will be Directed (A Spatial Strategy), the Council willseek to provide the majority of new homes within the most sustainable locations ofthe District. By adopting an urban focus this approach will contribute towards theSouth East Plans objective of an urban renaissance and will foster accessibility toemployment, retail and other services, thereby avoiding unnecessary travel”.The planning statement submitted by the developer claims that the site is accessibleto public transport links to Dorking and beyond and the developer states that the siteis ‘sustainable’ because it has access to non-car modes. In fact the centre of theproposed housing area is 600m from the nearest bus stop, walking either viaWestcott Street or from the eastern end of the site and alongside the recreationground. This exceeds the recommended (Surrey County Council) maximum walkdistance of 400m to a bus stop. The developer quotes figures from the edge of thesite, which is not where the housing is located and those figures are thereforemisleading.The proposed development of the application site is contrary to these importantpolicies in the Core Strategy. There is virtually no employment in Westcott, so allthese new residents will have to travel to Dorking, Guildford or Gatwick to work. Inaddition there arelimited retail facilities, the school and the doctors surgery areapproaching maximum capacity and any increased demand would imposeunreasonable demands on Westcott’s amenities. This means that occupants of theproposed new scheme will have to travel to service even their basic needs. There islimited opportunity for them to do so by public transport because there is no trainstation in Westcott, one must first travel to Dorking or Guildford before being able tocatch the train.There is a bus service to both Dorking and Guildford however the bus service fromGuildford stops at 17.55 in the evening having left Guildford at 17.20 on a weekday.The last bus service from Dorking goes at 18.14 for route 21 and 18.48 for route 32in the evening on a weekday. This means that future occupiers of the developmentcould only realistically use public transport if they finish work either in Dorking orGuildford sufficiently early to catch the last bus or if they work further afield, that theycan then finish early enough to travel to Guildford or Dorking to then catch the lastbus. It would be impossible for anyone who worked in London for example to catchthe train to Guildford or Dorking and then the bus to Westcott to get home after workin the evenings unless they finished work well before the last connecting train fromLondon at 17.29 to Dorking or 16.30 to Guildford.Reference is made repeatedly throughout the application to Westcott lying on theSustrans/National Cycle Route 22 linking Westcott to Dorking. However committeemembers should be made aware that this is misleading as it is not yet a continuousroute and stops in Westcott. It is necessary to cycle along the A25 to reach Dorking.There is no indication as to when works to complete the cycle way will be completed
  11. 11. and the development makes no improvements whatsoever to the cycle facilities ofthe area.Capacity of local highway networkThe planning statement and traffic statement try to argue that it is not necessary toconsider the capacity of the local highway network in the context of the proposeddevelopment. This is fundamentally wrong as serious concerns were raised aboutthe capacity of the local highway network when the site was originally designated asa reserve housing site and again when it was expanded so this clearly was amaterial consideration at the time that the site became a reserve housing site and itis important to note that the number of occupants that the site was considered to beable to accommodate was based primarily on the capacity of the local highwaynetwork. It is important therefore for committee members to be fully aware of thesignificantly larger size of houses and therefore number of occupants that are nowproposed for the site as compared to those envisaged and assessed when policyHSG6 was conceived.In fact, during the public inquiry into the Dorking Area Local Plan in 1982 it wasconsidered that about twenty 1 and 2 bedroom dwellings should not “make anappreciable difference to any existing problems as it will only constitute a marginalincrease in traffic generation”. During the public inquiry into the Local Plan in 2000the inspector acknowledged the difficulties posed by the traffic and highwayscontext, in particular the limited width of both Westcott Street and Springfield Road.Paragraph 7.197 of the Inspector’s report stated that development of the siteshould be modest in view of the locational, highways and policy context of the siteand whilst he does not suggest an appropriate density, he does note that theobjector’s suggestion of about 26 x 1 and 2 bed dwellings may prove appropriate.At the public inquiry in 2000 when considering the enlargement of the reservehousing site at Springfield Road, Jack Straw gave evidence for the Council to theinspector and clearly states at paragraph 5.2 that “the Council considers itscapacity is between 17-20 dwellings depending on the layout of the site and thetype and size of dwellings”. Mr Straw then went on to explain at paragraphs 5.5 and5.6 the constraints presented by the width of Westcott Street, the presence ofparked vehicles and the risk that the development posed to highway safetyconcluding at paragraph 5.7 that “it is clear that an enlargement of the site is likelyto result in a level of development in excess of that which the local road networkcan reasonably and safely accommodate”.Our estimate that the proposal could result in up to 60 occupiers on site rather thanthe approximately 30 originally envisaged when the application site was firstallocated and then expanded as a reserve housing site will mean a potential twofoldincrease in traffic movements over those actually considered to be the amount thatthe local highway network could accommodate in 1982 and 2000. The applicantacknowledges that they have made provision for 43 parking spaces on the site withadditional parking available on the estate road.In addition, in recent years additional housing has been built in Westcott atSpringfield Farm (3 dwellings), Rokefield (20 dwellings), Pinehurst in Springfield
  12. 12. Road (6 dwellings), the Old Dairy (20 dwellings), The Paddock (2 dwellings), ChapelLane (4 dwellings) and The Pound (currently under construction 7 dwellings)increasing the number of residents in the village, adding to the traffic on the localhighway network and reducing the already limited capacity that was considered to beavailable in 1982 and 2000. It is clear therefore that the local highway networkcannot possibly support 14 new dwellings with 60 new occupants on the site. Theplanning inspector considered there to be sufficient capacity to accommodate 26new 1 and 2 bed dwellings in 1982 and the Council considered the site’s capacity tobe 17-20 1 and 2 bed dwellings in 2000 however given that an additional 62 newdwellings have been built in Westcott in recent years the capacity that was availablein the local highway network in 1982 and 2000 has long since been used andsurpassed. In particular we would point out that the 20 dwellings at Rokefield havebeen built after 2000 so after Mr Straw’s comments on behalf of the Councilindicating that any more than 17-20 dwellings would result in unsafe levels of trafficon the local highway network.In addition to concerns regarding the highway network within and immediatelyadjacent to Westcott there are also problems with the A25 to Dorking which is theprincipal road leading to and from Westcott and the road on which the futureoccupiers of the development would need to commute to work and local services.The A25 is already suffering from serious traffic congestion on the approach toDorking. In the evening peak times this regularly results in a solid line of trafficstretching from Dorking all the way back to Westcott. The access onto the A25 onboth sides of the village green is potentially dangerous as there are places where thesight lines are poor, in particular on the east side of the village green and by theentrance to Cradhurst Close.It is abundantly clear that the local highway network is already at saturation pointwith long traffic queues at times and there simply is no way to accommodateadditional car movements from new housing development.Westcott StreetThe developer has said in their planning statement and in their traffic statement that“the very small number of additional cars will have no perceptible impact on localstreets”. We believe this to be a potentially dangerous attempt to gloss over a veryserious issue. As we have demonstrated it will not be possible for people tocommute to jobs some distance from Westcott by public transport so the vastmajority of people entering and leaving the site are likely to do so by private car.There are essentially two major concerns regarding the location of the developmentin terms of using Westcott Street to access it. The first is the width of Westcott Streetand the second is the location of the junction of the access road with WestcottStreet.Westcott Street is a narrow village lane. There are nine existing dwellings along the250m section of Westcott Street between Springfield Road and the village green thathave no off-street parking. Some are able to park outside their houses but othershave to park in Springfield Road. Others have narrow off-street parking areas in
  13. 13. their front gardens. Consequently there are always a number of vehicles parked onWestcott Street, which effectively reduces it to a single-width carriageway, with carsand delivery vans having to weave their way through, avoiding any pedestrians. Thepresence of a large lorry or the weekly refuse vehicle has the effect of bringingeverything to a halt. At weekends the parking is even worse, because Westcott is anattractive base for the many mountain bikers who cycle in the Surrey Hills. Theseday visitors do not always appreciate the difficulties caused by their sometimesindiscriminate on-street parking on Westcott Street, sometimes at narrow points,sometimes part parked on the footway. No account has been taken by WSP in thetransport statement of the additional cars parked on Westcott Street at the weekendsas the majority of their parking surveys were carried out on weekdays when peopleare at work. This does not give a full and accurate picture of the real situation.No thought has been given to construction vehicles as large lorries carrying buildingmaterials will not be able to weave past the parked cars in Westcott Street. Theconsequence of two lorries meeting is unimaginable. Balchins Lane is even lesssuitable as it; a) has no footway at all, b) is even more narrow, c) twists and turnsso the forward visibility is less and d) has a very sub-standard junction onto a40mph section of the A25. The damage construction vehicles from The Pounddevelopment are causing to The Green is evidence of what effect contractorsvehicles are likely to have. Whilst the developer has submitted a constructionmanagement statement but this does not overcome the need to get a certain numberof lorries to and from the site along roads that are not suitable for this.The emergency services must be consulted as the additional risk from an extra 14dwellings is not insignificant with fire engines trying to negotiate along WestcottStreet.In January / February 2010, Westcott Street was impassable for 4/5 days due tosnow and ice and the inability for the Council to access with gritting vehicles andsnowploughs.The narrow width of Westcott Street and the existing parked vehicles mean that evenwith the existing level of residents in Westcott there are often queues of cars waitingto pass each other along Westcott Street. When an additional 43-60 car movementsare added to this at peak times going to work and school in the morning andreturning home in the evening, it is likely to result in extreme difficulties for bothvehicles travelling along Westcott Street and for future occupiers of the developmenttrying to enter or leave the site.Notwithstanding our objection to the whole development, we are extremelydisappointed that the development of 14 houses does nothing to enhance our villageor address some of the existing problems. There are no proposals to improve orextend pedestrian facilities or to try and reduce the existing conflicts on our roads.
  14. 14. The developers argue (unsuccessfully in our view) that the 14 houses would ‘haveno perceptible impact on the local streets’. They have tried to argue that the additionof 8 or 8 extra vehicles (an unrealistically low estimate given the likely car ownershipin this area) in the two peak hours on Westcott Street will have no impact. Thiscompletely misses the point as they have ignored the existing conflicts along thisroad, most notably by pedestrians. Most of Westcott Street and all of Balchins Lanehave no footways, so all pedestrians have to walk in the carriageway, so within aroad that is less than 4m wide in places there is the juxtaposition of cars, vans,cyclists, parked cars and pedestrians. It is always the pedestrians who have tomove.We consider the proposed development unacceptable on highway and transportgrounds alone, as there is no solution to providing a satisfactory means of access.The proposal to feed all vehicles onto the northern end of Westcott Street, adding tothe conflict between cars, delivery vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and parked vehiclesis unacceptable. We note the developer concludes ‘no alterations are proposed orneeded on Westcott Street ... ’ which is merely an acknowledgement that they areunable to offer any improvement or enhancement on this section as it wholly outsidetheir control. Instead they try and minimize the problem by stating ‘there is noperceptible impact on Westcott Street’. Similarly there is no acknowledgement thatWestcott Street (south of Springfield Road) lies within a Conservation Area, and thatthe additional traffic and conflict between opposing vehicles will harm this area,which is supposed to be protected, preserved and enhanced by the Council. Theimpact on the conservation area was not addressed by the committee when theyconsidered the previous application for 34 dwellings yet this is an important part ofthe role of the Council to protect the conservation area and it must be taken intoaccount during the decision making process.We note that in the submitted Transport Statement, which extends to 246 pages yetcontains no information whatsoever on pedestrian counts or usage.It should also be noted that the doctors surgery is on Westcott Street. The entranceto the surgery is only a few metres north of the access road to the proposeddevelopment on a shared access drive with Rokefield. Existing residents of Westcottwalk along Westcott Street to go to and from the surgery and dispensary. There is nopavement along a long stretch of Westcott Street nor is there room to provide one.This means patients including elderly people with mobility issues and mothers withsmall children and pushchairs have no choice but to walk in the road itself. This addsto the obstacles that vehicles driving along Westcott Street must navigate andpresents a highways safety risk to pedestrians. The surgery sees approximately 200-300 patients per week of whom the doctor estimates about 60% walk to the surgery.While traffic speeds along Westcott Street are likely to be very low due to the sheervolume of traffic we are nonetheless extremely concerned that this will inevitablyresult in road traffic accidents.
  15. 15. An additional concern in terms of highways safety for both drivers and pedestriansusing Westcott Street is that the junction of the proposed access road with WestcottStreet is extremely close to the junction of the access to Rokefield with WestcottStreet and the junction with Hole Hill. In addition there is a blind bend on BalchinsLane immediately before the junction with Hole Hill which has caused numerousvehicles to nearly collide on the bend and the concern is that a large increase invehicles using this road would greatly increase the chances of a collision. WestcottStreet is the natural route to and from Westcott from the A25 and as such it alreadyhas a significant amount of traffic travelling along it. We note that the TransportSurvey states that traffic levels along Westcott Street are low however that may wellbe as a result of the timing of their traffic counting which was done at the start ofFebruary 2010 when the extreme adverse conditions meant that far fewer peoplewere on the roads than normal and immediately prior to the Easter break when againmany people are away on holiday reducing the normal amount of traffic.The Transport Statement refers to a document called “Manual for Streets” butignores the advice in the same document that a carriageway width of 4.8m with aseparate footway is required to enable a car to pass a lorry. This is not available overmost of Westcott Street between the A25 and Springfield Road. Even the narrowerwidth of 4.1m would only permit a car to pass another car, assuming any pedestriansget out of the way.In addition the construction phase is likely to produce more traffic in peak hours asoperatives arrive on site between 07.30 and 08.00 and try to get down WestcottStreet against the flow of residents trying to leave for work and school. This shouldbe accounted for within the transport statement but is completely ignored.Westcott Street is substandard at present so it is inherently unacceptable to add anyadditional traffic to an already sub-standard road.Width of the access roadThe developer has stated in their application that the existing access from WestcottStreet is to be retained with only nominal widening proposed. This is a concernbecause there is a pinch point by the Old Buttery and the Dairy along the accessroad where it is proposed to keep this as a single lane. This pinch point means that ifthere are several vehicles trying to enter and exit the site at the same time there is arisk that vehicles trying to enter the site may have to reverse out onto WestcottStreet. This would be very dangerous given the nearby junctions with Rokefield, HoleHill and the blind bend on Balchins Lane and the number of pedestrians that are alsousing Westcott Street.ParkingThe developer has proposed 43 parking spaces and additional parking available onthe estate roads. Given the type of dwellings on the site with the high number oflarger 4 bed and 5 bed dwellings and the difficulties in taking public transport from
  16. 16. the site there is concern that future occupiers of the proposed development may infact own more than 3 vehicles per dwelling and may therefore try to park elsewhereon the street in Westcott. Given the existing number of dwellings in Westcott that donot have off road parking, the on street parking in the village is already at saturationpoint.Transport StatementThe developer has submitted a transport statement on the basis that less than 50dwellings are proposed. However, this is only one of the criteria that determineswhether a transport statement is sufficient or whether in fact a transport assessmentis required. In fact the Department for Transport advise that in certain circumstancesa more thorough degree of assessment of the traffic impact of a proposeddevelopment is required through the production of a transport assessment or a travelplan. This development meets three of the Department for Transport criteria, namelythat (1) the development is not in conformity with the development plan, (2) thedevelopment is likely to increase accidents or conflicts amongst motorized users andnon motorized users, particularly vulnerable users such as children, disabled andelderly people and (3) the location is one where the local transport infrastructure isinadequate, for example, substandard roads, poor pedestrian/cycle facilities andinadequate public transport facilities. This means that at the very least a transportassessment should have been done as the transport statement submitted isinsufficiently detailed to enable the Council to have adequate information in front ofthem when determining the application.We have also been informed, by those who advise us, that there are a number oftechnical deficiencies in the Transport Statement accompanying the application.The proposed access into the site is sub-standard as it has reduced visibility out ofthe access along Westcott Street and lies within 20m of an adjoining access intoRiverbank (a private access serving some 26 flats and houses). The proposedaccess will only be 3.5m wide (ie single –vehicle width) , yet will serve 19 dwellings(5 existing and 14 proposed). This access is also a much-used Public Footpath,which seems to have been largely ignored by the developer with a simple statementthat there will be no conflict between walkers and vehicles due to the low number oftraffic movements, however this only holds true if the number of traffic movementspredicted are accurate which we doubt as 8 vehicular movements are unrealistic inpeak times when there are 43 parking spaces and 60 residents on site. The impacton adjoining properties (particularly the Lower Springfield Farm House, which is aListed Building) of vehicles stopping and starting to give way to other vehicles seemsto have been ignored.The pre-application discussion with the highway authority resulted in the advice thatthe Transport Statement should address, inter alia, ‘the suitability of Westcott Streetand Balchins Lane to accommodate additional traffic given their restricted width’.We note the Transport Statement makes no mentioned whatsoever of Balchins
  17. 17. Lane, which is less than 3m wide in places and has a very unsatisfactory junctionwith the A25. As set out above, Balchins Lane is even less suitable to accommodateadditional traffic than Westcott Street. There are only two routes out of the proposeddevelopment. One is along Balchins Lane and the other along Westcott Street. In theCouncil’s consideration of the previous application they recognised in reasons forrefusal 1 and 2 that a significant increase in traffic along Westcott Street would bedetrimental to amenity. The additional traffic levels that the current developmentproposes would be equally unacceptable as the true number of predicted trafficmovements would be only slightly less than those predicted for the previous scheme.This additional traffic would have an unacceptable impact on the Conservation Area,on the current amenity experienced by existing users of the street, both vehicularand pedestrian and by the users of Balchins Lane.The traffic diagrams in the Transport Statement concentrate on the traditional peakhours (8am-9am and 5pm and 6pm) but the traffic counts reveal Westcott Street isbusier at other times (namely 9am-10am and 4pm-5pm). At its peak the existingflows exceed 100 vehicles per hour on the narrowest section of Westcott Streetbetween Springfield Road and the village green.The traffic generation estimates from the new houses are unrealistically low as theyare based on data taken from sites in Durham, Great Yarmouth amongst others,where car ownership is likely to be lower than in Westcott. In addition the consultantsWSP have incorrectly applied the TRICS figures and used the same figures as theydid before without taking into account the house sizes in the current schemebecoming much larger and therefore the number of residents on site per houseincreasing. The current WSP estimate is now 8 extra vehicles in the AM peak and 9in the PM peak. These figures are low for the proposed amount of parking andshould be 11-12 for this size of development. The estimates by WSP for the 34dwelling scheme were 15 and 17 and it would appear that WSP have simply workedbackwards to reduce the number of traffic movements to approximately half assuggested by SCC rather than assessing the current proposal from scratch. Inaddition the transport statement is flawed as it fails to take account of new trafficfrom The Pound which was under construction when their surveys were carried out.Hence traffic flows will be higher than the transport statement suggests.The Transport statement includes the comment that SCC would accept about halfthe previous additional traffic however in the committee report for the previousapplication for 34 dwellings in 2010 SCC are quoted as saying that unless there is asubstantial reduction in traffic we are likely to recommend refusal. The currentproposal does not represent a significant reduction. The larger sized dwellings andincreased number of parking spaces per dwelling mean that vehicular movementswill not be substantially reduced. The previous scheme would have resulted inapproximately 90 residents whereas the current scheme would result in
  18. 18. approximately 60 residents which is only a 1/3rd reduction in traffic movements. Theprevious scheme proposed 77 parking spaces whereas the current schemeproposes 43 parking spaces which would be 56% of what was originally rejected bySCC however this scheme also provides informal parking on the estate road sogiven the size of the dwellings car ownership is likely to be higher and vehicularmovements correspondingly higher than the 43 parking spaces would suggest.The transport statement fails to undertake any pedestrian surveys along WestcottStreet hence WSP are unable to make any judgement on the effect of additionaltraffic on existing pedestrian flows. At para 4.6.2 the transport statement says thatthe increase in traffic represents a change from one vehicle every 37 seconds to oneevery 35 seconds. This misrepresents and tries to minimise the effect onpedestrians. As there is no footway wide enough to accommodate a mother andchild or a mother and buggy all pedestrian movement along Westcott Street fromThe Pound to the site entrance will be in the carriageway. As the length of roadbetween The Pound and the site entrance is about 400m, a pedestrian walking at thestandard speed of 4.8km per hour (ie 3mph) will take 5 minutes to walk this length ofroad. This suggests that every pedestrian walking along Westcott Street from the siteto The Pound (where the footway is a bit wider) will be passed by 8 cars. Parentswith small children will take longer and be passed by 10-12 cars. This is totallyunacceptable.In addition, the effect of construction vehicles on pedestrians will be considerable yetthis has not been considered in the transport statement.The proposed design of the site is poor for pedestrians and this is an issue whichcommittee members must give serious consideration to. The site is not sustainableas it is remote from a low frequency bus service. The bus stop is quoted ‘as 450msouth of the site ‘but this misses the point that the pedestrian route is circuitous andover 650m from a bus stop. SCC guidance is that all housing sites should be within400m of a bus stop so this is non-compliant with current highways guidance.Construction trafficThe developer has submitted an environmental Management Plan to address theimpact of construction however this does not provide sufficient information to allowcommittee members to fully assess the impacts of the proposal. For example, it saysthat a dedicated construction traffic route has been identified but does not say whereso it is impossible to assess whether there is actually a feasible route available ornot. It says that they will specify permitted delivery times but does not say what thoseare so it is impossible to assess what impact these deliveries will have on residentstrying to use Westcott Street and Balchins Lane. It says that they will use abanksman near Westcott Village Green and on Westcott Street to control traffic but
  19. 19. this will not prevent traffic jams for local people. It says that the size of delivery truckswill be agreed with the Council but gives no indication as to the minimum size oftruck that could be used so it is impossible to assess the true impact of theconstruction traffic.Right of WayWe note that one of the reasons for refusal on the previous scheme for 34 dwellingson this site was that the development if permitted would have led to an increase intraffic along an alleged public right of way impacting the safety of vulnerable users –contrary to policies MOV2 and PPG13. Public footpath No.602 was recentlyconfirmed on 26th January 2011, and follows the track leading from Westcott Streetthrough the northern part of the site to join with the Greensand Way further west.The proposed scheme would lead to a substantial increase in vehicular traffic alongthis recognised right of way as we anticipate that there will be up to 60 residentsliving on the site and the applicant proposes creating 43 parking spaces. This willinevitably lead to conflict from vehicular traffic with the vulnerable users walking andriding along this right of way therefore this proposed development should not bepermitted.Local Plan PolicyPolicy MOV2 in the Local Plan states that development will only be permitted whereit can be demonstrated that it is or can be made compatible with the transportinfrastructure and the environmental character in the area having regard to all formsof traffic generated by that development. In particular there must be appropriateprovision for off street vehicular parking, vehicular access, capacity on the transportnetwork and in the vicinity of the development, public transport services andpedestrians and cyclists. It notes that the cumulative effects of existing andcommitted development on the operational capacity and environmental character ofcongested areas as a whole will be taken into account in the determination ofdevelopment proposals.We believe that the level of development proposed on the site would result inpotential traffic levels which would exacerbate the already dangerous situation alongWestcott Street for the reasons set out above and therefore that the proposeddevelopment does not accord with policy MOV2.The proposed level of traffic is also contrary to Policy RUD4 – new housing invillages as the traffic generated is incompatible with the environmental character ofthe village and in particular the conservation area and cannot be adequatelyaccommodated on the surrounding road network. 5. FloodingWe would also draw committee members attention to the following issues and policyconsiderations.
  20. 20. PPS25:Development and Flood Risk is a material planning consideration when localplanning authorities are deciding whether to grant planning permission for newdevelopment. Paragraph 1 of PPS25 reminds us that flooding threatens life andcauses substantial damage to property. PPS25 requires local authorities to manageflood risk by only permitting development in areas of flood risk where there are noreasonably available sites in areas of lower flood risk and the benefits of thedevelopment outweigh the risks from flooding.The site is a sensitive location with regard to the protection of controlled waters.Paragraph 16 of PPS25 states that when Councils are allocating land in localdevelopment documents for development they should “apply the sequential test todemonstrate that there are no reasonably available sites in areas with a lowerprobability of flooding that would be appropriate to the type of development or landuse proposed”. The same approach should be taken here, in that the Council shouldnot be releasing a reserve housing site which is susceptible to flooding unless theycan demonstrate that there are no reasonably available sites for housing with a lowerprobability of flooding. No evidence has been supplied to show that all of thepotential housing land sites identified as available in the SHLAA 2009 have a higherprobability of flooding than the application site. In the absence of such evidence theCouncil should not grant planning permission for housing for this site as to do sowould be contrary to PPS25.We are most concerned that the sequential test does not appear to have beencarried out correctly as the Council appears to have done the assessment on thebasis that the application site cannot be compared with other sites and that it mustbe compared on its own. This makes a nonsense of the sequential test. It is not acase of simply comparing the site to the Environment Agency flood risk boundaries.The Council’s assessment is deficient as it fails to take into account all possiblesources of flooding. The Environment Agency’s flood map only maps model fluvialflooding. It does not map model groundwater flooding. The first question asked in thesequential test is “can development be allocated in zone 1? (other sources offlooding need to be considered in Flood Zone 1)”. It is clear therefore that all sourcesof flooding need to be considered not just the fluvial flooding shown on theEnvironment Agency’s map.The site is at high risk of groundwater flooding as stated by the British GeologicalSurvey. Taylor Wimpey/WSP’s own initial test results show groundwater rising byover 1m in 3 weeks under proposed dwelling number 12 (borehole WS101) and alsogroundwater only 0.76 m below ground level in some areas of the site. It should alsobe noted that the access route into the proposed housing site and otherinfrastructure will be in flood zone 3b (1 in 20 year flood risk) and the proposedescape route runs adjacent to the Pipp Brook on the boundary of the flood zone 3b.The model which sets the boundary of the flood zones can never precisely determineexactly where the flooding would reach and therefore Councillors should themselvesattend the site to see for themselves the fragility of this proposed escape route.PPS25 section 4.59 states that “4.59: PPS25 requires that, where important to theoverall safety of a proposed development, safe access and escape is available toand from new developments in flood risk areas (paragraph 8 of PPS25). This is likelyto be part of a requirement to pass the Exception Test. Where access and egress is
  21. 21. a potential issue this should be discussed with the LPA and Environment Agency atthe earliest stage, as this can affect the overall design of the development. It can bedifficult to ‘design in’ satisfactory access routes retrospectively. Accessconsiderations should include the voluntary and free movement of people during adesign flood, as well as the potential for evacuation before a more extreme flood.”A further concern that arises from this application is that in order to avoid disturbingwildlife and in particular bats along the buffer zone adjacent to the Pipp Brook theapplicant proposing not to light the open area in order to lessen the impact to wildlifehowever this would need to be lit as it forms part of the escape route with floodwaters on either side so from a safety point of view lighting must be provided.The Core Strategy is clear at paragraph 2.57 and goal 7 of the Core Strategy thatlocal authorities have a role to play in addressing the effects of climate changethrough, for example, minimising flood risk to people and property. It is thereforevitally important that the Council satisfy themselves that this development will notpose a flood risk to people and property. If they cannot do so then the developmentcannot be permitted as it would be contrary to policy.The application site lies immediately adjacent to the Pipp Brook and is within theEnvironment Agency flood zones 1, 2, 3a and 3b. In addition there is sewer pipewhich runs through the site which has been leaking sewage onto the site.The flood report submitted by the developer states that there has been no recordedincident of flooding outside of the areas noted as being within the flood zones andgives an overall indication that flooding is not an issue suggesting that it only has a 1in 100 chance of happening. We attach photographic evidence within the reportprovided by WMAG members showing that the site flooded only last year. They haveconfirmed from their own personal knowledge that the site floods regularly, this is byno means a 1 in 100 occurence.The developer has designed the site so that the houses are only in flood zone 1however the access road and the open space are in zones 2 and 3 and are thereforeliable to flood. We would remind committee members that the Environment Agencyflood risk modelling only takes account of surface water flooding, in other words theflooding you get from the stream overflowing or excessive rainfall events causing aflash flood. It does not model the application site when it is developed and covered inhardstanding and buildings. This would clearly exacerbate the flood risk greatly asthe water could not then soak away naturally. In addition, even when the site is in itsnatural state, the geology does not encourage the water to naturally soak awayquickly as beneath the top 20-80 cm of topsoil is approximately 1m of clay. Insteadwater discharges into the Pipp Brook.In addition there is significant flooding on the application site on a regular basis fromgroundwater. This occurs because the application site is underlain by a major aquiferonly approximately 2m below the surface and perched water tables are also mostlikely to occur over the site. Please see the attached photographs showing the sitewhen flooded by groundwater. Please also note that the British Geological Surveyconfirms that the application site is at significant risk of flooding from groundwater.
  22. 22. We would also mention that other flood risk assessment companies focus their floodrisk analysis on smaller rivers such as the Pipp Brook and their analysis shows a farmore severe risk of flooding than the Environment Agency analysis. This datasuggests a 1 in 75 year likelihood of flooding.Paragraph 8 of PPS25 requires that when determining planning applicationsCouncils must ensure that all new development in flood risk areas is appropriatelyflood resilient and resistant, including safe access and escape routes. Thedeveloper’s flood risk assessment acknowledges that the access track from WestcottStreet is subject to flooding in extreme events. If this occurs then future residentscould potentially be trapped on site. Members of WMAG confirm that the track doesindeed flood and we attach a photograph showing the area flooded last year at figure4. We would also mention that if the track is flooded then the site of the proposedevacuation route will almost certainly be flooded too as it is only 1-2 m from the edgeof the Pipp Brook at summer levels endangering future residents should they try touse this route to escape a flooded site.The flood risk assessment then goes on to propose that pedestrians could evacuatethe site via the pedestrian footway but acknowledges that emergency vehicularaccess may not be possible for a time. We would draw the attention of committeemembers to the proposed pedestrian evacuation route and highlight that it involvespeople having to walk from the housing at the far west of the site to the exit point atthe far east of the site. This may not be feasible for elderly people or young childrenand makes access by emergency service staff if needed very difficult. The escaperoute itself is right on the edge of the flood zone and we attach photographicevidence at figure 1 in the attached report to show that it flooded last year, again thisis a regular occurrence.There is a residual risk of flooding from sewers in storm events. This does notappear to have been explored in any depth in the application submission. We wouldsuggest that this is an important issue on which committee members should have fullinformation before reaching any decision on the planning application.The flood risk assessment submitted by the developer acknowledges that "from arecent site visit there was evidence of minor foul effluent water logging within thelowest point on site attributed to a section of on-site public foul water sewer betweenTWUL manholes MH0001 and MH1904. It is thought that was due to the ingress oftree routes. The report then says that this issue has been resolved by TWUL.Members of WMAG have observed sewage escaping into the meadow on regularoccasions which would suggest that there is an urgent issue that needs to beaddressed in respect of the existing sewage pipe that crosses the application site. Ifthat pipe is already overloaded such that it is causing foul water to flood the meadowthen the applicant should be submitting proposals to address this as part of theirscheme and to explain how they intend to connect to the sewage system if it isalready dangerously over capacity. We would draw the committee membersattention to the fact that the Victorian sewers in Westcott Street have been blockedon two occasions over the last eight years. In terms of the sewers on the applicationsite, at present the report simply proposes that if these should fail then overland flowroutes will be used to avoid the new houses flooding. The additional houses wouldhowever have substantially increased the amount of sewage that would flood the
  23. 23. meadow and then flow straight into the Pipp Brook. This is unacceptable. Given theclose proximity to Pipp Brook this matter needs to be addressed urgently.We would in particular draw committee members’ attention to Policy ENV 65 in theLocal Plan which provides that development will not normally be permitted unlessthere is adequate capacity in the sewerage network or it will be provided in time toserve the development. If there is not sufficient capacity in the existing seweragenetwork then it would be contrary to local plan policy to grant permission for thedevelopment until this is resolved.The developer proposes to create an area of public open space at the eastern end ofthe site and to use part of it as grassland for informal amenity use. However it iswithin the flood plain envelope and the flood risk assessment confirmed that it is saidto be damp at certain times of the year. In fact WMAG members have confirmed thatthis area of the meadow often floods. As such the land is not suitable for use asamenity and recreational land.Policy ENV66 in the Local Plan states that “development that would result in anincreased risk of flooding or have an adverse impact on the water environment as aresult of additional surface water run-off will only be permitted where appropriateattenuation or mitigation measures are proposed”. The application site is at present agrassy meadow. Once it is developed, a significant amount of the site will be coveredby hard standing for roads and buildings. This will increase the amount of surfacewater that cannot be absorbed by the land and which will run off the site into the PippBrook. We would draw the committee members attention to the fact that the area ofthe Pipp Brook beyond the application site to the east is at significant risk of floodingaccording the Environment Agency analysis as it is within flood zone 3.Policy ENV67 in the Local Plan states that development will not be permitted whichin the opinion of the Council, after consultation with the Environment Agency, mayhave an adverse impact on the quality of groundwater. The application site fallswithin a groundwater protection zone. We trust therefore that the impact of theproposed development on the quality of groundwater will be thoroughly explored withthe Environment Agency prior to any determination of the planning application inorder to ensure that the proposed scheme is in accordance with Policy ENV67.The developer is proposing to create a pond on site to collect the surface water run-off from the hard standing areas before releasing it into the Pipp Brook. There isconcern about whether this system will in fact be adequate in times of extremerainfall. Once the pond is full it discharges straight into the Pipp Brook so when thereis very heavy rain, both the pond itself and the Pipp Brook may overflow. In addition,we would want to see a condition imposed on any planning permission requiring thedeveloper to pay for the long term maintenance of the pond so that this does notultimately fall on the tax payers as paragraph 22 of PPS25 requires land owners todemonstrate that any flood risk management measures are sufficiently funded toensure that the site can be safely occupied throughout the lifetime of thedevelopment.Para 1.2.1 of the Flood Risk Assessment states that the principle of developing thesite for housing has been accepted by the LPA through the determination of an
  24. 24. earlier application for the development of the site for 34 dwellings. That is incorrectas that application was refused by the Council.The EA commented in 27 August 2010 that the Council must decide whether theproposed access route is considered safe taking account of all relevantconsiderations and in consultation with their emergency planners. If they are notsatisfied that the proposed measures adequately address the identified flood hazardthen permission should be refused on that basis advises the EA. The EA notes thatthe main vehicular access point to the site lies within flood zone 3b which has a 1 in20 annual average probability of flooding. The EA pointed out that for theemergency services to be unable to access the site during extreme rainfalls iscontrary to para 4.60 of the Practice Guide to PPS25 which states that vehicularaccess to allow the emergency services to safely reach the development during floodconditions will normally be required. The EA also point out that the secondary accessroute requires the residents to travel between the surface water attenuation pondand an area that is likely to be flooded and the entrance to this footpath may berestricted due to floodwater during an extreme event. It is abundantly clear thereforethat the access route is not safe and as such permission should not be granted forthis development. 6. Protected AreasParagraph 4.7 of the Core Strategy states that “the Districts natural, built andhistoric environment and biodiversity and green infrastructure will be safeguardedand enhanced and new development will be accommodated to avoid prejudicingthese attributes in a way that is sustainable, safe and accessible”.Paragraph 6.4.1 of the Core Strategy goes on to explain that “the landscape ofMole Valley is one of its greatest assets, appreciated by residents and visitors alikeand the source of inspiration for writers, composers and artists throughout history.Safeguarding and enhancing the highly attractive and diverse environment istherefore a key objective of both the LDF (including Sustainability Appraisal) andthe Mole Valley Community Plan and is strongly supported by the community as awhole”.Paragraph 6.4.4 of the Core Strategy states that “the Surrey Hills is a landscape ofnational importance. It is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty(AONB) and therefore has the highest level of protection in relation to landscape andscenic beauty. Planning Policy Statement 7 (2004) states that The conservation ofthe natural beauty of the landscape and countryside should therefore be given greatweight in planning policies and development control decisions in these areas. Theconservation of wildlife and the cultural heritage are important considerations in allthese areas. The area is covered by the Surrey Hills AONB Management Planwhich guides the future management and enhancement of the area. It is also aconsideration in the determination of planning applications in and around that area.”Policy CS13 in the Core Strategy states that
  25. 25. “1. All new development must respect and where appropriate enhance the character and distinctiveness of the landscape character area in which it is proposed. Landscape enhancement works may be required to avoid adverse impacts associated with new developments.2. The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is of national significance, and as such, the conservation of the natural beauty of the landscape will be a priority in this area. The AONB will be protected in accordance with the objectives in PPS7 and the Surrey Hills Management Plan, with a particular focus on the impact of development on ridgelines, significant views, peace, tranquility and levels of artificial light.”We consider that this large extension of the built environment on a green field site,immediately adjacent to the Green Belt clearly visible from views from RanmoreCommon which is a nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest and from the SurreyHills AONB of which the application site forms part is contrary to Policy CS13 in theCore Strategy as it has an adverse impact on views from and across the SSSI,AONB and the Green Belt and cannot in any way be said to respect or enhancethese protected areas. Whilst the number of dwellings have been reduced from theprevious scheme the size of those dwellings have been increased and large twostorey garages of a similar size to a 2 bedroom house have been included in thecurrent proposed development. The amount of built development proposed thereforeremains incongruous in this setting and has an adverse impact on the protectedareas.The Surrey Hills AONB Management PlanThe Surrey Hills was one of the first landscapes in the country to be designated anArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958 and it has equal status in planning termsto a National Park. The Surrey Hills Management Plan was adopted by Mole ValleyDistrict Council on 10 February 2009. Visitors to the Surrey Hills seek to enjoy theremarkable range of changing scenery and diversity of landscape through thepanoramic views obtained from the many vantage points spread throughout theAONB. This is why the Surrey Hills has views that may be considered amongst thebest and most diverse in England. The quality of views are often diminished by majorhighway corridors, masts and developments outside the AONB.Policy LU2 in the Surrey Hills Management Plan is very clear that “in balancingdifferent considerations associated with determining planning applications,substantial weight will be attached to any adverse impact that the proposal wouldhave on the character of the AONB”. Members of WMAG are very concerned aboutthe adverse impact which the proposed development would have, as a largeextension of the built environment on a green field site which is immediately adjacentto the Green Belt, on the views from and across the AONB and we trust that theCouncil will, in accordance with policy LU2, accord substantial weight to the adverseimpact of the proposed development on the AONB in considering the application.Policy LU3 in the Surrey Hills Management Plan requires development to “respectthe special landscape character, giving particular attention to potential impacts onridgelines, significant views, tranquility and light pollution”. As explained above, the
  26. 26. proposed development will be clearly visible from view points within the AONBcreating views of a substantial number of new houses, roads, parked vehicles anddomestic clutter in place of a green field. The local topography makes it impossibleto properly screen the proposed development from view. We consider that theproposed development is therefore contrary to policy LU3 in that it does not respectthe special landscape character of the AONB nor significant views from and acrossit. 7. Urban DesignPPS 1: Delivering Sustainable development states that design which is inappropriatein its context will not be accepted. Applicants for planning permission therefore haveto show that they have considered the wider setting of the development proposedand ensure that it respects and enhances local character.Policy LU4 in the Surrey Hills Management Plan requires that “development will beof a high quality in design, respecting local distinctiveness and use of materials andbe complementary in form, setting and scale with its surroundings. Design that failsto take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of thelandscape setting and the way it functions will not be accepted”.Policy CS14 in the Core Strategy requires all new development to respect andenhance the area in which it is proposed and says that the Council will resistdevelopment of a poor quality of design.Policies ENV22, ENV 23, ENV 24 and ENV25 in the Local Plan require a design andlayout which is appropriate to the site in terms of its scale, form and appearance andexternal building materials, does not significantly harm the amenities of the occupiersof neighbouring properties by reason of overlooking, respects the character andappearance of the locality, provides any necessary screening and landscapingsuitable to the character of the locality, provides safe access to the site and asatisfactory environment for occupiers of the new development, takes account ofpublic views warranting protection, the views of the development conspicuous fromthe Green Belt. The proposed development is not in accordance with these policiesin particular in terms of the overcramped density caused by trying to fit too manyvery large houses into one part of the site, due to the standard style of housingproposed, the impact of the site on the adjacent Green Belt on the other side of PippBrook as it does not have a rural feel unlike the converted farm buildings nearby,overlooking into adjacent properties on Springfield Road, the inability to screen viewsof the site from the AONB which is a public view warranting protection, the lack ofsafe access to the site both in highways terms and as a result of flooding as set inmore detail elsewhere in this letter.Page 12 of the Design and Access Statement submitted by the developer suggeststhat the housing on site will be of different forms and styles to reflect the varied localhousing styles. However, the proposed elevations submitted by the developer showvery run of the mill dwellings which appear to be standard Taylor Wimpey designs.They do not respect the style of housing in Westcott and are not complementary inform with their surroundings and the rural feel of Westcott. As such we consider thatthe proposed designs do not accord with PPS1, Policy LU4 in the Surrey Hills
  27. 27. Management Plan or with Policy CS14 in the Core Strategy. If planning permissionwere to be granted we would expect the Council to impose a condition requiringsubmission of appropriately designed dwellings for approval in order to control thevisual appearance of the development as an estate of very similar looking dwellingsalbeit of different sizes would be out of keeping with the existing housing in thevillage which is a mix of ages, styles and sizes and would therefore be contrary toPPS1, Policy LU4 and Policy CS14.Page 13 of the Design and Access Statement submitted by the developer states that30% of all dwellings are affordable units (ie 4 out of 14 dwellings). If planningpermission were to be granted then a condition should be imposed to ensure that theaffordable housing is indistinguishable from the market housing. A high quality ofdesign would be required for the affordable housing in order for the scheme to becompliant with PPS1 and Policy CS14. We note however that the proposal is tolocate all of the affordable housing on the boundary with the existing dwellings. Thisis contrary to both national and local policy which requires that affordable housingmust be located amongst the market housing and not grouped together in one areaof the site. 8. Ecology and biodiversityWe would also draw committee members attention to the following issues and policyconsiderations.PPS 9 states that “Where a planning decision would result in significant harm tobiodiversity which cannot be prevented or adequately mitigated against,appropriate compensation measures should be sought. If that significant harmcannot be prevented, adequately mitigated against, or compensated for, thenplanning permission should be refused.”Paragraph 6.4.20 in the Core Strategy states that “all watercourses, mature hedgesand trees within development sites across the District should be, as far aspracticable, retained, protected and enhanced, particularly where they link areas ofexisting green infrastructure.....The use of native species as part of planting schemesis particularly important alongside watercourses due to the potential for non-nativeseeds to be carried downstream.”Policy CS15 in the Core Strategy states that biodiversity will be protected andenhanced in accordance with European and National legislation and guidance. Itstates that all water courses, mature hedges and trees within development sitesshould be, as far as practicable, retained.The presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a planningauthority is considering a development proposal (para 98, ODPM circular 06/2005). Itis essential that the presence or otherwise of a protected species, and the extent thatthey may be affected by the proposed development is established before theplanning permission is granted, otherwise all relevant material considerations maynot have been addressed in making the decision (para 99, ODPM circular 06/2005).
  28. 28. Further more we note, following the advice of Natural England(, that while badger pathways and foraging areas arenot protected under the Badgers Act, the retention of such features will be required ifany mitigation proposal is to succeed, and should therefore be viewed as a materialconsideration under Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS9) (Biodiversity andGeological Conservation).The applicant has carried out a protected species survey which found the followingBatsWe note that five species of bat have been recorded on site – all are Europeanprotected species. Bat activity is concentrated along the brook corridor with treesand shrubs along the brook corridor providing a good foraging resource. The brookcorridor is also considered to provide a dark flightline which bats are using fordispersal from roost sites to foraging areas further afield. The survey also found thatbats are likely to be roosting close by to the site.The survey concluded that the proposed development of 14 residential units will notresult in significant impacts to bats as no significant disturbance (i.e. disturbance at alevel that would affect the ability of bats to survive, breed, rear young or hibernate orthat would affect the local distribution or abundance of the species) is anticipated.The consultants state that the modest number of additional night time trafficmovements along the access road will not have an impact on this roost location atthe dairy. Any existing influence from car headlights does not appear to causedisturbance to this roost and one would not expect the tiny increase in trafficmovements after dark to alter this. It is difficult to see how it could be concluded thatthere would only be a tiny increase in traffic movements given the 43 parking spacesto be provided on site and the potential 60 residents. In the winter particularly allvehicles returning to the site after normal school and/or work hours will be using theirheadlights and may disturb the bats.The survey goes on to say that the existing hedge and trees along the westernboundary of the site will be retained, wildlife corridors (designed to aid badgerdispersal) will be provided along the western and southern margins of thedevelopment area and a species rich native hedgerow will also be planted all theway along the southern boundary of the site to further strengthen this boundary.These measures should ensure that bat flight lines and foraging opportunities areretained and enhanced along these margins of the site, which the consultants saywill be bordered by new back gardens and associated planting. In fact theconsultants have said that the main dark flight line for the bats is along the brookcorridor and here the gardens of the dwellings along the Pipp Brook face away fromthe brook and the road and it is the front of the houses that face onto the brook sothere will be disturbance to the bats both from lights within the houses and carheadlights as people arrive home.The survey states that the existing access track and any new access roads throughthe new development will remain under private ownership and there are no plans forthese roads to be adopted by the Local Authority. As roads will be under private
  29. 29. ownership there is no requirement to provide new external lighting within thedevelopment, and therefore no disturbance impacts to bats using the site or adjacentareas are anticipated with regards to new external lighting provision. It isacknowledged that new home owners may want to provide their own externallighting. However, it is suggested that private external lighting be provided by thedeveloper with detailed designed of such lighting being provided to and agreed bythe Local Planning Authority prior to development commencing. Any such lightingscheme should be developed in close consultation with a suitably experienced batecologist. This section of the report is very muddled and it is unclear whether therewill be lighting adjacent to the Pipp Brook or not. It is entirely likely that home ownerswill want to install exterior lights to assist them when they return home after dark, theemergency access track needs to be lit in order that it can be used safely in theevent of a flood and there will inevitably be light pollution both from lights left oninside houses adjacent to the brook and from car headlights on the estate road. It isclear therefore that the bats will be disturbed by new light sources from the proposeddevelopment unless the scheme is re-designed to move all housing further awayfrom the brook and to move the emergency access well away from the brook.BadgersThe survey states that no badger setts were identified within or immediately adjacentto the proposed development site during any of the survey visits undertaken.However, some evidence of badgers crossing and foraging within the site was notedand badgers continue to use the well established badger setts located withinwoodland on the other side of Pipp Brook and to the south within woodlandassociated with the Recreation Ground. Mammal paths (some likely to be badgertrails) being noted primarily along the southern boundary of the proposeddevelopment site, and the eastern boundary along the margin of Pipp Brook. Thereis also some evidence to suggest that badgers are moving onto the site from the settto the south, entering the site under the fence in the south-western corner. However,it is not clear if the same badger clan is using the setts to the north and south of thesite or not. The survey concluded that badgers from a nearby sett are likely to crossSpringfield Road and pass into the proposed development site at its south–westerncorner (between 62 Springfield Road and 1 Westcott Street). Badger paths runningeastwards from the setts link up to the public footpath which passes along theeastern margin of the recreation ground, across Springfield Road and onto landadjacent to the eastern end of the proposed development site. It is presumed thatthis also provides a route for badgers to disperse from the recreation ground setts toland to the north and east of the proposed development site.The survey concluded that whilst grassland within the proposed development areawould appear to form part of the home range of at least one badger clan it is notconsidered that the loss of the 0.8ha of grassland under the proposed developmentfootprint will result in a significant impact to the local badger population as significantareas of other suitable foraging habitat, comprising pasture, woodland and localresidents gardens, are available to them. The footprint of the new dwellingsproposed on the site will result in the loss of around 0.8ha of rough grassland, withthe remainder of the 1.9ha site being retained (e.g. brook corridor) or landscaped toprovide new grassland and wetland habitats (e.g. POS at the eastern end of thesite), thus retaining some opportunities for badger foraging within these areas. The
  30. 30. loss of this quantum of foraging habitat is not considered to be significant to thispopulation.Whilst there are plenty of opportunities for badgers to disperse from the setts to thesouth to grassland used at the eastern end of the site and beyond (e.g. throughexisting gardens along Springfield Road and via the footpath No.’s 26 and 24Springfield Road), badger dispersal corridors will be provided along the western andsouthern margins of the new development area to allow badgers to use existingdispersal routes from the south-western corner of the site to the north and east.These badger dispersal corridors will be c.3m wide and planted up with a mix ofnative thorny species to provide suitable cover and a new foraging resource on theform of windfall fruit / berries. The boundaries of the site will not be subject to anyexternal lighting and will be fenced off from new gardens to avoid any disturbanceimpacts. The dispersal corridors will provide access from the southwestern corner ofthe site to the brook corridor to the north and grassland habitat to the east of the newdevelopment.We would point out that in fact the emergency exit track will have to be lit in orderthat residents can use if safely in the event of a flood and therefore there will be lightdisturbance to the badgers that currently use this site.ReptilesThe protected species survey found that no reptiles were observed during any of thesurvey visits undertaken, either under or on top of the artificial refugia, or basking inthe open. The surveys were undertaken in suitable conditions for reptile surveyingand the number of visits employed is considered to be appropriate to confirm thepresence / absence of reptiles on the site. However, it is likely, as indicated by thenew records, that reptiles will be present in close proximity to the site and couldtherefore disperse onto / across the site from time to time. Whilst it is considered thatthe proposed development would be unlikely to have any impacts on local reptilepopulations, it is recommended that a precautionary approach to clearance of thesite be undertaken to avoid any potential direct impacts to reptiles which could resultin an infringement of the law. The adoption of this approach assumes that currentsurvey evidence (<2 years old) exists which indicates that reptiles remain absentfrom this area. In other words, should development be delayed a new reptile surveyat the site would become appropriate in 2012. This should be secured by conditionshould planning permission be granted.Conditions for ecology and biodiversityWe note that the developer is proposing a 10 metre habitat buffer between the newaccess road and the Pipp Brook. If the Council was minded to grant planningpermission we would request the imposition of a condition securing the developer’slong term commitment to the ongoing management of the public open areasincluding the habitat buffer and area alongside the Pipp Brook for the lifetime of thedevelopment.