Chairman’s Report for November 2016

Watling Meadow Development

Herefordshire Council Planning Committee Meeting Wed 6 Oct 2016.

This is what I read out on behalf of Pyons Group Parish Council.

Pyons Group Parish Council has been working with developers for two other sites in the village, but the development at Watling Meadow is the only one we have raised objection to, and indeed the only one that has attracted so much opposition from local people.

Inherent problems with drainage and water-logging on the site, made worse by the northern end of the site being below the level of the main carriageway, have featured in numerous failed applications, and led to what we are discussing today – the offloading of the risks from the developer to a public body.

Despite a condition prohibiting development until a drainage scheme has been approved in writing, work has continued on site. The most recent application to redirect surface water away from the site to fields opposite just pushes the problem and risks elsewhere in our village, to the Wellington Brook at Kinford, a known flooding point. The increased number and density of units now being applied for can only exacerbate the problems of drainage.

The developers were able to reduce by more than two-thirds the amount of “106” monies1 to be paid to improve provisions in the village as part of the existing application, and with this scheme being considered, no additional money has been offered (contrary to policy PG3 part 7 of the Core Strategy), despite the extra units.

The playing fields, a Charity, relying on grants and donations, cannot provide the required leisure facilities; thus the Watling Meadow development application is contrary to Policy PG3 part 4 of the Core Strategy in not providing additional leisure facilities2.

Notwithstanding the lack of community leisure space, this new scheme reduces still further the space both outside and inside the properties.

The urban-style repetitive form of the scheme, which is again more marked in this new application, does not reflect the size and role of the village settlement, and does not contribute to the social well-being of it, contrary to policy PG3 part 2, RA1 and RA2 of the core strategy.

Were this to be approached as a totally new application, it would be contrary to the Parishes’ Neighbourhood Plan, which has passed through Stage 16 and is now waiting final approval.

 

Note 1: ‘106 monies’ are paid by developers to the community to improve facilities and infrastructure

Note 2: play equipment is limited and in need of major overhaul

 

Against I think everyone’s expectations, the application was REFUSED. It seems that for once they listened to our arguments and we got the result we wanted.

The reasons for refusal were given as: 1. its urban appearance, and 2. lack of provision for play spaces (full document can be seen on Herefordshire Council Planning website application number 161601)

One of the key things for me was when a councillor actually argued for approval on the basis that the developers would win an appeal, and the council would have to foot a large bill. This marred any sense of euphoria at ‘winning’, with the memory that this was ostensibly the reason why the last application was approved. So I would say democracy prevailed this time, but it was a lack of it which let this scheme through in the first place.