PTC Response to Planning Application: 17/00829/OUT – Outline planning application with all matters reserved apart from access for erection of 178 dwellings, including 8 self-build plots (Use Class C3), 44 extra care apartments (Use class C2), up to four ancillary ground floor units (of up to 500sqm) in floorspace) comprising of Use Class A1/A2/A3/D1, car parking, public open space, landscaping and associated works on land East Of Willow Way Callerton Lane, Ponteland, Northumberland.

Response of Ponteland Town Council to Planning Application: 17/00829/OUT – Outline planning application with all matters reserved apart from access for erection of 178 dwellings, including 8 self-build plots (Use Class C3), 44 extra care apartments (Use class C2), up to four ancillary ground floor units (of up to 500sqm) in floorspace) comprising of Use Class A1/A2/A3/D1, car parking, public open space, landscaping and associated works on land East Of Willow Way Callerton Lane, Ponteland, Northumberland.

               

 

  • Introduction
    1. This report sets out Ponteland Town Council’s strong objection to the application for outline planning permission made by Hellens Land Ltd and the Boycott Family Bare Trust 2007 for the development of 178 dwellings, car parking, public open space, landscaping and associated works on land east of Willow Way, Callerton Lane, Ponteland.
    2. The Town Council fully supports the large number of people living in the surrounding area and wider Parish who have already taken the time to voice their objections to this proposal. To date there are 62 objections on the Northumberland County Council Planning Portal and 1 support.

 

  • The Development Plan and other material considerations
      1. In accordance with Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, decisions on planning applications must be made in accordance with the Development Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
  • The primacy of the Development Plan is reaffirmed in paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states: 
      1. ‘Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.’
  • Paragraph 12 of the NPPF goes on to state: 
      1. ‘This National Planning Policy Framework does not change the statutory status of the development plan as the starting point for decision making. Proposed development that accords with an up-to-date Local Plan should be approved, and proposed development that conflicts should be refused unless other material considerations indicate otherwise.’
      2. The statutory Development Plan relevant to this application consists of the saved policies of the Castle Morpeth Local Plan (2003). Material considerations comprise: the NPPF; National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG); the emerging Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy and the emerging Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan.Castle Morpeth Local Plan (2003)
  • Whilst the Castle Morpeth Local Plan (CMLP) was adopted over 13 years ago, with a plan period from 1991 to 2006, it remains part of the Development Plan and is the starting point for the determination of the planning application. Paragraph 215 of the NPPF states that: 
    1. ‘…due weight should be given to relevant policies in existing plans according to their degree of consistency with this framework (the closer the policies in the plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).’
    2. A number of the policies within the CMLP are relevant to the determination of the planning application. Those that go to the heart of the proposal are:

 

  • C1 and PC1 – Settlement Boundaries;
  • C16 and PC1 – Green Belt;
  • C17 – New buildings in the Green Belt.
    1. Other policies relating to more technical matters are:
  • RE4 – Water;
  • RE6 – Drainage, water supply and sewerage;
  • RE8 – Contaminated Land;
  • RE9 – Ground stability;
  • C11 – Protected species;
  • C15 – Trees, hedgerows and landscaping;
  • H15 – New housing development;
  • R4 – Children’s play; and
  • I2 – Planning obligations.Other material considerationsThe National Planning Policy Framework
    1. The NPPF is a material consideration in planning decisions. Paragraph 6 states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. Several sections of the NPPF are relevant to the determination of the planning application:
  • Paragraph 14 – Presumption in favour of sustainable development;
  • Paragraph 17 – Core planning principles;
  • Paragraphs 32 and 34 – Transport and movement;
  • Paragraph 47 – Boosting the supply of housing;
  • Paragraph 49 – Five year housing land supply and sustainable development;
  • Paragraph 50 – Housing mix;
  • Paragraph 52 – Planning for larger scale development;
  • Paragraphs 79 to 92 – Protecting Green Belt land;
  • Paragraph 99 – Climate change;
  • Paragraphs 100 to 104 – Flood risk;
  • Paragraph 111 – Effective use of land;
  • Paragraph 118 – Biodiversity;
  • Paragraphs 128 and 131 to 136 – Heritage assets;
  • Paragraph 216 – Emerging development plans.The emerging Northumberland Core Strategy
    1. In accordance with the NPPF, the emerging Northumberland Core Strategy is a material consideration in the determination of the planning application. Paragraph 216 of the NPPF states that the level of weight that can be given to an emerging plan depends on the extent to which there are unresolved objections. The less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given.
    2. A number of the policies within the emerging Core Strategy are relevant to the determination of the planning application, in summary:
    • Policy 3 – Spatial distribution – there is significant unresolved objection to this policy approach, it can therefore be only given very limited weight;
    • Policy 15 – Housing scale and distribution – there is significant unresolved objection to this policy, therefore it can only be given very limited weight;
    • Policy 16 – Strategic delivery sites and additional housing allocations – there is significant unresolved objection to this policy, therefore it can only be given very limited weight;
    • Policy 24 – Strategic approach to the Green Belt – this policy complies with NPPF and there is not significant unresolved objection, it may therefore be given weight in the determination of the application;
    • Policy 26 – Uses acceptable in the Green Belt – this policy complies with NPPF and there is not significant unresolved objection, it may therefore be given weight in the determination of the application;
    • Policy 41 – Promoting sustainable connections – there is limited objection to this policy approach, therefore it may be given some weight in the determination of the planning application;
    • Policy 41A – Effects of development on the transport network – there is limited objection to this policy approach, therefore it may be given some weight in the determination of the planning application; and
    • Policy 42 – Improving Northumberland’s core road network – there is limited objection to this policy approach, therefore it may be given some weight in the determination of the planning application.
    1. Other policies relating to more technical matters are:
  • Policy 18 – Planning for housing;
  • Policy 19 – Affordable housing;
  • Policy 21 – Housing for older people and vulnerable groups;
  • Policy 28 – Environment principles;
  • Policy 29 – Biodiversity;
  • Policy 33 – Historic environment and heritage assets;
  • Policy 36 – Water supply and sewerage;
  • Policy 37 – Flooding; and
  • Policy 38 – Sustainable drainage systems.The emerging Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan
    1. In accordance with the NPPF, the emerging Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan is a material consideration in the determination of the planning application. The Plan has been submitted for Independent Examination. The Submission Plan contains 32 policies. As Green Belt is a strategic matter, the Neighbourhood Plan does not include any policies relating to the Green Belt. In addition, it does not propose a settlement boundary. The policies within the Submission Plan of relevance to the determination of the application relate to the technical elements of the proposal, these are:
  • PNP 1 – Sustainable development principles;
  • PNP 2 – High quality and inclusive design;
  • PNP 3 – Infrastructure;
  • PNP 10 – Green infrastructure;
  • PNP 11 – Landscape;
  • PNP 13 – Biodiversity;
  • PNP 21 – Housing mix;
  • PNP 23 – Open and recreation space provision;
  • PNP 26 – Flood alleviation;
  • PNP 27 – Flood risk;
  • PNP 28 – Sustainable drainage systems; and
  • PNP 29 – Transport and new developments.
  • The Principle of Development
    1. As explained within section 2, decisions on planning applications must be made in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The application site is covered by two land allocations within the CMLP which go to the heart of the assessment of the acceptability of the principle of development:

 

  • Green Belt (C16 and PC1); and
  • Settlement Boundaries (C1 and PC1).Green Belt
    1. Paragraph 79 of the NPPF identifies that the Government attaches great importance to Green Belts, with the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy being to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. The essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence. Paragraph 80 sets out the five purposes of the Green Belt, which are to:
  • Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • Assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.Inappropriate development in the Green Belt
  •  
  •  
  • Paragraph 87 of the NPPF states: 

 

    1. ‘As with previous Green Belt policy, inappropriate development is, bydefinition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except invery special circumstances.’
    2. Paragraph 89 then sets out that the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt are inappropriate development, with exceptions being:
  • ‘buildings for agriculture and forestry;
  • provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
  • the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
  • the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
  • limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; or
  • limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use(excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.’

 

    1. Paragraph 90 then defines the other forms of development that are also not inappropriate in the Green Belt, provided they preserve its openness and do not conflict with the Green Belt purposes:
  • ‘mineral extraction;
  • engineering operations;
  • local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
  • the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction; and
  • development brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order.’

 

  •  
    1. Clearly, the application proposals constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Therefore, the main issue in this application is whether the harm to the Green Belt is clearly outweighed by very special circumstances (VSC) which could justify granting planning permission.Openness and permanence of the Green Belt
    2.  
    3. As explained above, paragraph 79 of the NPPF is clear that the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and permanence. The proposed development would be seriously harmful to the Green Belt by reason of its inappropriateness and because it would significantly reduce its openness, it would therefore conflict with paragraph 79 of the NPPF. The submitted application documents do not dispute this.Impact on the purposes of the Green Belt
    4. The Green Belt that lies within Northumberland forms part of the wider Tyne and Wear Green Belt. The overriding purpose of the Green Belt within Northumberland is to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of the Tyne and Wear conurbation. This principle was established when the Green Belt was designated.
    5. Policy 24 of the emerging Northumberland Core Strategy defines the strategic approach to the Green Belt which is to:
  1. Safeguard the countryside from encroachment;
  2. Check the unrestricted sprawl of Tyne and Wear;
  3. Prevent the merging of: Newcastle upon Tyne with Ponteland, Newcastle Airport, or Cramlington; and North Tyneside with Cramlington or Blyth;
  4. Preserve the setting and special character of Hexham, Corbridge and Morpeth;
  5. Prevent Morpeth merging with neighbouring settlements;
  6. Prevent the merger of rural settlements; and
  7. Assist in the regeneration of settlements in South East Northumberland beyond the Green Belt.
    1. Paragraphs 6.9 to 6.11 of the submitted Planning Statement (PS) conclude that the proposed development would not result in unrestricted sprawl as the applicant considers the site is well contained with the existence of Callerton Lane. Also, that views into and out of the eastern urban edge of Ponteland and Darras Hall adjacent to the site are generally restricted by the existing vegetation around the boundaries of the application site, particularly to the south and the topography of land to the east. In addition, the PS highlights that the eastern edge of the site and adjacent road, provide defensible boundaries which could contain urban expansion whilst also providing an appropriate edge to the development and Green Belt boundary.
    2. PTC fundamentally object to this assessment; clearly sprawl would occur. The sprawl would be lateral, affecting a wide aspect, as the application site is 1km in length. The entire length currently provides a landscaped buffer between the low-density housing of Darras Hall to the west and the wider Green Belt to the east. Existing housing west of the site is scarcely visible from the road due to a combination of distance and vegetation. This positive landscape effect would be lost through development. This has a consequential significant landscape impact upon the area of Green Belt to the east of Callerton Lane which the Council, in their Core Strategy Green Belt assessment work, acknowledges has higher sensitivity than other potential development areas.
    3. Therefore, PTC conclude that the proposed development would not accord with the purposes of Green Belts as defined within paragraph 79 of the NPPF, nor would it accord with Policy 17 of the CMLP or Policy 24 of the emerging Core Strategy.Very special circumstances
    4.  
    5. By identifying the VSC within the PS, the applicant clearly does not dispute that the proposal constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt. As explained above, the main issue in the determination of this application is therefore whether the potential harm to the Green Belt is clearly outweighed by VSC which could justify granting planning permission. It is the view of PTC that the proposed development will be seriously harmful to the Green Belt by reason of its inappropriateness and because it would significantly reduce its openness; the VSC identified by the applicant would not outweigh this harm.
    6. The factors the applicant identifies should be weighed against the harm to the Green Belt are set out within paragraphs 6.28 – 6.53 of the PS:
  • Housing Need;
  • Financial contribution to the school and leisure campus;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Economic benefits;
  • New permanent Green Belt boundary;
  • Ecological and biodiversity benefits;
  • Retirement apartments/ extra care and ancillary uses;
  • Creation of footpaths.
      1. These are considered in detail below.Housing need:
      2.  
      3. The Northumberland Five Year Supply of Deliverable Sites (2016 – 2021) document, published in December 2016, identifies that across Northumberland as a whole there is a 6.3 years’ supply of housing. The Central Housing Market Area, within which the application site is located, has an 8.2 years’ supply of housing.
  • Paragraph 34 (Reference ID: 3-034-20141006) of NPPG states: 

 

      1. ‘Unmet housing need (including for traveller sites) is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the “very special circumstances” justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt.’
      2. As there are not unmet housing needs, across the Strategic Housing Market Area of Northumberland, or the Central Housing Market Area, the contribution of the proposed development to the delivery of housing is not a VSC to justify granting permission for the development.Financial contribution to the school and leisure campus:
      3.  
      4. Paragraph 6.42 of the PS states that the scheme would provide a financial contribution which would assist in bringing forward the school and leisure campus development in Ponteland as it would assist in bridging the identified funding gap.
      5. The information submitted as part of the application has not demonstrated that: there is a need for the new education and leisure facilities; and should the new facilities be required, that there is a requirement for developer contributions towards the provision of the new facilities, that this cannot be met through other means. This is therefore not a VSC to justify granting permission for the development.Affordable housing:
      6.  
      7. As explained above, the Northumberland Five Year Housing Land Supply document demonstrates that there are not unmet housing needs across the Strategic Housing Market Area of Northumberland, or the Central Housing Market Area. Given the limited level of information submitted by the applicant regarding the proposed affordable housing provision, this cannot be considered to be a VSC to justify granting permission for the development.Economic benefits:
      8.  
  • Paragraph 6.45 lists the economic benefits of the proposal, including reference to New Homes Bonus and Council Tax payments. NPPG (Reference ID: 21b-011-20140612) provides guidance on local finance considerations, stating:   

 

      1. ‘New Homes Bonus payments recognise the efforts made by authorities to bring residential development forward. Even where anticipated Bonus payments are not a material consideration in making planning decisions, they can be noted for information in committee reports on applications for housing. Where this is done, care will be required not to imply that Bonus payments are relevant to the decision before the committee.’
      2. ‘In deciding an application for planning permission or appeal where a local financial consideration is material, decision takers need to ensure that the reasons supporting the decision clearly state how the consideration has been taken into account and its connection to the development.’
      3. ‘Whether or not a ‘local finance consideration’ is material to a particular decision will depend on whether it could help to make the development acceptable in planning terms. It would not be appropriate to make a decision based on the potential for the development to raise money for a local authority or other Government body.’
      4. Given the clear conflict with the Development Plan, in accordance with NPPG, it is not appropriate for the Council to make a decision based on the potential for the development to raise money for the Council, it is not a material consideration in the determination of the application, nor is it a VSC to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt. New permanent Green Belt boundary:
      5.  
      6. Paragraph 6.47 of the PS identifies, as a VSC, the opportunity to create a landscape buffer and a stronger Green Belt buffer. This cannot be considered a VSC. As explained above, the application site is 1km in length. The entire length currently provides a landscaped buffer between the low-density housing of Darras Hall to the west and the wider Green Belt to the east. Existing housing west of the site is scarcely visible from the road due to a combination of distance and vegetation. This positive landscape effect would be lost through development.   This cannot be considered to be a VSC to justify granting permission for the development.Ecological and biodiversity benefits:
      7. Paragraph 6.48 of the PS identifies that the scheme will bring about ecological and biodiversity improvements and enhancements, including the removal and control of species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
      8. On the whole, the identified environmental ‘benefits’ are a necessary part of proposals to develop housing on the site, therefore no weight can be given to them in their own right as VSCs.Retirement apartments/ extra care and ancillary uses:
      9. Whist PTC fully acknowledges the need to provide housing for an ageing population, there is no evidence provided as part of the application which demonstrates that the application site is the only land available for such development to take place. In addition, the accessibility of the site to local facilities is considered to be very poor. This should therefore not be a VSC that weighs in favour of the application. PTC are aware that Abbeyfield house in Ponteland has recently closed, it provided 10 bedrooms for the ageing. This accommodation closed due to under capacity and available rooms were not fully utilised.Creation of footpaths:
      10.  
      11. Paragraph 6.52 of the PS suggests that the provision of new footpaths are a VSC. However, PTC consider again that such provision would be a necessary part of a housing scheme, therefore no weight can be given to this as a VSC.
      12. In summary, the applicant has not demonstrated the VSCs required by the NPPF to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt which is a clear departure from the Development Plan. The proposed development should therefore be refused as contrary to: CMLP Policies C16, C17 and PC1; emerging Core Strategy Policies 24 and 26; and paragraphs 87 and 88 of the NPPF.
      13. Settlement boundary
      14. Policy C1 of the CMLP deals with settlement boundaries, Policy PC1 specifically the settlement boundary of Ponteland. The application site lies outside the Ponteland settlement boundary.
      15. Policies which restrict new housing are only out of date where there is not a 5-year supply of housing land. As there is a 5-year supply, CMLP Policies C1 and PC1 still apply. The proposal is therefore not in accordance with these policies and should be refused.
  • Technical matters
      1. In addition to the development being unacceptable in principle, the proposal gives rise to further concern in terms of the detailed impacts of the development: namely traffic and environmental impacts.Traffic impact
      2. The results of the consultation on the Northumberland Core Strategy – Further Major Modifications document, which concluded in December 2016, clearly identify that statutory consultees have expressed concern that the Ponteland housing proposals will have a significant adverse impact on traffic. As a result, there were strong objections from: Highways England, Newcastle and Gateshead Councils, as well as Newcastle Airport.
      3. These objections identified significant concerns regarding the impact of the proposed spatial strategy and quantum of development, in that these could have consequences in terms of the potential cumulative impact when considered alongside the Plans and other development proposals, particularly in and around Ponteland.
  • PTC is greatly concerned about the impact of the development proposed on the safe and satisfactory operation of the local road network. The proposed development will place unnecessary and significant strain on already congested roads. The cumulative impact of all of the planning proposals in Ponteland and that allocated and consented in neighbouring authorities will be severe. The application should therefore be refused as it is contrary to paragraphs 32 and 34 of the NPPF and emerging Core Strategy Policies 41, 41A and 42.Environmental impact
    1.  
    2.  
    3. PTC is concerned that cherished countryside which will be encroached upon by the development proposed will be lost. There will be a significant visual impact and the development will have an ecological impact. This is not outweighed by the benefits stated in the application.
    4. The visual and environmental impacts of the development weigh against allowing development which is contrary to the adopted Development Plan and in no way, justifies an encroachment beyond settlement boundaries or which significantly and adversely affects the openness of the Green Belt.

 

  • Inaccurate and misleading application documents
    1. In order to assess whether a proposed development is acceptable against the provisions of the Development Plan and other material considerations, it is necessary to fully understand the exact nature of the proposed development. A review of the documents submitted as part of the application has highlighted a number of misleading statements as well as inaccurate and contradictory information, particularly within the PS as described below.
    2. Paragraphs 1.8 and 5.15 – 5.18 suggest that the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) is established – however, this fails to acknowledge that this can only be set through the examination of the Core Strategy and that there remains significant unresolved objection.

 

  1.  

 

    1. The reference within paragraph 5.3 that the CMLP will be replaced by the Northumberland Local Plan Strategy is inaccurate. The NLPCS will only replace the strategic policies.
    2. Paragraph 5.6 states that given the advanced stage of the Core Strategy, great weight can be given to its policies. This is inaccurate and misleading. Whilst the NLPCS is at an advanced stage, there remains significant unresolved objections to it, particularly in relation to the calculation of OAN and the need for Green Belt release.
    3. The reference within paragraph 5.7 of the PS to the application site being allocated is misleading, the NLPCS only proposes to allocate the site.
    4. References within paragraphs 5.8 and 5.9 to a level of development being required within Ponteland is misleading. The NLPCS is clear that settlement level housing figures are indicative, they are not requirements.
    5. Paragraphs 5.11 and 5.12 are also misleading as they fail to acknowledge that the Police HQ site is currently allocated within the CMLP as a major developed site in the Green Belt – therefore the policy context is significantly different to that of the application site.
    6. As with the reference in paragraph 5.7, paragraph 5.13 is also misleading by suggesting that the application site is already allocated. This does not confirm that the site is suitable and deliverable for housing. This needs to be tested through the examination of the NLPCS.
    7. Paragraph 5.19 states that the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) identifies the OAN for Ponteland. This is misleading, the SHLAA does not identify the OAN and this cannot be identified at settlement level. The NLPCS is clear that settlement figures are an indicative distribution.
    8. Paragraph 5.21 states that the expected yield and build out rate included in the SHLAA is based upon the NLPCS proposals for the site. This is inaccurate. The SHLAA is based on information received from developers.
    9. Paragraph 5.22 makes reference to an out of date Five Year Housing Land Supply document, the current document was published in December 2016.
    10. Paragraph 5.37 lists the relevant pages and sections of the NPPF, yet inappropriately fails to refer to the Green Belt section.
    11. Section 5 makes no reference to the submitted Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan which is a material consideration in the determination of the planning application.
    12. Paragraph 7.4 states that there is no evidence available on housing needs for Ponteland. This is inaccurate, a Housing Needs Assessment was prepared to support the preparation of the Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan. 
  • Conclusion
    1. The proposed development would be seriously harmful to the Green Belt by reason of its inappropriateness and because it would significantly reduce its openness. The applicant has not demonstrated the VSC necessary to justify granting planning permission. It is therefore contrary to: Policies C16, C17 and PC1 of the CMLP; Policies 24 and 26 of the emerging Core Strategy; and paragraphs 87 and 88 of the NPPF.
    2. The proposed development lies in the open countryside, outside the Ponteland settlement boundary. Policies which restrict new housing are only out of date where there is not a 5-year supply of housing land. As there is a 5-year supply, CMLP Policies C1 and PC1 still apply. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policies C1 and PC1 of the CMLP.
    3. The presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in paragraph 14 of NPPF referred to in the applicant’s PS does not apply. This is because the policies contained within the adopted Development Plan are not absent, silent or out of date.
    4. The NPPF and the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not change the statutory purpose of the Development Plan, and there are no material planning considerations carrying sufficient weight to justify development contrary to it.
    5. PTC is greatly concerned about the impact of the development proposed on the safe and satisfactory operation of the local road network. The proposed development will place unnecessary and significant strain on already congested roads. The cumulative impact of current development proposals in Ponteland and that allocated and consented in neighbouring authorities will be severe. The application is contrary to paragraphs 32 and 34 of the NPPF and emerging Core Strategy Policies 41, 41A and 42.
    6. The application should therefore be refused.

 

 
 

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