Monday, 2 November 2015

Housing Development - the Town Council's Position

Here's the post from Gareth Ratcliffe's Facebook page earlier today, setting out the position of the council about the Gypsy Castle housing development:

Dear Officers

In partnership with my community council I wish to submit the following below as local member.

I also wish as local member to CALL-IN the application for committee decision as the application is the largest build of houses in almost 30 years for the residents of Hay-on-Wye and the community wish to see an open process and I feel it is best to hold that in public meeting where people can address the committee.

Re: Planning Application 15/12443/FUL – land opposite The Meadows, Gypsy Castle Lane, Hay on Wye

With reference to the above planning application I write to advise that the Town Council wishes to lodge its objection to this application.

The specific objections and concerns are outlined below, but the Town Council would firstly like to clarify their general position in relation to this application.

The council recognizes the need for affordable homes within Hay and in principle will support developments that meet this need. However, there are aspects of this development that give rise to significant concerns amongst councilors and the residents of Hay.

We would like to suggest that a way forward would be to work collaboratively with both Persimmon Homes and the BBNPA to address areas of concern and bring the development application to a point where we feel able to support it.

The main issues with this application are:

1. Traffic/ Highway Safety

The existing highways infrastructure is not able to cope with additional traffic and site access will utilize a road that is not only predominantly single lane but already viewed as having “dangerous junctions”.

To avoid the use of the ‘lane’ the application suggests that access to/from the site to the main Brecon road would be via an existing housing development (not good industry practice). Access to the town centre would be along a road already viewed as a trouble spot due to its limited width in some areas, lack of passing places and very narrow pavements.

The traffic management assessment does not address the practical problems faced by motorists within Hay and instead makes a judgement based on traffic counts. The top end of the road leading to the town centre has houses where residents step straight onto the road, there is no pavement and no scope to provide one, without significant change to traffic flows and investment in infrastructure.
The Town Council firmly believe that a new access road is essential for this development.

2. Flooding concerns

There are a number of issues to highlight here. The planning application declares that it is not within 25m of a watercourse when in fact there is a brook running through the western end of the field. This has been described in one of the surveys as a ‘dry ditch’, which it may well have been through the summer but does normally contain a flow of water and is a contributing factor to the flooding that occurs in this general area.

The Floodwater strategy put forward by Persimmon does not address the most common cause of flooding in this area, that of flash floods which in this case without the appropriate management system in place would affect house on the site.

The ‘pond’ suggested by Persimmon as containment for surface water runoff also causes some concern. This is shown as being fenced off and located very close to the proposed play area. It is felt that this will be a draw to children and poses an unacceptable health and safety risk.

3. Environmental issues

There is some concern about part of the land to be used for development as this was previously the town rubbish tip, the old railway line is also close by and historically these sites are often found to have contaminated ground.

There do not appear to be have been any tests carried out on this land as yet to determine if there is any contamination and its extent. Residents have also expressed concerns with regards to the potential risk of contaminating the nearby River Wye (which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest) if such ground were to be disturbed.

We would also raise the issue of sustainability; garden sizes at this development are very small leaving no scope for encouraging the growing of fruit and vegetables to encourage self -sufficiency. We equally would hope that the choice of materials and energy for the properties would be energy efficient and cause minimal environmental impact.

4. LDP proposals

The original LDP housing allocation for this site was for 62 dwellings, this appears to have been increased and agreed as 80 by the BBNPA without any consultation or notification.

5. Affordable Housing

We are pleased to see that Persimmon are proposing to meet their obligation for 30% affordable housing on the development and that there is a mix of provision. What is more concerning is our past experience of developers being allowed to opt out of this obligation and pay a penalty which is passed to the local authority. Our feeling is that these houses must be delivered and should be included in the early stages of the development.

6. Impact of other LDPs

This is not specifically a point for the BBNPA but it should be borne in mind that Hay on Wye is impacted by three LDPs (BBNPA, Powys Deposit Local Development Plan and Herefordshire LDP).

Persimmon make reference to the Powys plan which proposes 45 dwellings just a few yards up the road from their proposed development and do not foresee any detriment to the other development or infrastructure required to deliver it.

We have recently been informed that this other LDP has been delayed and without being able to assess the impact on the necessary infrastructure works for both sites we cannot agree to this development.

The impact on the infrastructure of Hay on Wye if all developments proposed in the 3 plans come to fruition is immense and because plans are assessed and approved in isolation is not fully taken into account.

In conclusion although there are significant concerns in relation to this development we would again reiterate that we would be happy to work with the applicant and BBNPA to address the issues and bring the application to a position where we could support it.

Yours faithfully

Best Wishes

Gareth Ratcliffe

Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe
Councillor for Hay-on-Wye

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