The consultation procedure undertaken was outlined in the report together with background information in respect of the site.
Since the publication of the Committee agenda, Officers advised that a further 24 letters of objection had been received plus a further 10 letters from an individual objector. It was noted that many of these sought to raise the same issues already raised in the report or just to reaffirm them. A number of further issues had been raised and these were outlined in the Officer’s update together with 11 main issues which were outlined together with a summary response to each. Details of one letter of support were also summarised.
Members were advised that Councillor John Bradshaw, Ward Councillor for Daresbury, had contacted Officers via email, as he was unable to attend today, with his concerns regarding the proposal. These included traffic generation and routing, and the size, location and look of the sheltered housing block. Officers also provided updates with regards to the queries made by the Council’s Open Spaces Officer on page 51 of the report.
The Committee was addressed by Nick Fillingham on behalf of the applicant. He commented that (inter alia):
· the objections made had been noted, however the scheme for extra care homes was much needed in Halton and was on the Government’s agenda;
· the homes would be situated so that they were part of the community with a bistro that would be open to the public;
· following an amended plan, there was now a generous separation distance from the site to neighbouring houses of 55 metres;
· the houses on the development would all have off road parking and the extra care homes would have visitor parking as well as their own parking; and
· so far engagement had been positive with all parties.
Mr Mackintosh, a resident of Sandymoor for 26 years, then addressed the Committee objecting to the 100 extra care homes scheme. He stated (inter alia) that these were not part of the masterplan and that due to the height and scale of them they were inappropriate and out of character for the area. He stated that Homes England had assured that any further house building would mirror existing houses on Sandymoor. Further, he questioned the need for this type of housing; the lack of affordable housing on Sandymoor; the impact on wildlife; noise disturbance; increased traffic and road safety.
The Committee was then addressed by Bernadette Tarry, Clerk to Sandymoor Parish Council, who raised her objections to the scheme on behalf of local residents. Following a meeting held with residents, she outlined three
main areas of concern discussed by them:
· the 100 bed extra care housing block; they claimed that the housing block was so large it would dominate the area and was out of character with the surrounding properties:
· the lack of bungalows in the area; and
· the entry and exit routes for construction traffic; she suggested an alternative route was used for construction traffic.
In response to a comment made by a speaker regarding the ‘extra care’ housing block being 50% taller than the School, Officers referred Members to the comparison massing drawing and provided the heights of each building, which showed that the sheltered housing block was approximately 2 metres higher than the school when comparing the principle flat roof elements of each scheme. Officers acknowledged that central pitched roof features did add to the overall height but reaffirmed their position outlined in the report.
Following Members’ queries, the following was clarified/noted:
· Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service (MEAS) was the Council’s retained advisor for environmental matters;
· That the potential status of Bog Wood as an area of ‘ancient woodland’ was outlined in the report;
· Affordable housing provision did not form part of the policy for house building on Sandymoor;
· The consultations and missed properties referred to on page 39 – some properties had been missed initially, however this was resolved and a further process of re-consultation had been undertaken and that Officers’ were satisfied that all relevant properties had been consulted on the proposal;
· The need for housing for the over 55’s welcomed as Halton had an aging population which was increasing year on year as per the Core Strategy Policy; and
· The applicant had submitted a revised application to take account of the unduly close proximity of elements of the development to Bog Wood. In so doing the revised development proposal adversely affected a single mature oak tree outside of Bog Wood. This was not acceptable and further discussions with the applicant would be required to secure relatively minor amendments to resolve this issue.
After consideration of the application and hearing the speakers’ comments and officers’ responses and updates to the proposal, the Committee agreed that determination of the application be delegated to the Operational Director, as recommended in the Officer’s report.
RESOLVED: That authority is delegated to the Operational Director – Policy, Planning and Transportation, in consultation with the Chair or Vice Chair of the Committee, to determine the application and if the determination was to approve the application, that it be subject to appropriate conditions and modification to the existing legal obligation.