Planning and Preservation 17.11.20

CRANBROOK & SISSINGHURST PARISH COUNCIL

MINUTES OF THE PLANNING & PRESERVATION COMMITTEE

HELD ON 17th NOVEMBER 2020

The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations, Predetermination or Lobbying:

Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations, predetermination or lobbying on items on this agenda. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk.

Present: Cllr. Smith (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Gilbert, Fermor, Fletcher, Hatcher and Kings

PLANNING APPLICATIONS:

20/00814/REM 

Land At Brick Kiln Farm High Street Cranbrook Kent

Approval of Reserved Matters (Layout, Appearance, Scale and Landscape) following Outline Permission 16/502860/OUT (Erection of up to 180 dwellings (including up to 35% affordable housing) with means of access to be determined at this stage together with structural woodland planting and landscaping, informal public open space, community orchard, children’s play area, attenuation basin, vehicular access point from Hartley Road and associated ancillary development) and seeking consent for matters referred to in conditions 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 & 32 of outline permission (amended description). 

The Parish Council recommended REFUSAL of the Reserved Matters for the following reasons:

The Parish Council were very disappointed that the Revisions made to the original plans were not highlighted and were very difficult to find due to the amount of planning documents.

NO PERMISSION SHOULD BE GIVEN UNTIL MASTER PLANNING HAS TAKEN PLACE WITH TURNDEN AND CORNHALL SITES REGARDING ACCESS – PEDESTRIAN AND CYCYLEWAYS DIRECT TO REGAL CAR PARK

Drainage: There is the assumption that ditches and existing basin discharge to the Crane Brook via a 225mm dia. pipe. This is stated in the Drainage Strategy and needs to be tested and confirmed. The proposed storm water scheme uses this pipe.

It is noted that the Suds Pond has increased in size from the Outline planning stage. Have the calculations used the current climate change thinking i.e. greater than a 100 year event?

Who has control of the Hydrobrake from the Suds pond?

There has been no mention of the Crane Brooks capacity to take all the storm water run off and a requirement should be undertaken to masterplan the area with all the other developments that affect the Crane valley i.e. the Turnden development for example (planning application 20/00815) prior to approval.  Very important that master planning with adjoining sites takes place as surface water from these are not presently being taken into account.  Crane Valley is an extreme flood risk area.

A Condition is required to ensure the regular essential maintenance of the Suds Pond. This is to include the maintenance timetable as per the engineer’s requirements as noted in Table 4 and Appendix F in Part 3 of the Drainage Strategy.

Housing Mix/Affordable Housing:

Following on from our previous comments regarding housing mix & affordable housing the amendments are:

Market housing

  • Reduction of 5 bed detached from 15 units to 12
  • Increase of 4 bed detached units from 31 to 34

Social rented

  • Increase in shared ownership units (3 bed) from 6 to 9. Now 19 shared ownership, previously 16 units.
  • Reduction of social rented units (3 bed) from 11 to 8.

Affordable element remains at 35% the minimum required.

Whilst the above goes some way to addressing some of our previous comments, the scale of the changes/amendments are not so significant as to alter our original comments and refusal recommendation.

  • Smaller mkt housing units
  • 50/50 split on affordable element, social rented/shared ownership
  • Provision for single story bungalows
  • Provision for self-build units
  • Better distribution of affordable element throughout the site.
  • Prioritise social housing to those eligible with a local connection and key workers in the first instance.

Design & Streetscape:

The design and streetscape are disappointing. The high fences around the Farmstead development make that area appear as a gated development within the estate.  The minor changes to insert a window in a flank walls are welcome but very minor.  Calling one small room in the three 5 bed houses a home office, doesn’t materially change anything.

Variety of design enables orientation through the site, but the developer has not implemented TWBCs own policies under EN in the Local Plan, which insist that the context or character of a historic town with three Conservation Areas and many listed buildings should be preserved and enhanced. The most glaring failure lies in the lack of variety in design, materials and colour, with excessive emphasis on black weather boarding, grey window frames and brown tiles and red brick. Detailing makes all the difference. The windows, doors and door canopies should not be identical and need more variety and thought. Persimmon show details in their photos of old Cranbrook, but they have failed to reflect these in their designs. Dormer windows; glazing bars; gable ends decorated with scalloped barge boards; render on some houses, cornicing under the eaves; ground floor bay windows; variation of roof heights provided by adjacent two and three storey houses; there are just a few hipped roofs; and chimneys only on the most expensive houses. This is a new estate with no links to the existing architecture of Cranbrook.  The Streetscape does not seem to adhere to the Kent Design Guide -the site is inundated with semi-detached and detached housing. Terraces are only blocks of the cheapest 3 houses. Design excellence and creativity are the key criteria that are missing in these anonymous designs.

Environment & Landscaping:   Previous comments and further additions below to be considered.

Hedges – Fagus (beech) hedging adjacent to housing is not characteristic of the area and is a poor habitat by itself.  All hedging, domestic and common, should be mixed local native species as elsewhere on site.  Some evergreen planting e.g. holly should be included within the hedges.  The report says that other hedges are unlikely to qualify as ecologically important, the implication is that not all hedges have been assessed in this respect.  Notably Hedge 39/40 adjacent to the A229 which should be retained as far as visibility splays allow.  The roadside hedge is a characteristic of the High Weald AONB to mark the boundary of a field where it abuts the historic routeway not be placed randomly mid field.  There is no clear indication of what part removal of hedging means.  It is anticipated that the amount of hedging removed should be exceeded by the amount of hedging planted and that the number of trees removed will be exceeded by the number of trees planted.  It is unclear why there is a significant amount of estate railing as this is not in the local vernacular.  Where it is in conjunction with a hedge, it is not needed and should be removed. 

Tree Planting – There are noticeable areas within the estate where there is no apparent intent to plant trees.  It should be remembered that historically, the Weald was wooded and this type of habitat remains important. As such, we would expect much more tree planting on site.  PJC Consultancy (Arboricultural, Ecological & Landscape) 2.2 state the site offers ample opportunity for both replacement and additional tree planting.  Comment – planting lime trees adjacent to parking spaces will result in considerable detritus on cars underneath.  The planting of rows of trees like lollipops is not appropriate in this setting where trees in the locality are clustered.  It is not clear that appropriate space will be left between orchard trees to allow pruning and picking or the passage of necessary machinery. 

Suggest tree planting near the swale to absorb water T24 is the Category A2+3 Oak PJC suggest to consider retaining stump as an ecological feature – it is on the main route into the estate.   Hop Over Sites – The intention is good to have hop over sites, but in more than one case, the trees that are at one side of the hop over, are scheduled to be removed: see Detailed Planting Plan sheet 2 (attached) T13 is removed at the Wildlife Hop-over as indicated by Aspect Ecology as an Ecological Enhancement measure.   The trees being planted to facilitate hop over, e.g. malus are not sufficiently large at maturity to bridge two pavements and a road.

There is need for the Ecological Consultants to reassess with PJC Arboricultural Consultancy to ensure the retention and planting are aligned to secure ecological gains.   Ponds – It is unclear why there is a wildlife pond in close proximity to the A229.   It is not good enough to say “that ponds will be the subject of general ongoing management and general tasks may include….”. Whilst acknowledging that this type of management is weather determined, nevertheless it is important to have time guidelines and parameters.

Additional Comments:  Buffer zones – in ‘Ancient Woodland response to consultation comments – 2.5’ – developers agent aspect ecology states that they have no requirement to increase buffer zone from 15 to 25m despite numerous suggestions by consultees and locals that they do so.

Applicant admits that during construction there will likely be dust and run off into the ancient woodland, they tout ‘standard’ mitigation and any damage will be reversible. But with such a short buffer zone, and various developers’ history of NOT looking after construction sites the Parish Council are not convinced that this is the case.  

‘Northern Meadow’ – states ‘existing grassland to be managed as meadow’ – where are the details of how this will be done? Meadows aren’t just grassy areas that don’t get mowed. Details required for this.

‘Goddards Green Planting’ – pond near the A229 is in the wrong place, busy road, wildlife that might be able to use it risk collision with vehicles and surely fumes will affect it?

it is very clear that the most impressive planting (woodland and woodland understory) is closest to the more expensive housing. Some areas have very little planting (aside from a bit of grass), I imagine these will be the cheaper housing and social housing. There needs to be much more planting throughout the development, not just on the edges and next to expensive houses.

Connectivity & Traffic:

Previously submitted comments still apply.  There is a lack of connectivity into the town via cycling/pedestrian routes which is critical to reduce pollution from vehicles and contribute to sustainability.  Master planning required for footpaths and cycle routes access through South East Corner is not defined and must be built to Regal Car Park before houses.  Access to North is hampered by High Street pavements which narrow to 1m in width which is unacceptable.

Highway safety – too many junctions are being proposed onto the A229.  Further analysis of traffic is required when lockdown is lifted and traffic levels return to normal. The TWBC Local Plan encourages housing to be built in rural areas such as Cranbrook with commercial development promoted at the other side of the borough which only serves to encourage vehicle use as public transport in the rural area is woefully inadequate. 

Parking Issues – Lack of sufficient spaces have been allocated to each unit.  Essential that the 5 bed houses have more parking places allocated. Visitor parking is dotted around the estate with no visitor parking in the South East Corner (in the ‘Farmstead area’). 

Homeworking will mean more traffic movements and increased parking at houses with homeworkers.

All parking spaces should have a porous surface to allow for improved surface water drainage across the site. 

Access: The turning circles are as small as technically possible, so verges will be destroyed and kerbs crushed as tankers and delivery lorries will have very limited space to manoeuvre.

The new access from Turnden needs to be a cycleway not just for pedestrians.

Regarding traffic management on A229 it was noted that the current bus stop by the war memorial would need to be relocated.

General Comments:

Light Pollution – Whilst acknowledging the intention for low level lighting, further measures should be taken in respect of light pollution, particularly as there can be over 3000 bat flyovers at night. 

It is noted that the green corridor near the centre of the site which is served by an underpass and hop over planting, is particularly narrow and therefore less likely to the be used than the green space crossing on road nearer the exit road, which finishes surrounded by hard landscaping. 

There is no apparent indication that green materials will be sourced in the UK and preferably locally.

It is critically important that the management of the ancient woodland particularly, but also of the ponds, orchard and hedges within the site are undertaken by the company with experience in managing such sensitive landscapes.  This is not indicated in the application.  It is anticipated that advice from the AONB unit will be followed in respect of the flora, fauna and landscaping of the site.

Due to noise on the A229 request quiet tarmac (known as SMA) when the new road layout is made.

20/02645/FULL 

Forge Farm Glassenbury Road Cranbrook Kent TN17 2QE

Proposed enlargement of the existing residential site curtilage. Proposed boundary fences and gate. 

The Parish Council recommended APPROVAL proposed by Cllr. Kings, seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed on condition that the residential curtilage remains ancillary to Forge Farm and is not sold off for development.  The Parish Council also preferred the plan for 2x2ft gates which were set back from the road.

REVISED APPLICATIONS:

20/00815/FULL 

Land Adjacent to Turnden Hartley Road Cranbrook Kent TN17 3QX

The construction of 165 new dwellings with associated access, car parking, refuse/recycling storage, landscaping, earthworks and other associated works. 

The Parish Council supported the proposal of £318,571.10 Section 106 money funding off-site contribution towards Cranbrook Community Centre and/or outdoor play and open space; open space plan.

Whilst the Parish Council can see some improvement on connectivity and site layout this revision does nothing to address the main concerns of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council, which still stand. 

The Parish Council recommended REFUSAL for the following reasons:

  • Significant harm and damage to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to include the medieval field patterns and use of good quality agricultural land.
  • Impact on the A229 of traffic flow, air quality and road safety.
  • Over intensive development of the site in a less than sustainable and sensitive location.
  • Lack of master planning with adjacent developments.
  • Poor connectivity to Cranbrook Town and coalescence with Hartley settlement.
  • Assessed as unsuitable for development by the emerging NDP.
  • Type and mix of housing proposed does not meet with local requirements.
  • The affordable properties are grouped closely together and directly adjacent to the Brick Kiln Farm affordable element, rather than distributed throughout the site.
  • Query as to whether the housing numbers that TWBC have allocated are necessary?
  • Lack of inclusive public consultation at a crucial time of the planning process.
  • Cumulative effect on the Crane Valley in terms of flooding and sustainability.
  • No Self Builds on site.
  • Insufficient Parking, majority at the minimum recommended levels.
  • Concern raised regarding spoil distribution within the site which would impact on surface water flow and run-off situation.

However, if TWBC are minded to approve the application, the Parish Council request the following conditions are considered: Include provision of an allotment area for residents of Cranbrook & Sissinghurst.  Request the developer works with Anne Marie Bolton, the officer dealing with the adjacent Brick Kiln Farm development and Sally Marsh (AONB) to limit the impact of the Anglo-Saxon field patterns. Request the developer works with the Parish Council on the design, layout and mix of housing through further meetings. Confirm there is no intention to develop the remainder of the site.

The parish Council supported the comments on the TWBC Planning Portal by June Bell dated 13th November and CPRE dated 7th May and 29th October 2020.

TWBC PLANNING DECISIONS: 

The Clerk read out the planning decisions made by TWBC.

APPEAL:

19/02170/OUT 

Land Adjacent to Hartley Gate Farmhouse Hartley Road Cranbrook Kent

Outline (Appearance, Landscaping, Layout and Scale Reserved) – Erection of up to 27 dwellings, with associated access, parking and landscaping.  This appeal was noted and agreed that the comments previously forwarded still stood.

CORRESPONDENCE:

19/03625/OUT – Land at Common Road, Sissinghurst – OUTLINE (Access not reserved) Erection of up to 18 residential dwellings with associated highways, landscaping and open space infrastructure.  Invitation to Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council to speak at TWBC Planning Meeting scheduled on 18th November 2020.

Cllr. Smith agreed to pass on views from the Parish Council and invited members to forward him any comments they wished him to put forward.

ITEMS FOR INFORMATION:

None raised.

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