Agenda item

HOLT - PO/18/1857 - Outline planning application for the erection of up to 110 dwellings with associated infrastructure to service 2 hectares of land potentially for a new Two Form Entry (2FE) primary school, public open space, landscaping and sustainable drainage system (SuDS) with main vehicular access point from Beresford Road and secondary pedestrian, cycle and emergency access from Lodge Close. All matters reserved except for means of access; Land off Beresford Road, Holt for Gladman Developments Ltd




Public Speakers


Richard Carter (objecting)

John Mackenzie (supporting)


The Major Projects Manager presented the report, which addressed the matters relating to education, highways and climate emergency that had been raised at the meeting of the Committee on 10 October 2019 when the application had been deferred.  He stated that the Committee needed to base its decision on the current report and the report that had been considered at the October meeting.  He displayed plans and photographs of the site, including the proposed access points and an indicative layout plan.


The Major Projects Manager updated the Committee in respect of correspondence that had been received since the report was written.  A representation had been received from Mr Carter expressing concerns relating to risk of non-delivery of the school, management of the land subject to the option agreement and viability concerns.  The Major Projects Manager referred to a letter from Mr Carter dated 20 January relating to Victory Housing and clarified that Victory Housing’s support for the application was based solely on the provision of affordable housing.  Two representations had been received from residents of Beresford Road and Thompson Avenue objecting on grounds related to road width, impact of traffic, loss of green field, impact on wildlife, lack of need for additional housing and the need to retain a firebreak between dwellings and Holt Country Park.  A letter of objection had been received from a resident of Park Barn raising concerns about the delivery of the school and impact on the surrounding area. 


The Major Projects Manager referred to an email from the applicant that had been sent to Members, which addressed matters relating to the school and highways and included a letter of support from the Vice-Chairman of the Governors of Holt Primary School.


The Major Projects Manager clarified that the school did not form part of the outline proposal and the application description had been amended to make this clear.  He stated that the changes were minor and did not require reconsultation.


The Major Projects Manager recommended delegated approval of this application, subject to the completion of a Section 106 Planning Obligation, as set out in the report.


Councillor D Baker, a local Member, considered there had been little change since the application had previously been considered.  Local people would have to live with the consequences of a bad decision if this were approved. The location was inappropriate and it was contrary to the Council’s policies to build in the countryside, which was even more important given the climate emergency.  He stated that school numbers were falling, despite a large increase in the number of dwellings in Holt, and there was spare capacity at the existing primary school and surrounding village schools.  There was also no funding commitment to build the new school.  He considered that the access was unsuitable and problems would not be mitigated by a parking and travel plan.  He appreciated the need for affordable homes, but the Council had demonstrated a five-year housing land supply and he did not consider the argument stacked up.  He was convinced that a better, more appropriate site would come forward for the school.


Councillor Mrs G Perry-Warnes, a local Member, supported Councillor Baker’s comments.  The residential element of the proposal was contrary to the Development Plan.  However, Policy SS2 stated that the provision of a community facility might be sufficient to outweigh the policy and she considered that the two elements of this proposal should be considered together.  She also considered that it was extraordinary that the Committee was being asked to consider only the residential element of the proposal and disregard the detrimental impact on local residents of traffic arising from school pick up and drop off.  She requested that the uncertainty regarding the delivery of a school be addressed by the imposition of a condition to require an alternative community amenity so that Holt did not end up without the necessary public benefit to justify departure from the Development Plan.  She had major concerns regarding the impact of traffic and road safety issues on local roads and the wider road network, including traffic contributing to an existing pinch point on Hempstead Road.  She requested deferral of this application to allow the Committee to visit Sheringham Primary School at pick up and drop off times, or refusal as she considered that the cumulative benefits of the proposal did not outweigh the identified conflict with Development Plan Policy.  She considered that Policy SS2 could not justify an exception to the Development Plan if the impact of the primary school on local residents did not form part of the application.


The independent Highway Consultant explained that the additional traffic arising from the residential proposal was considered to be well within normal accepted threshold levels for a residential road with a width of 5.5 metres, and it would be difficult to sustain a highway objection from the housing development alone.  There were some issues relating to parking demand and tracking of school coaches, but although tight, it was possible to get a coach down Beresford Road.  In conclusion, there was a need for a parking management plan and travel plan to support a future application for a primary school but he considered that there was no problem with the proposal as presented.


The Education Authority representative explained how new schools across Norfolk were planned and funded.  No funding commitment was allocated to any new school until there was evidence that pupil numbers were sufficient to justify a new school and planning permission was secured.  NCC Cabinet had approved a schools growth investment plan which included Holt.


Councillor Mrs S Bütikofer stated that she was speaking as a Norfolk County Councillor and not as Leader of NNDC.  She considered that Councillors Baker and Perry-Warnes had expressed the issues clearly.  She considered that it was wholly inadequate that the independent highways report did not take into account the impact of school traffic and a decision could not be made on the impact of traffic without an appropriate travel plan.  She was constantly being asked as a County Councillor about traffic problems in that area.  A pinch point was shortly to be fitted on Hempstead Road, which was the main road feeding into the site, due to problems in the area.  With regard to school numbers, she referred to a report which was due to be considered by the Planning Policy and Built Heritage Working Party regarding population growth, which showed a projected decrease in the younger population and increase in the number of elderly people.  These figures supported the argument she had made to the Education Authority regarding the need to take into account the demographic of North Norfolk.


Councillor N Lloyd welcomed the applicant’s attempt to address climate change issues but was disappointed that solar PV had not been proposed.  He stated that this proposal was an exception, in the countryside, and a greater degree of benefit should be achieved.  He considered that in general, developers should offer more on sites such as this given the pending climate crisis.


Councillor G Mancini-Boyle expressed concern that the local medical services may not be able to cope with the additional patients arising from the development.


The Major Projects Manager referred to the response from NHS England included in the October report and confirmed that the Section 106 Obligation would include a contribution of £38,167 to address the impact on the NHS.


Councillor P Heinrich referred to the positive aspects of the proposal.  It was smaller than the application which was rejected in 2014, had a better proportion of affordable homes which would go some way to meet the needs of local people, improved access to Holt Country Park and provision of land for a school.  The existing school was not fit for 21st century education.  There appeared to be no issue with coaches.  However, he was not fully convinced by the application.


Councillor N Pearce stated that he would like to see more low cost housing as there were 2000 families on the waiting list throughout the District, and to see Holt grow and prosper.  However, he had severe concerns regarding traffic management and road safety.  A new school was needed but there was no commitment to it, and he had concerns as to what would happen to the land if a school was not developed within 10 years.


Councillor Dr C Stockton also expressed concern with regard to the future of the land and referred to Councillor Mrs Perry-Warnes’ suggestion that the land should be secured for an alternative community use in the event that a school was not built.  He had grave concerns regarding traffic.


Councillor A Brown requested clarity with regard to the number of dwellings as the new Local Plan suggested an allocation of 70-100 dwellings, whereas this proposal exceeded that number.  He stated that it had been known for 5 years that a new school would be required, the Inspector’s report was supportive of it and yet there was no commitment to an option agreement on the land to secure the building of a school.  He considered that this application demonstrated that a joint application for the development was needed.  He requested clarification as to what would happen to the land if the school was not built as there appeared to be a discrepancy in the report.


The Major Projects Manager explained that the land would fall back to the developer if the option was not taken up by the Education Authority.  However, the land would have nil use and a planning application would be required for an alternative use, which would be considered by NNDC as Local Planning Authority.  No planning use was being granted for the land under the current application.  Whilst consideration was being given to allocating the land, no weight could be given to the new Local Plan at this stage.  The land had been identified as being suitable for a new school and there was no evidence that alternative sites for a school would be available.  He advised the Committee to think strategically to secure the best for Holt in the long term.  There was evidence that a new school would be required within the 10 year period.  The affordable housing would be for local housing to help meet the needs of Holt as it was currently in the Countryside policy area, and this application could secure benefits that might not be available if the land was allocated in the new Local Plan. 


Councillor C Cushing expressed concern that the site was not currently within the planning framework and the proposal would not be considered if it did not include land for a new school.  He considered that it would be appropriate to consider an application at such time as there was a requirement and need for a new school, which did not appear to be the case at the present time.


Councillor Dr C Stockton asked if it would be possible to impose a condition to require the land to be offered for community use before any other use.


The Principal Lawyer advised the Committee with regard to the requirement that applications must accord with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise.  The new Development Plan would allocate land around Holt, including land for a school, and a future application would be determined in accordance with it in the event that the school did not go ahead.  It would be for the local plan process to secure the optimum future community use and not the Section 106 Obligation.


The Head of Planning stated that it was a difficult proposal but it was lawful to make the application.  He advised the Committee with regard to the highway and education issues.  There were no sustainable highway objections, and nothing exceptional about this application with regard to the process for the delivery of a school.  He advised the Committee that the Officer’s recommendation was sound and logical.


There was no proposer for the Officer’s report.  The Principal Lawyer advised that under the Council’s Standing Orders, if considered appropriate by the Chair, the Officer’s recommendation could be deemed to be proposed and seconded.


On being put to the vote, the proposal was declared lost with no votes in favour, 12 votes against and 2 abstentions.


Following a brief discussion and advice from the Officers, it was proposed by Councillor N Lloyd, seconded by Councillor R Kershaw and


RESOLVED by 11 votes to 0 with 3 abstentions


That this application be refused on grounds that it is contrary to Local Plan Policies SS1 and SS2 as the material considerations advanced in favour of this development are not sufficient to outweigh the identified conflict with the Development Plan.


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