182617 - LAND ADJACENT TO CAWDOR GARDENS, ROSS ON WYE, HEREFORDSHIRE.
Proposed residential development of 32 dwellings of which 13 will be affordable homes, ecological corridor, separate public open space and provision of access enhancements together with partial (almost total) demolition of former railway bridge.
The application was deferred pending further information.
(Proposed residential development of 32 dwellings of which 13 will be affordable homes, ecological corridor, separate public open space and provision of access enhancements together with partial (almost total) demolition of former railway bridge.)
(Councillor Summers had left the meeting and was not present during consideration of this application. Councillor Williams had left the meeting for a short time and was therefore not permitted to vote.)
The Principal Planning Officer (PPO) gave a presentation on the application, and updates/additional representations received following the publication of the agenda were provided in the update sheet, as appended to these minutes.
He added in relation to the Cawdor Arch Road Railway Bridge that English Heritage had declined an application in 2013 for the arch to be listed and he expanded on their reasoning. The removal of the bridge was to allow emergency services vehicles to access the proposed site, in particular fire tenders. There was no professional objection in heritage terms to the loss of the bridge. Account had been taken of local sentiment.
In accordance with the criteria for public speaking Mrs A Park, a local resident, spoke in objection to the application. S Griffiths, the applicant’s agent, spoke in support.
The local ward member, Councillor RL Mayo was unable to attend the meeting. The Chairperson read out a statement he had submitted.
The statement contained the following principal comments:
· The application for Cawdor Gardens had been a long time in development.
· It was sad to see the loss of a wild green space near the centre of town. However, several concerns have been addressed in the application including providing a play area and a designated wildlife corridor.
· The removal of the Cawdor railway arch had generated the most objections. He considered this to be an iconic landmark of Ross, in a highly visible and well used thoroughfare. The site had been the subject of a number of applications , most recently in 2017. That application had been withdrawn. However, the highways team had agreed that the removal the arch was not necessary to allow access to the site. Instead a priority system where the traffic entering the site would have priority would be acceptable and this system would have the added benefit of slowing down traffic coming down the hill towards the junction at the bottom of the hill. It seemed that it would therefore be possible to develop the site and retain the railway arch. He thought the arch could add some interest and uniqueness to the site.
· If the application were to be approved he requested that some stringent heads of terms were added to protect the arch from being damaged or removed until there was a guarantee of development or phases of development.
In the Committee’s discussion there was a focus on the possibility of retaining the railway bridge. One view was that the bridge had no particular merit and the development, which had many public benefits, should proceed as recommended. A contrary view was that, whilst the bridge might not be of national importance it was locally distinctive and should be retained if possible.
Officers commented that measurements of the bridge suggested that a standard fire tender should be able to pass through, albeit with little room to spare. Whilst the existing development beyond the railway bridge could be accessed, a different level of access may be required to support the larger development proposed.
It was noted that no response had been received from the emergency services when consulted upon the application.
In response to questions the PPO clarified that the proposal would provide for a 2m footpath distinct from the carriageway. Currently when passing through the arch pedestrians had to share the carriageway with vehicles. Car parking for the development would be provided for within the development. The planning application in 2017 to which reference had been made provided for the bridge to be retained. During the consultation process the Transportation Manager had raised the issue of whether access could be achieved by emergency services vehicles. The application had been withdrawn and the question of access and other issues had remained unresolved.
A concern was expressed about the gradient of the site and the consequences of this for the stability of the site and construction of the development.
There was also an underprovision of public open space in Ross –on Wye. Whilst it was proposed to provide a play area for the residents, this would not compare with the potential benefit to residents of Ross –on- Wye as a whole if the area were to be developed as open space.
The Town Council had expressed concerns about the design.
In response to points made the Lead Development Manager commented that the land was in private ownership and the potential development of the whole area as public open space was governed by that constraint. The harm associated with the loss of the railway bridge needed to be balanced against the benefits of the proposed development. Welsh Water had confirmed that they would have the ability to service the site by 2020. Having regard to the gradient of the site construction would have to be in accordance with appropriate building standards. The removal of the railway bridge would facilitate access by the emergency services and provide safer pedestrian access including for schoolchildren. There wasn’t scope for an alternative access to the site.
A motion that the application be approved was lost.
Councillor Phillips proposed and Councillor Bowen seconded a motion that consideration of the application be deferred pending receipt of reports from the emergency services. The motion was carried with 11 votes in favour, none against and 1 abstention.
RESOLVED: That consideration of the application be deferred pending receipt of reports from the emergency services.