The Committee considered an application for planning permission for the redevelopment of Land West of Egley Road, Woking to include 86 dwellings (43 market dwellings and 43 affordable dwellings) (C3 Use Class), the erection of a 62- bed care home building (Use Class C2), new vehicular access point off Egley Road with improved pedestrian and cycle links, open and recreational space as well as hard and soft landscaping throughout the site, SUDs, car parking, biodiversity features and other associated infrastructure (Amended Description) (Amended Plans).
In his role as County Councillor for this division, Councillor W Forster spoke in objection to the application and raised concern about the appropriateness of the development and whether it was in keeping with the bordering dwelling and surrounding area. He commented that it was proposed that some of the taller dwellings would be built on the highest area of the site, which would dominate the landscape. Councillor W Forster was worried that this development would remove the green gap between Mayford and Woking and would be a loss of biodiversity. In regards to the affordable housing, the Councillor commented that this looked to be a positive, however when you looked into the numbers, only eleven units of traditional family housing were being provided, a large proportion would be provided in the apartment blocks.
Following a question regarding the required separation on the eastern and south eastern border of the site, the Planning Officer advised that in their opinion visual separation had been achieved and this had been addressed in some detail at the pre-application stage. It was noted that this was a allocated site under the Site Allocations DPD 2021, so it was expected that it would be developed. It was required that any development on this site maintain a sense of visual separation (not physical separation). There was a robust band of oak trees on the eastern boundary that would be retained, along with additional planting and on the south eastern edge of the site the dwellings would be set back. This would provide an approximate 45-65 metre wide green gap along the eastern, south eastern boundary and the highway. Then test of GP7 was for visual separation to be maintain and in the Planning Officers opinion this was achieved by the application. The Committee were reminded the Planning Inspector changed the site to require visual separation, rather than local separation.
Following a query, the Planning Officer confirmed that a care home was an acceptable use for this site, along with the residential dwellings. This was not contrary to the Core Strategy or Policy GP7.
Some Members largely supported the application, however they had some concerns around the amount of parking provided to the care home. The Planning Officer acknowledged that the parking provision was towards the lower end of what was expected, however this did meet policy requirements. It was noted there were visitor spaces throughout the site which did deliver extra capacity.
Following a question about adding a condition to secure the affordable homes element of the application, the Planning Officer confirmed that this would be secured by way of S106. The Planning Officer acknowledged that a large amount of the affordable housing had been allocated to the apartments, however this was one of the first sites to provide the First Homes provision under the Government scheme.
Councillor G Cosnahan, Ward Councillor, commented that residents were generally unhappy about this proposed development and the loss of green belt, although he appreciated this had been agreed some time ago and this site was now allocated for development. Councillor G Cosnahan thought that the visual separation was good, but he was concerned regarding the volume of people that would appear in this area. He thought that the affordable housing was a real benefit, although did not think the proposed mix was right. Councillor G Cosnahan was keen to represent the unrest of his residents although did comment that the development provided amenity space, affordable housing and the transport links to the site were good. Councillor G Cosnahan suggested that an extra condition be added to ensure adequate sewage provision was included regarding the pumping and also flood prevention around the pumping station.
Councillor G Cosnahan proposed, and it was duly seconded by Councillor A Boote that an additional condition regarding sewage be added.
Mr T James, Development Manager, advised that condition 29 covered issue around sewage and queried whether this was sufficient. This condition had also been separated to cover the Care Home and residential elements. Councillor G Cosnahan was happy with this condition but asked that additional text be added to specifically address flood mitigation around the pumping station. The Committee agreed that if approved, anadditional condition would be added which required a bund to be erected around pumping station.
Councillor J Brown commented that he still had concerns about the application including aboricultural issues, heritage assets, inadequate visual separation and insufficient parking. Councillor J Brown proposed, and it was duly seconded by Councillor S Dorsett that the application be refused.
Some members shared the concern regarding parking as it was thought the developer was offering the minimum required which they thought to be short sighted. Members also raised concern around lack of EV charging points. The Planning Officer said that even though at the lower end, the parking provision did comply with our policy requirements. With regards to the EV charging points, every dwelling would be provided with one, so the Planning Officer did not think this would be grounds for refusal.
If the Committee was minded to refuse the application, Mr T James advice was that the reason for refusal should be based on the character and appearance failing to provide spatial separation. It was the opinion of the Planning Officers that this would be the only reason that could successfully be defended on appeal
In accordance with Standing Order 22.2, the Chairman deemed that a division should be taken on the motion to refuse the application. The votes for and against refusal of the application were recorded as follows.
In favour: Cllrs J Brown and S Dorsett.
Against: Cllrs A Boote, R Leach and L Morales (Chairman).
Present but not voting: Cllrs G Cosnahan, S Oades, T Spenser and M Whitehand.
The application was therefore not refused.
If the application was approved it was suggested that an additional informative be added encouraging the care home to provide 50% of parking spaces with EV charging points, and as agreed earlier in the meeting an additional condition would be added which required a bund to be erected around pumping station.
In accordance with Standing Order 22.2, the Chairman deemed that a division should be taken on the recommendation in the report to approve the application. The votes for and against approval of the application were recorded as follows.
In favour: Cllrs A Boote, G Cosnahan, R Leach, L Morales (Chairman) and T Spenser.
Against: Cllrs J Brown and S Dorsett.
Present but not voting: Cllrs S Oades and M Whitehand.
The application was therefore approved.
That planning permission be GRANTED subject to conditions, including an extra condition as noted in these minutes regarding a bund to be erected round the pumping station, additional informative encouraging the care home to provide 50% of parking spaces with EV charging points and S.106 Legal Agreement.