WSCC/052/20 – Construction of a single carriageway with shared cycleway/footway, roundabouts, road markings, traffic signals, bus stops, provision of hard and soft landscaping, construction of a substation building, installation of a noise barrier, and other associated works on land to the north of Eastergate and north-west of Barnham, PO22 0DF
WSCC/020/21/S257 –Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 257 Stopping up or Diversion of a Public Footpath, Bridleway or Restricted Byway. Proposed diversion of Public Footpath 318 at land to the north of Eastergate and north-west of Barnham.
4.1 The Committee considered a report on planning application WSCC/052/20 by the Head of Planning Services. The report was introduced by James Neave, Principal Planner, who gave a presentation on the application including details of the consultation and key issues in respect of the application. The Committee also considered a report by the Head of Planning Services in relation to application WSCC/020/21/S257, including amendments to paragraph 4.1 of the report, as amended by the Agenda Update Sheet (copy appended to the signed copy of the minutes). Mr Neave introduced the report and gave a presentation on the proposals, details of the informal consultation and key issues in respect of the application, plus the legal provisions for both the making and confirming of an order. The Committee was asked to make separate decisions on the substantive recommendations for each of the applications.
4.2 Mr Richard Blott, local resident, spoke in objection to
application WSCC/052/20. Initiatives to alleviate local traffic congestion are
supported but this application is fundamentally flawed. Lack of transparency in the Traffic Assessment
leaves no confidence in traffic forecasts. There would be significant, unquantified road
safety risks and failure to mitigate risk on adjoining
highways. There would be unnecessary
damage to existing local amenity and ecological damage.
No binding commitment has been given for timely delivery of the north/south link. There should be genuine consultation to resolve outstanding problems, an independent audit of the Traffic Assessment and modelling for all affected highways and junctions, full compliance with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges with reference to road safety including a non-motorised user (NMU) survey and preservation of the local amenity, and a binding commitment for the timely funding and delivery of the north/south link.
4.3 Mrs Heather Godsmark, local resident, spoke in objection to application WSCC/052/20. There would be safety concerns due to the number of property entrances and road junctions including the Eastergate Lane/Fontwell Avenue T-Junction, where a recent serious accident occurred. Lack of a NMU survey is unsound. Roundabouts have no controlled crossings and this would divide communities and reduce safe passage and access to facilities. The road would promote intolerable traffic congestion. Dwellings would be significantly adversely visually impacted due to the 2 metre bank and a 3 metre ‘rusty’ acoustic fence, for which there are other solutions. There would be pitiful planting. The proposed new development could further reduce visibility. The raised causeway could block and funnel water towards Barnham Lane ditch and adjacent dwellings and drainage pond capacity could reduce from silting and weed invasion, leading to the risk of flooding.
4.4 The Committee noted a written statement in objection to application WSCC/052/20 from Mr Chris Allington, Chair of Barnham and Eastergate Parish Council. The Parish Council submitted a full and robust objection to the application, but the Committee report mischaracterises and minimises those objections. Residents are fully supported in their objections. The principle of the road is not challenged. The Committee was asked to send the planning application back to the designers so that mitigation plans, including impacts on the local community and the environment, can be better developed and agreed with key stakeholders, including the Parish Council. This would not delay the delivery of the road by more than a number of weeks.
4.5 Mr Stephen Reed, Project Manager, WSCC Major Projects Team, spoke in support of application WSCC/052/20 and application WSCC/020/21/S257. Eastergate, Westergate and Barnham have poor road and rail connectivity. The area suffers congestion which discourages investment and contributes to poor economic performance. The proposed road and also Phase 2 would support the West Sussex Transport Plan, local growth in housing and commercial development, expand the Green Infrastructure Network and improve reliability of journey times. The principle of the development is established in the Arun Local Plan. The road scheme would meet national highway standards. Updated road safety audits would be undertaken at detailed design stage and on completion of construction. Surveys to inform ecological mitigation have been undertaken. Landscape design would create new habitats, including native hedgerows. Species on the east side of the acoustic barrier would assist with screening residential properties. The diversion of footpath 3018 would provide ramps from ground to road level. The illuminated offset crossing would reduce the impact on bat foraging, and safeguard existing trees. The position has improved sight lines. It would be a slightly longer route, but no objections have been received.
4.6 Cllr Trevor Bence, local County Councillor for Fontwell spoke on the applications. The most severely affected residents would be those in Chantry Mead and Murrell Gardens. 25 properties would be closest to the new road and to the acoustic barrier which, for some, would be only 16 metres from their back garden boundary and instead of country views they will now face a 3 metre fence. The residents understand the point of the development; however, to support them the Committee is asked to provide an opinion on covering the ‘rusty’ fence and an improved landscaping scheme with better planting and maybe a bund. Flooding would also be of concern to residents. There are concerns about whether the attenuation ponds would be sufficient, noting that residents previously had easement rights over maintenance of Barnham Lane Ditch, which had its course changed over 10 years ago.
4.7 In response to points made by speakers the Principal Planning Officer clarified that Appendices 5c, 5d and Cross-section E-E, at Appendix 6, show the proposed landscaping scheme near residential properties in Chantry Mead and Murrell Gardens.
4.8 During the debate the Committee raised the points below and a response or clarification was provided by the Planning, Highways, and Legal Officers, where applicable, as follows:
Need for and principle of the development
Points raised – The principle of and need for the development is set out in the Arun Local Plan.
Response – None required.
Points raised – What would be the change in noise levels on completion of the project? Did the noise modelling take into account the future development at Phase 2 and likely use of electric vehicles? Would noise reduction surfacing be used on the road?
Response – Paragraphs 9.60 to 9.68 of the Committee report detail matters relating to noise, including the expected changes in noise levels for residential receptors. Noise modelling included consideration of a 15 year future scenario, taking into account predicted future vehicle use. Noise reduction surfacing is not proposed. The main mitigations against noise would be the proposed acoustic barrier, including the requirement for a verification report on its effectiveness. Environmental Health Officers have not raised an objection to the proposals.
Points raised – Condition 6 ‘Landscaping Scheme’ and Condition 17 ‘Landscaping and Ecological Management Plan’ (LEMP) should be amended to require a ten-year replanting scheme rather than the proposed five years, so as to ensure long-term replacement and maintenance of planting. The discharge of landscaping conditions should be made visible to the local County Councillor and to Barnham and Eastergate Parish Council. The conclusion of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which states there would be a large landscape and visual impact, appears to contradict the conclusion in the Committee report. How many trees would be lost and gained? Councillor Bence’s request for additional planting where the road borders residential properties should be considered.
Response – Should the Committee wish to propose the amendments to Conditions 6 and 17 for a longer period of landscape maintenance this would be considered by Officers to be acceptable. It is acknowledged that there would be an impact on landscape and visual amenity, but the conclusion in the Committee report takes the proposed mitigation into account and is an ‘on balance’ conclusion. Paragraph 9.48 of the Committee report details the trees to be removed. Paragraph 9.52 notes that there would be a 10% biodiversity gain and a 44% gain in area-based habitats. The detailed landscaping scheme, when submitted, would, as appropriate, be discussed with WSCC Landscape and Tree Officers.
Drainage matters – A29 Realignment
Points raised – What, if any, are the drainage concerns or impacts in relation to the proposed road due to the impermeable barrier, including land drainage, shallow groundwater paths and field drains?
Response – Drainage matters are dealt with in paragraphs 9.83 to 9.92 of the Committee report. The catchments to the north and south would be seeking betterment – water draining from the road to the attenuation ponds would be released at a controlled rate into the ditch. An interim solution allowing flow under the carriageway to the ditch would be put in place at the southern end until housing development comes forward. The drainage strategy has been reviewed by the WSCC Drainage Officer as the lead local flood authority and also the Environment Agency, no objections have been raised. A number of conditions to help safeguard against drainage issues are proposed: Condition 7 ‘Drainage Scheme’, Condition 15 ‘Infiltration of Surface Water’ and Condition 16 ‘Drainage Verification Report’.
Concerns regarding proposed shared cycleway/footpath – conflict of use, safety and climate change
Points raised – Shared cycleways/footpaths can lead to conflict of use and the current proposals do not meet many of the recommendations in Gearchange and the Local Transport Note (LTN) 120 - Cycle Infrastructure Design and also NPPF 110 in terms of safety for all users, accessibility for the disabled and also encouraging use of sustainable transport meaning it will not achieve its potential in supporting climate change.
Response – As set out in the LTN, shared cycle/footpath arrangements are acceptable in certain circumstances, which include the proposed development being considered by the Committee. Therefore, segregated arrangements are not required.
Concerns regarding proposed shared cycleway/footpath – Position of streetlamps
Points raised – Condition 13 ‘Lighting’ should be amended to ensure that streetlamps are set back half a metre from the edge of the cycleway/footpath, as recommended in guidance.
Response – The requirement for a half metre separation is generally only sought where there would be a solid and continuous barrier. Since the streetlamps would be spaced evenly along the route it is not considered essential that they are set back. Should the Committee wish to propose the suggested amendments to Condition 13 this would need to allow for practical implementation only where possible.
Cyclist safety - crossing points at roundabouts and when leaving the cycleway/footpath at either end of the proposed route
Points raised – Major development schemes can take a long time to be implemented and sometimes other Government guidance, such as Local Transport Note (LTN) 120 ‘Cycle Infrastructure Design’ and documents such as ‘Gearchange’ mean that the original plans do not necessarily match current thinking on design of specifics, such as cycleways and where they meet existing roads. The Halo junction at the southern end of the proposed route would be a concern because drivers may not be looking in the direction cyclists are travelling. Crossing points on the plans are shown only as pedestrian crossings, would these be intended for cyclists as well and, if so, would the reservations be long enough to protect a bike with an attachment, such as a child bike trailer? Would cyclists be expected to dismount at crossings? Cyclists should not have to dismount or stop to cross a road, to do so would be especially problematic for disabled cyclists. Would there be an option in future to change the uncontrolled crossings to Toucan crossings?
Response – The proposed cycle path has been considered by WSCC Highways and designed in accordance with national guidance. It is acknowledged that there is currently limited cycle provision in the locality, but the proposal would be a betterment on existing provision. There would also be opportunities to explore further sustainable transport provision when Phase 2 comes forward, including access to all schools in this locality. Cyclists and pedestrians at the Halo crossing would have priority; this junction has been designed in accordance with guidelines. The crossings are intended for pedestrians and cyclists and the reservations are long enough for a cyclist and pedestrians together. Cyclists will be required to dismount at crossing points. Toucan crossings are not required as part of the current application, but there would be the possibility to accommodate this in future, if required.
Points raised – What period into the future does the traffic modelling cover? What volume of traffic would be expected in the future, given that the proposed route is only a single carriageway?
Response – The traffic modelling used was that used for the Arun Local Plan, which was undertaken for a single carriageway. It was robust and includes future growth plans, going beyond the Local Plan to include growth around Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate and it looked at AM, PM and inter-peak hours. Traffic would be predicted to improve at points along the network including Fontwell Road and the War Memorial roundabout.
Points raised – Would the dimmed lighting at night apply to Footpath 318?
Response – It is not specifically stated what lighting would apply to Footpath 318, but the night-time lighting scheme would take into account ecology at the crossing point.
Phase 2 development
Points raised – Phase 1, the current application for the proposed road, and Phase 2, the strategic housing and commercial development, should have been considered together. Clarification was sought regarding the figures for the future housing development, which are contradictory in the Committee report.
Response – The Committee must consider the current proposal as it is. The proposal takes into account future development and includes limbs on the roundabouts for the future BEW development; these would be blocked with concrete barriers until such a time as the proposed development is moved forward. The latest proposal for the number of new homes is 4,300; at this stage this is only a master plan.
Points raised – How much agricultural land would be lost? How would farmland be accessed?
Response – The development would require around 12 hectares of land, however, the majority of this is not in productive agricultural use. Access to farmland is not clear, however, this is likely to depend on ownership and to be from the north/south.
Points raised – Concern was raised regarding the height and design of the acoustic fence and the impact on residential properties. It was noted there is no right to a view.
Response – The proposed acoustic fence would not be higher than necessary, and the landscaping scheme includes climbing plants as well as trees and shrubs.
Provision for buses
Points raised – The proposed route does not include laybys for buses to pull off the carriageway, which being a single carriageway could lead to traffic flow slowing. Would bus shelters be provided? Floating bus stops should be considered.
Response – There are two proposed bus stops on the road, one on either side of the route. No detailed infrastructure is shown on the current plans, except reference to illuminated information boards. Should the Committee wish to propose any amendments to conditions to require details of bus shelters this would be considered by Officers to be acceptable.
Objection from Walberton Parish Council
Points raised – Why was Walberton Parish Council’s objection not listed in the responses from Statutory Consultees?
Response – The relevant Parish Council as a Statutory Consultee is Barnham and Eastergate Parish Council. Walberton Parish Council is a neighbouring Parish Council and so is included as part of the third party representations.
4.9 An amendment to Condition 13 – ‘Lighting’ of planning application WSCC/052/20 was proposed by Cllr Oakley and seconded by Cllr Sharp. The condition should be amended to allow that street-lamps adjacent to the cycleway/footpath be set back by half a metre, where practicable, for reasons of safety and so as to avoid conflict with users. The Committee voted on the amendment, which was approved unanimously. The final form of wording of the condition was delegated to the Head of Planning Services.
4.10 The following amendments to Condition 6 – ‘Landscaping Scheme’ and to Condition 17 – ‘Landscape and Ecological Management Plan’ (LEMP) of planning application WSCC/052/20 were proposed by Cllr Oakley and seconded by Cllr Ali:
Condition 6 – Landscaping Scheme
Thereafter the approved scheme of landscaping shall be
implemented in full in accordance with the approved
timetable. Any trees or shrubs which,
within a period of
five ten years from the
date of planting, die, are removed or become seriously damaged or
diseased shall be replaced in the next planting season with others
of similar size and species.
Condition 17 - Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP)
e) Details of initial aftercare and long-term maintenance which shall be for a period of no less than ten years;
h) A work schedule, including
five ten year project register, an annual
work plan, and the means by which the plan will be rolled forward
The Committee voted on the amendments to both conditions, which were approved unanimously.
4.11 A new Condition for planning application WSCC/052/20 requiring the installation of bus shelters was proposed by Cllr Oakley and seconded by Cllr Hall. The Committee voted on the inclusion of the proposed new condition, which was approved unanimously. The final form of wording of the condition was delegated to the Head of Planning Services.
4.12 The substantive recommendation to planning application WSCC/052/20 including changes to Conditions and Informatives as set out in Appendix 1 of the Committee report including amendments approved by the Committee, as noted in minutes 4.9, 4.10 and 4.11, above, was proposed by Cllr Duncton and seconded by Cllr Atkins and approved by a majority.
4.13 Resolved – That planning permission be granted for planning application WSCC/052/20 subject to the Conditions and Informatives as set out in Appendix 1 of the report and amended as agreed by the Committee.
4.14 The substantive recommendation to planning application WSCC/020/21/S257 was proposed by Cllr Atkins and seconded by Cllr Duncton and approved by a majority.
4.15 Resolved – That an order be made under S257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for the diversion of Footpath no. 318.
4.16 The Committee recessed at 1 p.m. and reconvened at 1.45 p.m.