Update on the application for 75 affordable homes at Bulwark

There is a rather substantial update on the application for 75 affordable homes at Bulwark Road which could put the whole site in jeopardy. This is an objection from Secretary of State for Defence. The MoD’s detailed objection can be found HERE.

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It is important to highlight that the MoD does supports the basic principle of new residential development in the local area. However, it wishes to outline its concerns regarding the Planning Application in the following points.

  • The applicant proposes a residential development of 75 houses and flats (and associated development) on the application site, land within close proximity of RNAS Culdrose. In view of the nature of operational and training activity undertaken at RNAS Culdrose, and its close proximity to the application site, the MOD has significant concerns regarding the proposed development and its appropriateness for the application site. These concerns revolve around the issues of the potential noise levels that would be experienced by the future occupants of the proposed dwellings, vibration and public safety.
  • The operational and training activity undertaken at RNAS Culdrose will likely constitute a source of noise disturbance to the local area for a number of reasons. Flight movements of fixed and rotary wing aircraft in/around RNAS Culdrose, helicopters remaining operational (i.e. rotors turning) for extended periods of time pre/post landing, engine ground runs and helicopters hovering above the ground (this is likely to be 30 minutes or more during training activity) would generate noise which would likely result in noise disturbance of some description. It is important to note that these activities produce a significant low frequency noise signature with a distinct dominant tone which can be particularly disturbing. Please be advised that RNAS Culdrose is not subject to planning control with regards to restrictions which limit the nature of the rotary or fixed wing training activity undertaken at the site.

However, the MoD does acknowledge documentation in reference to noise has been submitted, but believes this information is insufficient to fully asses the impact of noise for anyone living in this development.

The MoD also highlights the impact of vibration and makes reference to the impact on the following points:

  • Noise emissions, associated with predominant low frequency sound components, can be transmitted into the structure of buildings causing vibrations of the primary components of the building, e.g. the vibration of floors, walls and windows, which in turn may result in the rattling of internal objects within the building.This effect could lead to an annoyance response in the occupants of the proposed building. This annoyance can be a subjective response, which can be classified as: intrusion, distress, startle, disturbance, loss of control. Please be advised that the annoyance caused by vibration can often result in more disturbance than the noise itself.

If Cornwall Council decides to grant planning permission The MOD want the Council to imposed Planning Condition that will require the Applicant to undertake a vibration survey and assessment, in accordance with BS 6472:2008 (Part 1), post construction but before the occupation of the proposed development.  This assessment would be needed to be approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, in conjunction with the MoD. The risk is you build the homes, but they cannot be lived in because of the failure to address the impact of the previous points on vibration. No developer will take that risk of building if it is not guaranteed to be able to use them.

The last point the MoD raises in its objection is on public safety. This is the weakest objection as you could argue most of Helston is ‘at risk’ from an air accident. However, the MoD makes the following point in its objection to the planning application:

  • At present the application site comprises agricultural land. Should planning permission be granted and the proposed development be built out, it is suggested that the occupants of the proposed dwellings will be at a greater risk of incursion in the event of an aircraft emergency (for example in the case of an aircraft suffering a bird strike or a mechanical fault, etc.) in comparison with the existing land use.

Therefore, in reference to the three main points of concern, the Secretary of State for Defence formally objects to this Planning Application and in doing so respectfully request that the Cornwall Council refuse planning permission for the proposed development.

This objection from the MoD is very serious, but they have given  the planning applicants, Coastline the opportunity to address the concerns by means of more detailed reports on noise and vibration. However, in a recent meeting with the planning officer I had over this, it is clear if the objection from the MoD are not removed, this application will be refused.

It is important to re-highlight this application is here because this is a 100% affordable site and there is a proven need of this type of housing in Helston. I have heard many people say this is just the first stage, but it is not, as the area which is commonly known as HX3 is not in the town frame work plan, and the numbers of housing within Cornwall Council’s Local Plan for the next 15 odd years have already been met. So further mixed-use development is highly unlikely.

Planning application for 75 affordable homes at Bulwark Rd

Coastline housing has now submitted its planning application for 75 homes, with off-street parking for land next to Bulwark Road  and Nansloe in Helston. All the homes will be affordable housing.

Out of the 75 affordable housing, the types of housing will be:

  • 14 x one-bed units – which 12 will be for affordable rent and two for shared ownership;
  • 30 x two-bed units (29 houses and one bungalow) -16 of the houses will be affordable rent and 13 shared ownership. The bungalow will be affordable rent;
  • 25 x three-bed houses – 12 will be affordable rent and 13 shared ownership;
  • 6 x four-bed – 4 x affordable rent and 2 x shared ownership.

Using the Council’s information from Homechoice, there are 563 households are know to be in need which is split between 261 with a one-bed need, 185 with a two-bed needs, 90 with a three-bed need and one with a six-bed need.

The site layout is:

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Putting aside the need for affordable homes in Helston, key to this application is the highway access to and from the proposed site, especially as the the entrance is close to Nansloe School. The applicants have submitted a detailed travel plan in reference to the site. This can be accessed HERE. As the local member, the access is the most critical part of this application.

As the planning application is now live, it is important people give their views. It is important the views come from both for and against the plan. You can make representation either by filling your comments online, by letter or email to the planning dept. at Cornwall Council. You can also email me with your comments and/or questions to awallis@cornwall.gov.uk

The planning application number for this plan is PA16/07813. You will need to use this when submitting your comments.

For the detailed planning application details, please click HERE. Make yourself a drink and sit down and read the documentation as there is quite a bit to digest.

This application will go through the democratic process with Helston Town Council discussing this first, where the public also have chance to give comment. It will also be discussed at Cornwall Council and their planning committee before any decision is made. Cornwall Council has to give a decision on this application by the end of November. Unless there are valid reasons for an extension.

 

 

Cornwall Council helps to win a Judicial Review on the threshold for affordable housings

Planning is a roller coaster ride of emotions, no matter which side of the fence you sit on. There is a feeling with councillors and the public that the Government has deregulated planning policy so much that the system favours the developer.

I highlighted a huge concern in a previous Blog on the thresholds for affordable housing and how changes to the rule would affect the desirability of affordable housing.  So much so joined a Judical Review by providing evidence in support of a JR brought by West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council.

The changes to the policy would have stopped any contributions either financially or by means of a percentage of affordable housing will be sought from developments of 10 or less.  In Cornwall 26% of previous permissions were on sites under 10 units.

The good news is this Judical Review was successful and following the successful challenge the Government has now removed those new limits from national planning policy guidance. This judgement means that the affordable housing threshold reverts to 2 rather than 10.

 

Governments planning policy harms affordable housing

At the end of 2014, the Government made a change to the housing policy framework. The aim of the change was to support small developers in bringing forward developments. The changes have a impact to financial payments to infrastructure and affordable housing.  Currently, under Cornwall’s draft Local Plan, the Council seeks either a financial contribution or element of affordable housing on schemes of two or more new units.

The kicker in this change of policy is no contributions either financially or by means of a percentage of affordable housing will be sought from developments of 10 or less.  This is not good for community that wish to support small scale development that have an element of affordable housing. However, the new guidance does – and its a small saving grace to the change – allow Cornwall Council in AONB’s, National Parks and areas designated under the Housing Act can choose to reduce the threshold to five – something I believe Cornwall Council should do.  So in those areas developers would be asked to make a financial contribution between six and ten. So those areas are not hit as bad.

It is not just future developments that will be affected, but those who have had planning already granted.  At the time of writing Cornwall Council has around £2.2m worth of contributions towards affordable housing with schemes fewer than ten units. If a developer came back to renegotiate or even submit an amended plan, then these contributions could be at risk. It is hard to tell the extent of the impact, but in Cornwall there are 4000 units with planning permission on sites fewer than ten units and of the 4000, 3,200 are on sites with fewer than five units.

Unless the Government rows-back on this change, or is forced to change by means of a Judicial Review, this new policy will have a huge impact on affordable housing in Cornwall. And we already know the cost of housing is high, and without an affordable element, could make the housing crisis in Cornwall a lot worse.