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.
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.