Neighbours were notified initially followed by a re-consultation due to the submission of revised details. A total of 381 communications were received, 378 objecting and 3 making comment. Due to the extent of correspondence the following summarises the comments made although full versions are available to view on line or in the planning office.
Comments have been received from the following;
Under The Localism Act and within The National Planning Policy Framework, decisions on planning have been devolved to a local level and as residents we have to be consulted on planning issues. The current public consultation finishes on 24th September 2012 and will then be reviewed, with a new policy not being implemented until 2014. However, all of the decisions currently being considered for planning applications in Yarm and Eaglescliffe will have been decided before our views have been taken in to consideration and the policy implemented. To that end, it may be perceived that Stockton Borough Council is in breach of both the Localism Act and the NPPF.
The Core Development Document is the current working document of Stockton Borough Council planners until the new policy is implemented in 2014 and as such, the policies set out in this document should be adhered to. Both The National Planning Policy Framework and the Core Strategy Development Document stipulate that priorities should be given to the development of Brownfield sites. As Urlay Nook is a Greenfield site it should not be considered when other Brownfield sites are still available and just because 80% of previous developments in the Borough have been on brownfield sites this does not make it acceptable to residents and it infringes on greenfield sites.
The Core Development clearly states that should permission be granted for 500 houses on Allens West then this would significantly reduce the need for further housing provision. As permission for 843 houses has been granted, why do we need additional housing on Urlay Nook? The land is not allocated for housing in the approved development plan and options for change to this plan are still undergoing public consultation.
The LDD document declares a requirement for 550 dwellings per annum for the next 15yrs in the Borough and worryingly adds a further 20% buffer on top of that instead of opting for the recommended 5%. These decisions are questionable in the light of the economic climate and slow housing market, particularly in the case of executive housing. Given the development at Urlay Nook is approved, where is the evidence of large scale business investment to support the employment for this development and others around Yarm?
However, even without any adjustment the implementation of the 5% buffer results in 8662 dwellings for the Plan over the 2012-2017 period. The Plan also states that the commitment deliverable over the Plan period is 9760 houses, this being 118% of the stated housing requirement. Limiting this to 105% in line with a 5% buffer would result in the need for 1098 less dwellings planning permissions. This is the situation even before amending the housing requirement to a more justified basis. The forecasts in the plan are unreasonably optimistic and over-inflated and that the implementation of a 5% rather than the unnecessary 18% buffer would mean the housing requirement for the authority would be more realistic. Also, if my reading of the authority's own housing survey (2011) is correct, there is already a surplus of supply over demand of 23% in the Yarm, Eaglescliffe and Preston area. The future predicted demand for housing in the area will almost equal supply with the exception of just over 100 four + bed executive houses and a small number of bungalows.
The Council should reject the RSS targets and substitute forecasts which more correctly reflect current economic and demographic circumstances. Substituting objectively justified targets may well mean that there is no shortfall in potential housing delivery during the period 2012-2017. The assumption that housing demand will continue at 555 dwellings per year is not objectively justified and to continue with this false assumption brings the risk that more planning permissions on greenfield sites like Urlay Nook will be unnecessarily granted. There is now evidence that other authorities are rejecting the RSS targets and downwardly adjusting their housing targets and I recommend that Stockton does the same.
Further phases are likely to increase the number of houses to 570.
The LDD Preferred Options plan clearly states that any new developments must be sustainable. Strategic Policy SPI - 'Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development' - Point 1 states 'Proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area'.
I would point out that this development does not fit this criteria, nor is it sustainable and therefore is in breach of the policies contained within the LDD. I base this on the following: there will be a greater volume of traffic on the local road network, increasing air and noise pollution. There are as yet no plans to improve the road infrastructure around Yarm and Eaglescliffe, nor is there evidence of any serious road traffic surveys done except those done by developers themselves which are questionable as to how thorough they are.
The reasons for a lack of new housing does not come from lack of available sites of which there is already an excess in Stockton (current Local Plan). To believe that an increased supply of greenfield sites automatically brings new housing development as implied in the new plan means that when this does not happen more sites will then have to be released. These will then additionally be stored by developers into ever larger land banks until large swathes of greenfield land with unnecessary planning permissions are simply taken out of use until the housing market recovers. When this happens massive urban sprawl will result with the authority facing the permanent loss of its environmentally high value and wildlife rich green areas. In short, a period of housing under-performance will be followed by over-performance. I contend a more realistic and evidence-based housing strategy should be incorporated into the new Local Plan by Stockton Council, and one more in the long term interest of Stockton and its different local residents.
Stockton Council's Core Strategy Document (which outlines current policy to the year 2026) states that:
Policy 7(2) no additional sites will be allocated before 2016
Policy 7(3) between 2016 and 2021 approximately 50 to 100 dwellings will be allocated to Yarm, Eaglescliffe and Preston.
Policy 12.15 states that that should the Allens West site be approved for 500 dwellings, it would significantly reduce the need for new housing provision to meet the Regional Spatial Strategy requirement. 845 dwellings were approved.
The statement that the Council will open up opportunities for development in greenfield areas adjacent to the conurbation means developers will desert investing in the Core Area and move onto green field sites. There is considerable evidence that this is already happening, and spectacularly. The Council needs to recognise that a positive greenfield development strategy will simply condemn the Stockton Core Area population to living in an increasingly derelict and highly undesirable poverty stricken environment.
There is now significant national evidence that despite the large number of planning applications granted this does not necessarily result in the development of these sites for housing. As a result this strategy gives no help to the local authority to meet its more immediate local population needs and to deliver on local housing requirements. Indeed, another disastrous consequence is happening, developers are leaving many of their undeveloped green field sites, with or without planning permission, to increasing neglect and dereliction. For an authority like Stockton, the housing strategy in the new Local Plan will simply increase the abandonment of its town centre with the probability of replicating this dereliction in the outer areas leaving the whole town in a far worse environmental condition. Indeed, these planning policies could well be disastrous for both the economic and environmental sustainability of the whole borough and send large areas of it into catastrophic decline.
In the 1990's Stockton Council with the help of City Challenge grants pedestrianized Stockton High Street. Now some 15 or so years later more sums of money are being spent on the High Street. However by concentrating house building on places like Eaglescliffe and Yarm and the periphery of the Borough, the Council is not making it easier for residents to visit the High Street and the money will be wasted. The result is the so-called dough-nut effect ie a town centre without residents. If Stockton Council want a vibrant Town Centre, it must have people living in it.
Developers want to build on greenbelt land because it makes more money for them and the Council makes money from the new homes bonus and additional Council Tax revenue. It is clear then that this decision is not about what is best for Eaglescliffe and Yarm.
There remains a significant number of homes for sale in existing areas. This housing proposal, as all do, fails to put the proposal in context of the Teesside residential development map (the space that still remains for the Middlehaven project for example),
Our towns are being abandoned and left as ghost towns when lovely redevelopments could be made and the town (Stockton being a good example) revitalised and made pleasurable again. Surely it is a cheaper option to redevelop than start from scratch!
Come on Stockton Council - wise up and do the right thing, for the sake of our children and grandchildren who deserve to enjoy the Countryside as we have done.
If this is approved, what stops further development down the A67 corridor and up to the A66? As the baby boomer generation downsize, there will be more houses on the market offering the urban areas that this development proposes in the next 5 years. That need will be met. In terms of affordable housing; smaller, more energy efficient, as the economy slowly makes its way out of recession, that would be best achieved on brownfield sites around Stockton and the river, closer to existing amenities and public transport hubs.
The lessons of Ingleby Barwick have not been learned.
Chris Musgrave, Wynyard Park, reference 11/2482/EIS, stated, during committee 30 May 2012, that deliverability was crucial and that Wynyard Park had a strong record of delivery and that it was confident of bringing in three of the biggest house builders to the site. Taylor Wimpey are one of the biggest house builders whose interest may be being diverted by the prospect of Urlay Nook Phase 1?
I hope Stockton Council adhere to the National Planning Policy Framework and their own Core Development Policy of 2010 to redevelop brown field sites. I am not entirely convinced by the claim that due to the Government removing funding for remediation of brown field sites that there are no alternative means of funding available. What about the new homes bonus, can that not be utilised? Urlay Nook is a Green Field site in the form of agricultural land, why should this site be developed when there are brown field sites available in the area? This is unnecessary urban sprawl.
As regards demand, given the large number of approved developments still to be undertaken, the projected figures in the Preferred Options do not stack up. Stockton's own figures show that in 2011 there was a significant overall surplus of supply over demand in the Yarm, Eaglescliffe and Preston area. The extent and depth of the double dip recession was not taken into account in the Preferred Options. The most recent housing statistics show that the situation is getting worse not better.
If more housing is needed and I don’t agree that it is, why is it being built on a greenfield site when the Elementis site and its old ecology park remain empty and derelict? Open spaces are disappearing all over the area, let’s leave what Greenfield sites we have green.
Stockton Council's Core Strategy Document (which outlines current policy to the year 2026) states that:
Policy 10(3) states the separation between settlements, together with the quality of the urban environment, will be maintained through the protection and enhancement of the openness and amenity value of:
i) Strategic gaps between the conurbation and the surrounding towns and villages, and between Eaglescliffe and Middleton St George.
ii) Green wedges within the conurbation, including River Tees Valley from Surtees Bridge to Yarm……
Also the three new developments at Tesco round a about, behind the Cleveland Bay and the apartments next to the Blue Bell they struggle to sell them! so why do we need more housing?
Stockton Council has not listened to residents objections so now it becomes a truly undemocratic procedure of "who can shout the loudest", individual objections, petitions, residents meetings etc. none of which would be necessary if the Council made sensible decisions.