Bramley Parish Council response to Planning Application 15/02682/OUT

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Land South of The Street, Bramley, Hampshire

Bramley Parish Council on behalf of many members of the parish community and residents object to this planning application.

  • The applicants have not engaged in any form of public consultation.
  • The applicants have not spoken with the Parish Council regarding an 82 dwelling proposal on this site.

 The reasons for the objection are as follows: 

  1. The application is for development of 82 homes on a green field site outside of the Bramley settlement policy boundary (SPB), and also within the strategic gap between Bramley and Chineham. Policy D5 of the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) Local Plan (adopted 2006) states that development will be permitted in Bramley within the SPB. Under the prevailing development plan policy, and as acknowledged by the applicants in paragraph 5.14 of their planning statement, this site is designated ‘countryside’ due to its location outside of the SPB. It does not fulfil any of the criteria at policy D6.

  2. Between 1981 and 2011 the number of dwellings in Bramley parish increased from 500 to 1662, an expansion of 232%. In the same period the population grew from 1420 to 4233, an increase of 198%. These rates of expansion are very far in excess of average rates across the Borough. The current population average of 2.6 per dwelling, when applied to the currently approved developments at Razors Farm and Minchens Lane, will add 1625 people to the parish with 520 (i.e. Minchens) within the village. This increases the parish population by a further 114% and adds 125% to the number of dwellings. Since 1981 there has been no significant investment in infrastructure other than a small addition to the school and a small hall.

  3. Within the emerging BDBC local plan for the plan period 2011 to 2029, it is recognised that “Bramley parish became a designated area for neighbourhood planning purposes” in February 2013 (local plan reference para. 4.29), and also that ‘an allocation of 200 homes has been made to meet the needs of the village through Policy SS5 (Neighbourhood Planning)’. The needs of the village are defined as 72 households in housing need in the parish. In early 2014 an application was approved for the development of 200 homes on a single site in Minchens Lane in Bramley to include 80 social and affordable homes. This development fulfils the requirement in Policy SS5. It is also important to note that up to 170 further affordable and social dwellings are being provided in the south of Bramley parish at Razors Farm under approved application BDB/77341 for 425 dwellings in total. On approved plans to date the housing need in Bramley parish is met and substantially exceeded. In addition to these two approved applications the emerging BDBC local development plan (LDP) allocates another site in Bramley parish at Upper Cufaude Farm (a BDBC owned property) for up to 385 homes including 40% affordable and social dwellings.

    In terms of Bramley’s contribution to the emerging BDBC LDP and the current issue of the five year land supply the parish is already contributing 625 dwellings with a further 385 in prospect and a total of up to 404 social and affordable dwellings versus the parish need, as stated in the emerging LDP of 72. The resources of the parish, already limited in most respects will therefore be further exceptionally over stretched by an influx of residents from other parts of the Basingstoke and Deane Borough.

  4. The Parish Council appreciates the support given by the Portfolio Holder for the LDP Councillor Mark Ruffell and the previous Planning Policy Implementation Manager Andrew Hunter who have both stated that the approved development of 200 dwellings at Minchens Lane has met, in entirety, the SS5 allocation to Bramley.

  5. The applicants’ planning statement emphasises the sustainability of the development location. It bases this on the based on the existing amenities, services and transport links. The Parish Council at the heart of the village is in a better position to point out the facts.

    1. The C32 is a very busy road.  Adding a vehicular access on to The Street/C32 will potentially push another 164 vehicles onto the roads at peak times.  The applicants have not stated the type of dwellings but the current average of 2.6 people per dwelling is used as a conservative estimate of additional vehicles accessing the C32.
      Just a few metres beyond the access is the very narrow Cufaude Lane.  During peak travel times vehicles often queue into the street whilst waiting to turn due to oncoming traffic.  This is highly dangerous.  The development of more housing by Cufaude Lane is likely to increase the traffic using Cufaude Lane, thus increasing the queues.

    2. The development application states that the area is in flood zone 1, yet the area around Cufaude Lane is seen to flood regularly.  This causes vehicles to drive in the centre of the road.  The traffic queuing to enter Cufaude Lane then meets the vehicles trying to avoid the flooded road and this causes severe danger to road users.

    3. The proposed development is adjacent to the Conservation Area and would not be conducive to the rural character of the village.

    4. The services referred to in the planning statement which sustain the village in fact consist of; one very small local shop, a public house to the west of the level crossing, a bakery and car mechanics at the crossing, a primary school already at capacity and recently under special measures, some small commercial enterprises mainly employing people from outside of the Bramley area and a doctors surgery which is being expanded to accommodate the 200 homes already approved.
      The site is remote from the present facilities of the village. Residents of social and affordable housing will be isolated. The site is not conducive to accommodating social/affordable housing whose residents are less likely to have transport to easily get into Basingstoke for more comprehensive amenities. It is not just about housing numbers but also quality of life. The last development within Bramley, Campbell Road/German Road which contributed 47% of the houses to Social/affordable housing has proven that Bramley Village life does not contribute to quality of life for their residents.

    5. The amenities referred to consist of a small village hall, small church hall and two small halls with open space at Clift Meadow.

    6. Public transport consists of a limited bus service to Basingstoke and Tadley which does not go to the hospital, and the last service to Basingstoke leaves before 6pm Mon-Fri. There are only two trains per hour to Basingstoke and Reading. There is a dangerous designated national cycle route which uses the very busy C32 and (single track in parts) Cufaude Lane. The Parish Council have pointed out to BDBC and to Hampshire County Council (HCC) on a number of occasions that crossing the C32 within the SPB is extremely dangerous as there are no formal controlled crossings. Pavements in Bramley are typically narrow, they are not continuous on either side of the C32 and they are non-existent on most of the very busy surrounding roads.
      Additionally there is frequent parking on the pavement by the shop which only has 3 spaces, leading to great difficulty for pedestrians and those with push chairs and wheel chairs etc. There is a small car park near the station which is full by 07:30 each day with both local residents and with commuters from outside of the parish. The railway station attracts commuters from as far as Andover which contributes to the severe parking issues throughout the village.

    7. Car ownership data for rural Hampshire in the 2011 census is approximately 1.5 cars per household. However the applicant has allowed for only 78 vehicles taking trips during peak times. 

      Based on the 1662 dwellings in Bramley parish in 2011 there were approximately 2500 cars. Approved development applications at Minchens Lane and Razors Farm will add approximately 940 cars, which is a 38% expected increase in traffic within the parish. Not all vehicles from Razors Farm will travel north into Bramley village but the Parish Council estimates that conservatively 25% of the vehicles from Razors Farm will access the C32. The traffic impact of approved planning applications upon Bramley village will be an increase of 300 cars from Minchens Lane and 160 from Razors Farm; this will be an 18% increase in traffic using the C32. The community is already concerned with current traffic volumes and therefore increasing the volume by 18% will exacerbate the current problems. This application, using the same factor will add 123 cars and a further 5% to traffic volumes moving through the village. The community have to consider the cumulative effect of expansion in recent years and the adverse impact of each new development, a 21% increase is not sustainable on the current road network. The Parish Council considers that the combination of additional road traffic, combined with additional rail traffic following electrification of the rail line to accommodate increasing freight traffic, will bring Bramley to a standstill.

    8. In 7.1 of the applicants’ Planning Statement it states “The traffic movements generated by the proposed development are likely to be very low and will have no impact on the operation of the local highway network.”  This is not correct.
      Between peak times, 7.30 - 9.00 there is queuing traffic at the level crossing.  The level crossing barriers are currently down for approximately 30 mins in every hour, the barriers can be closed for up to 10 minutes at a time and occasionally when raised it is only for a brief period allowing 3-4 vehicles to cross. This pattern generates long and very slow moving queues of which the applicant makes no mention.
      The traffic burden is not just caused by the increasing volume of local traffic but also traffic moving between the A33 and the A340 as it is the only route north of Basingstoke which joins these two main arterial roads. The C32 is poorly maintained, and as a C road it has a lower Highways priority than a B road, even though it carries the traffic burden of a B road by linking two A roads.

    9. In paragraph 6.5 of the applicants’ planning statement they state that the proposed development will “cause no adverse impact on the scale and character of Bramley”. This is not correct.  This can only be assessed by the residents and community. Bramley has experienced significant expansion since 1988 in excess of any other area within the Borough and is still struggling to integrate the residents from the 277 dwellings in the locally titled “German Road development” which includes 47% social and affordable dwellings. This has already changed the demographics of the village. Any further increases in parish population will compound the difficulties created by the rate of expansion of Bramley.  There has been very little integration into the community and village life.

    10. The open spaces within Bramley have been significantly eroded by recent development; these open spaces were recognised as very important to illustrate the development of the settlement as well as providing vistas through the conservation area. The settlement of Bramley is fast losing its historic identity and the preservation of the remaining open spaces is vital to its setting and protection of its historic significance. Proposed planting plans merely replace some hedgerow but do not enhance or make up for the loss of open countryside and natural rural gaps in the village.  If all such applications are approved the village will lose its rural setting and be a long line of housing all along the C32.

    11. An Environmental Impact Assessment has not been carried out. The cumulative effect of housing on Bramley is changing the rural character in Bramley. The application does not define the style and sizes of the proposed 82 dwellings.
      The applicant refers to the emerging Bramley neighbourhood development plan (NDP).  The NDP is in draft form and following public consultation there will be significant amendments to the draft. Nevertheless the developers have summarily dismissed the contents of the emerging plan (5.20 refers) showing a complete lack of respect and concern for the perfectly justified objections of the community.

    12. The applicant refers to policy D6 of the adopted Local Plan whilst attempting to dismiss its relevance to the site.  The site is outside the existing settlement boundary. It is not for the developer to make up its own rules and dictate to the Council where its housing shortfall should come from especially as it contravenes policy.  The developer is cynically attempting to take advantage of the lack of approval for the latest local plan.

    13. In the 5.21 of the Planning Statement it is incorrect to state “leaving sufficient headroom” for the remainder of the 200 allocation.  The 200 allocation plus more has already been met before this application has been considered.

    14. The applicants claim that this development will create jobs throughout the construction phase of the development. It must be noted that these are temporary jobs and unlikely to include local Bramley people in need of work. Construction jobs will be created by development no matter where it occurs in the Borough, this is not a specific benefit to Bramley parish.

    15. The applicants at 8.9 refer to the NPPF and in particular the five year land supply.  This is applying pressure on the BDBC. Bramley cannot singularly resolve the shortfall and Bramley parish has already committed to 625 dwellings with a further 385 probable and therefore believes it has made a significant contribution already to the land supply in Basingstoke and Deane. The Bramley community have experienced significant detrimental expansion in recent years without improvement in structural, social and recreational infrastructure. The recent developments have not enhanced the character of the village nor have they improved the wellbeing of the residents.

    16. The applicant makes no mention of the site, The Street, bordering the MOD land on the eastern side.   There is a probability, as was the case in assessing the RBL site in 2012, that a percentage of the land available is not appropriate for housing as it could lie within the Blast Zone for the camp, a stipulation laid down by the MOD for land bordering actively used MOD land.

    17. The number of crimes in Bramley has increased in recent years as the population has increased.  There were 30 crimes in July 2015 compared to 18 in July 2011.

In conclusion

Bramley Parish Council object to this application as it would clearly increase the existing strain on resources and all types of infrastructure which Bramley is currently experiencing. The housing need in Bramley as identified in the emerging local plan process has already been met and exceeded within the parish through approvals on planning applications. Development of the site offers no tangible benefits to the local community and would represent a further deterioration of the quality of life for existing residents and those who will come to live on the already committed development sites. The Bramley community does not support further applications such as this and calls upon the Borough Council and our MP to support Bramley and its residents by not approving further inappropriate and unsustainable development such as this in the future.  The emerging Neighbourhood Plan recommends developments of a maximum of 50 houses per site in keeping with the rural character of the village.  The applicant totally dismisses the emerging Bramley Neighbourhood Plan which represents the views of the community.  The Neighbourhood Plan also states that any further development requires improvements to the structural, social and recreational infrastructure of Bramley.

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