Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, Simon Cousins, Planning Team Leader, and Lana Meddings, Principal Planning Officer, assisted by Nicola Collins, Senior Planning Enforcement Officer:
· Housing development of up to 3,200 dwellings;
· Local centre comprising community, retail (E, F.2 and Pub or drinking establishment/Takeaway as Sui Generis uses),
· Employment (E) uses and parking;
· A primary school;
· Up to 8 hectares of land (including key infrastructure) for up to 40,000sq.m of E and B2 development;
· Up to 12 hectares of land (including key infrastructure) for sport, recreation, and leisure (E and F.1 and F.2),
· A hotel (C1) food and drink outlets (E and Sui Generis) and
· A new community stadium for Lincoln City Football Club;
· Areas of formal and informal public;
· A network of public footpaths and cycleways associated engineering works to inform development platform and drainage system;
· New transport bridge link over to Beevor Street, and a
· New public footpath bridge over to Tritton Road.
f. advised that:
· Under EIA Regulations, the Proposed Development did not fall within the definition of a ‘Schedule 1 development’, however, it did fall within Schedule 2, Part 10(a): Industrial Estate development projects and Part 10(b) Urban development projects, including the construction of shopping centres and car parks, sports stadiums, leisure centres and multiplex cinemas.
· For Schedule 2, Part 10a development, EIA was required where the area of the development exceeded 0.5 hectares and the development was likely to have significant effects on the environment.
· For Schedule 2, Part 10b development, EIA was required where (i) the area of development exceeded 1.0 ha of urban development which was not dwellinghouse development; or (ii) the development included more than 150 dwellings; or (iii) the overall area of the development exceeded 5 ha, and the development was likely to have significant effects on the environment.
· In the case of the proposed development all of these criteria applied and, as such, an environmental statement had been submitted with the planning application.
g. described the location of the Western Growth Corridor application site:
· Extending to 238.5 hectares, located approximately 1.5km southwest of Lincoln City Centre.
· Bounded by the Skellingthorpe Main Drain and the Lincoln to Gainsborough railway line to the north; the Lincoln to Nottingham railway line and Tritton Road to the east, existing residential development around Skellingthorpe Road and the Catchwater Drain to the south and agricultural land to the west with Decoy Farm and the A46 beyond.
h. reported on the current make-up of the site:
· Currently in arable agricultural use divided into rectilinear fields by existing hedgerows and drainage ditches.
· There was an area of woodland within the site towards the southwest, with a larger wooded area around the Skewbridge landfill tip to the northeast (which also fell within the application site).
i. reported on a variety of land uses surrounding the site:
· To the northwest lay the former Skellingthorpe Duck Decoy (a scheduled ancient monument) with further agricultural land and the A46 dual carriageway beyond.
· Land to the southwest was mostly in residential use, with several groups of houses lying between the application site boundary and Skellingthorpe Road – one of the main arterial routes into the city from the A46.
· The Skellingthorpe Recreation Ground lay to the south of the site, with Hartsholme Park beyond to the southwest of Skellingthorpe Road.
· Further residential development including Swanpool Conservation Area lay south of the site to the east of Stones Park, along with The Priory City of Lincoln Academy.
· Land beyond the railway lines to the east and northeast was in a variety of retail, commercial and industrial uses, Lincoln City Centre being some 1.4km from the north-eastern corner of the site.
· Land to the east was mixed-use served off Tritton Road.
· The area off Beevor Street to the north-east included commercial and retail uses as well as the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park and the main University building.
j. reported in detail on the planning policy for the site which had long been promoted for the creation of an urban extension
k. detailed the site history of the application site which included:
· An application submitted in 2006 for development of 4,400 dwellings plus employment, leisure and retail uses, open space and a park and ride site on a larger area of land than now proposed, extending further west, beyond the A46, which included land within North Kesteven and the City of Lincoln. This application was subsequently withdrawn.
· A revised application for 5,100 dwellings submitted in March 2008 and subsequently withdrawn in February 2016.
· Environmental Impact Assessment
· Landscape and Visual Amenity
· Ecology and Nature Conservation
· Cultural Heritage including Archaeology
· Ground Conditions including Land Contamination
· Water Resources and Flood Risk
· Noise and Vibration
· Air Quality
· Housing Provision
· Sport Provision
· Design and Visual Amenity
Becky Melhuish, representing Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), addressed Planning Committee in objection to the planning application, covering the following points:
· LCC could support the application for the whole development, subject to agreeing detailed mitigation and further technical checks and clarifications as identified in this response.
· However, LCC objected to Phase 1A on the grounds of severe impact and lack of alternative sustainable travel modes in accordance with NPPF as follows:
· Phase 1A
· Traffic surveys of the existing highway network were undertaken in Feb 2020. These surveys showed the observed turning movements and queues, the survey results showed that Skellingthorpe Road in particular experienced lengthy queues especially in the am peak rush hour. Throughout the peak hour these queues were over 100 vehicles and reaching around 200 vehicles at times.
· The Phase 1A proposals were forecasted to add a further 81 vehicles to this eastbound movement in the am peak hour. The existing surveyed flows were 447 for this link and therefore this would be an increase of around 18%. This was a significant increase in demand to a link which was already operating over-capacity.
· Capacity improvements on Skellingthorpe Road were not possible due to physical constraints and the applicant had proposed mitigation on an alternative route into the City from Birchwood via Doddington Road and Tritton Road in the form of junction improvements.
· These junction improvements could provide increased capacity, however, they would not provide relief for the residents of the new development, and it was questionable how many existing residents from Birchwood would reallocate to Doddington Road, given the existing distribution, journey times and destinations. Furthermore, was it acceptable in sustainability terms to be providing extra capacity on a route which was considerably longer to access the City Centre?
· Phase 1A was a development which did not adequately promote alternative sustainable modes, there was no improvement for walking and cycling. The bus services would be adversely affected by additional traffic on the local network and the pinch point of Skellingthorpe Road was not addressed. The development added 18% additional car traffic to a link which was already under severe stress, operating at capacity with frequent extensive queuing and suppressed demand manifested in demand and queues extending beyond the peak hours.
· The Local Planning Authority had commissioned BSP to provide an opinion on traffic impact, no further evidence or assessment had been undertaken by BSP. However, BSP concluded that even with an 18% increase on an already over capacity link the proposal did not result in a “Severe” impact provided that the junction improvements at Birchwood and Doddington were implemented.
· Members needed to decide whether the traffic from a further 300 houses on Skellingthorpe Road would cause a severe impact given the existing traffic conditions and the fact that no mitigation in the area was proposed.
· Whole Development
· LCC could support the development subject to agreeing detailed mitigation and further technical checks and clarifications as set out in its consultation responses.
· LCC agreed that the spine road through the site, with a new bridge over the railway linking Skellingthorpe Road to Tritton Road, would provide a significant improvement to the highway network. The proposals would also ensure that sustainable modes would gain the most benefit from this new link.
· The officer report concluded that the traffic impact of Phase 1A would be “short term impact on the local highway network pending the delivery of the bridge over the railway to Tritton Road and the construction of the link road within the site” (Page 113).
· However, the proposed consent only required the bridge to be provided prior to the 301st house, and there was therefore no guarantee that the bridge would be delivered.
· Approving this application could mean that the impact on the local highway network of the first 300 houses remained in perpetuity without the necessary mitigation of the bridge link.
· Given the significant costs involved for a new railway bridge, circa £20M, and the timescales to gain the necessary agreements and construct the bridge, it was likely to be many years before the bridge was provided, if at all.
· LCC therefore requested that Members did not grant the consent for this development as proposed. LCC considered that this important allocated site could be delivered, but the proposals needed to be phased such that mitigation was provided early and that there was no excessive adverse impact on the highway network.
Mr Ian Whiting, local resident, addressed Planning Committee in objection to the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He thanked everyone for allowing him the opportunity to speak.
· He was opposed to this development. He represented a significant number of local people (through Skellingthorpe Road Community Residents Action Plan).
· He was not against development in general – he developed businesses for a living, he loved the city, especially how it had maintained green spaces but was very concerned about democracy, sustainability, and life in Lincoln.
· He stated that he and councillors should be on the same side. No doubt membershad been sold how fantastic this proposed development was by their Leadership Team, however, that influence should not drive decisions on this or any vote.
· He understood that some members had a long-held pre-disposition to vote in favour of a development on this site, but please, this was a huge, controversial decision. The Members’ role here was to represent the public. He had high expectations that members of the committee would challenge such policy decisions on behalf of the people whom councillors represented.
· The LGA Councillor Code of Conduct committed councillors to; Respect for the people you represent, Objectivity, Openness, Transparency, Honesty and Impartiality in exercising your responsibilities in the interests of the local community of the people you represent.
· There were something like 250 objections to this proposed development from those people councillors represented. Many of those objections contained multiple, well-argued and evidenced issues. It would be interesting to know how many of the councillors had read those detailed public objections?
· The objectors (the councillors public) had not had any official dialogue with councillors or the planners regarding those objections or concerns. It had been a Black Hole! He questioned whether councillors had been told those objections were unfounded, invalid or dealt with, if so, that was a misrepresentation.
· If members of the committee were to vote in favour, abstain or decline to vote against this development today, they would not have discharged their duty to the people they represented. They would not have demonstrated impartiality, which did not align with their Code of Conduct. He requested that a record be taken to show how each member of the Committee voted.
· This should not be ‘us & them’, councillors vs. members of the public. Councillors should be working with the public, hence the reason why the public elected them. This was their duty. To be clear 250 or so objections may seem a small number, but the effort required to actually access and read through over 700 documents and then create and submit planning rule relevant responses was gargantuan.
· Members should be amazed that so many people managed to jump through the hoops and barriers necessary to actually respond. Many, many people gave up. Furthermore, more, most people in Lincoln did not even know about this proposed development because this Council’s consultation process had been so very poor.
· It appeared that the public were not encouraged to be truthfully informed, and certainly when those did respond, you ignored us.
· We were given just 5 minutes to speak. We could not even touch on the detail in 5 mins - and we could not use anything visual.
· Just two of the core issues; - High Flood risk area. Only originally proposed in the last century because there were ’No alternatives’. Now there were many alternative, safer, easier, lower cost development options in the local area. This development could adversely affect flood risk to the existing low-lying housing in Lincoln. Think of the risk to Central Lincoln, Boultham, Moorland, Carholme, etc.
· Transport; the Council’s publicists talked of a through road and relief for the traffic between the city and its outskirts, but the plan did not include a genuine through road.
· Was there Network Rail permission for the railway bridges? If later approved, who would pay? It looked pretty much like the council taxpayers of Lincoln.
· The build was planned in phases. It was probable that development would cease after early phases because the plan was not commercially viable. No through road. None of the glossy infrastructure. Additional congestion, pollution, lots of cost and no benefits to the resident’s which members represented.
· The Highway Authority objected to this plan. They were the experts. Why did the Council not stop to assess the real situation here? Because you had already sunk more than £2m of Council taxpayers’ money into a seriously flawed scheme. The Council’s own paid consultants admitted that there would be more queuing traffic on roads that were already close to or already at capacity (and they had ignored the additional rail traffic that we hear was likely).
· Drivers were asked to take significantly longer routes, past schools, shopping areas and pedestrian and cycle routes in order to get into and out of town. In various parts of Lincoln. Hartsholme, Birchwood, Boultham, Moorland. - proper traffic mitigation was not possible-the Council’s own consultants said that.
· There were at least 10 key development deliverables signed up to be complied with as a council, that were directly broken by this proposal.
· The proposal was a departure from the Central Lincolnshire Plan which had been agreed in 2017. For example, boundaries had been changed without consultation.
· The public really did not understand why the Council continued to pursue this development. There were just so many deep flaws. People could be apathetic about this, but it must be remembered, it was not all ‘over’ once it was decided to proceed.
· The problems would start to affect communities very quickly and constituents would be a lot more interested then about why the Council had let this happen.
· Please, if members really cared about the future of Lincoln and the people they represented, they should take this opportunity to do what was right. This plan was still not fit for a yes vote.
Ray Shooter, local resident, addressed Planning Committee in objection to the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He had lived on Birchwood for nearly 55 years and involved in the local Scout Group for over 40 years.
· He walked his dog daily across the proposed development site, when it was not ankle deep in water of course.
· Most people he had spoken to seemed to know little about the current plan or its impact on their daily lives.
· About a third of the city lived in the 4 affected wards, Birchwood, Hartsholme, Boultham and Moorland.
· When told about the plans, Boultham residentswere concerned about the “no right turn” from Dixon St onto High St; three number 9 buses an hour would have to use Rookery Lane or go through town.
· Moorland residents were very concerned by the extra traffic this scheme would generate through their ward.
· To expect Birchwood residents to divert to Doddington Road when the traffic was just as bad if not worse than Skellingthorpe Road and affected by a railway crossing was too much.
· It took up to 35 minutes to reach Sainsburys supermarket from the Birchwood area already. When the new Aldi was completed at the Moorland Centre the traffic along Tritton Road would be much worse. Also added by the construction traffic, entering via Skellingthorpe Road and Birchwood Avenue and more barrier down time, this was ludicrous.
· The traffic from Skellingthorpe village had not been considered. There were currently 600 houses under construction on two sites in the village with 1400 more being proposed by 2036.
· Quite a few of these residents would use Skellingthorpe Road and Doddington Road, none of this had been taken into consideration.
· Many Skellingthorpe residents now had to come to Birchwood to visit the doctor’s surgery and for schooling.
· There would be more road traffic and more children needing to cross the A46 70mph dual carriageway at Skellingthorpe Road, however, there were no plans for pedestrian bridges or underpasses. The opportunity to gain those safety features had been lost.
· If ever completed, the planned through road from Birchwood Avenue to Tritton Road would have bus gates to prevent cars from using it.
· The third exit via the bridge into Beevor Street would be for buses only from the development. For 3200 homes there would only be one main exit.
· As for flooding, did members believe in climate change? This area would flood. Since the 2017 plan, everything had changed. This areas use must be reconsidered. There was now a new Environment Act in place since the submission was made.
· The Upper Witham Internal Drainage Board, who kept our homes dry, wanted to keep this area free from development, they called it a “safety valve” for Lincoln itself. He guessed members knew better, although he was not sure Boultham, Moorland, Hartsholme, Carholme and City residents would be re-assured by that.
· His greatest concern about this current application was how it had been “advertised to the public”.
· How could the public comment on these proposals if they had not been made aware of them.
· Access to planning proposals should be open, transparent, and widely advertised to enable contributions by the public to be considered as part of the planning process, especially for such a large development.
· He did not feel that a couple of one-sided press releases in the weekly local paper or on The Lincolnite were sufficient to inform the residents.
· This whole process had been rolled out over Christmas and New Year containing over 700 documents, this was undemocratic and bordering on dishonesty. It was hard to believe members of this committee had read and understood some of the paperwork.
· Councillors not the planning officers would vote and were accountable for the outcome of this and would be held to task when the reality sank home.
· What was needed were proper, public presentations and debates in all areas that were going to be affected.
· These should have been carried out before these plans were even considered by Planning Committee so that the residents could question the planning officers in more detail as to what was really being put forward to the large number of residents who would have to experience its outcome daily for many years to come.
Tom Wilkinson, representing Decoy Farm, addressed Planning Committee in objection to the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He jointly owned Decoy Farm directly adjacent the A46 (Lincoln Bypass).
· His land was included within the Western Growth Corridor Allocation in the Local Plan but not part of this planning application.
· He supported the principle of development; however, the applicants were missing the opportunity to improve highway solutions without a direct link to the A46.
· The applicants had made no attempt to contact him or his family to discuss a potential link through his land. They paid a visit after the application was submitted to try to convince them that a new link onto the A46 was not necessary and why the token improvements they proposed to the Skellingthorpe roundabout would be sufficient.
· He was not convinced by the applicant’s reasoning for not having a direct link road to the A46 and the token alterations they proposed to Skellingthorpe Roundabout were laughable.
· His farm access was directly off Skellingthorpe roundabout via a fifth arm squeezed in between the A46 west bound carriageway and Skellingthorpe Road. They ran a caravan site, horse livery business and farming activities which generated significant vehicle movements every day, in and out of this inadequate access.
· The highway consultants representing the applicants had made a number of assumptions about traffic movements, walking, cycling, bus use etc, then put the numbers into a computer model to come up with figures which they claimed showed the development could go ahead, with the highway solutions proposed.
· He was not a highways expert. He looked at this from a practical common sense point of view. He did not believe 3,200 houses, 50 acres of commercial land and a new football stadium could be built, with all the associated construction traffic, using the access points proposed, without causing significant congestion and misery to those already living on Skellingthorpe Road, Birchwood Avenue and the wider area.
· The applicants had costed a new junction over the railway line onto Tritton Road at approximately £17 million pounds and a future additional access over the railway line onto Beevor Street at another £15 million pounds instead of building two access points over the railway line.
· Would it not be better to delete one of those and use the money saved to build a direct link onto the A46.This would:
Ø Open up more land for development, leisure use and open space
Ø Divert traffic away from the already congested Skellingthorpe Road and Birchwood Avenue
Ø Reduce air pollution in those existing residential areas
Ø Allow Decoy Farm to close off the unsafe access onto the Skellingthorpe roundabout.
· In summary his land was included in the Western Growth Corridor’s allocation in the local plan. It was available for development, and he was willing to work with developers to bring forward a viable solution to the highway’s issues on this site. He could see the development had potential to bring a great benefit to the community, but he believed more time must be given to fully explore the best access points for this site.
Fen Kipley, local resident, addressed Planning Committee in objection to the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· As a local advocate for those whose opinions and crucial local knowledge had not been heard, and as a critical friend, she offered some informed observations in relation to the Western Growth Corridor proposals.
· In 2017, the development team stated: “We will involve communities in the planning, governance and ownership of the scheme…”
· Apparently, community involvement meant:
Ø A5 leaflets in a tiny white font printed on a black background only distributed to 6,000 properties.
Ø Hundreds of jargon-laden planning documents only available online.
Ø Small print planning notices loosely tied to a few lamp posts.
· All development team press releases were reproduced in the media as if the proposals were irrefutably a welcome asset to the city.
· There were a series of public engagement events despite the times and places being restrictive to many; those in work, carers, teenagers, families with young children, folks with mobility, hearing, visual, literacy and language barriers.
· She was sorry to report that council and private consultancy staff often outnumbered the public present, whom, when offering their opinions, were frequently interrupted with a “yes, but”.
· It didn’t look like community involvement; it seemed to be an exercise in providing justification for a decision already made.
· The Local Government Association published a vast range of guidance on effective community engagement, it said:
· Community engagement helps local government improve the efficiency, legitimacy and transparency of their decision making. By encouraging participation, they can make more informed decisions by engaging with, and carefully mapping out the needs, opinions and visions of local communities on issues that matter to them. This can increase trust in local councils to make better public decisions.
· In relation to the planning application, there remained serious concerns about the lack of a thorough and up to date Environmental Impact Assessment, especially relating to local heritage, geographical, ecological, and archaeological aspects; nor had these been addressed in the 2019 amended application.
· More recently, UK planning and environmental law had substantially changed. Findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and COP 26 had drilled home the importance of how everybody needed to adapt and mitigate for worsening climate effects locally and globally.
· The current planning proposal was no longer future proof; as sea levels rose elsewhere and adverse weather conditions increased, it would severely impact upon food distribution and its availability here in Lincoln.
· In the local neighbourhoods, there was already genuine food and fuel poverty; heat or eat was a daily decision for many. This would worsen as energy prices soared. Even working families were now reliant on the city’s foodbanks.
· Covid-19 affected how people used and valued their local green spaces. Hartsholme and Boultham Parks could not cope with the increased demand, so many more local people discovered the fantastic walks, wildlife and views within the proposed planning site. This land would become even more crucial not only as a vital green lung, a safe haven for wildlife, a washland, a place for recreation and for growing food locally, but a key site for developing innovative conservation and environmental management skills for our young people.
· Job creation was much needed, especially among those not academically inclined. There were greater training and employment opportunities in adapting, retrofitting and creating resilient, energy efficient and accessible homes within the current housing stock. This included use of brownfield land and empty spaces above shops. By improving the overall health and wellbeing of our existing neighbourhoods, and providing unique, affordable homes right in the heart of the city, everyone benefitted.
· She knew and respected that many of the committee genuinely believed in helping those less fortunate and truly understood what their young people and grandchildren, would face within the next 30 years. The plan needed to be changed to take account of climate science.
· A more robust, open and fairer consultation was needed across the whole of the city including surrounding villages, so everyone’s voice was heard. People could no longer put profit and privilege over people and the local environment.
Councillor Biff Bean addressed Planning Committee as Ward Advocate in objection to the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· Tonight, he was here personally to object to the proposed WGC development.
· He was also here to object on behalf of the people of Hartsholme.
· He had been aware of this piece of land all his life and played there as a young boy.
· He grew up on the Hartsholme estate, his family had moved there in 1963.
· Hartsholme today was very different to how it was back then. Over recent decades the traffic congestion on Skellingthorpe Road and Doddington Road had become a nightmare for local residents.
· Whether you lived or worked in the area, which he did, it was not unusual to be sat in traffic for 20 or 30 mins or even longer.
· Changes to the road infrastructure were difficult to address with two sets of train barriers that constantly held up the flow of traffic.
· Without dropping or raising the track the community was stuck with this problem for the foreseeable future.
· When the WGC project was revived a few years ago, he thought if the design was right, we could use the site to ease the traffic congestion for the people of Hartsholme and Birchwood.
· He got involved and fed some of his ideas into the many debates and consultations held over the years, hoping to create a road infrastructure plan that could quickly get people into the city centre and alleviate the bottlenecks on Skellingthorpe and Doddington Road.
· He wrote a traffic report back in January 2018 with lots of ideas to address congestion throughout the city.
· Unfortunately, it had not worked out that way, this application fell well short of helping the situation on those roads. He believed this application would make congestion worse.
· There was no up-front funding for this development, so it could take over 20 years to complete. That was 20 years of disruption and added congestion.
· This would mean there would be no emphasis on completing the road infrastructure which was crucial to getting traffic congestion relief in our communities.
· Added in the confusion as to when the two road bridges would get permission and funding it was clear why people were sceptical of this application.
· As local Councillor for Hartsholme, he had spoken to hundreds if not thousands of people over many years about the WGC. Many of them would be sat in this room tonight. 95% of the people he spoke to were against building on this site.
· Flooding was also a massive issue along with wildlife concerns and loss of green spaces.
· He spoke very recently to those people who lived closest to the proposed development to see if they had a change of heart. If anything, they were more determined that this application be rejected.
· The size of the petition also showed that this project had not convinced local people that it was the right project for this area.
· As local Councillors they had a duty to listen to our constituents. He asked members to think about that before they made their decisions tonight.
· He did understand the need for more housing, and the leisure facilities would be a welcome addition for the city of Lincoln. But on the whole, and in his opinion, the project had more negatives than positives. So, it was back to the drawing board for him.
Kate Ellis, Strategic Director, Major Developments, City of Lincoln Council addressed Planning Committee in support of the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· She was responsible for leading the delivery of the Council’s priorities in addressing Climate Change and inclusive economic growth. This involved shaping visions, developing strategies and turning that policy into deliverable outcomes that made Lincoln an even better place. On this scheme, she led the Council’s separate land-owning team acting as developer.
· Lincoln was her home. She had lived in this beautiful city for over 25 years and for the last 20 years she had lived on Doddington Road as a Moorland resident, raising a family and travelling most days past this site into the city centre.
· It mattered to her what the Council did in Lincoln.
· The city had a well-recognised and evidenced need now and in the future for more housing of all types and tenure; more locations for businesses, more and better-paid jobs; better leisure provision; improved highway infrastructure for all forms of movement, where the benefits of a central rail station were not negated by increasing travel congestion and unreliability and frustration.
· The Council had a duty to not only plan for how that need was met, but that it also facilitated, enabled and delivered against that need. The Council for several decades had held development of Western Growth Corridor in both its strategic policy documents and its corporate delivery plans such as Vision 2020.
· This was not a site for uninspiring, tokenistic development with units crammed into a sea of tarmac to maximise profit. It was a complex and challenging site, where the Council’s masterplan showed the wonderful existing hedgerows and tree shaping where development went, where wetlands and rich ecology were enhanced and where sustainability in every sense of the word dominated to create a flourishing, connected and integrated community.
· The principle of development on this site had already been agreed historically and reaffirmed following a robust and comprehensive review as part of establishing the current Local Plan - this included independent evidence of need, several rounds of public consultation and a public examination by the Planning Inspectorate which she attended, representing the Council as landowner.
· Whilst there remained some strong and emotive views and concerns about building on this site, there was no other sites allocated in the plan, it had already been agreed that development would happen here.
· It was also accepted this would mean the development would start with a first phase of around 500 homes (which the Council had reduced to 300), accessed from Skellingthorpe Road, accepting the impact on existing traffic issues until the next phase of development was in place.
· It was therefore not a question of “if” or “should“, or even a question of “how much “, but a question of whether what was proposed appropriately delivered national and local planning policy requirements.
· We had spent thousands of hours with experts, reading reports, analysis, listening to, hearing and understanding valid concerns and issues, working with others to identify solutions, successfully securing funding from Homes England to help open up the site for housing delivery to ensure that it delivered the best the Council could, as Lincoln deserved.
· The Council had negotiated with national housebuilders and stood firm when proposals had not been good enough, when profit had driven choices. Quality of design, the value of the environment, building communities and quality homes for people in the city drove the Council’s choices not profit. It was no accident that today the joint applicant was a local developer and construction group.
· The Council had spent the vast majority of the past 4 years trying to agree with the Highway Authority a deliverable highways access plan both within the development and in terms of its impact on the surrounding area. Alongside the Council’s expert team, the Council had spent thousands of hours modelling, examining, even bringing in additional highway consultants to test whether there was a better solution, to then continue testing, revising, reviewing, modelling, problem- solving, and testing because the Council were and remained so committed to getting the best workable solution it could.
· The Council could not deliver this overnight, and frankly, no-one could do that without temporary disruption. The Council could not put £50 million of infrastructure in from day one without building any homes to finance it, as much as we would want to.
· What the Council could do was deliver a policy compliant exemplar sustainable community for the city.
· So, she was therefore particularly proud to be advocating this scheme for members consideration tonight.
Harry Flexman, representing Connect Transport Consultants, addressed Planning Committee in support of the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He was an Associate Transport Planner at Connect Consultants, a specialist firm of transport planning and highway design consultants.
· He held a master’s degree in Physics and was a member of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation.
· He had more than 14 years’ experience in highway engineering, traffic engineering and transport planning.
· Connect were brought in to work with City of Lincoln Council and Lindum on the Western Growth Corridor in 2018, in order to review the transport approach at the time and whether changes to that approach would better balance the needs of the development and of the transport network.
· Connect held multiple meetings and corresponded with Lincolnshire County Council highways department, and National Highways (who looked after the A46) and numerous technical reports had been submitted to both highway authorities during our lengthy discussions.
· Some changes Connect made were:
· Previous traffic modelling assumed a direct route for all vehicles through the site and predicted that a lot of non-development traffic would drive through the site.
· The Lincoln Transport Strategy was brought in which shifted focus away from just providing more traffic capacity, towards sustainable transport measures (like bus, cycle and walking).
· Encouraged by this, Connect changed the site layout so the main connection between Skellingthorpe Road, Tritton Road and Beevor Street was for bus priority, with the vehicular route being mainly for access in and out, but also to act as a relief valve if needed.
· At the Skellingthorpe Road access Connect showed that either a roundabout or traffic lights could be suitable.
· Both provided traffic capacity, and assisted pedestrians and cycles (via crossings).
· Connect presented both options to the County who had a very strong preference for traffic lights and that was the determining factor.
· Connect integrated bus priority on the approach from Birchwood Avenue
· The traffic effect of the full scheme had been tested using the County’s own strategic traffic model.
· To assess the early phases of the development, a new set of traffic surveys were done (before COVID and not during school holidays or unusual conditions).
· He then watched 1,000s of hours of CCTV footage of roads, junctions, queues, slow-moving vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Although there were obvious delays along Skellingthorpe Road, this should not taint opinion by the occasions when there may be abnormally high levels of queuing.
· Using industry standard methods, Connect calculated 139 traffic movements exiting the Phase 1a development during the morning peak hour, 11 travelling northwest to the A46, 47 travelling southwest along Birchwood Avenue, 81 east along Skellingthorpe Road, and some existing traffic would consider a different route.
· To help this route choice, and mitigate the 81 vehicles, Phase 1a included: signalisation of a junction, lane widening, yellow box markings, re phasing of traffic lights and other related improvements, as listed in the committee report.
· These added upwards of 100 vehicles’ worth of capacity, which more than mitigated the 81 traffic movements in the morning peak hour.
· There were multiple, long term residual benefits - not only to traffic management, but bus priority, and new cycle and pedestrian crossings.
· On this basis Phase 1a was well conceived, for the short, mid and long term.
· The existing problems along Skellingthorpe Road could not be solved without the bridge and connections through the site (otherwise it would have been done by now)
· Without this development, the issues would only get worse.
· If the development did not happen, houses would need to be built elsewhere which would add to the traffic without providing suitable mitigation.
· The transport elements of the application had been independently assessed (on behalf of the planning authority) by consultants BSP.
· It was clear that BSP had read all of the information, they had responded in detail about every element, and agreed with our assessment methodology, findings, mitigation, and conclusions.
· National Highways also agreed with our assessment and welcomed the benefits that the A46 improvements would deliver including the pedestrian/cycle crossings.
· The County was supportive of full development, as they knew it would provide significant benefits over the long term.
· In summary, this proposal had been subject to a very rigorous and lengthy assessment and review, every step of the process had been followed to industry standards.
· There were no short-term significant detriments, and huge mid to long term benefits particularly when measured against the existing situation and the unsavoury possibility of the houses being provided elsewhere, with the city having to deal with all the traffic, without the bridges and connections through the site.
· He hoped this provided the committee with confidence that the traffic and transport effects had been fully investigated, and that the right measures were being delivered as part of the development.
Mike Smith, representing Aecom Consultants, addressed Planning Committee in support of the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He was an Associate Director at AECOM, a global infrastructure consultancy, and would talk today about flood risk.
· AECOM had been working with City of Lincoln Council and Lindum for a number of years in developing the proposals for Western Growth Corridor.
· By background, he was a chartered civil engineer, with a specialism in flood risk and sustainable drainage infrastructure and had worked on many large scale, mixed use developments across the midlands and the north of England.
· The site benefitted from existing flood defences in the form of raised flood embankments along three separate watercourses that were adjacent to the site. These defences were maintained by the Environment Agency and would protect the site from flooding due to extreme river levels up to and including a 1 in 100 year event.
· There were also watercourses to the north of the site managed by Upper Witham Internal Drainage Board (IDB), with water levels controlled by downstream pumping stations.
· The IDB’s pumping stations were capable of preventing any flooding within the site from these watercourses for rainfall events up to and including a 1 in 100 year event, including the impacts of future climate change.
· In the worst case scenario, if the IDB’s pumps were to fail, and this coincided with a 1 in 100 year event, an area to the north of the site would be at risk of flooding. However, no development was proposed for this part of the site. He could also confirm that the development was not situated within a functional flood plain.
· The Environment Agency (EA) historically objected to the previous, much larger, version of the scheme in 2006 on the grounds of flood risk. As a result, a flood risk technical working group was formed, including members from the EA, the IDB and the County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, to determine the safe, sustainable extent of development that could be delivered within the site.
· Flood modelling work undertaken on behalf of the Technical Working Group, using the EA’s approved flood model, determined that two areas of land raising could safely be undertaken within the southern part of the site, so that even if the existing flood defences were to fail, the proposed development would be above the flood water level and there would be no negative impact on surrounding areas.
· Following this flood modelling work, the site allocation was retained in the 2017 Local Plan, with the inspector concluding that “the risks to both new and existing development could be adequately mitigated as part of the final design”.
· Further iterations of the EA’s flood model were run to refine the extent of the development shown on the masterplan, including the addition of two wetland areas to the north of the site, where ground levels would be lowered, providing around 180 million litres of extra flood storage, more than 5 times the volume of Hartsholme Lake.
· As the proposed properties would sit above the potential extreme flood level, the land would be classified by the EA as not being in a flood zone, meeting the requirements of the Association of British Insurers, so that residents would not pay higher rates for home insurance due to flood risk.
· Small areas of standing water observed in some of the farmers’ fields within the site following heavy or prolonged periods of rainfall was due to poor drainage in these areas and completely normal for agricultural land.
· The development proposals offered improved drainage across the site. Developed with the technical working group, the proposed drainage strategy would include sustainable drainage systems, allowing water to be safely stored during extreme rainfall events.
· The surface water drainage proposals had been modelled using the IDB’s own hydraulic model to confirm that the existing drainage infrastructure would have sufficient capacity to take flows from the development, without having any negative impacts elsewhere.
· Funding would be provided for the upgrade of the IDB’s existing pumping stations, improving their resilience and benefitting not just Western Growth Corridor, but also the existing homes currently served by the IDBs infrastructure. The Local Plan Inspector concluded that “upgrading existing pumps and improved management practices would reduce, rather than increase the likelihood of localised flooding.”
· Following completion of the detailed modelling work, and analysis of all potential sources of flood risk to the local area, culminating in the submission of the Flood Risk Assessment as part of the planning application, the EA had now raised no objections to the development. Whilst AECOM noted that the IDB had maintained its statutory and historic objection to the development, they had and continued to work closely with us to help shape the proposals for the site.
· AECOM continued to liaise with all members of the technical working group to keep them updated on the scheme and to agree the next steps required to bring the development forward in a safe and sustainable manner.
Mark Foster, representing Lindum Group, addressed Planning Committee in support of the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He was the Land and Planning Director with Lindum and the joint applicants planning lead for the scheme.
· With a planning application of this scale, it was no surprise that a lot of comment and speculation had been put forward. He was grateful for the opportunity to provide some facts, detail and evidence that supported this huge investment into the city, with a particular focus on why the project would start at Skellingthorpe Road.
· This site had been allocated within the Local Plan since 2017. Going even further back, the site had been allocated since the 1990s. Whilst the amount of development had been significantly scaled back and the transport strategy altered at various stages, one of the main constants had been that the first phase of development would be accessed from Skellingthorpe Road.
· This had always been the case on economic grounds because, irrespective of where the other access points were in relation to the site, they all involved substantial bridge and road structures, of significant upfront cost which in themselves had been a key factor in preventing this investment into the city coming forward.
· As part of the examination process associated with the Local Plan in 2017, the proposed allocation was considered in detail. This included the highway impact of the scheme and, in allocating the site, the Inspectors report concluded that; ‘Lincolnshire County Council confirm that recent work with site promoters has shown that access could be taken from Skellingthorpe Road without the residual cumulative impacts becoming severe’.
· The Inspectors report noted that a planning application for Phase 1 ‘would be relatively infrastructure light’. This could only be the case if the first phase was from Skellingthorpe Road and this ‘infrastructure light’ first phase was critical to evidencing deliverability of development on the site in the short term, and a central reason for its allocation, the Inspector being convinced that the proposals could feasibly be delivered and be delivered quickly.
· This highlighted the inextricable link between phasing and deliverability, as provided as detailed evidence within THE application. To start at the Tritton Road end would cost around five times more, at approximately £50 million, than starting at the Skellingthorpe Road end, at around £10 million. The difference was stark, but it was not just the headline costs which rendered this unfeasible.
· Starting at Skellingthorpe Road provided much needed initial revenue to enable finance to be secured against the remainder of the site, which would fund delivery of the spine road and Tritton Road bridge. With no revenue being created first, the sheer size of the cost, the complexity and risk of starting at the Tritton Road end would make this virtually impossible to fund in isolation. Some revenue and value needed to be created first to secure funding against, and this was typical of how developments of this nature were funded, enabling infrastructure to be brought forward.
· The overall deliverability of the scheme had been assessed independently by the Planning Authority’s appointed viability consultants Aspinall Verdi. One of the key questions the planners asked the consultants related to the likelihood of the development not continuing past the first 300 units.
· Lindum Group had always been very clear that it would make no sense to stop after the first 300 and not deliver the critical pieces of infrastructure as they were key to the success of the scheme, opening up the majority of the land and enabling a return on our investment.
· Aspinall Verdi confirmed this in their independent report, stating that ‘it is very unlikely they could walk away after Phase 1A’ They continued, ‘there should be little risk that the developers wouldn’t continue the development…and.. they would have to continue past Phase 2 to secure the return on their investment from the scheme’.
· We had always been clear it would make no sense to stop after the first 300, this had now been independently verified by expert viability consultants.
· The applicants had other equally compelling reasons to continue the development beyond the 1st phase – Kate Ellis had already outlined some of these and Paul McSorley would talk about this more next. Lindum Group’s reputation was at stake here, and the success of the scheme in its totality was of upmost importance to everyone.
· Personally, he was Lincoln born and bred and it mattered to him what Lindum Group did here. Professionally, he had been in development now for 20 years, and had never seen such a unique opportunity to deliver such a significant investment into Lincoln, all as part of the delivery of a truly special sustainable urban extension so close to the heart of the city. Lindum Group therefore hoped that Members resolved to grant the application this evening to enable the opportunity to be realised
Paul McSorley, representing Lindum Group, addressed Planning Committee in support of the proposed development, covering the following main points:
· He joined Lindum Construction as a year out trainee surveyor in 1987. In the 30 years leading up to the Examination in Public we had built and invested in numerous local projects including much of Brayford North,
· He was Deputy Chairman in 2016 and deciding to buy a farm within the Lincoln by-pass and become a delivery partner on the Western Growth Corridor was definitely the biggest decision the Lindum Group had made.
· As a successful local building contractor, consistently in the top 100 companies to work for, Lindum Group’s reputation was everything. Coupled with the scale of the development, the commercial risks and its importance to the city it would have been easy to step back.
· However, the decision was taken by the senior management team - unanimously - that this was something that needed to come forward and Lindum Group should be involved if it could be. This was not a decision based on commercial return; Lindum Group had made key land available to the City’s previous partners on an open book (non–ransom) valuation basis, to try to help delivery.
· So why?
· Lindum Group Head Office was less than 2 miles from the site, Lindum Group had 386 employees living in the LN1-LN6 areas; the dozens of red Lindum vans seen every day needed to get in, out and around the city for Lindum Group to effectively carry out its construction activities for its local clients.
· If the Western Growth Corridor did not happen; if there were no bridge over the railway line, things would get much worse, especially if the houses needed had to be built elsewhere, surrounding the city and putting added pressure on the same failing infrastructure.
· He stated that when Kate Ellis and he had sat with the Inspector at the Examination in Public, together with the County Council and other stakeholders they were clear this was the right thing to do. They could create the community they all believed in, if they could phase the project as envisaged and proposed, starting on Skellingthorpe Road. He also understood why two local organisations, with the City’s interests at heart could make the proposal work, when there had been so many false starts.
· However, there could be no compromises, no short cuts. A fully compliant application where we could contribute to the creation of a truly sustainable urban extension.
· Lindum Group’s success was intrinsically linked with the vitality and prosperity of the city, with which Lindum Group shared its name. Thousands of hours spent with consultants, where they asked for honest answers - not what they wanted to hear - the positive technical and financial support of Homes England, Network Rail’s clear understanding as to the mutual benefits of the proposals - had all reinforced Lindum Group’s belief that this was the right development; one which was needed without further delay.
· There were no alternatives here and things were getting worse. This proposal could not solve all the City’s existing issues, but it could make an incredibly positive difference.
· This was before the huge benefits and investment the scheme would bring were considered, the affordable homes (both social and market housing), a new primary school, a neighbourhood centre, hundreds of acres of natural habitat and farming land protected. An incredible opportunity.
· Finally: they had not moved the goal posts here; not only was this the right development and proposal, but it was also a comprehensive, fully compliant application done correctly.
At this stage proceedings were halted for a short comfort break of 20minutes from 7.22pm to 7.42pm, then reconvened.
The Chair advised he would take five questions from Members at a time allowing officers to respond without opportunity for the questions to get lost in the process as the evening progressed.
Members discussed the content of the officer’s report and the individual statements made in support and against the planning application as set out below.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe commented as follows:
· This decision was easily the biggest and most challenging known to him in his 40 years on the Council.
· They were reminded tonight that this was a major sustainable urban extension to Lincoln, forming an important foundation stone to the adopted Local Plan.
· The Local Plan was supported by the City Council, County Council and their two district council neighbours for many years, approved by the government led Planning Inspectorate at the examination of the plan in public in 2016.
· They were informed the proposals were designed to meet the anticipated growth in population, homes and jobs in the city, and to allow the infrastructure for this to be delivered in a sustainable way.
· Despite this, as a Planning Authority the Council was bound in law to examine rigorously the merits of this application and any adverse impact on local residents.
· Concerns had been raised about the impact on local residents from additional traffic generated by this development.
· He wished to offer a reassurance to everyone that he had read all 731 pages of the planning application including the 500 pages of objections.
· He recognised that views expressed by local residents were strongly and sincerely held and did need to be weighed in the balance in the decision made tonight.
· This was all the more reason to test to the limit the evidence provided by planning officers on the impact on traffic issues from the proposed development.
· The Committee had been told the first 300 properties would generate approximately 81 additional vehicles at morning rush hour on an already very congested Skellingthorpe Road eastbound carriageway, assuming traffic emerging from the new development was allowed to turn left at the new signalised Skellingthorpe Road junction. The applicant proposed other mitigation measures in the form of junction improvements at other locations in the area to reduce traffic travelling east on Skellingthorpe Road by approximately 100 vehicles. Was it correct therefore the result was a net reduction of 19 vehicles travelling east at peak rush hour on Skellingthorpe Road?
· The Highways Authority view was that this reduction may not all be achievable by the applicant’s mitigation measures. Had the Highway Authority provided evidence to support this view or was it an opinion that there would not be a 100 vehicle reduction by way of the mitigations?
· There had been discussions in respect of a ban on vehicles emerging from the new development turning left onto the eastbound carriageway of Skellingthorpe Road. Was this a condition that could be imposed on the applicants, and would this offer mitigation to the worsening of the current congestion on Skellingthorpe Road?
· After Phase 1 it was claimed further road infrastructure would bring relief to hold ups at the railway line at Skellingthorpe Road via two new connections to the City Centre, and there would then be a modal shift towards walking/cycling and bus usage. What conditions would be imposed to ensure these measures took place?
· Could planning officers explain in layman’s terms the advice given by Aspinall Verdi consultants to contradict the potential incentive for the applicants to walk away from further development after the first 300 houses were built, without the remaining infrastructure/development not going ahead?
Councillor Hilton Spratt commented as follows:
· He and Councillor Metcalfe were the only Members present this evening also on the Council in the 1980’s when WGC came forward.
· The formation of the WGC had developed over time to a considerable degree.
· There were some commendable elements.
· It encouraged growth and jobs in the local economy, bus, cycle, walking routes, extra housing and additional income from Council tax.
· There needed to be extra housing somewhere.
· He accepted the mitigation provided within the report on historical and wildlife/flora protection.
· He had also read all the agenda papers and accepted there were a considerable number of objections.
· Those who had not been involved in this planning application would think how marvellous it was, however, realistically this was not the case.
· He wished to address some of the concerns he held regarding the proposed development.
· The traffic situation in Lincoln as everyone accepted was horrendous.
· Adding these numbers of houses even over 22-23 years would result in a vast increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, even though the city was already swamped with cars.
· It was pleasing the report talked positively about cycle paths, walking paths and bus routes, however, planners failed to accept that the car remained a reality, as it was convenient and cheaper than public transport in the city.
· Dwellings would be allocated 1.5 car parking spaces. Several homes in his Ward had two or three cars per household and had to park on the road. The spaces were much bigger too in previous years.
· The police also stated that generally putting car parking spaces together in one ‘lot’ encouraged theft.
· Deliverability - the development would take 22 years to complete.
· He was not persuaded by speakers tonight who claimed the development would reach conclusion. Once the first tranche of, houses was erected, no developer would stick to the plans as a long term development, due to infrastructure costs.
· As for the bridge and social housing – let us just watch this space.
· The development was situated on a flood plain like a number of areas of the city. In 2007/08 the east end of the city was nearly totally flooded off Monks Road area and in early 2001/2/3 there was flooding in Witham Ward.
· Most people accepted we had global warming. However, when houses were built in areas liable to flooding, constituents would not be happy to be told by officers it was a 1 in 100 year event when it had happened the previous night.
Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, offered clarification to points raised so far as follows:
· In relation to additional vehicle movements onto Skellingthorpe Road from the first 300 dwellings, and the assessment of a net reduction of 19 vehicles, this was not entirely the case. It was more an issue that it created that additional capacity to enable road users to take alternative routes not specifically related to Skellingthorpe Road.
· Lincolnshire County Council as statutory consultee for the Highway Authority had not provided any contrary modelling evidence to substantiate their objection to the planning authority. This had led to the rationale of seeking third party advice from BSP as highways consultants.
· An additional condition on the grant of planning permission to prevent vehicles turning left from the new development onto the eastbound carriageway of Skellingthorpe Road was an option for members if so minded, however it was important to be mindful that requisite tests must be met when imposing planning conditions, one of which was ‘to be necessary’. It had not been proposed or negotiated with the Highway Authority. Evidence available and advice from consultants was that it was not necessary and therefore he advised it would fall short of meeting this essential test.
· In terms of what conditions would be imposed to ensure that modal shift took place, condition number 37 went some way to address this issue. Modal shift had very much been an inherent factor in the evolution of this scheme, certainly to the principal link through this site, which was altered to prioritise bus routes through it following detailed workshop sessions held with the applicant and with the Highway Authority present. Additional modal shift measures would be implemented through the travel planning process, but fundamentally within the detail of reserved matters planning applications coming through on a phase-by-phase basis, should outline permission be granted this evening.
· In terms of concerns raised regarding the development not progressing after the initial first phase of 300 houses, this was covered in his presentation and by several of tonight’s speakers. The likelihood of the required infrastructure not happening was a key question that needed answering. The applicants informed the Committee that they were absolutely committed to full delivery of the scheme, however, as planning authority, we sought validation through an external third party, Aspinall Verdi, consultants. This company also assessed the viability of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan and were aware of the area, the Western Growth Corridor and issues surrounding it. The consultants expressed a high level of confidence that the applicants would not walk away, primarily, from a commercial viability point of view. All developments needed a return, and in order to open up the site and its required infrastructure, the applicant would need to progress beyond the initial 300 dwellings to make a return on their investment. Otherwise, there would be a financial loss to the scheme.
· In relation to available car parking spaces per dwelling, 1.5 cars was an average allocation for the whole development and hence produced an odd number of vehicles. It was compiled to industry standards. There would be a full range of accommodation types such as large family homes, starter homes, apartments etc, with a range of car parking requirements. Some dwellings would have 2 to 3 car parking spaces and some areas would potentially be car free.
· In terms of flood risk, technical information was provided within the officers’ report and given at the meeting. The area was not a functional flood plain, it was an area at risk of flooding if flood defences failed. There was a key difference. This was also the case for many parts of central Lincoln. There were flood risk issues, however. development platforms would be established to allow some properties to be raised out of that flood zone. At this time of year standing water did appear, as a drainage issue and not a flood risk in itself. Measures such as Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD’s) principles would go into the site as it developed first and foremost, to resolve this issue as required by the County Council as lead Flood Authority.
Councillor Jane Loffhagen commented as follows:
· She reassured people who expressed some doubts as to whether all councillors would read the papers and take the issues seriously. She had never met a councillor of either persuasion who was not dedicated to the role and did not prepare properly for meetings.
· She thanked officers and everyone involved in the successful planning of this event which was very helpful in answering some of the issues she had. She attended tonight in her capacity as a Planning Member having an open mind, her duty to do so.
· She was aware of the duty of the Council to provide opportunities for houses to be built. What was the difference between this development jointly applied for by the City of Lincoln Council and a local firm, and other developments that may be outside of the City Council and the city?
Councillor Calum Watt commented as follows:
· It was a pleasure to be back in this building where he studied politics as a student several years ago, saying things that were not always popular.
· This building was also the centre of the railways project, which people had been sceptical about to begin with but soon realised how railways changed their lives.
· When he first looked at this planning application, he was somewhat alarmed they were going to build another car dependent suburb, however, after having read all the papers, spoken to officers, attended briefings etc, he was very confident it would not be that.
· The most impressive part of the development was the spine road. People by nature took the quickest and easiest route to get to their destination whether it be by car, public transport or cycling. A spine road designed in this way was impressive and very forward looking, setting a precedent for other locations.
· He would not dwell on the drainage issue, which had been covered elsewhere to his satisfaction.
· He noted that some people thought this area would eventually be under the sea, if that happened so would the place they were standing in now, which was a much bigger issue than they could look at here.
· They could deal with global issues in adapting the way they lived through modal shift They could reduce traffic on Skellingthorpe Road through the modelling he had seen to provide a quicker link into the city for people living in the area and address the hold ups every morning there.
· He did have some reservations. He was surprised that a modern Highway Authority had recommended in his view a downgrade of a roundabout to a signalised junction.
· He had not grown up in the city, he was from Stevenage, a town mainly made up of roundabouts where traffic lights or indeed traffic jams were rarely seen. However, he was assured the signal junction could be changed if it did not work.
· He was also surprised as part of the plans it would not be possible to drive a private car from one end to the other at all in preference to a convoluted route, however, this again could be changed, and traffic measures put into place if it did not work.
· He sincerely hoped the development would not take 23 years to be built, housing was badly needed. Planning Committee had approved yet another infill for two flats squeezed between a few buildings recently, which he voted against, this scheme was a much better solution providing decent living for future residents and would probably get his vote for this reason.
· Would cycle routes be fully separated as all should be, starting from scratch?
· If we were to have different circumstances in coming years such as a change in government and the economy, would this enable the speed of delivery for the scheme to be increased?
Councillor Edmund Strengiel commented as follows:
· It would have been easy for him to act as Ward Advocate at the meeting as a Birchwood councillor, however, this would exclude him from voting on the planning application and he had chosen to sit as a member of Planning Committee for this reason.
· He thanked officers for a very in- depth report; it took a lot of reading but was well worth it.
· To date he had been inundated with e mails from constituents regarding the application, raising concerns in relation to issues such as road congestion, loss of open space, wildlife habitat, and flooding, to name just a few.
· He had responded ensuring that he had not fettered his discretion through predetermination. He wished to make this clear
· In 1991 when he first became a Birchwood councillor, a similar project was proposed to deliver 5,000 dwellings onsite called the Skewbridge or Swanpool project, which did not go ahead. In 2006, it was later scaled back to 4,500 properties by the City of Lincoln Council, incorporating a business park on the western edge through North Kesteven District Council land. The developer was Taylor Wimpey.
· He remembered sitting with Councillor Metcalfe in a Senior Management Team meeting in 2007 viewing the scheme on a large map.
· At that time there were plans for a slip road midway, off the by-pass between Skellingthorpe and Carholme roundabouts.
· No mention was made of access or egress from the Skellingthorpe Road/Birchwood Avenue junction.
· Going back to the mid 1990’s, he advocated that the ‘free for all’ T- Junction at Birchwood Avenue be changed to a traffic light junction
· If the current application was granted, he would be happy it remained as a signalled junction.
· The former application posed no issues for him at the time apart from its close proximity to Ward residents living on the north side of Skellingthorpe Road.
· That development also extended into Boultham and Hartsholme area with another road proposed off Hartsholme Drive.
· The Environment Agency was totally against the development at that time, due to risk of flooding, however it had now changed its mind.
· This project also fell through as the developer pulled out.
· More recently the development had been brought back by the City of Lincoln Council using Lindum Construction to deliver 3,200 properties.
· Living in the area for 35 years he had witnessed continuous pressure on the road infrastructure. Better traffic outlets were required in this proposed development area being equivalent to a good-sized town.
· The area was of high density and high population.
· His problem with the WGC development centred on the issues of road infrastructure and ensuing traffic congestion.
· He had lobbied over the years to improve Skellingthorpe Road. roundabout. He was always told by Lincolnshire County Council it was outside their area, being within the North Kesteven District Council boundary and owned by National Highways.
· Improvements to Skellingthorpe roundabout linked to the WGC scheme would not be sufficient to mitigate excess traffic on Skellingthorpe Road caused by the development.
· Peak time traffic was horrendous in the area, an impediment in journeys for people living south or immediately north of Skellingthorpe Road which ever route they chose to take.
· The speaker from Lincolnshire County Council had reiterated the problems of 81 additional cars due to issues with the road infrastructure.
· The average number of car parking spaces was set at 1.5, however 300 houses with only one vehicle amounted to 300 cars and 450 at 1.5 spaces. This was greater than 81.
· New residents would use the local shopping centre, both surgeries and pharmacies in Birchwood, schools etc, the mitigation measures put forward would not happen overnight.
· He preferred the development to start from the Tritton Road/Beevor Street end and worked inwards to the development, as there were no residents in that area to be impacted upon.
· He was told this was not possible based on cost. However, two bridges would be built at Beevor Street and Tritton Road at a cost of £20 million each.
· He was concerned as to how much return the applicant would get from each of the 300 houses.
· Who would pay for the bridges?
· Why could the development not be started from Tritton Road end, perhaps with a loop system to provide access and egress around Tritton Road/Beevor Street?
· He could not support the proposed development due to its impact on current residents in Birchwood, Boultham and Hartsholme.
Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, offered clarification to further questions raised as follows:
· The cycle routes would be fully separated/segregated routes, as part of reserved matters detail.
· Potentially, the development could be built more quickly in the event of planning policy changes, or market/economic conditions, although he could not confirm this.
· In terms of the difference between this development jointly applied for by the City of Lincoln Council and a local firm, and other developments that may be outside of the City Council, as a Planning Authority it was completely autonomous and had to be by law. All applicants were treated exactly the same.
· Discussions were being held about funding streams for the two bridges forming part of the development, Homes England in particular. This was an issue for the applicant to resolve, although not necessarily a material planning consideration relevant to the decision this evening.
· The development could not start from Tritton Road with the access bridge, due to consideration of financial constraints for the applicant in terms of delivering that first as opposed to the Skellingthorpe Road access point. The proposed development was included in the current adopted Local Plan, to be built and opened from Skellingthorpe Road end. No objections were received from the Highways Authority. They were also tasked with considering the planning application in front of us this evening.
Councillor Andrew Kerry commented as follows:
· A long time ago a decision was made to convert soggy agricultural land into desirable new dwellings, which would cause much grief and disquiet to so many for so long.
· The development raised concerns due to the impact of the increase of potentially 450+ additional cars into the junction at Skellingthorpe Road. As the Highway Authority had pointed out, there would not be a maximum of 81 extra cars at any one time.
· The Council had always said there was a need for new houses, but this was not an ideal site It was wet most of the time.
· The whole development had changed since 2008, with the financial crisis and housing crash. The plans changed, the dwellings changed, North Kesteven District Council withdrew, and with this a chance of a link to the A46.
· The potential return also nose-dived due to a reduction in the number of houses from 4,500 to 3,200, not good in a global crisis.
· One of the suggestions to deal with the flooding problems was to raise the land.
· The problem here was the number of lorry journeys required to bring in soil to make that transition.
· They were told a Transport Plan would be put in place to prevent overcrowding of the local roads. Residents were not convinced.
· During the period the development was not ongoing, he felt the eye had been taken off the ball somewhat although discussions were ticking over in the background.
· Local residents felt misinformed and that they were not being updated on the proposals.
· He attended several Council workshops, suggestions and comments were listened to with a polite smile; before the officer launched into a rehearsed script prepared in case of awkward questions.
· Councillor Davies of Lincolnshire County Council had stated at its Executive the other day that the amount of extra traffic generated on Skellingthorpe Road from the proposed development would be unacceptable, and this was the reason for raising an objection. He stated that as a local authority the residents had to be their first priority.
· Many of the residents he had spoken to in his ward agreed.
· 300 additional homes would trigger nothing more than a signalled junction and a road onto Birchwood Avenue.
· 600 houses would trigger nothing more than a bridge over Tritton Road railway line.
· If there was another global crisis, should the project stall again due to raw worldly economics without the centre link being built, then Skellingthorpe Road would bear the brunt of it.
· The Director of Major Developments quoted in the Lincolnite 23 March 2019 that the developer was confident the new road through the development connecting Skellingthorpe Road to Tritton Road via a new bridge would play a major part in reducing current traffic issues in bypassing the congestion at the railway crossing.
· On 15 September 2020 the Lincolnite reported large parts of the development’s spine road would be for buses, pedestrians and cyclists only with a 20 mph speed limit put in place throughout the development. Also, Project Planning Director, Mark Foster, said we had listened to comments made and were confident the updated proposals mitigated the transport impacts to the scheme and maximised sustainable transport opportunities for the proposed residents of the development.
· As an Elected Member, he did not think this development would change the current traffic problems they had.
· An independent report was commissioned which concluded that traffic could cope.
· It was often said that if you looked hard enough you could always find an expert that agreed with you.
· If the independent report had not backed up the position of the managing group, he suggested it would have been discarded and forgotten about completely.
· The Highway Authority was against the proposals in their current format, also our MP, local residents and Ward Councillors.
· So, we had a development where never had there been the potential to impose misery on so many for the benefit of so few.
· The development should be looked at again, incorporating a link road not dedicated to buses/cycles and pedestrians to alleviate some of the issues.
· Everyone who lived at houses 1-300 of the new development and did not want to head into town would exit on Skellingthorpe Road and go up Birchwood Avenue or Doddington Road to take the shortest route even if the road link was in place.
· As a Ward Councillor he needed assurances for his residents that traffic issues would be addressed and there would be no more misery.
· He had also chosen not to speak as a Ward Advocate to enable his vote to be counted.
· He could not support the planning application before us this evening as it inflicted more misery than that we currently had.
Councillor Matthew Fido commented as follows:
· Building houses was a good thing. There were more people in our cities and country than ever before. They needed good quality; well insulated homes fit for the future.
· What did the future hold? Climate change was a huge threat to our way of life and the standards they had become accustomed to.
· Polar ice caps were melting leading to rising sea levels in a world similar to little mermaid under the sea. Temperatures were rising together with more frequent extreme weather conditions, which had a knock-on effect on the eco systems.
· The proposed development was located in a flood risk area. Was it wise to build on a flood risk area even with the mitigation measures proposed?
· December 15, 2015 was the wettest month of the century. An estimated 16,000 homes in England alone were flooded, amounting to £1 billion in insurance pay outs.
· If this development went ahead, what assurances would be made by insurance providers in the private sector to offer affordable policies with broad enough coverage for homeowners.
· Unless he was mistaken, he had not seen any assurance in writing within the officer report from the Association of British Insurers that this was the case, although Mike Smith had given assurances in his speech. Could this assurance be obtained before any permission was granted to avoid burden on taxpayers further down the line?
· A scheme between the government and UK insurers called FloodRE offered affordable cover to homeowners in flood risk areas in place until 2039, but only applied to homes built before 1 January 2009.
· The opportunity of being able to purchase an affordable home local to where we lived and worked was a sweet reward. Many young people in the city aspired to own their own home.
· More homes were badly needed but people must feel safe and secure in those homes. If people did not have insurance security and the worst happened, thousands of families could be left without a home or any financial means to help themselves out.
· Was this flood risk going to be a problem 20-40 years down the line? They spoke about industry standards for flood risks, but industry standards were followed in the past in relation to such things as cladding, and where had this left them as a country now.?
· There was no such thing as government money, only taxpayers’ money and where was that going to go?
Councillor Alan Briggs commented as follows:
· He thanked officers for their comprehensive presentation and the relevant printed documents made available to everyone.
· 731 pages for 33 Councillors amounted to 24,123 pages.
· He also took the option not to act as Ward Advocate to enable him to vote on this planning application on behalf of his Birchwood residents.
· There had been so many written objections and various petitions circulated.
· He had been inundated with e mails detailing various objections/observations, some being substantially factual.
· The main objections were flooding, air and noise pollution, environmental damage and traffic congestion.
· The traffic congestion objections were not nimbyism; they were based on residents’ personal experience, often after many years of suffering long delays on a daily basis.
· After attending a number of organised meetings over the last four years, he had always kept an open mind on the viability/objectives of this project.
· As a resident of Skellingthorpe Road himself, he had many times tirelessly endured the endless traffic congestion.
· The Western Growth Corridor was an ambitious project, but the present proposals did not outweigh these issues only exacerbated them.
· The spine road and bridges were key to this scheme being a success and should be built first not last in six years’ time prior to completion of the final phase in 20 years’ time.
· Why could funding not be obtained for the bridges?
· In respect of mention of no-right turn at the end of Dixon Street, this would cause mayhem on Rookery Lane and further congestion on Newark Road at peak times.
· He quoted from BSP consulting transport advice note 19 April 2021, section 4 which stated that the existing bus routes 6 and 9 currently used Dixon Street, however, only the number 9 service would benefit from proposed bus improvements to the Dixon Street/High Street junction. That equated to one bus every 20 minutes whilst the number 9 was running.
· Other bus services serving southern areas of the city would benefit from the proposed bus lane on High Street as quoted in mitigation package B.
· Overall, it looked like the consequences of the proposed development were worse than the potential benefits, which was difficult to rationalise in light of the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency.
· For these reasons, he would be unable to support this project like a number of his colleagues.
Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, offered clarification to further comments/questions raised as follows:
· In terms of considering the application again in a different form in relation to the link road, he referred again to a workshop held by officers, the applicant side and the Highway Authority, which centred on that route and its function. The County Council as Highway Authority suggested that the route be engineered in such a way to prioritise buses and other modal shift means and requested that it function in that way through the scheme. The vehicular route would be a longer and slightly slower route through the site. The route evolved in that way as presented to Planning Committee this evening largely due to this request from the Highway Authority at that time. We were also tasked with a remit to consider the planning application in front of us this evening.
· In relation to an assurance that the highways issues would be dealt with, data had been examined by officers tirelessly over the last three years and longer than that at pre application stage trying to resolve all the issues for this site, principally the highways issues. As a local planning authority, they were now satisfied with the proposed scheme having also taken third party advice. As part of the planning balance, whilst it was clear there would be a short-term impact, it was not considered to be in itself severe and would improve once the link road was in place within the scheme.
· In terms of insurance cover and the flood risk issue for the site, it was an area at risk of flooding being in a flood zone although not a flood plain, the works to raise the land levels would result in the development platforms no longer being in a flood zone. This was the trigger point for residents in obtaining insurance. This matter was not a material planning consideration on which members could form the basis of decision making this evening.
· In relation to the cost of the railway bridges, there were discussions ongoing to obtain funding streams although not necessarily material to this planning application. These discussions would not alter the phasing of the scheme to allow Tritton Road to be delivered first, however it may bring forward development of that Tritton Road link.
Councillor David Clarkson commented as follows:
· He had read through all the planning papers and listened to all the comments made with interest so far.
· The planning application told them Skellingthorpe Road was one of the main arterial routes into the city from the A46, however it had never intended to be as a narrow B road.
· The joint footpath/cycleways along the sides were not wide enough or fit for purpose. In the winter fallen leaves from overgrown vegetation caused slippery surfaces not safe for cyclists. He spoke as a cyclist.
· The road had been congested for years and kept worsening.
· Despite extensive developments in the area over many years, the only highway improvement had been the installation of traffic lights at Birchwood Avenue. There was no room for any further improvement although badly needed
· A packed public meeting to discuss traffic congestion from the then proposed initial 600 houses in the area was held on 7 February 2019 almost three years ago at Alive Church, Birchwood.
· They were told at the meeting there would be a link road to avoid the level crossing, the source of the congestion from Skellingthorpe Road to Tritton Road and Beevor Street, although it was unclear when the bridges would be built.
· There had been no further public meetings since that date, although the proposal had changed significantly since then.
· That link road was now a spine road with significant portions of it buses only, cycling and walking.
· Any other traffic would have to divert from the spine road through residential areas and re-join the spine road the other end.
· They had been told at meeting this was intentional to stop the spine road being used as a rat run. Local residents in Birchwood and Hartsholme had been promised a link road.
· The spine road would not be built for 6 years, but we had no idea when these other residential areas and roads would be built to give private access to vehicles.
· We were told the spine road was not for through traffic but at the same time a contradictory statement said that congestion on Skellingthorpe Road would be reduced as a result of it.
· Traffic on Skellingthorpe Road was more horrendous than could be imagined.
· Much was made of the Transport Assessment although it was not included in the agenda documents.
· The Transport Assessment formed the basis of the justification for a mitigation scheme to alleviate congestion on Skellingthorpe Road.
· The document stated that the spine road would provide a faster, more direct route for buses, cycles and pedestrians and an alternative route for cars into the city from the A46 and Birchwood Avenue. It would provide a more reliable journey, with regular delays at Skellingthorpe Road railway crossing being bypassed providing an alternative route in the event of unexpected incidents on the road network. To achieve this, it would need to be a proper road.
· Although the bridge and connected spine road would not be finished for another 6 years, 300 homes and all construction traffic would access and exit the site via Skellingthorpe Road.
· The Transport Assessment stated that traffic surveys were conducted in February 2020 at 9 road junctions to assess traffic impact on the early development phases 1a and 1b using spreadsheet models. The data was used to arrive at projected extra traffic levels. However, the surveys were carried out on only one day. A queueing survey was also conducted using cameras recording the longest queue in any 5 minute period. Traffic flows were judged as low to moderate on Birchwood Avenue to the A46 roundabout and from Birchwood Avenue to Skellingthorpe Road during peak hours, and no queue through the Birchwood Avenue/Skellingthorpe Road junction. This was not the reality of what he saw every day.
· Everyone who lived in the area saw long queues every day of the week at any time of day, not to forget the rat run through narrow residential roads at Ashby Avenue and Hemswell Avenue which the traffic survey failed to mention.
· Were the queues just ignored, did they not happen, but then why would the bus lane onto Birchwood Avenue be required?
· The traffic survey gave no mention of the root cause of the daily delay at the A46 Skellingthorpe roundabout, or covered the projected proposed alterations to it, perhaps due to using cameras rather than human records.
· The Greater Lincoln Traffic Model was quoted regularly in the traffic survey, described as a computer software package to forecast changes in traffic movements. In terms of the Skellingthorpe Road crossing the document stated this software package was not designed for modelling activity at railway junctions and was coded as a signalised junction instead. There was no similarity between the two, the data did not provide certainty, only approximations.
· The accuracy of the data should be treated with scepticism.
· The predictions did not take account of the substantial housing development taking place in Skellingthorpe village.
· Mitigation measures proposed for package A claimed to create extra capacity for 100 vehicles, improving the situation, which included traffic lights and pedestrian crossings at Birchwood Avenue junctions However, it stated that the proposal to put in a yellow box junction at Doddington Road had not been analysed for capacity, another guestimate, even though this was proposed as an alternative route for vehicles instead of Skellingthorpe Road.
· Changes were also proposed to the Tritton Road/Doddington Road approach to avoid blockages caused by vehicles turning right from Whisby Road. This was due to traffic being slow moving when the lights tuned red with stationary traffic across the junction. Yellow box junctions were not adhered to and largely ignored.
· The alternative route along Doddington Road to avoid congestion was much longer than accessing the city along other routes, it still required drivers to negotiate a railway crossing and was just as congested.
· There was no new route to divert motorists.
· Residents told him getting out of Forest Park onto the A46 was a nightmare.
· There were also issues with insufficient bus services. Stagecoach did not respond to the consultation process but stated they would not increase bus services.
· There would be only three buses an hour on the spine road which was bus superiority.
· Cars were here to stay. He called into question the validity of the modelling used, surveys completed on just one day, and calculation of traffic flows and could not support this planning application. His residents would not forgive him.
Councillor Clare Smalley commented as follows:
· She thanked everyone for the information provided this evening, the people who had taken part in the presentation which was incredibly useful as well as all the documents received. She was very pleased many were able to make comments and to contact local councillors to answer their queries.
· She would keep her speech short as a lot of people had already mentioned issues she planned to talk about, particularly in relation to flooding.
· She acknowledged it had been clarified that insurance was not a planning consideration.
· She also referred to the platforms to be built and welcomed the consideration that had been given in the report to potential additional rainfall in the future.
· Could officers clarify what increased levels of rainfall had been considered and how fool proof that guarantee would be?
· In terms of the traffic analysis and the fact it was only carried out on one day, in February 2020, not likely to be the busiest day due to the pandemic, should more detailed analysis have been conducted at that point?
· In relation to comments made regarding the risk of the developers pulling out after the first 300 houses had been built, she understood that cost-wise it was more beneficial to build these homes first, however it left them in a vulnerable position. She understood there were assurances but were there any guarantees or penalties in that regard?
· They could be left in a position with 300 non-affordable homes; 20% of affordable housing was welcome, but many people wanting to live in our city struggled to find it. Could an element of the first 300 homes be affordable?
· If the new development was not built to a conclusion, they would be in a position with no new affordable housing.
Councillor Gary Hewson commented as follows:
· He noted comments made by Kate Ellis, during her presentation stating that it was not a matter of when or if this application would take place, it would be delivered without a doubt as a designated area in the Local Plan for housing development. Economic development considerations were also involved.
· If this development was refused, it would be like ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. The only way to solve the problems on Tritton Road was to build a route over the railway line.
· Councillor Bean had been campaigning to solve problems on Skellingthorpe Road over the years also recognised the issue was the railway line.
· The railway line would not go away, raising it or diverting it underground would not happen.
· This development needed mitigation measures in place to cope with the additional 81 vehicles expected to exit the proposed first stage of the development.
· We had been told there was another development further down the road over which this planning authority had no input, to provide 600 homes in Skellingthorpe. Would the developers of that scheme contribute to the building of the bridge over the railway line? A great deal of the vehicles from the site would use Skellingthorpe Road.
· Was the developer allowed to make changes to the highway without the agreement of the Highway Authority? Would the Council as a private developer be allowed to do this as the Highway Authority was not in support of the mitigation measures proposed?
· It was disappointing that the main bus operator to benefit from this scheme had failed to make any comments.
· He referred to the Travel Plan for the proposed development contained within the agenda documents designed to encourage people to use alternative forms of transport. Could the bus operator encourage people to make that change by providing discount ticket for commuters? For a young family it was much cheaper to travel by car and park in the city centre than use the local bus service.
· There had to be encouragement from the operators who would benefit from the development having bus lanes to get people into the city centre more quickly, otherwise local people would not use the service.
· He thanked officers for their fine presentation.
· He thanked all those people who had contacted him by e mail with concerns regarding flood risk and transport issues, he felt that all the concerns had been answered correctly this evening and he had no problem in supporting the proposed development on the table.
· He had not heard anything from the County Council representative tonight regarding mitigation measures it would put in place as Highway Authority to deal with the traffic congestion it was well aware of on Skellingthorpe Road. It had failed to do anything about it.
· He felt the Highway Authority recognised too the only way to address the traffic problems was a route over the railway line. This application gave them the chance to take advantage of that opportunity. Those councillors expressing concerns about the proposed development must support this view.
· The railway line was here to stay. Nobody wanted freight to be transported on the road network. They had to look forward.
· All governments recognised new houses were needed.
· This planning development had been taken very seriously. Two previous developers had walked away because they were not prepared to agree to the type of scheme they wanted on that site.
· The council had spent a great deal of money to arrive at the application being brought forward tonight.
· He urged for a push to get the bridge and spine road to come into fruition before six years.
· He urged everyone to work together with the developer and Highway Authority to move this development forward, not to stand still.
· It was needed for housing, employment and economic prospects.
· He urged acceptance of the application.
Councillor Chris Burke commented as follows:
· He thanked officers for all their hard work and partners including Lindum Construction Group for working alongside the City of Lincoln Council.
· Officers should not be put off by negative comments received tonight, although he wanted to thank those who made such comments as there was no doubt, they all cared about this development and their city, including those people making contributions from the floor.
· If he had learnt anything about Planning Committees during his time here and at Lincolnshire County Council, it was that planners were capable of bringing radical change if they had the courage.
· Councillor Hewson had made inspiring comments and encapsulated much of what he was going to say.
· They all needed to have the courage of our convictions.
· The County Council as Highway Authority needed to stand up to the mark here
· In his opinion this County Council as Highway Authority should take its responsibilities seriously, then the public transport of this City would be transformed, and fewer cars required.
· In his Ward many residents were lucky to have a car at all and were desperately reliant on defective public transport.
· Could officers expand on the car-free element of the proposals. It was not an automatic assumption that they would always be reliant on motor cars.
· Changes to move to electric cars had started, fewer people would own cars eventually as pressure increased for public transport to be improved
· If they failed to have the courage to build this housing development those aspiring homeowners referred to would always remain as such,
· Would officers agree if these homes were not built there would be more appalling levels of infill developments?
· Changes made by the government made it very difficult for them to refuse infill developments even if they knew they were a bad idea.
· To support their children and grandchildren who were struggling for housing, they must support this huge project.
· The project did have imperfections. It was the biggest one he had seen in his lifetime, but he believed the mitigation levels proposed particularly around issues of the flood plain had been ably answered by experts.
· He had made the decision based on the professional advice of officers and partners that this was a crucial development which we all should support.
Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, offered clarification to further comments/questions raised as follows:
· In terms of flood risk and the robustness of information used in respect of levels of rainfall, this was in accordance with Environment Agency’s projections. All the work pertained to flood risk had been done in cooperation with the Environment Agency both at pre application stage and as statutory consultee during the application stage.
· It was not possible for the Planning Authority to give any guarantee about delivery beyond the first 300 houses at Phase 1 of the scheme. It was in the gift of members to consider this on balance considering all the evidence provided, however, it was the belief of the planning authority that it would be delivered. The application team and independent specialist advice was also saying this. As the application team included the City Council, there were routes and mechanisms for Members to drive that agenda forward should it not be going in the direction they saw fit.
· It was regrettable that the first 300 homes would not be affordable, however the planning authority was tasked to provide sustainable development. Deliverability and viability were part of the consideration as to whether the development was acceptable. There were mechanisms within the conditions of the scheme as a whole for a minimum of 20% affordable homes to be provided across the site. Some phases may be well above 20% even as much as 100% in areas with registered social landlord schemes. The Planning Authority gave an assurance that a minimum of 20% affordable housing would be provided across this scheme.
· Developers could not carry out works to the highways network without permission. There was a legal consent process to be followed seeking agreement from the Highway Authority. In the event that the County Council were against any proposals, caselaw suggested a requirement for the Highway Authority to cooperate in matters where it objected to a scheme which was subsequently approved planning permission.
· In terms of car ownership, in some situations they may see some car free development across the site although there were no guarantees. In order to arrive at the global phasing of the site, some homes would see more off street parking and others less.
· In response to being asked whether they would see more infill developments if planning permission was refused tonight, this was not for him to comment. However, should the application be refused, there would need to be 3,200 dwellings worth of sites found across Central Lincolnshire.
Councillor Dyer reminded Mr Manning, Assistant Director of Planning that he had not responded to many of the points made by Councillor Clarkson. Was he able to do this or would he like Councillor Clarkson to repeat them?
Mr Manning responded that he would not request Councillor Clarkson repeated his points verbatim. A number of pertinent technical comments were made. He was not aware of any specific questions asked. In response to the issues raised, the methodology used for the traffic assessments conducted was in consultation and agreement with the Highway Authority. We ourselves were not highway experts. They sought advice from our statutory consultee and commissioned an external appraisal of the sustainability of the scheme. Together with the mitigation measures proposed they were in support of it. The Highway Authority was not disputing the data, it was that it did not agree with the applicant and considered the severity of the impact from the first 300 dwellings was too great. It was the remit of Members of Planning Committee to decide as to whether or not they agreed with this.
Councillor Thomas Dyer commented as follows:
· It was wonderful to see City of Lincoln Council finally live streaming a meeting.
· He had just checked, he wanted to thank the circa 160 people watching the proceedings from their homes.
· He thanked all those people still here in the audience for bearing with them.
· There was no doubt this was a significant decision to be made tonight, having lasting implications on or City and the world once they had departed.
· There was without a doubt significant demand for more housing, leisure space and business space.
· Councillor Metcalfe suggested no left turn onto Skellingthorpe Road from the development; he was pleased to hear this suggestion would not go ahead.
· During the opening remarks of the Planning Committee, it was stated that engagement with statutory consultees and the public had been an important part of this application. However, what was the point of the consultation process if mass objections from members of the public and statutory authorities such as the County Council were ignored.
· The transport implications were the main objection from residents; however, the link road would not be constructed until Phase 2 of the scheme was completed, many years ahead with unsuitable mitigation to that point.
· Planning officers had confirmed during the meeting that the link road and associated bridges could be built, they all wanted them to say they ‘will be built’ In his view this could not be guaranteed 100%.
· In respect of flood risk, it was noted that linear channels would be widened within the development
· Would these channels be riparian channels maintained by the City Council or by the land owning residents?
· One speaker raised uncertainty over Network Rail approving the bridge. Could officers confirm the situation in this respect?
· Another speaker referred to the Environment Act, which he would speak to later.
· He thanked Miss Kipley for her interesting verbal and written comments.
· He could not find a car parking space on a visit to Hartsholme Park recently, would there be any improvements to green spaces and leisure facilities in that area?
· He wished to focus on the objection to Phase 1a by the Highway Authority and a comment by Mr Manning stating it was debatable whether the funding of the Tritton Road link was material. The recommendation before them was based on the confidence of the Tritton Road bridge being constructed before the 301st dwelling, so fundamental to the planning authority’s confidence that any highway impact was short lived. Therefore, funding of the link must be material?
· The report accepted there would be some impact on local roads, the key consideration was to determine suitable mitigation measures to alleviate the congestion.
· The local residents knew the area best, and he hoped all members had read all their concerns.
· Proposed improvements to Doddington Road whilst welcome were insignificant to problems on Skellingthorpe Road where no improvements were proposed. Was this a suitable mitigation measure encouraging motorists to take a longer route bearing in mind implications on climate change?
· The Highway Authority supported construction of the spine road before any of the homes were occupied, in his view a matter wanted by many local residents.
· The Highway Authority maintained our road network, he agreed with their analysis of the situation over a third-party consultant with no long term obligation to the people of Lincoln, or residents of Birchwood and Hartsholme.
· The consultants outlined their deliverability assessment at page 43 of the report based completely on finances, ignoring the political reality of the government’s White Paper and that local government reorganisation may result in the City Council no longer in existence in 2 years’ time, let alone 30 years’ time.
The Chair instructed Councillor Dyer to refrain from making political comments within his speech.
Councillor Dyer continued:
· Rather than find an expert who agreed with the applicant, both the applicants and the planning authority should take the concerns raised by the Highway Authority very seriously to ensure appropriate mitigation was carried out first rather than wait for Phase 1b of the scheme.
· Should the application be approved this evening, potentially they could be left in a few years’ time with 300 properties, no link road and further congestion on Skellingthorpe Road, and the developers would still be within their remit for planning consent.
· He was unable to vote in favour of the proposed development if the vote was to disregard the objections made by the Highway Authority in relation to infrastructure issues.
· If the planning application was to ensure the appropriate infrastructure as set out by the County Council was constructed as requested, it was highly likely he would have taken a different view.
· He was open to any alternative proposal or amendment put forward by members tonight.
· The Local Plan was currently being updated. The Environment Act casted significant demands on our decision making, however, the proposed development was not required to meet the new ambitious environmental criteria set out in the proposed amended Local Plan as it was a live application.
· For such a large-scale development, the applicant had fallen well short of the standards they would expect developers to adhere to in the forthcoming months.
· He could not vote in support of this application in good conscience as it disregarded the serious objections made by the Highway Authority and he hoped colleagues had the same view.
· Despite all the taxpayer’s money, time, effort, condescending comments from all the various experts, the application did not have the support of key stakeholder, local residents, local councillors in the development area, or support of local county councillors, or their MP.
· Based on all the information before him he would not be supporting the application.
Councillor Lucinda Preston commented as follows:
· She thanked officers for the superb organisation of the meeting. She particularly thanked officers calm and patient responses to questions. It was a showcase for officers which the public did not always get to see, she was personally grateful for this.
· She referred to a point made this evening that the car was not going anywhere.
· They had talked about the various ways they mitigated the impact of cars such as electric charging points etc.
· Since Covid-19 the way they lived their lives was changing.
· There had been a lot of discussion on the impact from this development on traffic both shorter and longer term.
· More and more businesses were changing to remote working since Covid-19, many people worked partly from home now as they saw from their own Council.
· Online shopping had also increased.
· Given all these factors, what were the views of officers on the impacts on traffic over the next twenty years with fewer car journeys?
Councillor Christopher Reid commented as follows:
· There was no doubt further housing was needed in Lincoln and beyond.
· However, they must consider this scheme on its merits.
· It had to be the right housing in the correct location at the right time.
· Comments made on page 29 of the report referred to HGV movements onto the site. It was stated there would be a negligible environmental impact given that HGVs would already be on route carrying HGV traffic. However, that HGV traffic was not already going into the development site roads, so he questioned this reasoning.
· It also stated the level of 250 units a year being constructed was not anticipated to generate an environmental impact from HGV movements. He assumed this had been miswritten. To claim that the 4,000 HGV movements predicted had no impact was hard to understand if officers wished to explain.
· It was clear to him from what he had heard this evening that the way the Council had gone about this application had resulted in a breakdown in public trust, particularly in the affected areas of Boultham, Birchwood and Hartsholme. This was clear from the countless number of objections received.
· The proposed conditions offered by the Highway Authority within their objection would go some way to try to resolve that.
· At the moment no one was happy to take the Council’s word on future infrastructure.
· A speaker for the applicant stated the traffic issues on Skellingthorpe Road could not be solved without the bridge. Lindum stated they needed the bridge to move forward to solve the traffic issues. He totally agreed and the bridge should be constructed first.
· The applicants had stated this evening these were not profit delivered choices, however when asked why the bridge would not be built first, it was due to cost.
· Similar to comments made by Councillor Smalley regarding affordable houses, if it was not about profit why was there none in the first part of the scheme.
· He agreed that a no left turn onto Skellingthorpe Road from the development would cause problems.
· He referred to the deliverability report with several comments made that the applicants would not walk away after the first phase because they had not made any money. At what point in this scheme would this cease to be the case? Was there any likelihood they would ever make money out of the scheme given the first phase was less financially draining than the bridge, link road and affordable housing to follow.
· Officers commented regarding the potential 81 vehicles coming from the site not being mitigated by the measures on Doddington Road, and that there was no modelling given by the County Council in this respect. Was there any modelling by the applicants about the number of cars using Skellingthorpe Road going forward, or was this opinion? The applicant’s research should be based on actual evidence.
· Comments were made that traffic issues would be short-term to be mitigated by the bridges in the future, however 6 years’ time was not short-term. If the development did not proceed after Phase 1 this would mean forever. Where would officers draw the line on short-term?
· He could not support this planning application as there was no mitigation for the problems it would cause for the city.
The Chair advised that he would ask Mr Manning to respond to further comments raised. After this, unless there was any member wishing to speak who had not already done so he would then move to the vote.
Kieron Manning, Assistant Director of Planning, offered clarification to further comments/questions raised as follows:
· The drainage channels would be sustainable urban system drainage channels adopted by Lincolnshire County Council as lead Flood Authority.
· The construction of the bridges had agreement in principle from Network Rail. The detail would follow in terms of the conditions attached to the planning consent.
· Improvements to green space adjacent to the site included additional play space in Hartsholme Country Park as part of early delivery of the scheme.
· As a point of clarification, the delivery of the bridge link from Tritton Road and the funding required as part of that was a material planning consideration, however he had referred earlier to the source of the funding which was not in itself a material consideration.
· The applicants had not challenged viability for Western Growth Corridor, and had ensured it was a policy compliant scheme in totality
· In relation to post Covid-19 and the rising of the home working movement, all of the assessments and modelling in relation to traffic movements were carried out pre-covid, and as such based on a worst case scenario. They did not have more recent data on the impact on Covid-19 other than anecdotal data from them as residents to the effect that there had been a reduction in traffic.
· The HGV movements referred to by Councillor Reid were part of the consideration under the Environmental Impact Regulations, to assess the significance of the scale and level of impact. The information quoted in the report was accurate and not a mistake at 7 HGV movements over the course of a day as it equated to 4,000 over the course of the development. It was considered this number was not significant in terms of environmental impact.
· In response to at what point short-term was considered no longer short- term, this was not defined in planning terms. Over the course of an urban extension of 22-23 years anticipated delivery, six years was short-term in relative terms. Members must decide whether they agreed with this assessment.
· In terms of deliverability work undertaken by Aspinall Verdi, their advice centred on the concerns around the first 300 homes, he could not give a specific number of dwellings or financial sum at which point the development would realise a profit for the developer. However, the first 300 homes was a trigger point for the planning authority for the scheme to move forward to see the delivery of the wider structure.
· Specific modelling by Lincolnshire County Council to argue against the proposed development had not been provided. However, significant modelling work had been produced by the applicants in support of the development, as agreed by Lincolnshire County Council as Highway Authority.
The Chair requested they moved to the vote given there were no additional members wishing to speak.
Councillor Thomas Dyer suggested that a recorded vote be taken, which was supported by Councillor Ric Metcalfe, and agreed by members of the Committee.
The recommendations as detailed in the report were duly moved, seconded, and put to a vote, with the results of the vote recorded as follows:
Councillor C Burke
Councillor S Burke
Councillor B Bushell
Councillor L Bushell
Councillor J Kirk
Councillor R Kirk
1. The petition from local residents be received.
2. Planning permission be granted subject to the following conditions:
· Carried out within 3 years
· Carried out in accordance with the plans
· Tritton Road Bridge built prior to occupation of 301st dwelling
· Reserved Matters (RM) standard conditions
· Carried out in accordance with Design Guide
· Each RM to include an Ecological Appraisal
· Each RM to include an Archaeological Written Scheme of Investigation
· Phasing Plan to be submitted prior to commencement of development
· Each RM to have a Construction Management Plan
· Detailed drainage phasing plan
· Contaminated Land conditions
· Stadium Traffic Management plan
· Parking plan
· Highway Construction Management Plan
· Estate Road Phasing and Completion Plan
· National Highways Construction Traffic Management Plan
· Site wide Travel Plan
· Scheme to secure NHS places
· Scheme to secure enhanced bus connectivity
· Scheme to deliver a primary school on site
· Details of the link road
· Design for a piece of play equipment at Hartsholme Park
· Scheme for off-site Gypsy and Traveller provision
· Open Space management and maintenance strategy
· Leisure Strategy
· Design details for the Beevor Street bridge
· Updated Air Quality Assessment
· Details for a Mobility Hub
· Scheme for affordable housing phasing and delivery
· Outline Drainage Strategy
· Veteran tree buffer zones
BSP Transport Advice Note April 2021
Aspinall Verdi Deliverability Report September 2021
Glossary of Acronyms
EA – Environment Agency
EIA – Environmental Impact Assessment
ES – Environmental Statement
IDB – Internal Drainage Board
LCC – Lincolnshire County Council
LPA – Local Planning Authority
NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework
SUE – Sustainable Urban Extension
WGC – Western Growth Corridor