We recently campaigned strongly against a proposed housing scheme at North Road, Glossop by Gladman Developments, and we are awaiting the outcome of an appeal in that case. Gladman have recently also submitted an application for 107 dwellings at Linglongs Road, Whaley Bridge, which is also generating much local opposition.
Many local authorities are under pressure, because the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires them to demonstrate a 5 year supply of sites for housing, and if they can’t do so then the housing supply elements of their Local Plan are deemed to be out of date. This triggers a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ – though of course this is very much open to subjective interpretation. Gladman has a reputation, here and elsewhere in the country, for what has been described as aggressive speculation. They appear to be identifying plots of land in areas without a 5-year housing land supply, and pushing for outline planning permissions. If refused, they appeal, and they are confident of a high success rate at appeal.
To the rational observer it’s obvious that this is no way to do planning. For Gladman and for the landowners it makes good business sense, because outline planning permission for housing massively increases the value of a site, but really they are the only winners. The local authority loses, by not being able to focus new housing onto the sites it wants to see developed, and by having to fight appeals at every turn. And communities lose, because they get the wrong development in the wrong places.
The Linglongs Road case shares some crucial similarities with the North Road case. They are both sites that are proposed for housing allocations in the draft High Peak Local Plan, which is currently open for consultation. In both cases, the proposed allocation is highly contentious, with strong objections from local communities, and a recognition by High Peak Borough Council’s own evidence that development of those sites would have significant landscape impact – arguably more so at Linglongs Road, because the site is on the side of a broad slope of the Goyt Valley, that makes it highly visible for miles around.
Very importantly, NPPF states that the greater the ‘unresolved objections’ to a site’s proposed allocation, the less weight its proposed status should be given in the planning process (NPPF para 216) – in other words, until a new Local Plan is adopted those sites should not be considered to be suitable for development. All too often we are seeing these most hotly contested sites coming forward now, pre-emptively, well ahead of much less controversial sites: that’s why, in our view, no planning applications should be determined on those sites until the new Local Plan has been completed.
In any case, the proposals for Linglongs Road contravene a number of other policies in the existing Local Plan that cannot be argued to be out of date. In particular, there is Policy GD4 which requires development to be sympathetic to the character of the area and to the wider landscape: it is inconceivable that a large new housing estate in this visually prominent spot would not have a detrimental impact. And then there are three transport policies, TR1, TR4 and TR5, which require that new developments should reduce the need to travel and should not present problems of highway safety. Linglongs Road joins onto the narrow, busy Macclesfield Road close to a bend, and either crossing the road as a pedestrian, or negotiating the junction as driver, is not for the faint-hearted. Adding a large volume of additional traffic to this junction would, very simply, be dangerous.
Finally it must be remembered that this is an outline planning application: this only establishes the principle of developing the site for housing, and leaves all other relevant matters, including layout, design and affordability, open to renegotiation at a later stage. Consequently the proposed layout, including open space provision, and the declared intention to provide 30% affordable housing, must be taken with a large pinch of salt. Really the application is purely asking two questions:
1) Can the site accommodate 107 dwellings sustainably?
2) Is the proposed single point of vehicular access via Linglongs Road acceptable?
In our view, the answer both of these questions is ‘No’.
Our full submission to High Peak BC on this application can be viewed [HERE], and you can still lodge your own objection by visiting http://planning.highpeak.gov.uk and quoting application reference HPK2014/0119.