Development Control Manager
Planning Application No. 12/00182/OUTMEI - South Lichfield
The Lichfield Civic Society, having considered the proposals, wishes to object to them for the following reasons:
The Council's consultation exercise on the draft Core Strategy as part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) has not yet been completed and we understand that work is currently in progress to publish the Core Strategy for formal consultation in the summer. Although this site has been the subject of earlier consultations on its suitability for development, no final decision has yet been made by the Council on preferred locations. Nor has the scale of housing provision required for the District been finalised and this will have a fundamental impact upon the number of sites required. A study has been completed for Lichfield District Council jointly with Tamworth Borough Council and Cannock Chase District Council into the scale of housing likely to be needed within the LDF plan period including the demand for affordable housing. Until that report has been made available for public consideration and response and the Core Strategy progressed to formal adoption following a public inquiry, consideration of any potential strategic development sites is clearly premature.
It must be a fundamental requirement of the proposed phasing of the extension of the Southern By-pass for Lichfield that the under bridge and connection to the recently built roundabout on Birmingham Road will precede the use or occupation of any development. We consider that if the application does receive consent for development, that the new section of By-pass with links at both ends to the existing road network should be in place both to accommodate the works access and subsequently ensure satisfactory access to the development. This is essential to avoid excessive congestion at the London Road junction and in Shortbutts Lane. It may well be difficult to secure early agreement with Network Rail or to implement a compulsory purchase order on their land and/or the other land required for the works to proceed, but completion of the full provision of the By-pass is necessary. The access problems on the Walsall Road/Darwin Park development illustrate that entering into an agreement with the Staffordshire County Council and depositing the monies to undertake the under bridge works does not avoid years of unacceptable delays which should not be repeated here. We consider it essential that Persimmon Homes should give priority to concluding negotiations with the owners of land at the Birmingham Road end to enable the under bridge and link road to be provided and open before any development on the application site is brought into use or occupation.
Apart from the unsuitability of the temporary By-pass route using Sanders Way and the western section of Shortbutts Lane to achieve diversion of traffic away from the City centre there is a need for redesign and widening of the road and canal corridor. Widening and/or redesign is needed for provision of a footpath and cycle track along the whole of the northern section of the road. Similarly changes are needed at the junction of the By- pass with London Road to facilitate safe and adequate space for the road, canal, footpath, cycle and disabled/mobility users.
Protection of the Green Belt
We consider that steps must be taken if development is permitted to ensure that the designated Green Belt within the area of the draft indicative Masterplan or on adjoining land is not at risk of subsequent or associated development of a type not acceptable in the Green Belt. Reference is made in the Planning Statement to "provision of public open space and its subsequent maintenance" in relation to the initial section 106 Heads of Terms. We consider it is essential that the ownership of all proposed areas of public open space will be the subject of a legal agreement that the land will transfer to the local authority with sufficient funds for future management to ensure it is preserved for all time as open space.
We note that the proposed development includes a "community hub", school and playing fields. We welcome such proposals if the development were to proceed, but would wish to be reassured that there is sufficient evidence of demand to justify these elements of the scheme. The separation of the school from the community hub by playing fields seems somewhat perverse. One would have anticipated that the school building and community facilities would have been more closely integrated.