Dear Mrs Billings,
Planning Application No.12/00746/OUTMEI
The Lichfield Civic Society, having considered the proposals, wishes to object to them for the following reasons:-
The recent publication of the Local Plan Strategy for a formal six week consultation period is the proper process for resolution of the scale and location of housing provision for the District. The plan will be the subject of an Examination in Public into whether the Council's proposals, housing numbers and strategic development sites are sound. Obviously the overall scale of housing provision eventually approved in the Local Plan Strategy will have a fundamental impact upon the number of sites required. Although this site is included in the emerging Local Plan, we consider that it is premature to assume it will be included nor that in its current form it represents the best location and most suitable form of development.
Whilst Miller Homes have undertaken a public exhibition/consultation exercise the evolution and methodology used has not facilitated consideration of a range of options nor the preparation of a masterplan fully consistent with the Council's Statement of Community Involvement which is the normal process expected on major sites. Holding an exhibition on a site where the principle of development has not been approved in the current saved Local Plan is not the basis on which the developer's proposals should be regarded as representing proper public consultation. Many interested parties will have been focusing on the principle of whether permission should be given rather than upon the details of the scheme content. The masterplan approach is also advocated in Appendix D of the emerging Local Plan which provides that "A masterplan for the whole site should be produced in collaboration with the LPA and other partners, which demonstrates adherence to current best practice in urban design and specifies what further, detailed design guidance (e.g. design codes, site development briefs etc) will be provided." The methodology used to formulate the current proposals is not in accord with best practice or the Council's policies. No further public consultation has taken place on the significant change involving the park and ride facility replacing the leisure centre.
3. Scheme content
Although this is an outline application the recently introduced changes in scheme content merit some observations. The developer's original proposal for a leisure centre has been dropped and a park and ride facility substituted. The planning statement indicates that the leisure centre was abandoned due to concerns over the deliverability of the proposal by the authority. Has there been full public consultation on this issue and how consistent is it with the Council's leisure strategies? The emerging Local Plan in Core Policy 1 states "support will be given to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of residents, including the delivery of a new leisure centre or improvements to existing facilities to serve Lichfield city and its hinterland". Unless the Council has identified an alternative location for a new leisure centre the statement in the applicant's planning statement appears to be inconsistent with the emerging Local Plan.
4. Rail Access
Concerning the park and ride facility whilst it is evident that additional car parking is required for Trent Valley railway station this is not the most suitable location. The distance of the park and ride facility from the station is far from ideal. Quite apart from the distance from the station, passengers would also need to cross the very busy Trent Valley Road/Burton Road and then walk the length of the Station Approach Road. At the very least a pedestrian controlled crossing would be needed on Trent Valley Road/Burton Road. Suggestions that access could be provided on the Up Main (i.e. London) platform are erroneous as the freight chord to the Trent Valley High Level intervenes. A site closer to the station would be more appropriate. Over two years ago the Staffordshire County Council presented a well thought out plan for a 200 space car park on the former Swan National site to a joint meeting with Network Rail and London Midland convened by the District Council. It appears no action has been taken to progress this matter. We consider the Council in partnership with the County Council should be securing car parking for the station in a safer and more convenient location than the proposal in this application.