Development Control Manager
Lichfield District Council
District Council House
Frog Lane
WS13 6YZ

Dear Mr Coghlan,

Application No: 12/00182/OUTMEI - Land South of Shortbutts Lane

Further to our telephone conversation here are the supplementary comments of the Civic Society on this application with specific reference to the matters in the Committee report.

Securing completion of the Lichfield Southern Bypass

The most important matter is the securing completion of the Southern Bypass without the need for an access through the site of No. 22 London Road.

The comment in paragraph 1.2 about the weight given to the Local Plan should be qualified by several issues. Firstly, the Inspector has only given preliminary views. Secondly, the Council has proposed main modifications which impact upon the need for completion of the Southern Bypass. Representations have been made on the Council's main modifications by the Society and others on matters relating to this site and particularly completion of the Bypass. The representations are known to the Planning Authority but not yet made public. Including in the Committee report reference to the main points and issues would have ensued members of the Committee were aware of them as material planning considerations.

The Planning Authority submitted a Local Plan which required this site to complete the Bypass which would involve construction of an under-bridge to the Cross City rail line. Without any public consultation the Council withdrew this requirement during the hearings. No explanation is given in the Committee report to explain a fundamental change in Council policy. The Inspector in his views on the unresolved highway issues discussed at the hearings stated:

"The purpose of the Examination is to decide whether the allocation is soundly based. To do this it is not necessary to know the full details of the proposed access but to be satisfied that an access is capable of being provided. The evidence indicates that it is." (Paragraph 85 in the Inspector's letter of 3rd September, 2013)

This clarifies that it is for the Planning Committee to decide whether to approve an access through the site of No. 22 London Road or not. Clearly there are strong planning grounds that indicate requiring the initial and long term access for the site to be from the Bypass only will secure the least environmentally damaging and most sustainable long term outcome.

Importantly the main modifications proposed by the Council to the Local Plan have not changed the express objective in section 6 Infrastructure where the first priority is stated as:

"6.5 In terms of the key elements of strategic infrastructure which need to be delivered as priorities, these are:

Completion of the Lichfield Southern Bypass to be delivered alongside the South Lichfield Strategic Development Allocation;"

Similarly in the South of Lichfield Concept Statement in Appendix C paragraph C.8 still states:

"C.8 In summary, the following will need to be delivered: ... The completion of the Lichfield Southern Bypass as the primary source of access."

Core Policy 4: Delivery of our infrastructure specifies "that phasing and specific infrastructure requirements are set out in the Concept Statements" of the SDA's

This application does not deliver the completion of the Bypass. In addition the redesign of the site layout and relocation of the school, playing fields and car park to serve the 'country park' close to the road access through the site of No. 22 London Road is not consistent with the primary access being from the Bypass. Effectively the London Road access will become the most heavily used access for the whole site albeit it is the least suitable access. It would permanently damage the London Road gateway into the City.

The Council's Infrastructure Delivery Plan January 2014 version in section 4 Strategic Infrastructure includes the statement that:

"The County Council is commissioning design work and a construction cost estimate for the section of Phase 3 that crosses the railway line and links to Birmingham Road. This work is expected to be completed in 2013 and once agreed with Network Rail, the earliest possible construction start date is 2014."

This is a clear statement of both County and District Councils that completion of the Bypass could be available in the short term. On that basis there is no need to have the connection on London Road which involves demolition of No. 22 London Road.

The Darwin Park development when approved for 650 houses secured the full funding for the rail under bridge yet here it appears no contribution to the costs of this under bridge are being made by this development.

The Society's objections to the London Road access on this important and attractive gateway entrance to the City included in our main modification representation the following:

"The reasons for these amendments are to ensure timely completion of the Bypass and avoid the need for provision of a second vehicular access from London Road to serve the South of Lichfield SDA. Such an access would only be required if the rail under bridge and link to the A5127 Birmingham Road roundabout were not delivered prior to the level of development on the South Lichfield SDA that requires a second road access be provided.

The advantages of ensuring all vehicular access is off the new section of Bypass are:

1. The unacceptable scale of environmental damage likely to be experienced by residents of London Road would be avoided;

2. There is a high risk that the London Road access will be the first and for some time the only site access with consequent disruption and disturbance from construction traffic and other vehicles accessing the site;

3. A mature and attractive house on London Road would not need to be demolished;

4. The adverse effect on neighbouring properties on London Road of a new road would be eliminated;

5. It avoids the need for an access road to London Road which would encroach into the Green Belt;

6. The need for sound insulation to residential properties for traffic noise affected by road alterations would be reduced;

7. The Council's indicative layout is preferable to the developer's revisions;

8. There would be one less junction on London Road which after the Bypass is built will be an even busier and more complex section of road;

9. It focuses the developers' on securing timely completion of the Bypass."

Recommended conditions

If the application is approved it should be on the basis that the principle of development is approved subject to the site access being reserved until the developer brings forward a layout which avoids the demolition of No. 22 London Road. Condition 20 should be modified to require a maximum of 200 houses to be built off the Bypass until completion of the Bypass including the rail under bridge.

Alternatively if the London Road access is permitted it should be subject to a condition that upon completion of the Bypass including the rail under bridge that the London Road access be modified to become a pedestrian and cycle access only.

Notes to applicant

This should include the reference to Statement of Community Involvement relating to "Consultation on major housing developments granted outline permission - on major housing developments where outline permission is granted the Council will encourage the establishment of appropriate consultation and liaison arrangements with developers and representatives from resident's associations/neighbours. This will enable ongoing consultation and communication on issues such as detailed proposals, changes in phasing, delays in implementation of infrastructure, community facilities etc."

It should also refer to the separate section on consultation with the community, neighbours and residents associations on the development of the master plan for the site.

Other matters

Whilst appreciating that this is an outline application there are several matters which appear not to be specifically addressed which are drawn to your attention.

Density and property mix

Paragraph 3.7 says: "The density of individual character areas would be determined through the master planning stage and will be reflected in future reserved matters applications." There does not appear to be a condition that expressly requires this to be done. The wording in condition 6 or 8 could be modified to resolve this point.

Condition 6

To avoid the situation that occurred in Darwin Park where matters included in the Masterplan have not been implemented the final sentence of condition 6 that currently reads:

There shall be no amendment to the approved Masterplan, unless such an amendment is first agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.

Should be amended to read:

There shall be no amendment to or omission of any matter in the approved Masterplan, unless such an amendment or omission is first agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.

Timely provision of infrastructure

The Council's Local Plan policy to require timely provision is welcomed. Condition 8 requires a phasing scheme to be submitted and approved. It highlights green infrastructure and the SANGS but makes no reference to play facilities or other community facilities. The reasons for the conditions make reference to a wider range of issues than the condition so for the avoidance of doubt condition 8 should be extended to include the all matters mentioned in the reasons together with the addition of play facilities. Delays in provision of community facilities, play and open space were major problems on the Darwin Park development.

Existing agricultural bridge across the railway adjacent to Travis Perkins on Birmingham Road

The comments in paragraph 2.17 about the bridge being used by residents raises the issue of pedestrian access to the bridge. A condition should be applied that this route, including any lengths outside the application site, in line with any other pedestrian routes serving the development, shall be brought up to an adoptable standard and future maintenance arrangements put in place. This would avoid what has happened on Darwin Park where no conditions to secure upgrading or future maintenance were applied resulting in some footpaths serving the development having no one responsible for their maintenance.

We respectfully ask that these representations concerning the completion of the Lichfield Southern Bypass are reported to the Committee and that the other comments are addressed appropriately.

John Thompson
Lichfield Civic Society,
May 18th, 2014