Site ID: 814
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 4292
Not sustainable. Village already congested and cannot support development on this scale.
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 8489
Respondent: Anwyl Land
Agent: Fisher German LLP
Hill Farm, Mill Road, Sharnbrook (814)
2.24 The land at Hill Farm, Sharnbrook is the proposed allocation in the emerging Sharnbrook Neighbourhood Plan. Save for a failure to pass referendum or legal challenge, this site may become formally allocated. Despite this, it will be necessary for the Council to critically examine this site, particularly with regard to establishing a housing trajectory and informing the level of housing growth committed and thus the level of housing growth needed to be provided for through additional allocations and to ensure the distribution of housing is delivered in accordance with any eventual adopted spatial hierarchy.
2.25 In respect of the site, there are a number of factors which weigh against it and have not been fully addressed or considered as part of the development of the Neighbourhood Plan nor its Examination. It remains unclear as to whether the site is viable, having regard for significant abnormal costs relating to the relocation of the school, significant transport improvements necessary to facilitate the development (including the delivery of a new roundabout) and wider relocation of services. The relocation of the school is to us particularly problematic, in that it will move the school from the sustainable core of Sharnbrook beyond the railway line, some distance away from many existing residents. This will result in a significant increase in car journeys and many will not walk to the school in its new location due to the distance and nature of the routes needed to access it. In terms of highways improvements, it has been confirmed that a new roundabout is needed on the A6 to facilitate the increase of traffic using Templars Way. Whilst the principle of the junction has been apparently confirmed by the Highways Authority, we are yet to see any evidence that this is deliverable on highway land or land under the control of the applicant, not to mention aforementioned comments relating to viability.
2.26 The Council’s assessment notes that the site is disconnected from the SPA, it is separated by Sharnbrook by both a significant distance and the railway line (Figure 3 below). The proposed development is actually located east of Coffle End, which is in itself a named settlement within the small settlements tier. Having regard for this, it is our opinion that in a post development scenario this will not serve functionally as part of Sharnbrook, it will be its own small settlement, interconnected to Sharnbrook and Coffle End through shared services, but that development here would not satisfy the needs of Sharnbrook and visa versa. This approach would be entirely consistent with the Council’s historic decision making and previous appeals in similar scenarios. Your reference is drawn to appeal APP/K0235/W/16/3161915: Land Off Station Road, Turvey. In this appeal, the Inspector states “the appeal site would adjoin Turvey Station End and not Turvey. Both settlements are separated by open countryside. I acknowledge the public footpaths through the countryside and the footpath along Bedford Road which connect them. However, these routes are not short enough to lead me to any different conclusion other than Turvey Station End is a separate settlement to Turvey”. This is the exact same position as Sharnbrook and Sharnbrook Coffle End, and the conclusions therefore equally applicable, i.e any development at Hill Farm would not constitute development in Sharnbrook. Not applying this logic could severely muddy the waters across the Borough with significant confusion arising as to when development is or is not part of a settlement.
Figure 3: Bedford Policies Map Extract (showing Settlement Policy Area Boundary)
2.27 Despite the assertions within the Neighbourhood Plan, the proposed allocation will in fact be a new settlement in its own right, which it a post development scenario would logically have its own SPA boundary. As such, according to the Council’s own historical decision making considered alongside current and emerging planning policy, there remains a need of new dwellings to be distributed to the settlement of Sharnbrook. As such, it remains incumbent on the Council to ensure Sharnbrook receives an appropriate level of growth. Whilst we object to the principal of moving the school and highway improvements, we do concede that the ample space available east of Coffle End would enable a sizeable education facility which could cater for the needs of both the new settlement and Sharnbrook, including further residential growth within Sharnbrook, which may help facilitate the new settlement through pooled contributions to highways or traffic improvements.
2.28 What must absolutely not occur is the delivery of dwellings at Mill Farm without a suitable 106 agreement which ensures the delivery of all improvements and services set out in the Neighbourhood Plan (and otherwise might be required to ensure a suitable scheme is advanced). Prior to the commencement of any development, the application must demonstrate clearly how all services and improvements necessary to facilitate the development will be provided, including detailed evidence on viability and phasing. These are matters which are likely to frustrate and slow development.
2.29 As such, the Council should seek to deliver additional within Sharnbrook itself, to;
• Ensure the fair delivery of dwellings through the Spatial Hierarchy in accordance with adopted principles, i.e. delivery of units should occur in a manner logical with the settlement they are related. Both functionally in terms of connectivity and also in terms of perceived cohesion. It is clear that any development at Mill Farm will not feel as part of Sharnbrook itself. It is not fair on other settlements within any tier who have located development in a logical manner and it will encourage further development allocated within Neighbourhood Plans which are located in illogical locations beyond the settlement (your attention is drawn to Carlton Road, Turvey as another example, albeit not as egregious).
• Ensure sufficient delivery in the early years of the Plan period to ensure the Council can demonstrate a five-year land supply.
• Provide suitable accommodation for Sharnbrook residents who wish to move (downsizing, upsizing, moving out, improved stock, etc) within Sharnbrook itself, not a poor connected alternative beyond easy walk of many.
• Provision of additional 106 funds to fund any shortfalls highly likely to be attributed to the proposed growth east of the railway line.
2.30 It will not be appropriate for the Council to simply assume that the Mill Farm site will be delivered without issue. Whilst it may not form an allocation made within this Plan, its strategic scale requires critical examination as to likely build out rates and likelihood on the delivery of infrastructure and services. As this will have profound consequences on the people of Sharnbrook, but also the wider aims, objectives, policies and allocations of the emerging Plan, particularly if it fails to deliver, or does not deliver the required infrastructure improvements. Notwithstanding this, as already referenced, the proposed development does not itself constitute logical growth within Sharnbrook, and as such there is still a spatial gap in delivery in this key settlement which requires rectification through proper allocation in
accordance with the Plan’s own emerging principles and policies, or otherwise will be internally inconsistent.
2.31 The land north of Kennell Hill has already been assessed by the Council as appropriate, constitutes logical development for Sharnbrook close to services and facilities existent within the settlement, and can, if considered necessary, contribute to new services at Hill Farm, to which it will be much closer than the rest of Sharnbrook. The 500 dwellings attributed to Key Service Centres are for the period up to 2030 only, and as such there is likely to be further need within the settlement up to 2040, meaning further growth will likely be required in such sustainable settlements, particularly having regard for further increases in housing requirement in respect of the Oxford Cambridge Arc.
2.32 Having regard for the above, it is clear that the there is significant justification for allocations to be made within this Local Plan within Sharnbrook and that the land north of Kennell Hill is suitable and appropriate for allocation. It can deliver in the short-term and will assist in delivery in the early years of the Plan period during the lead in time for any development at Mill Farm. It will also assist in correcting the disparity in the Spatial Hierarchy by locating development which can be reasonably attributed to Sharnbrook, particularly given none is currently proposed. Failure to rectify these issues could lead to the Local Plan being found unsound, as it would not be justified, effective or consistent with national policy.
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 8836
Respondent: Rosconn Strategic Land
Agent: Phillips Planning Services
3.24. Rosconn Strategic Land is promoting the land at Hill Farm, Mill Road, Sharnbrook, (Site 814).
3.25. The majority of the promoted land has already been allocated for a maximum of 500 dwellings in the Submission Version of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan under Policy S5. The Examination in to this Plan has now been completed and the Referendum is imminent. The earlier rounds of consultation have shown general support from residents to the allocation of Hill Farm; and the Neighbourhood Plan is expected to proceed to referendum in the next few months.
3.26. The remaining land at Hill Farm is available for development and could be seen as a logical extension to the village following the Neighbourhood Plan development. This is a highly deliverable site, and could deliver an additional 250 dwellings as part of a comprehensive development, furthering the objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan by maximising the benefits for the wider village.
3.27. The Neighbourhood Plan process has identified that the site is suitable for release in terms of landscape and visual impact, and heritage impacts. It is recognised that there are local ecological areas of importance that need protecting and managing, but the site itself is not ecologically sensitive, and the majority of the undeveloped site can be brought forward whilst securing a net gain in biodiversity. The site also has some archaeological sensitivity which will be mitigated through the development associated with the Neighbourhood Plan allocation. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening process has been undertaken and the Borough Council have confirmed that the development of the site would not give rise to significant environmental effects requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment.
3.28. The development of the residual land at Hill Farm, as part of the Neighbourhood Plan allocation, would be served by new infrastructure including a new roundabout off the A6 and secondary access points off Mill Road and Templars Way; new and upgraded footpaths and cycleways providing improved connectivity to the village centre; extensive public open space, and land for leisure facilities including sports pitches; land for a replacement primary school, small scale retail units, and a potential location for a new community building and/or a new doctors’ surgery. There is an opportunity for further growth of the wider site to build upon this infrastructure, contributing towards delivery. The Neighbourhood Plan allocation will significantly enhance the sustainability of the location, and it is therefore considered entirely logical to examine the potential opportunity for further growth on the residual land at Hill Farm.
3.29. It should be noted that the secondary school has good capacity and is presently supported by “out of catchment” pupil numbers coming from the Rushden area and Northamptonshire. With the addition of new school provision being delivered in the Rushden East Sustainable Urban Extension allocation, pupils will no longer have to travel to Sharnbrook from Northamptonshire; and as a result there will be sufficient provision at the secondary school to accommodate an increase in numbers as a result of additional development at Hill Farm.
3.30. One of the key reasons for this site’s allocation in the Neighbourhood Plan is its direct connectivity to the A6. This means that new housing and supporting infrastructure can be delivered, and accessed, without resulting in an adverse impact on the historic core of the village and its associated road network.
Site Assessments Proforma Comments:
3.31. The published pro forma contains several errors or incorrect statements that we wish to correct:
2c – the site is able to deliver a net gain in biodiversity
4a – the Council’s statement is generic and applied to all sites. However, this site has been supported by a Heritage Statement and desk based archaeological work, with a programme of investigations. It would be advisable for this to be corrected and acknowledged.
9b – the entire 52 hectare site has been subject to a soil and agricultural land quality survey by Land Research Associates confirming that 85% of the site is Grade 3b and 9% Grade 3a – the majority of the site is not Best and Most Versatile land.
15f and Highway comments – we assume the comments predate the draft pre-application engagements and Transport Scoping work that has been undertaken in support of the allocation of 500 dwellings. We would request that the assessment is updated to reflect the current proposals.
General comments – Development control, policy and highways are fully aware of the assessments undertaken to date, and we would be grateful if the site assessment was updated to reflect the work that has been done on assessing constraints.