Site ID: 1000
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 5137
Respondent: Mr Keith Turner
Cycle ad public foot paths would need to be improved
Close to schools +
Good infill land + but is on good agricultural soil -.
No flood risk.
Site Assessment Pro Formas
Representation ID: 6195
Respondent: Bedfordia Developments Ltd and Bedfordshire Charitable Trust Ltd
Agent: DLP Planning Limited
3.0 RESPONSE TO SITE ASSESSMENT PRO-FORMA (CALL FOR SITES ID 1000)
Introduction to Site and Proposals
3.1 The site was previously submitted to the Council for consideration as part of the Council’s ‘call for sites’ exercise in August 2020. The land area being promoted is shown below. [Site location plan inserted.]
3.2 Land adjacent to Highfield Road, as defined in this representation, comprises circa 4.5ha of agricultural land and is considered to be suitable for employment development. The site adjoins existing development including residential development, the Midland Main Line (London – Sheffield) and the former Oakley Station and to the northeast existing employment.
3.3 Access can be achieved via an existing access point on Highfield Road west of the Highfield or at another point that may be agreed.
3.4 The site sits adjacent to the existing settlement boundary and strategic road network. It is well related to the main built up area of Oakley, is also in single ownership and there are no constraints to its development. It has sufficient land available to ensure development could be provided in a form and character that would respect its surroundings.
3.5 The site is considered suitable for a high calibre employment site (across the Class B and Class E Use Classes at a scale appropriate to the local area). The site offers an opportunity for the consolidation of the existing employment development on Highfield Road, which was purpose built and offers arrange of ‘mid-size’ units for a range of ‘B’ type uses. Policy BE1 of the Oakley Neighbourhood Plan provides support for a range of B1/B2/B8 uses (with reference to the previous Use Classes Order) within the existing Highfield Park. Policy BE1 is constrained by the timeframes and settlement hierarchy set by the strategic policies of the LP2030 and thus does not address the requirement to address needs over an appropriate Plan period as necessitated the immediate review and preparation of the Local Plan 2040.
3.6 The site is contained by existing development comprising the Midland Main Railway Line, existing housing, employment uses and the A6 Clapham Bypass. This contained setting would result in development appearing as a logical extension to Oakley and can also benefit from appropriate landscaping to mitigate impacts upon rural character and separation with Clapham to the south and east. The site has the capacity to accommodate approximately 3ha of employment development and also offers an opportunity for innovative design and job creation.
3.7 To ensure sufficient employment land is available to support housing growth, we would emphasise that when evaluating potential options for allocation and existing land use designations, consideration should be given to potential sites that could provide optimize opportunities for economic development in rural areas as well as potential infrastructure that would improve the delivery of employment sites.
3.8 The site as defined in Figure 1 is contained by the A6 Clapham by-pass, the Midland Main Railway Line, existing housing, employment uses and agricultural land that can be used to contain and enhance its setting.
3.9 The site has no known environmental, ecological, or archaeological constraints that would inhibit development.
Response to Borough Council’s Site Assessment Pro-Forma (Site ID: 773)
Site Assessment Criteria
3.10 We have reviewed the Council’s assessment of the site and wish to make a number of comments below.
Within or adjoining the urban area or a defined settlement policy area boundary
3.11 The site adjoins the urban area or a settlement policy area (SPA), it therefore should be considered for development. The site offers an opportunity for the consolidation and expansion of the existing employment development on Highfield Road, (e.g., Highfield Parc), which was purpose built and offers a range of ‘mid-size’ units for a range of Class B and E type uses. The economic performance of Highfield Road is ‘high’ according to the Employment Land Review (ELR) (2015) findings. This is repeated in Part 2 of the Council’s Employment Land Topic Paper (Site Ref: BE22) with the site recognised as providing modern, good quality space.
Impact on designated or non-designated heritage assets or their setting
3.12 The Call for Sites assessment found that the proposal has the potential to cause harm to heritage assets, which may range from low to high. This is a standard response that the Council has applied to a large number of the assessment pro-forma.
3.13 In this case our client’s land at Highfield Road there are no designated heritage assets within or adjacent the site. The land is well-related to existing road and rail infrastructure and adjacent to modern commercial premises. The nearest designated heritage assets comprise the cottages at 27-33 Station Road, west of the railway and within the built settlement at Oakley. Development of our client’s land may result in some impact upon the rural setting of the nearest designated assets although the impact on the immediate setting and contribution made towards their wider setting is likely to be negligible.
3.14 There will be options to avoid, reduce or mitigate this harm and where sites have not been ruled out altogether for other reasons. In the case of our client’s land further assessment will be undertaken to more fully explore impacts on significance and to ensure that any impact would represent less than substantial harm in terms of Paragraph 202 of the NPPF, which is the expected outcome given the context described above.
Impact on Highways
3.15 The site is located at the south side of Highfield Road and adjacent to the east side of property no. 8 Highfield Road, in village of Oakley, approximately 5 miles north-west of Bedford town centre. The site fronts onto Highfield Road at the most northern tip of the site and on the west side of the existing roundabout junction with A6 and also the A6 link road between the roundabout junction and the A6 dual carriageway on the east side.
3.16 The Council’s Site Assessment pro-forma does not indicate any in-principle constraints to serving access from Highfield Road or providing sustainable options for access by non-car modes. The closest bus stop is about 280m from the site, serving buses 50 and 51 to Bedford and Rushden, at 2 times per hour frequency. A Transport Assessment will be developed to assess the impact of the development on the road network, with cycle connection improvements well as improvement of the pedestrian facilities.
3.17 In terms of the highway network the Council also accept that neither Highfield Road nor the A6 are normally congested. The issues identified relate to existing congestion on Station Road, within the village, which neither the Local Plan 2030 nor Oakley Neighbourhood Plan seeks to address. These representations should be read alongside our client’s submissions promoting Land East of Station Road for development, incorporating a new dedicated access to Lincroft Academy and Oakley Primary Academy as part of a new road layout enabling the stopping-up of Station Road to through-traffic. This demonstrates a deliverable solution to address pre-existing issues raised by the Council’s pro-forma.
3.18 This solution is consistent with delivering needs for community infrastructure and Oakley’s reclassification to a Key Service Centre and would be complemented by further local employments at Highfield Road.
Groundwater Source Protection Zone
3.19 While the Council’s site assessment pro-forma notes some potential impact arising from proposed industrial uses, given its location in an area for Groundwater protection, this does not reflect its location adjacent to existing commercial uses. Development of the site would be undertaken in accordance with best practice, utilising and enhancing existing drainage measures to mitigate any potential wider impact.
3.20 The Council’s assessment records a potential uncertain impact but recognises that the land is not within or adjacent areas of nature conservation importance and is in-fact located between existing corridors for transport infrastructure and commercial development. As part of future development of the site it would be appropriate to seek preparation of an Ecological Impact Assessment comprising a Phase 1 Habitat Survey and assessment of potential site features supporting the presence of protected species.
3.21 This would be an appropriate basis assess the impact of the development proposal and set out mitigation measures required to ensure there is no net harm to ecological features and where possible identify any opportunities available for integrating ecological features within the development. It is anticipated that a number of ecological enhancements could be provided as part of proposals, such as habitat piles, hedgehog tunnels, bat boxes, bird boxes and native planting and that delivery of these enhancements would lead to an overall Neutral to Minor Beneficial impact