Site ID: 1245

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Site Assessment Pro Formas

Representation ID: 8646

Received: 28/09/2021

Respondent: Bedfordia Developments Ltd and Bedfordshire Charitable Trust Ltd

Agent: DLP Planning Limited

Representation Summary:

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 Context and Description
3.2 The site extends to approximately 0.4 hectares and lies at the edge of the present built form for the village of Souldrop, adjacent to Stocking Lane.
3.3 The western boundary of the site abuts the defined Settlement Policy Area Boundary under Policy 5S of the adopted Local Plan 2030. There are no known designations or constraints on the site that would inhibit development being brought forward on the site.
3.4 The site is accessed via an agricultural access off Stocking Lane, to the north-east.
3.5 To the west of the site, albeit some distance from it, there are two Grade II Listed Buildings and a Grade II* Listed Church, but there is built form and boundary treatments between the site and these assets, such that there would be little if any impact on their significance (including the contribution made by their setting). Furthermore, to the north of the site there is a Grade II Listed Building, but views of this from the site are obscured by dense vegetation.
3.6 The site, historically, was in agricultural use but is no longer fit for modern farming practices. There is a Dutch barn and a large area of hard standing present on the site.
3.7 The site is within a short walk of the centre of the village of Souldrop and within reach of local amenities, facilities, and services such as the village green and the Bedford Arms, a public house, and the Crossweir Farmyard business area. A bus route connects Souldrop to Bedford, Rushden, and surrounding villages such as Riseley and Sharnbrook. Sharnbrook is a main rural service centre and is some 2 km from the village. Residents of the village are also able to utilise the services available in Sharnbrook.
Proposed Development Options
3.8 The land provides an opportunity to provide for either a carefully considered residential development of up to 10 dwellings, well located relative to the core of the village, village green and existing services, or be fully used for business purposes.
3.9 This site provides a sustainable location and natural extension to the village of Souldrop, which is well related to the existing pattern of development along Sharnbrook Road. Similar development has been seen elsewhere in the village, such as at the High Street – Green intersection.
3.10 The proposed site would be developed to provide a potential mix of dwelling types that will respect and strengthen the structure, form, and character of the village. The site would, in principle, be capable of accommodating either one, or a combination of the following uses:
• Market housing.
• Affordable housing.
• Starter homes.
• Self / custom build plots.
3.11 Special attention will be paid to selected design and construction materials, to ensure the development respects the setting of the nearby Listed Buildings and reflects the traditional, rural character of the village. Appropriate landscaping and screening will ensure the residential amenity of neighbouring properties is maintained. This will ensure the development integrates seamlessly into the existing settlement.
3.12 Allocation for self or custom build plots would allow the site to come forward at a pace that meets local need in the area, with the flexibility of price and design to suit local circumstances. It also accords with the Government’s commitment to promoting self-build and custom build opportunities, as set out in the UK Housing Strategy.
3.13 The site could also accommodate a small office (Class E) or storage or distribution (B8) development, with associated landscaping and parking, or be developed as an additional business location fully utilising the land. Special attention would again be paid to design and construction materials and landscaping and screening would be appropriate to ensure the residential amenity is maintained and the development is compatible with the surrounding area.
3.14 The site is in single ownership and is available for development and should therefore be considered deliverable with a realistic prospect some housing or employment use could be delivered within 5 years.
Response to Borough Council’s Site Assessment Pro-Forma (Site ID: 1245)
Site Assessment Criteria
3.15 We have reviewed the Council’s assessment of the site and wish to make a number of comments below.
Impact on Highways
3.16 No access or capacity issues are identified, reflective of the site’s location and existing use. The findings of the site assessment proforma are endorsed, including the potential to extend pedestrian/cycle footway connections, if required.
Agricultural Land Classification
3.17 The assessment notes that the site consists of the best and most versatile land, but the proforma fails to reflect that the submitted site does not farm part of a larger agricultural field. The land instead provides existing agricultural buildings in a location well-related to the built settlement that would result in no greater spread of built development southwards or eastwards. The characteristics of our client’s small site, and its existing condition (providing mainly scrub and boundary vegetation), do not indicate that any adverse effects would be likely in terms of impacts upon the supply of best and most versatile agricultural land.
Previously Developed Land (PDL)
3.18 The Council’s assessment of the site notes that it is not PDL. Whilst the use of the site is agricultural, it is important to highlight that there is a substantial building on the northern boundary of the stie and a significant area of hardstanding. This reflects the prospects for redevelopment of the land in a manner that would be sympathetic to the existing character and condition of the site and its relationship with the village.
Impact on designated or non-designated heritage assets or their setting
3.19 The assessment proforma 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.
3.20 In this case our client’s land at Town Farm, Souldrop there are no designated heritage assets within the site itself or in close proximity to the site. To the west of the site there is two Grade II Listed Buildings and a Grade II* Listed Church, but there is built form and boundary treatments between the site and these assets, mitigating the impact of development on their significance (including the contribution made by their setting). Furthermore, to the north of the site there is a Grade II Listed Building, but views of this from the site are obscured by dense vegetation.
3.21 There will be options to avoid, reduce or mitigate this harm 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 (including the contribution made by the setting of any affected assets) 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.
3.22 A sensitively designed scheme for redevelopment, subject to suitably worded policy criteria, would form the basis to secure acceptable outcomes with the requirement for suitable technical evidence.
Protected Species and Ecological Value
3.23 The Council’s assessment records a potential uncertain impact but recognises that the land is not within or adjacent areas of nature conservation importance. The proforma does not reflect that the majority of the site area comprises land occupied by hardstanding or existing agricultural buildings. The Council’s assessment states that protected species have been recorded on the site.
3.24 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.
3.25 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.