Opposition to application for 9 dwellings on Paper Mill Drive

I have decided to oppose and object to a planning application that is due for consideration by the Redditch Borough Council Planning Committee on Wednesday 10th November. This will be in in-person meeting and I will be addressing the committee to urge them to vote against the application, which officers have recommended for approval.

The basis of my objection to 21/00615/FUL is as follows:

  • The site is not designated for residential development in Local Plan No. 4 according to the policy map. The site is not designated for anything at the moment whether that be housing, commercial, or industrial. Indeed it is not even designated as primary open space. It’s essentially “white land” in that there is no other designation for it. The applicant may well argue that this does not matter and that the Local Plan favours sustainable development via Policy 1. This policy states that the Borough Council will “secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area”. It will be for the committee to determine if these benefits will be realised by the development. I would argue that the development does not offer any improvement to the environmental conditions in the area, and that material concerns that outweigh Policy 1 do exist. These are summarised below.

Drainage/Flooding

  • I believe the committee should be concerned about drainage and flooding potential from this site. Whilst the site is not currently located within a flood zone, it is not far from Flood Zone 2 within the Arrow Valley Country Park, and the committee will need to weigh whether the risk of future flooding is outweighed by the benefits of the development. I would argue that the risk of future flooding is high.

Noise

  • The proposed site is located between the 40-mph Paper Mill Drive, which is busy at peak times as the main road around the Church Hill Estate, with routes leading to and from Birmingham and Bromsgrove, and the busy Coventry Highway, a 70-mph dual carriageway. The development abuts an overpass for the Coventry Highway and views of the front of the houses will be onto the overpass area.
  • The noise report carried out by “noise.co.uk Ltd” was conducted during a period of re-imposed national restrictions, reducing the volume of traffic on all UK roads at the time the work was carried out.
  • Despite this, the noise report carries a MEDIUM to HIGH risk due to noise from traffic sources. I would argue to the committee this will be worse now that traffic levels are back to levels last seen before the lockdowns.
  • The proposed development will be located a short distance from the Millenium Wood in the Arrow Valley Country Park. Indeed, the development will be the closest residential properties to the Arrow Valley Lake since the development of Alveley Close in Winyates. Residents in this close are known to complain about noise from events at the Arrow Valley Country Park.
  • The local pub, The Oast House, is a live music venue, which can sometimes emit loud noises from its venue. It is properly licenced and is a good neighbour in the community. There are no residential properties too close to the Oast House and no noise complaints have been made to me as a local councillor about their activities. However, the 9 dwellings proposed are likely to be affected by live music noise. Not just from the Oast House, but from the fairground and events that take place on Stitch Meadow only a short walk away from the site. A major music event is being considered by the Borough Council for the summer of 2022 and it is likely that any dwellings built in time for this will be adversely affected by noise. Existing businesses near to proposed developments should not have unreasonable restrictions placed upon them as a result of development that is permitted after they were established (Source: NPPF). I would argue this is a real risk in this case.

Environmental Impact

  • The environmental impact of the potential development is not adequately addressed by the mitigations.
  • This development would encroach ever closer to the Arrow Valley Country Park and will set a precedent for development in this space. It will be the thin end of the wedge.
  • Indeed, I would urge committee to look at page 7 of the noise report where they can observe a rather interesting site plan that has been submitted for the report. This includes an entirely additional development to the east of the proposed development, which appears to be for some office developments and parking spaces. This will of course be subject to an additional application, but the committee should be in no doubt about the precedent it will set by approving this development and the future risks of over-development that it will be virtually unable to stop.

Traffic and Parking

  • The proposed development will create an additional entry/exit on to Paper Mill Drive.
  • Each property will come with 2-3 parking spaces. This will never be enough.
  • On street parking will occur outside the front of the properties.
  • The proposed development will be located a short distance from the Millenium Wood and Stitch Meadow in the Arrow Valley Country Park. Indeed, the development will be the closest residential properties to the Arrow Valley Lake since the development of Alveley Close in Winyates. Residents in this close are known to complain about their area being swamped with visitors to local events. These complaints also exist in Church Hill already in areas such as Donnington Close and Edgeworth Close.
  • I would argue that there will be regular parking on the junction as there will not be enough spaces to accommodate the volume of visitors. There will also be use of the area to park for visiting the lake and country park. This will impede the flow of traffic along Paper Mill Drive.
  • During major events the area will be inundated with parked vehicles.