Nature Reserve & Recreational Area for Freshford

This document has been edited to remove all applications other than the relevant application for the Freshford Mill former Peradin's Factory site.

 
       

Bath & North East Somerset Council

MEETING: Area B Development Control Committee AGENDA
ITEM
NUMBER
MEETING DATE: 9th February 2005  
RESPONSIBLE OFFICER: David Davies, Head of Planning Services, (Telephone: 01225 394125)  
 
TITLE: APPLICATIONS FOR PLANNING PERMISSION ETC.
WARD: ALL
BACKGROUND PAPERS: See over

AN OPEN PUBLIC ITEM

BACKGROUND PAPERS

List of background papers relating to this report of the Head of Planning Services about applications/proposals for Planning Permission etc. The papers are available for inspection at Trimbridge House, Trim Street, Bath BA1 2DP.

      [1] Application forms, letters or other consultation documents, certificates, notices, correspondence and all drawings submitted by and/or on behalf of applicants, Government Departments, agencies or Bath and North East Somerset Council in connection with each application/proposal referred to in this Report.

      [2] Department work sheets relating to each application/proposal as above.

      [3] Responses on the application/proposals as above and any subsequent relevant correspondence from:

      (i) Sections and officers of the Council, including:

        Building Control
        Environmental Health and Consumer Services
        Transport, Access and Waste Management
        Planning Policy, Environment and Projects

         

      (ii) The Environment Agency
      (iii) Wessex Water
      (iv) Health and Safety Executive
      (v) British Gas
      (vi) Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (English Heritage)
      (vii) Royal Fine Arts Commission
      (viii) Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
      (ix) Nature Conservancy Council
      (x) English Nature
      (xi) National and local amenity societies
      (xii) Other interested organisations
      (xiii) Neighbours, residents and other interested persons
      (xiv) Any other document or correspondence specifically identified with an application/proposal

      [4] The relevant provisions of Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments or Government Circulars, or documents produced by the Council or another statutory body such as the Bath Local Plan (adopted June 1996), or the Bath and North East Somerset Local Plan (Revised Deposit Draft)

    The following notes are for information only:-

      [1] "Background Papers" are defined in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 do not include those disclosing "Exempt" or "Confidential Information" within the meaning of that Act. There may be, therefore, other papers relevant to an application which will be relied on in preparing the report to the Committee or a related report, but which legally are not required to be open to public inspection.

      [2] The papers identified or referred to in this List of Background Papers will only include letters, plans and other documents relating to applications/proposals referred to in the report if they have been relied on to a material extent in producing the report.

      [3] Although not necessary for meeting the requirements of the above Act, other letters and documents of the above kinds received after the preparation of this report and reported to and taken into account by the Committee will also be available for inspection.

    [4] Copies of documents/plans etc. can be supplied for a reasonable fee if the copyright on the particular item is not thereby infringed or if the copyright is owned by Bath and North East Somerset Council or any other local authority.

BATH AND NORTH EAST SOMERSET COUNCIL

AREA B DEVELOPMENT CONTROL COMMITTEE

REPORT INDEX

9 February 2005

01 03/00408/FUL

7th April 2003

The Secretary (Hilary Hammill) The Freshford Mill Assoc.

Freshford Mill, Freshford, Bath, BA2 7WH,

Creation of rural recreation area, nature sanctuary and workshops as amplified by letters and plans received 10.3.2003 and 5.1.2004

Freshford Ludek Majer PERMIT 1-11

 

BATH AND NORTH EAST SOMERSET COUNCIL

AREA 'B' DEVELOPMENT CONTROL COMMITTEE

9 February 2005

REPORT OF THE HEAD OF PLANNING SERVICES ON APPLICATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT

 

  Item No:01

APPLICATION NO. 03/00408/FUL TYPE Full Application

EXPIRY DATE 7 April 2003

WARD Bathavon South

PARISH Freshford

Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyGreenbelt

APPLICANT The Secretary (Hilary Hammill) The Freshford Mill Assoc.

PROPOSAL Creation of rural recreation area, nature sanctuary and workshops as amplified by letters and plans received 10.3.2003 and 5.1.2004

SITE LOCATION Freshford Mill, Freshford, Bath, BA2 7WH

DESCRIPTION OF SITE AND APPLICATION

Members will recall that this application was considered by the Committee in March last year and was approved in principle subject to conditions and subject to the applicants entering into a Section 106 Agreement with the Council to secure the provision of Environmental Management Plan to cover certain aspects of the development referred to below. The applicants' agents have been in consultation with your officers and have already prepared a draft of the Plan which the officers are considering.

It has however transpired in the interim that the owners of the site who would have to be party to such an agreement are unwilling to co-operate deeming the scheme unviable. In these circumstances an agreement cannot be concluded but further clarification of the position has been requested from the applicants.

Members will recall that the site owners proposed several alternative schemes for residential/business uses two of those are subject to an appeal Inquiry in April 2005.

The applicants however still wish to pursue their scheme and wish to explore the possibility of securing the Environmental Management Plan through a planning condition instead.

The use of an obligation through a Section 106 Agreement would give the Authority greater control over the required measures and works. However your officers have again looked at the advice in Government circulars 11/95 (Conditions) and 1/97 (Planning Obligations). They are of the view that a procedure through conditions could in this instance be acceptable as the only other alternative would be the refusal of permission.

The previous report is reproduced below with adjustments to take account of the changed circumstances.

Members will recall that Freshford Mill is a disused former industrial site situated in the Frome Valley south of Sharpstone and south-west of Freshford. The village of Westwood and the hamlet of Iford lie to the south east in West Wiltshire. The site was used until 1993 by Peradins for the manufacture of rubber components for the car industry. Since the firm relocated to their new premises in Trowbridge the site has been essentially empty (but for a token informal use up until 1995). Its use as General Industrial premises within Class B2 of the Use Classes Order however continues to be lawful.

The site comprises a mixture of buildings the oldest dates back to the 17th century (former mill owner's house with late Elizabethan mullioned windows), three major blocks from the late 18th/early 19th centuries, all in natural stone and clay tile or slate, and three more modern buildings from the 1950's, and following fires at the site, relatively recent office block and warehouse (both built in the 1980's). Several of the buildings are linked by covered additions of more recent origin. The site features a mill channel with an internal wheel although a narrower mill leat was blocked many years ago. Approximately one (eastern) half of the site area (1.34 hectares in total) is a surfaced car park which also contains a disused former sewage plant.

It is believed the factory at its peak employed in excess of 160 people although shortly before its closure this number was reduced to around 60. The car park capacity is at present 128 spaces.

The proposal entails the demolition of the modern buildings at the front of the site with the exception of the more recent former office block, effective sealing off of the old core of the mill to create a nature conservation sanctuary, and reclaiming the site of the demolished buildings and the existing hardstanding as a landscaped rural recreation area with picnic tables and internal walkways through the site.

The applicants see their proposal as a viable alternative to the proposed redevelopment of the site by the present owners for residential/business uses. They commissioned a report from a firm of environmental consultants and landscape architects to support their scheme. The report addresses the key issue dealing with the designation of the site (Green Belt, Cotswold AONB), landscape ecology, hydrology (including flooding) and soil pollution. It also proposes a low-key use of the only modern building to remain, to provide 220 sq metres of low-key workshop space with associated car parking to the rear.

The old core of the site would be sealed off by means of natural stone walls and with a solid gate providing the sole means of access to the area for periodic inspections and maintenance. There would be no public access to this part of the site. The sanctuary to be created here would benefit primarily several species of bats (protected species) which are known to occupy several buildings, otters and various bird species are also present in this locality and could benefit from this sanctuary.

The applicants have been in close contact with the Environment Agency in respect of the flooding and contamination issues on the site which have been addressed through negotiations. The public area of the site would be substantially landscaped with reinforcement of hedges; provision of wild flower areas, open grass area and mounding (from the materials reclaimed from the demolition) including a raised viewing area. A long-term maintenance management plan is also proposed.

As stated above the applicants' consultants have prepared a draft Environmental Management Plan which would cover the following issues:

a) Nature Conservation and habitat protection

b) Flood Risk assessment and foul and surface water disposal

c) Highway aspects (traffic generation, parking, access controls)

d) Long-term landscape maintenance

e) Funding for the scheme

f) Management phasing

g) Long-term management of the site

CONSULTATIONS AND REPRESENTATIONS

FRESHFORD PARISH COUNCIL: The Parish Council, on behalf of the residents, fully support this imaginative and exciting proposal. The application costs has been totally funded by parish residents, which illustrates the strong community support.

An public exhibition of the plans was held by the Parish Council on 5 March 2003 and 62 residents attended, the majority of whom commented on the proposals in the book for comments which was provided.

The major comments picked up on the benefits of the proposal included:

- the amenity value of such a site to the community, particularly for children

- the peace and tranquillity of this valley site would be restored and preserved for future generations

- the provision of workshops was viewed favourably as providing a very good amenity for local people

- the removal of the ugly modern workshop and office buildings on the site

- non-disturbance to the bats roosting on site

- preserving the wildlife on the site.

However concern was registered as to the number of car parking spaces provided and it was felt that the parking spaces for visitors should be reduced. Several residents also commented that if the site became very popular, this could lead to parking on the surrounding lanes.

Other concerns raised, which we believe could be made conditions on approval of the application, are:

- the on-going management and maintenance costs of the site should not be borne by the Parish Council

- security issues need to be addressed, both on the site boundaries and in particular for possible night time parking and the attraction the site may have for unauthorised use by travellers

- the treatment or removal of polluted spoil from the site.

WEST WILTSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL: We have no observations to make on this application, provided that any decision is consistent with the relevant development plan policies for the area.

HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT TEAM: The application is supported by a report relating to the objectives, sustainability and ecological issues etc. It is considered that the report does not effectively deal with the issues of traffic generation either for the commercial use or for the recreational use of the site. Having said that it is recognised that the scale of operation of the commercial works, i.e. the workshops/offices, whilst increasing the current level of traffic movements in the local area and the local network, will in no way approach those associated with any fall-back situation of previous use. The usual method of assessment of traffic generation is by use of the TRICS database which assesses the impact of existing similar types of operation to provide a prediction of traffic growth. The figure taken for the recent application on this site was 15.88 per 100 square metres of development. On this basis some 70 trips per day would be generated. This represents a level of traffic generation if all the commercial space were to be used as offices and therefore could be the highest figure.

Similarly there are no data figures available from TRICS in respect of the level and type of operation suggested as a picnic or leisure site. It is however considered that the level of visitors in this location would be greater than identified due to the local network of footpaths etc. which, to an extent is recognised in the report where, in para 6.2 reference is made to the 'many visitors'. The level of potential movement associated with the site is considered to be higher than that identified within the application and greater than that currently on the network, but would be considerably less than that considered recently in another application. Reference is also made to the possible import of soil in respect of the creation of the bunds although this is considered to be relatively low and would be of a short duration.

Some questions remain to be fully answered i.e. the full operation of the barrier and the operation of the 'education room', however it is not considered that there could be an objection which could be sustained when set against any fall-back situation related to the previous use of the site. [The determination of the existence of the fall-back is not considered to form part Highway's role].

Should there not prove to be such a fall-back a highway objection is made under policy CH.3 [8] as it is considered that the resulting increase in traffic would constitute a material increase on existing.

WESSEX WATER: The above proposal is not located within a Wessex Water sewered area.

It is advised that your Council should be satisfied with any arrangement for the disposal of foul and surface water flows generated by the development.

Turning to water supply, there is a water main in the vicinity of the proposal. It will be necessary for the developer to agree a point of connection onto the system for the satisfactory supply of water for the proposal. This can be agreed at the detail design stage.

According to our records, there is a public water main crossing the site. Please find enclosed a copy of our sewer records indicating the approximate position of the apparatus. Wessex Water normally requires a minimum, three-metre, easement width on either side of its apparatus, for the purpose of maintenance and repair. Diversion or protection works may need to be agreed.

It is further recommended that a condition or informative is placed on any consent to require the developer to protect the integrity of Wessex systems and agree prior to the commencement of works on site, any arrangements for the protection of infrastructure crossing the site. We advise that this should be agreed as early as possible and certainly before the developer submits to your Council any Building Regulations application.

It is recommended that the developer should agree with Wessex Water prior to the commencement of any works on site.

ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: From the information that has now been received, the Agency are now in a position to withdraw the objection contained in our letter dated 19 March 2003, subject to the following:-

As previously indicated, the Agency does not have fundamental flood defence objections to the proposals provided any necessary mitigation works are detailed and constructed in line with a detailed Flood Risk Assessment for the site. Details of the features such as minimum ground, floor and threshold levels, access details, construction and flood resistant construction details for finishes and landscaped areas within floodable areas etc, should be confirmed by the applicant, and approved by the Local Planning Authority.

Therefore, the Agency requests that any grant of permission includes the following formal conditions:-

CONDITION: No development approved by this permission shall be commended until details of all existing and proposed finished floor, threshold and ground levels have ben submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans.

REASON:

To ensure that the development is subject to minimum risk of flooding.

CONDITION: No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a detailed scheme for the provision of flood protection works to any part of the development below the design flood levels throughout the development has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The works shall be completed in accordance with the details and timetable agreed.

REASON:

To limit the risk of flooding by ensuring the provision of a satisfactory means of flood protection.

CONDITION: No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a scheme for the provision and implementation of compensatory flood storage works has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be implemented in accordance with the approved programme and details.

REASON:

To alleviate the increased risk of flooding.

CONDITION: No development approved by this permission shall be commended until details of all proposed construction methods and finishes to exterior and internal areas including walls and floors etc below design flood levels, have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans.

REASON:

To ensure that the development construction and structure is flood resistant and is subject to minimum risk of damage from flooding.

CONDITION: No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until details of all access and egress routes, designed to provide sufficient and safe access above design flood level to all operational buildings within the development, have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The access to any building shall be completed before occupation of any part of that building, and shall be constructed in accordance with the approved plans.

REASON:

To ensure that a safe continuous dry access free of flood risk is provided to all operational areas of the development.

The Agency should be consulted on any details submitted pursuant to the above conditions.

I can confirm that the conditions, informatives and comments contained within pages 2 and 3 of our letter dated 19 March 2003 remain applicable.

In order for the Agency to monitor its effectiveness in influencing the determination of planning applications, a copy of the decision notice for this application would be appreciated.

AVON AND TRIBUTARIES ANGLING ASSOCIATION: Support.

LOCAL RESIDENTS: 20 letters of full support for the scheme.

PLANNING ISSUES

PLANNING POLICY: The site lies within the Green Belt and Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and policies WGB.1 and LNC.2 of the Wansdyke Local Plan (WLP) and GB.1 and NE.2 of the Bath and North East Somerset Local Plan Revised Deposit Draft (RDD) apply. Demolitions of non-listed buildings outside Conservation Areas are not normally subject to Planning controls and would not thus be subject to planning policies. However the site is archaeologically important and policies CH.11 and BH.12 apply. The proposal entails a conversion of an existing building and policies CH.3 and EMP.13 of WLP and ET.9 of RDD would apply. Policies LNC.10A, 10B and 11 of the WLP and NE.7, NE.10, NE.12 of RDD seek to protect ecological interests. Recreational development are subject are subject to policies REC.2 and SR.5 respectively. The site has a lawful employment use and policies EMP.1 and ET.1D respectively seek to safeguard employment led. Due to known flood risks on the site policies PH.7 and NE.14 respectively address these issues and policies PH.2 and ES.15 address contamination issues.

GREEN BELT AND COTSWOLD AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY: The proposal deals essentially with the provision of open recreation areas and creation of a natural habitat for protected species. It would bring physical and visual enhancement of the site through removal of modern buildings and provision of substantial landscaping. It would also provide for informal recreational access to the area. In this respect the proposal fully accords with the objectives of the policies protecting these designated areas, seeking their enhancement, and enabling their recreational use.

The proposed conversion of the former office block to workshops would fall within the ambit of policies EMP.13 and ET.9 referred to above and not conflict with these designations either.

NATURE CONSERVATION: The site has a colony of lesser horseshoe bats, with other bat species also recorded locally. Bats are nationally protected and the proposal seeks to maintain their existing habitat in the retained buildings. It is in accordance with the relevant nature conservation policies referred to above and would be supported. As stated above the applicants have produced an informal Management Plan for the whole site. The implementation of the Plan can be secured by a condition.

RECREATION AND PUBLIC ACCESS: It is envisaged the site would be accessible at all times with controls over the height of vehicles capable of accessing the small car park (with exception of the proposed business uses who would have special exemptions). The recreational area would be largely level to ensure access for the disabled. The site would have low-key security lights where necessary to allow supervision but without external light pollution. These issues would also be addressed in the Management Plan.

FLOOD RISKS AND POLLUTION: The applicants have been in regular contact with the Environment Agency and following intensive negotiations the Agency now accepts the proposal in principle subject to safeguards which could be conditioned. Although the scheme would not entail larger scale disturbance of the site which is known to be polluted from its previous industrial uses, some remediation measures would be necessary and would again be included in the proposed management plan.

LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT SITE: Policies EMP.1 and ET.1D respectively seek to protect existing (or vacant) employment sites. However, in the recently undertaken Land Use Study (2003) this site did not feature amongst the sites fundamental to the continued provision of employment floorspace in the district. Indeed the site has now been vacant for some 10 years and whilst its loss to employment would be regrettable in an area with few employment opportunities it would not jeopardise the Council's employment base. In addition such loss is allowed by the above policies where a significant environmental gain would accrue from an alternative development such as this proposal.

PERSONAL CONDITION: This scheme has been prepared specifically by the applicants to be managed by them or on their behalf. Had a legal agreement been entered into the long-term control over the site (which would have applied to successors in title) would have been secured. As this application seeks to control the management plan through a condition it would be appropriate for this permission to be granted personally to the applicants to ensure adequate controls over the implementation.

CONCLUSION

This proposal is for an alternative development of the Freshford Mill site with a low-key recreational use benefiting local ecological interests. A substantial part of the site would be lost to former employment uses but the resulting environmental and recreational benefits would outweigh this loss and would enhance recreational provision in this part of the district and the Green Belt. Subject to securing the necessary environmental safeguards outlined above through an Environmental Management Plan this proposal can be wholeheartedly supported.

RECOMMENDATION

PERMIT with the following conditions:

1 The development hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.

Reason: As required by Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and to avoid the accumulation of unimplemented planning permissions.

2 No development shall be commenced until a hard and soft landscape scheme has been first submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority; such a scheme shall include details of all walls, fences, trees, hedgerows and other planting which are to be retained; details of new walls, fences and other boundary treatment and finished ground levels; a planting specification to include numbers, density, size, species and positions of all new trees and shrubs; details of the surface treatment of the open parts of the site; and a programme of implementation.

Reason: To ensure the provision of an appropriate landscape setting to the development.

3 All hard and/or soft landscape works shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details. The works shall be carried out prior to the occupation of any part of the development or in accordance with the programme agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority. Any trees or plants indicated on the approved scheme which, within a period of five years from the date of the development being completed, die, are removed or become seriously damaged or diseased shall be replaced during the next planting season with other trees or plants of a species and size to be first approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. All hard landscape works shall be permanently retained in accordance with the approved details.

Reason: To ensure that the landscape scheme is implemented and maintained.

4 There shall be no external illumination of the site other than in accordance with a scheme to be first submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority.

Reason: In the interests of the visual amenity of this rural location.

5 No development shall take place within the application site until a programme of archaeological work has been undertaken in accordance with a detailed written scheme of investigation which has previously been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, and the completion of the approved programme of work has been confirmed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Reason: To ensure that archaeological deposits and structures are investigated and recorded to an appropriate professional standard.

6 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until details of all existing and proposed finished floor, threshold and ground levels have ben submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans.

Reason: To ensure that the development is subject to minimum risk of flooding.

7 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a detailed scheme for the provision of flood protection works to any part of the development below the design flood levels throughout the development has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The works shall be completed in accordance with the details and timetable agreed.

Reason: To limit the risk of flooding by ensuring the provision of a satisfactory means of flood protection.

8 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a scheme for the provision and implementation of compensatory flood storage works has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be implemented in accordance with the approved programme and details.

Reason: To alleviate the increased risk of flooding.

9 No development approved by this permission shall be commended until details of all proposed construction methods and finishes to exterior and internal areas including walls and floors etc below design flood levels, have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans.

Reason: To ensure that the development construction and structure is flood resistant and is subject to minimum risk of damage from flooding.

10 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until details of all access and egress routes, designed to provide sufficient and safe access above design flood level to all operational buildings within the development, have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The access to any building shall be completed before occupation of any part of that building, and shall be constructed in accordance with the approved plans.

Reason: To ensure that a safe continuous dry access free of flood risk is provided to all operational areas of the development.

11 Before the development hereby permitted is commenced an Environmental Management Plan for the site shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority for approval. Such Plan shall include inter-alia the long-term ecological, landscape and overall management of the site, works for flood protection and water disposal unless incorporated in details to be submitted under conditions 6 to 8 above, phasing of demolition works and removal of materials from the site. Thereafter the development shall be carried out in full accordance with the approved Plan unless a further variation is approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Reason: The development would have a significant impact on the environmental interests of the site and the wider area situation within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and such plan would ensure that this impact is suitably controlled.

12 The use hereby approved shall enure only for the benefit of The Freshford Mill Association.

Reason: The development hereby approved is only acceptable in this location because of the special circumstances of this site and the specific nature of the proposal prepared by the applicant. The Local Planning Authority wishes to retain control over the development and its implementation in accordance with the agreed Management Plan

FOOTNOTE:

This permission relates to the documentation and plans date stamped 10.3.2003 and 5.1.2004.

______________________________________________________________________

Return to Alternative Plan for Freshford Mill


  Return to Home Page                                                                                                               

A web hosted by xyzweb.co.uk

Page last modified: Sunday March 11, 2007