Development hits a stumbling block

By Tom Ladds   |   Editor   |
Sunday 23rd February 2020 12:02 pm
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New homes signs spotted at the bottom of West Alvington Hill ()

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A major development has been put on hold until further design elements are addressed.

The K5 development – a residential-led mixed-use development in West Alvington – was deferred at the latest South Hams District Council Development Management Committee meeting last week.

Several councillors expressed concerns over aspects of the current plan and its impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Kingsbridge ward councillor Denise O’Callaghan said: “My recommendation to the DMC would be to refuse this, and as the chairman has also pointed out, just on a final note – Dev 26 – ‘Net gains for Biodiversity’, I can’t see how this site gives you a net gain in biodiversity when you’re losing all that green land by building over it. We as a council have declared a climate emergency in the last few months and this is what we’re proposing? I don’t think the two things go together.”

Cllrs Long and Foss both voted to defer the decision and look again at the positioning of affordable housing.

Councillor Brown said: “It’s clear that we can’t refuse an application like this as far as I’m concerned, given the fact that the appeals system has granted outline permission.

“But I would support the calls of colleagues to defer this application on the grounds of distribution and mix of affordable housing, and to allow the developers time to improve the scale and massing of the two apartment blocks, as well as looking to soften the impact on the AONB, particularly the larger apartment block.”

Councillor Julian Brazil, chair of the DMC, said: “I’ll just put my ten pence worth in – although we’ve had a lot of people saying we can’t refuse this.

“I should remind members that when the original reserved matters application came in, officers were recommending refusal, so refusal is definitely an option on the table.

“There are a number of people who have raised issues about this application and feel that those issues have not been addressed, so I don’t think that we’re backed into a corner saying that we can’t refuse this, but at the moment, we have a recommendation for deferral which has been proposed and seconded.

“What I would like to be absolutely clear on with this deferral, is that we don’t have the same debate that we’ve had today at the next meeting, so I would like us to pin down specific issues we are going to talk about at the next meeting.”

The key points that members raised were housing mix, landscaping, the block of flats at the bottom of the site, and the distribution of affordable houses, which the DMC voted to discuss at the next meeting on Thursday, March 11.

Local lobbyist Richard Bateson, who has had concerns over the site’s attenuation tanks and design, posted pictures of the flooding on the quay to the K5 development group on Facebook and updated members on the council’s decision to defer the vote on the planning application.

Richard said: “K5 will increase the run off from rain and surface water which will go into the storm drains and then on to the leet and discharge into the head of the estuary. This will clearly contribute to flooding.

“The developers have what they think is a ‘clever’ solution – called attenuation tanks, which collect the surface water and then discharge it, however, the tanks do two things: they continuously discharge – there’s no control and no variation of the rate, so they don’t stop when its high spring tide.

“If they ever reach maximum capacity then they fail to serve any purpose as any excess rain and surface water now just overflows. To be clear, these tanks are never emptied, they just slow down the flow.”

Prior to the DMC meeting, West Alvington Parish Council were also left unable to make a decision on the application due to not having sufficient time to review the updated documentation.

Concerns over the design were again directed towards the height of the flats and how they would be out of keeping with the AONB, and as such should either be removed from the plan or redesigned with a significantly lower height.

There were also concerns about wheelchair access, non-material amendments similar to those at The View in Malborough, which allowed additional bedrooms and sunrooms, adding to the cost of the houses and the public footpath, which currently allows students access to KCC.

The WAPC also addressed the issue of biodiversity, referencing the site as a location for cirl bunting, a bird native to Devon hedgerows, and it being a reptile mitigation area. The parish council also agreed with Mr Bateson that the buildings will add significant additional load to the already critical drainage system at the bottom of Kingsbridge and that the applicant must be seen to minimise this additional load.

The council said that the applicant does not appear to have incorporated grey water and rain water recycling in their design.

Graham Hutton, Baker Estates’ development director, said: “Naturally, we are very disappointed that the detailed design of this already approved site, which has been deemed fully policy compliant with the local plan by each and every statutory consultee and planning officer, has been further deferred.

“We will continue to work with South Hams District Council to understand the exact reasons for this and address them constructively.

“Clearly, these delays have a significant impact on a local employer of our size, and we had hoped by now that the roofs would be on the homes at this site will deliver for local people.”

Signs advertising the new homes have been spotted around town.