The proposed development site covers an area of 6.5 hectares (approximately 16 acres). It is a greenfield site which is currently in agricultural use and also incorporates No 56 Station Road.
The site is located to the south of Cockaynes Lane, bordered to the north-west by residential and commercial properties and to the east by existing homes in Station Road. The southern boundary of the site is defined by the railway line while former gravel extraction pits border the land to the west.
Tendring District Council cannot currently demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land. This, together with the Government’s presumption in favour of sustainable development (as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework) has significant implications for how the Council is to consider and determine planning applications for proposed housing development.
The current Local Plan was adopted in 2007. Its policies for housing are now out of date and not in accordance with national planning policy. This includes in relation to the settlement boundaries as identified in the Local Plan. In addition, and although the Council is in the initial stage of preparing a replacement Local Plan, this does not address the current shortfall in the supply of housing land which our scheme seeks to address.
The resultant effect is that planning applications are more likely to be acceptable even on sites outside existing settlement policy boundaries, although this is subject to a number of requirements. These include that any sites for housing should be in sustainable locations. They should also be acceptable in all other respects, e.g. highways, no adverse flood risk and contribute to affordable housing.
Before we start designing a new scheme, we complete an assessment of the site and the surrounding area as they are at the moment. We record those features we will need to take into account in our design. All of the relevant considerations, whether they fix the way our scheme will have to be designed or give us a real opportunity to make the most of a particular feature, are shown here.
The national trip-generation database, TRICS, has been used to calculate expected traffic movements from the proposed development. It has been determined that the development will generate around 80 two-way trips during the morning weekday peak hour and around 90 two-way trips during the evening weekday peak hour, which represents an average of no more than three additional vehicles every two minutes during these times. With the proposed improvements to Cockaynes Lane (outlined in the 'What's proposed' section), the additional traffic that would result from the development can be safely accommodated by the local highways network.
Car parking will be provided in accordance with the prevailing local authority standards, with an average across the site of two spaces per dwelling plus one additional space per four dwellings for visitors.
The proposed development site is situated in an accessible location in close proximity to local transport links as well as existing facilities and services in Alresford. These are illustrated in the plan pictured below.
An Ecological Appraisal of the site has been undertaken, along with further protected species surveys for bats, dormice and reptiles. A summary of findings is set out below:
- The majority of the site was found to be of low ecological value, although trees and hedgerows at the boundaries are of local importance.
- A number of notable arable plants were found at the site, for which opportunities will be retained within proposed allotments.
- Bat activity was found to be low across the site with no roosts identified.
- No dormice were found to use the site.
- A population of reptiles were found at the site boundaries, which will be retained and protected on site within informal open space areas.
A range of enhancement opportunities are available as part of development, including creation of grassland and heathland habitats. The provision of orchard trees would provide foraging opportunities for birds and a range of invertebrates.
Trees and hedgerow
Mature trees and hedgerow located at or near to the boundaries of the site are considered to have ecological value as they are likely to provide opportunities for a range of wildlife.
Under our proposals we will be preserving the majority of existing boundary trees and hedgerow. Although a short section of hedgerow will be removed, this loss will be compensated through new tree and hedge planting at the site boundaries and throughout the development site.
Landscape and Visual Appraisal
A Landscape and Visual Appraisal has been undertaken as part of the supporting information for the planning application. The appraisal considered the key views from the surrounding area and found that views of the site were limited as a result of the surrounding flat topography, existing vegetation and the site’s location to the rear of existing development. As a result, the proposals will be well contained and any landscape effects on the wider landscape, or the neighbouring townscape, will be limited.
The appraisal has informed the preparation of our illustrative masterplan which has adopted the following key landscape principles:
- Development set back from Cockaynes Lane and new landscaping provided to maintain the semi-rural character of the Lane.
- Centrally located area of open space and play area provided within easy reach of the new homes.
- A landscaped buffer provided adjacent to the railway line.
- New footpath links provided around the perimeter of the site and connections to the station.
- Development to respect the setting and outlook of Cockaynes House through new open space and landscaping.
- New orchard planting to reflect the site’s former use.
- New native and ornamental landscaping to create a pleasant environment for new residents.
Flood risk and drainage
The proposed development site is located in Flood Zone 1, which means it is at the lowest risk of flooding from rivers and other watercourses (1-in-1,000-year risk).
A Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) will be used to manage surface water run-off within the site. This will ensure that run-off rates from the development will be no greater than current greenfield levels and will not increase the risk of flooding to neighbouring land.
Our SUDS proposals are likely to include techniques which will allow excess surface water to gradually drain away, such as porous paving, swales and soakaways. The geology of the site largely falls within the Kesgrave Catchment Sub Group of sand and gravel, which would support the use of the drainage measures we are proposing.