VALP Main Modifications
Representation ID: 3559
Respondent: Buckinghamshire County Council
Legally compliant? Yes
Site specific requirements- this should mention A41PPTC.
We have taken this opportunity to set out some outstanding concerns and suggested amendments that BCC would like to see addressed in the adopted Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan. These points include revisions to MM275 to address the soundness of the modification, additions to MM076 to improve site connectivity and consideration to the compliance with the NPPF.
Please find BCC's full technical comments to the VALP Main Modifications below.
-Change 'which should' to 'which will'
-Suggest addition of 'no vehicular access to the South East Aylesbury link road will be permitted to serve development sites'
- c. - Change to prioritising and safeguarding delivery of...
-d. - suggest addition of ' all development sites shall be designed to provide unhindered vehicular, pedestrian and cycle connections to adjoining sites'
Change to ... 'once in accordance with an AGT1 masterplan SPD for the entire allocation'.
BCC are responding to a number of elements of the VALP which have been set out into sections below.
-BCC suggest that this point refers to dualing. As this will be determined through modelling and impact assessment, we suggest that this is changed to 'safeguarded for future dualling in the event that is built as a single carriageway.
-Junction improvements may be more than A418 and A413 so suggest this is a separate bullet point.
-Other network improvements as necessary as agreed through the consideration of the transport impacts.
- Include public transport accessibility improvements to cycling and walking links
-b. - To suggest everything will be delivered within 5 years is not realistic. The ELR is to be delivered by or as soon as after 2021 as possible. Other highway works will be phased beyond that for delivery based on build and need.
-m. -Change to vehicular access to the site shall be from ELR(s)
Site specific requirements- this should mention A41PPTC
Design code was submitted for village 3 for the recent reserved matters application and is available to view on the planning portal (18/0115).
- a.- sentence does not finish.
MM076 (pages 134 and 135 of tracked changes)
Rights of way
-h and i- Cover of walking and cycling links connecting the development with outlying communities - both are excellent. A bridleway (WHA/12/2) sits just outside the development edge on the north side of a strip of land called Briary Plantation. This bridleway forms the North Bucks Way and Swans Way, and connects the Tatternhoe Valley Park and Redways with Whaddon in an east to west direction. A bridleway exists north to south in MK borough (Shenley Brook End Bridleway 006) on the eastern edge of the development
- Improvements to Buckinghamshire Bridleway WHA/12/2 and a link onto it from the built development would be advantageous for residents, providing access to green space as well as transport links for walking and cycling between Milton Keynes, the development and Whaddon village. The suggested vision would be for this bridleway to be an extension of the Redways route, with the same or similar bitumen construction (not necessarily red), but also allowing a grass width for horses, if possible.
- g- For the avoidance of doubt should mention '...Redway standard improvements to Bridleway WHA/12/2' specifically as it lies just outside the development edge. Similarly, in para h. could mention '...extensions into the development from Shenley Brook End Bridleway 006, constructed to Redway standard'.
This policy states that a cycling and walking strategy is to be agreed by the Council. This is not clear what the cycling and walking strategy would relate to, i.e. is it just for this site or an overall strategy.
Following the informal publication of the proposed modifications in July 2019, the change of allocation for the WIN020 site became known to BCC and WTC. This created significant concerns around the proposals for the WIN020 site. Since then, BCC, AVDC and Winslow Town Council have engaged in constructive discussions and have reached an alternative agreement to the proposed modification that would not have an impact on an existing project within Winslow that is supported by all parties.
BCC are concerned with the proposed modification MM167 as there would be an impact on an existing scheme proposed for the WIN026 allocation at the Winslow Centre. This scheme consists of a medical centre, community facilities including a new library and up to 90 Extra Care homes. This scheme has gained financial backing from the One Public Estate Board, of which BCC and AVDC are members, along with the NHS and Thames Valley Police. It is based on provisions contained within the existing Winslow Neighbourhood Plan that was adopted in 2014 and is currently the premier planning policy for the Winslow area.
BCC acknowledges that earlier plans and documentation for the WIN026 site included only 30 bed C2 use. This, however, has been revised and the scheme can now achieve over 80 C2 use dwellings (Good practice guidelines for Extra Care developments indicate that 30 units would be too small and a minimum development of 60 units is required to realise the economies of scale benefits of this type of development). The WIN026 site has been allocated in the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan for this purpose. However, in order to achieve the outcomes of this allocation the re-provision of sporting facilities at WIN020 was needed, as also provided for in the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan. WIN026 is a much preferred site for C2 accommodation as it will be adjacent to a new health centre and the library, and is much closer than WIN020 to town centre facilities.
Further detailed design works of the re-provision of the sporting facilities has identified that more land is required than that proposed for the eastern parcel of WIN020 resulting in the need for the whole of the WIN020 allocation to be for sport facilities. Furthermore, the allocation for the remaining parcel of WIN020 for a 100 bed C2 use would be in conflict with the proposal for the Winslow Centre development. BCC as landowner of both allocations would not implement both schemes for C2 use, questioning the deliverability of one or both schemes.
In our discussions we have considered the role of One Public Estate in supporting the Winslow Centre development. It is for these reasons that BCC, AVDC and WTC would seek a revised modification for this allocation. We would wish to see the WIN026 Winslow Centre remain the same with the acknowledgement that it can offer 80+ beds for C2 use and the whole of WIN020 be allocated for sport provision.
BCC, AVDC and Winslow Town Council will be submitting these comments as a joint letter to the Inspector expressing the revised position for the proposed modification of the western part of the site WIN020. We are confident that the agreed changes will be made by AVDC as part of the main modifications consultation.
Change text... ' the guidelines set out below which are taken from the ... thresholds for development ...' transport impact assessment change to' transport statement, transport assessment and travel plans'... 'development' this is a guide only and the need should be confirmed through pre application discussions with the council.
-a.- suggest houses should have one fast electric vehicle dedicated charging points. At least two parking bays marked for electric vehicles only.
Suggest referring to Surrey's parking guidance to provide up to date info on power sources and changes to installation process.
Policy BE1 Heritage Assets is not as clear as it could be. The policy is divided between designated heritage assets and non-designated heritage assets; however the requirements for designated are equally valid for undesignated. We would therefore recommend that BE1 includes the following text after the non-designated heritage paragraph:
Heritage statements and / or archaeological evaluations may be required to assess the significance of any heritage assets and the impact on these by the development proposal.
The word 'known' should be removed from the second paragraph relating to possible archaeological sites. This would better fit with NPPF Paragraph 189 which includes, 'Where a site on which development is proposed includes, or has the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.'
-b. - should probably refer to NPPF February 2019 Paragraph 195 rather than 133.
-The narrative on priority habitats in MM224 (para 9.9) states that;
"Priority habitats and priority species are not always fully protected under UK wildlife laws." but does not refer to their consideration in the National Planning Policy Framework, 2019. It is recommended that text from the NPPF is incorporated in to this section of the Plan, Specifically, paragraph 174 (b) "To protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity, plans should: ...promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habits, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measureable net gains for biodiversity."
It is also recommended that the Plan includes the definition of Priority habitats and species in the Plan. NPPF Annex 2 (Glossary) defines Priority habitats and species as: Species and Habitats of Principal Importance included in the England Biodiversity List published by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
-Paragraph 9.14 on biometric calculations requires clarity. There is not sufficient emphasis that the mitigation hierarchy should be applied, to avoid, mitigate and compensate, before considering off-site offsetting contributions.
-Paragraph 9.14 also currently says "A negative unit loss would need to be offset". This statement is confusing as it could be interpreted that 'loss' is acceptable. The emphasis should be on achieving net gain (on-site in so far as possible through the mitigation hierarchy).
-Paragraph 170 of NPPF should be included in the text as this refers to net gain (we have moved on from 'no net loss'). It specifically states that: "Planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by: ... d) minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures..." It is recommended that this text from the NPPF is included in the text of the Plan.
-There should be clearer guidance on which biometric calculator is expected (or is acceptable) to be used. The paragraph refers to "Warwickshire's" metric which should be specified as the most recent metric being used by Warwickshire County Council (version 20 is soon to be published). Consideration should also be given to the use of the Defra 2.0 metric, which is currently available as a beta version, and is likely to be finalised in summer 2020.
There is no reference in this section to the statutory protection afforded to Local Nature Reserves. It is recommended that this is included.
MM228 (NE1 Protected Sites)
NE1 Protected Sites has been written based on paragraph 175 of the NPPF, which is appropriate. However, paragraphs 176 and 177 of the NPPF also relate to protected sites and it appears these have not been considered in NE1, or at least they are not easily identifiable as having been considered. It is recommended that this wording is incorporated in to the VALP for the avoidance of any doubt as to the definition/protection of a protected site/habitat:
"176. The following should be given the same protection as habitats sites:
a) Potential special protection areas and possible special areas of conservation;
b) Listed of proposed Ramsar sites; and
c) Sites identify or required as compensatory measures for adverse effects on habitats sites, potential special protection areas, possible Special Areas of Conservation, and or proposed Ramsar sites.
Paragraph 177. The presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply where the plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a habitats site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), unless an appropriate assessment has concluded that the plan or project will not adversely affect the integrity of the habitats site
It would be helpful if this paragraph included examples of which "species have historically been entirely dependent on human habitation for their reproductive success". It should also be specified in this paragraph that planning conditions will be used to ensure these features are installed (in an appropriate way that will benefit wildlife) in the development.
Paragraph 9.17 of the VALP should include reference to the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (NEP) who is currently preparing the supplementary planning document (SPD) that is the subject of this paragraph. This will raise awareness of the NEP which will become increasingly important as biodiversity accounting/offsetting becomes the 'norm' in development terminology.
Strategic Flood Management
Policy I4 (page 314 and 315 of tracked changes)
f. - Wording is unclear in terms of what is expected of an applicant. The Strategic Flood Management team would suggest the wording is amended as follows: Ensure that the proposed drainage system can contain up to the 1 in 30 storm event without flooding. Any onsite flooding between the 1 in 30 and the 1 in 100 plus climate change storm event should be safely contained on site.
- i. - the connectivity between the original bullet point and the additional wording is not clear. It is would advised that guidance is sought from the Environment Agency on the suitability of this wording.
-o. - refers to surface water runoff and then goes onto encompass all sources of flood risk. The focus of this bullet point is SuDS to manage development runoff. It is suggested that where the LPA want to promote SuDS as a measure for mitigating other sources of flood risk this should be included within a separate bullet point.
o. - The Strategic Flood Management disagree with the suggested amendment regarding discharge rates being solely agreed by the sewerage undertaker. There needs to be partnership working between the sewerage undertaker and Lead Local Flood Authority to determine a suitable discharge rate for the site. Therefore, the Strategic Flood Management team would suggest the following amendment: Where the final discharge point is the public sewerage network the runoff rate should be agreed with the sewerage undertaker in consultation with the Lead Local Flood Authority.
Flood risk assessments
- Amend first line to say 'All development proposals must adhere to the advice in the latest version of the SFRA and also the general advice in Section 4 of the groundwater addendum, plus any site-specific advice within the groundwater addendum, and will':
-e- it would be helpful if the policy could define the word 'harm' as this is currently open to interpretation. If not defined, it is suggested this word is removed. Additionally ask that the term 'third parties' is clarified, or propose using alternative wording such as downstream receptors, existing development and/or adjacent land.
-k- insert 'as defined in the Planning Practice Guidance para 041' after 'provide an assessment of residual flood risk'.
i- to include an additional point (L) to say 'include detailed modelling of any ordinary watercourses within or adjacent to the site, where appropriate, to define in detail the area at risk of flooding and model the effect of climate change'.
-l.- include a bullet point (M) to say 'complete site specific ground investigations to gain a more local understanding of groundwater flood risk and inform the design of sustainable drainage components'.
-After title heading Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in policy I4, to include the following wording 'All development proposals must adhere to the advice in the latest version of the SFRA and also the general advice in Section 4 of the groundwater addendum, plus any site-specific advice within this groundwater addendum, and will:
The Strategic Flood Management team has no other comments relating to the modifications. It is, however, regretful to note that none of our previous recommended changes to Chapter 11 ('Flood risk' section and Policy I3, now I4) that we set out in BCC's final representation (dated 14th Dec 2017) to the Proposed Submission Version of the VALP were made.