Aylesbury Vale Area

VALP Further Main Modifications

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Object

VALP Further Main Modifications

FMM033

Representation ID: 4020

Received: 05/02/2021

Respondent: Nexus Planning Ltd

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Representation Summary:

This site is located within an area allocated for transformational change through Policy D-AGT3, including substantial new infrastructure, housing, employment and other supporting uses. Furthermore, it is directly adjacent to significant approved housing developments to the south and west. The current wording of criterion ‘s’ is unduly restrictive and would prevent an ability to make an effective use of land. Our proposed wording would provide more flexibility on the nature of development that could come forward, but still aligns with the overarching approach to development within the policy area. Without this change this aspect of modification FMM033 is not justified.

Change suggested by respondent:

The wording of criterion ‘s’ should be as follows, with new text shown as underlined:
At Westonmead Farm development is to be kept to the southern section of the area. The northern section of the area identified as 'not built development' is to be retained for green infrastructure (criteria p above). The are some existing buildings to the north of the watercourse, their redevelopment or conversion to a suitable use that is compatible with criterion ‘a’ of Policy D-AGT3 and the Green Infrastructure context would be considered acceptable.

Full text:

These representations are prepared in respect of FMM033 and the proposed changes to criterion ‘s’ of the site specific requirements, which currently is worded as follows (amended text underlined):
At Westonmead Farm development is to be kept to the southern section of the area. The northern section of the area identified as 'not built development' is to be retained for green infrastructure (criteria p above). The are some existing agricultural buildings to the north of the watercourse, their conversion to a suitable use that is compatible with their rural nature and Green Infrastructure context would be considered acceptable.
Weston Mead Farm Limited welcomes the proposed modification in so far as it recognises that the existing buildings in the northern part of the site have some development potential – a position we have promoted throughout the VALP process. We do however consider that adjustments are required to the text in order to ensure that it meets the tests of soundness as set out at paragraph 182 of the NPPF 2012.
The policy wording identifies that large parts of the northern section of the site is to be retained as green infrastructure and is subject to a ‘not built development’ designation. In line with this, planning approval ref. 17/04819/AOP, which grants planning permission for up to 157 dwellings across the wider site, requires parts of the northern section for use as green infrastructure although the land containing the existing buildings (and that immediately adjacent) is excluded, as shown on approved drawing ref. D9104 Rev. 05, which is attached for ease of reference. This parcel is almost 1 hectare in size.
It would appear that the wording of the proposed modification has followed a very similar approach to the provisions of Policy C1 of the VALP, which relates to the ‘conversion of rural buildings’. This policy is however somewhat restrictive and, having regard to the supporting text, designed to respond to more isolated and rural clusters of buildings. Conversely, this site is located within an area allocated for transformational change through Policy D-AGT3 of the VALP, including substantial new infrastructure, housing, employment and other supporting uses. Furthermore, it is directly adjacent to significant approved housing developments to the south and west.
Whilst it is appreciated that land to the north will comprise green infrastructure, the current wording is still unduly restrictive having regard to the site’s context outlined above and therefore could prevent an ability to make an effective use of land. For example, the wording restricts development to conversion, without any justification.
We also note that specific reference is made to ‘agricultural’ buildings. Whilst the buildings have been used for such purposes, other uses have also been in operation. It therefore considered that the agricultural reference is inaccurate but in any event is not necessary and therefore should be deleted.
To address the above issues, it is suggested that the proposed modification for criterion ‘s’ should be as follows, again new text shown as underlined:
At Westonmead Farm development is to be kept to the southern section of the area. The northern section of the area identified as 'not built development' is to be retained for green infrastructure (criteria p above). The are some existing buildings to the north of the watercourse, their redevelopment or conversion to a suitable use that is compatible with criterion ‘a’ of Policy D-AGT3 and the Green Infrastructure context would be considered acceptable.
This approach would provide more flexibility on the nature of development that could come forward, but importantly ensures that it aligns with the overarching approach to development within the policy area and has specific regard to the presence of green infrastructure adjacent to the site. Without this change, it is considered that this aspect of proposed modification FMM033 is unsound as it fails to be justified in setting unduly restrictive parameters for the site and thus is not the most appropriate strategy. Accordingly, it conflicts with paragraph 182 of the NPPF 2012.

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