Q and A
THE APPLICATION PROPOSALS
1. What planning applications will be submitted?
Over the last four years, Barwood Land has worked closely with all stakeholders and officers, including South Hams District Council, Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park and other statutory bodies and the local community to bring forward a comprehensive, sensitively designed proposal to deliver new homes in the area. This has resulted in an overarching vision: a masterplan that sets out the design principles, and design code for the Joint Local Plan Policy PLY44 allocation area, known as ‘Land at Woolwell’.
This autumn, we will be submitting two outline planning applications to SHDC, which will cover the majority (c129ha / 92%) of the allocation. Both applications will be consistent with the core vision, design principles and infrastructure requirements that are required for the allocation as a whole.
Together, these applications will deliver all of the policy requirements for the Land at Woolwell allocation, enabling its comprehensive delivery. The proposals include:
· Up to 2,000 homes
· Three new accesses into the site
· A new primary school
· A range of community facilities including a new primary school and a 13-hectare community park.
· A further 50 hectares of land will provide a range of green open spaces, including new sports pitches, children’s play areas and other public open spaces.
The remaining c.11ha (~8%) of land, which falls within the allocation area and includes the existing sports pitches to the east of Darklake Lane, is not included within the current planning applications. It is expected that the housebuilder which controls that land will progress its own scheme and submit a planning application in the future. Any future proposals on that land will be subject to their own consultation with the Council and community and will need to meet the same policy requirements and overarching design philosophy as the wider Land at Woolwell allocation.
 Net residential density is measured on just the areas of land where housing is proposed, and excludes all areas of land proposed for open spaces and other non-residential uses. The gross density measured across the full land area for the applications is much lower, at c. 15.5dph.
2. How can we show how many houses could fit on land that we do not control?
The proposals that will shortly be submitted have been subjected to thorough and extensive assessment, consultation, scrutiny and evolution over many years. We are therefore confident that the proposals, including the number of homes are deliverable and are appropriate and acceptable in planning terms.
There is not yet a scheme on the remaining 11ha / 8% of the allocation that has been subject to any assessment and consultation, and which is sufficiently advanced for us to say, with any confidence, what the appropriate mix of uses and number of homes are on that part of the allocation.
3. Why is an application on the remaining 11ha of land within the allocation not also being submitted?
An application on the remaining land within the allocation is not a policy requirement and is not necessary to secure the comprehensive delivery of the allocation.
4. Can we provide assurance that the remaining area of the allocation will not be ‘landlocked’?
We have always made clear our commitment to see the whole allocation delivered. Our proposals will ensure that access can be facilitated through all parts of the wider allocation area, subject to it being guaranteed that any development proposals on that land contributes fairly and equitably towards the delivery of all of the infrastructure and other policy requirements for the whole allocation including roads, accesses, services/utilities, school and community facilities, etc.
1. How will the allocation be phased?
It is not possible, necessary or appropriate to fix a phasing strategy at an outline planning stage. Phasing is complex and has to take into account a number of interrelated considerations, including the need to have a good understanding of the infrastructure and mitigation requirements for the whole allocation.
2. Will a new access be built before any building takes place?
A suitable and safe access for construction and for use by those who will live or visit will be delivered and will require the approval of the planning and highway authorities before they can be constructed.
1. What will the housing density of the 2,000 homes be?
The average net residential density on the area which covered by the forthcoming planning applications is 37.5 dwellings per hectare (dph). As highlighted at the Members Forum meeting, there will be a range of densities that respond to the site constraints and opportunities across the site, with higher densities around the new community hub and lower densities on the development edge.
The amount of land proposed on the application areas for non-residential uses, including open spaces and community facilities has never changed. Those areas will be ‘fixed’ on plans in the applications so that their delivery is secured and guaranteed.
Modern housing schemes tend to have a density of 38-40dph. This is purposefully to enable a wider range of house types and sizes to be provided and, specifically, a greater proportion of smaller homes. This is something residents have indicated in their feedback during our consultation that there is local demand for.
The Council has rigorously challenged us during the pre-application consultation process to demonstrate that the number of homes proposed are deliverable, with no unacceptable impacts. The level of technical assessment work undertaken far exceeds what is required for an outline planning application and demonstrates that it is an appropriate and acceptable density for this site and location.
In the absence of an advanced scheme, it is difficult to say for sure what the average net density across the allocation area will be with the remaining c. 11ha allocation area included.
INFRASTRUCTURE, INCLUDING THE SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES
1. How can the delivery of infrastructure for everything that is needed be guaranteed?
Any necessary infrastructure will be secured by planning conditions or via a Section 106 legal agreement. This will require its delivery by the developer and/or payment of financial contributions towards its delivery by the Councils.
Submitting two planning applications enables the impacts of up to 2,000 homes to be properly assessed and the infrastructure requirements for the allocation to then be defined and agreed with the Council.
When determining all planning applications within the allocation area, the LPA will then be able to ensure that the comprehensive delivery of the wider allocation will not be prejudiced and that all developments proposed within the allocation make fair and equitable contributions towards the allocation-wide ‘shared’ infrastructure and policy requirements, to secure its timely delivery.
2. What are the trigger points for community amenities, including the primary school?
Trigger points for the delivery of the community facilities and infrastructure, including the primary school, will be identified during the determination of the planning applications.
We agree that the new primary school should be provided at the earliest practicable opportunity. The precise timing for the delivery of the school will depend on a number of factors that requires further discussion with Devon County Council’s education department.
3. Will ample parking be provided for the school?
The detailed design of the school, including parking, will be a matter for Devon County Council to decide but the size of school site has been agreed with the Council and this takes into account the need for sufficient space for its parking requirements. The proposed community hub can also provide convenient, off-street, ‘overflow’ parking for the school.
1. Will there be ample parking for visitors to the community park?
Visitor parking will be provided within a two-minute walk from the community park.
Residents and visitors will be encouraged to access the community park via the proposed network of footpaths and cycle paths or by public transport wherever possible.
2. Will there be suitable pathways for wheelchairs and pushchairs?
Through our engagement with the local community it is clear that the hilly local area presents challenges for some people so we have worked hard to ensure that the development, including the community park, will accessible and inclusive. We have identified a number of possible routes in the community park that will be accessible for everyone and which can be easily accessed directly from the tramway and wider footpath network.
3. Will there be links into Cann Wood for those walking or cycling?
There are two options for where future pedestrian and cycle connections could be provided into Cann Wood – one to the east and one to the south.
4. How will green spaces be managed so they do not become a financial burden to the residents that are going to live there?
SHDC has already confirmed that it is not willing to take on the management of any open spaces. All open spaces on site are therefore expected to be managed by a management company, which will be established before any homes are sold on site.
The management regime for the community park area will not be burdensome or costly, with one option being a continuation of agricultural use (e.g. livestock grazing).
1. Have talks been held with Citybus about connectivity through the site and how they would best serve the residents? Can the discussion notes be shared?
An extension to the 42C (operated by Citybus) is not expected to be needed as the site is served by a good, regular bus service. Discussions have and continue to take place with Stagecoach who operate the Park and Ride and No.1 bus services, which is expected to be improved to serve the proposed development. The discussion notes contain commercially sensitive information and so we are not permitted to share those publicly.
The public transport strategy is based on a detailed business case, which demonstrates that all of the options are commercially viable and would provide an attractive offer for either bus company. The Transport Assessments that will be submitted with the planning applications will provide more detail on the anticipated bus strategy for the site.
2. Do we still commit to a contribution to the Woolwell to the George Improvement Scheme (‘WttG scheme’)?
An appropriate financial contribution towards the WttG scheme will be secured by a Section 106 obligation. The WttG scheme is identified to be needed to support all planned development for the area over the next 15 years and all local developments that will use that road will also be expected to make a financial contribution towards that scheme.
3. Is there an alternative way to connect the two communities without using Pickpie Drive?
The Pickpie Drive access is a policy requirement set out in Policy PLY 44 of the Council’s adopted Joint Local Plan. The Council included this requirement deliberately and for a specific reason, which we understand was principally to address longstanding concerns from residents about only having one way into and out of Woolwell.
From a place making and community integration perspective, we believe there would also be real benefits for the community if the Pickpie Drive access is delivered. It would give residents in Woolwell an alternative way to get to and from their homes; it would provide access to the new community facilities and services; and it would enable the improved bus services to provide more regular services closer to where people live.
We do not believe that Pickpie Drive will become a ‘rat run’. The access and streets have been designed to be low speed residential streets and would not provide a more attractive or quicker route for those wishing to bypass the Tavistock Road. The planned the improvements to the Tavistock Road (WttG) will further reduce the potential attractiveness of the new street to bypass the main road.
1. Does the Design Code include measures to mitigate climate change?
Measures to mitigate climate change have been considered and further details will be provided in the documents submitted with the applications.
The most effective measures to maximise energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change from new developments are not from ‘add on’ renewable technologies but from how places and buildings are designed. This includes through:
a) At the detailed design stage, considering carefully the orientation and internal layout of buildings, and the choice of building fabrics and insulation measures, to maximise natural daylight and passive solar gains and minimise thermal heat loss;
b) The extensive, connected and comprehensive green infrastructure network comprising over 60ha land on site; and
c) The proposals to actively encouraging changes in behaviour, including travel choices.
2. Will there be charging points for electric vehicles?
We expect charging for electric vehicles to be provided in appropriate locations within the site.
By the time we start construction on site, new Government regulations are anticipated to be in force, which will set minimum targets for electric charging ducting infrastructure to be provided in all new residential and commercial developments. This is expected to be controlled through Building Regulations, rather than through the planning process, which will enable the latest charging technology solutions that are available when each phase of the 12-15 year development are brought forward and delivered.
1. Will there be self-build plots?
We know from our public consultation that some people would like self-build plots to be provided and this will be discussed further with Officers during the determination of the planning applications. We are very happy to look at opportunities to deliver these if we can see a demonstrable demand for people to purchase and deliver self-build and custom-build homes.
1. Will high-speed internet connection will be delivered on site?
Provision of high-speed internet connections is a key requirement of modern life and we want to support those who work from home and encourage those living at Woolwell to adopt more flexible working patterns, through various measures included in our proposals. No developer can guarantee the speed of internet but we do agree that broadband providers will be very keen to provide a high-speed service here given its urban location and local demand that has been identified.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
1. What are the implications on the local hospital, doctors and dentists of the proposed development?
As part of the Local Plan process, the local councils were required to consult with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS to check that there is sufficient capacity in the local hospitals and GP surgeries to accommodate the needs of the Land at Woolwell allocation. We understand that neither the CCG nor NHS objected to the allocations and nor have they identified the need for new or expanded facilities in the area.
For dental services, there will be space within the Local Centre on site for a new dental surgery if there is demand for one to open; however as dental practices are commercial businesses, there is no requirement or obligation on developers to deliver new dental surgeries.
2. What can be done to prevent overstretching the hospital?
As set out above, there is no evidence to demonstrate that the current physical capacity of the hospital cannot accommodate the needs of the proposed development. Through the application process, should the NHS demonstrate that there is a need and a scheme to expand the hospital building to meet the medical needs of the proposed development, then a proportionate and appropriate financial contribution, secured in the Section 106 Agreements, can be made to facilitate its delivery.
3. Is a doctor’s surgery proposed?
As set out above, there is no evidence to demonstrate that the physical capacity of the existing local medical practices cannot accommodate the needs of the proposed development. Should evidence be made available such that it is demonstrated during the course of the determination of the planning applications that additional space is required, there will be space within the local centre on site for a small medical practice or an appropriate financial contribution towards the delivery of a new or expanded medical practice within the local area can be made.
4. There is a national shortage of qualified doctors. Where will doctors come from?
This is a resourcing and recruiting issue and it is for the Government and healthcare providers to find a solution. Developers are not responsible (and cannot solve) any national issues with the number of qualified doctors or attracting them to work in the local area. The responsibility of developers is only to ensure that there is the necessary physical infrastructure in place to serve the needs of the proposed development.
1. Are allotments proposed?
There are actually four potential locations on site for allotments, shown on the masterplan and the specific location will be determined during the detailed design (reserved matters) stage. There may also be options to provide additional allotments on the remaining land within the allocation area, which will be subject to a future application, but that is a discussion between the applicant/developer of that land and the community and council at the appropriate time.
1. What steps will be taken to mitigate impact on wildlife?
Detailed ecological assessments that will be submitted with the applications were agreed with the council and undertaken by independent qualified ecologists. These have highlighted a number of measures that will protect wildlife and achieve an overall net gain in biodiversity, including the following:
a) The retention and management of the majority of hedgerows and trees on site, including Pickpie Plantation.
b) New habitat creation by additional tree/shrub planting, the creation of species-rich grassland and designing the drainage features to provide wetland habitats.
c) The provision of boxes and nesting features to encourage birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and other small mammals to breed and use the site.
The retained habitats in addition to the proposed habitat creation and enhancement measures will ensure suitable habitats persist for non-protected species such as rabbits and deer. Improved management of habitats on-site will provide long-term benefits for local wildlife.
2. Has sufficient provision been made for other wildlife such bats, mice, or plant-life during the construction period?
During the construction period, wildlife and their habitats will be protected. Steps that will be taken to protect wildlife and their habitats during the construction period will include the following:
a) The establishment of ecological protection zones (using fencing) to ensure that construction activity will not cause damage or harm to habitats, including trees and hedgerows.
b) There will be supervision of works by a qualified ecologist, where appropriate, to ensure that is no danger to protected species.
c) Protected species licences will be obtained where needed to ensure protected species are not at risk.
1. What public consultation has been undertaken?
Barwood Land has carried out extensive public consultation on these plans, the details of which in the Statement of Community Involvement, which will be submitted with our planning applications.
So far, we have:
· Invited over 8,500 residents to two days of public consultation at the Woolwell Centre
· Held a street stall in Plymouth to reach out to local people who didn’t live near the site or hadn’t hear about our plans
· Received over 200 pieces of feedback
· Organised a focus group with residents to look at certain issues in more detail
This consultation and all feedback received has been used to inform and adapt our plans, including in respect of the masterplan and design code. It has also informed our thinking for future decisions that we will make on matters such as phasing.
Our current plans are only at an outline planning application stage. When developers want to submit detailed applications at a later date, those plans will be the subject of further consultation, which can include issues like design, phasing and other aspects of the scheme, which will have been worked on in more detail.
Barwood Land is committed to working constructively with local stakeholders as the proposals for the Land at Woolwell progress and this will continue in the future.