Team Denton South

Councillors Jack Naylor, Claire Reid & George Newton

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Councillors Jack Naylor, Claire Reid & George Newton alongside Andrew Gwynne MP have prepared a formal objection to the proposal to develop the Old Rectory site in to 24 apartments.

You can read it here:

Introduction


We - Councillors Jack Naylor, Claire Reid and George Newton, and Andrew Gwynne MP - are writing to object to the above planning application and also register our right to speak on the matter when the proposal comes before the Speaker’s Panel.


Haughton Green is a special place. An old village and 1950s local authority housing that have made each other their own. Wasn’t it the very principles of the creation of these post-war estates to provide a more prosperous, healthy life with a green space and fresh air buffer surrounding urban areas.


We accept there is a clear need for additional affordable housing in Haughton Green, however these must be the right kinds and scale of developments in order to make sure our communities are sustainable.

We as the elected representatives of the area have always taken an active role in planning matters, and in the past when the applicant has submitted planning applications for other sites in Denton South we have worked hard to find that balance between ensuring new properties that are desperately needed are built, whilst making sure areas are not overdeveloped, and importantly that our democratic planning policies are respected.

The above planning application is quite simply at odds with the planning policies governing Tameside Metropolitan Borough and Haughton Green, specifically these policies are contained in the Haughton Green Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), Tameside’s Unitary Development Plan (SPD) and indeed sections of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF).


Given the feedback we have given to Irwell Valley both on previous applications they have put forward in Denton South, and this current proposal, we are surprised and disappointed to see a proposal that does not respect the principles of our local and national planning policies, and in particular the Haughton Green SPD.


This planning application seeks to undermine the very special nature of the Haughton Green and Haughton Dale area through overdevelopment, loss of trees, increased traffic flow, and a lack of consideration for local characteristics.


In addition to further points within this objection, the proposal directly contravenes the following planning policies:

• HAU1 Land use

• HAU3 Character

• HAU4 Massing, Density and Height

• HAU7 Vehicular access and parking

• HAU9 Public realm: Meadow Lane

• HAU12 Trees, Soft Landscaping and Biodiversity

• HAU13 Former Old Rectory site development principles.

These policies are supported further by Tameside’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP) and relevant sections of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF).

We object to this planning application and urge its refusal.

We will set out the reasons why this application must be refused.


Policy HAU1 – Land Use


Residential proposals where appropriate should enhance local context and serve to reinforce the primarily residential character of Haughton Green.


Consideration of land use is important to ensure the complementary siting of proposals and the amenity of existing development; to make sure air quality, noise and privacy; are not compromised.


The proposed development does not enhance or reinforce the primary residential character of the local area. Specifically the amenity of existing development, those properties on Dale View, Rivermead Road and Meadow Lane, will face significant loss of privacy and become overlooked. Whilst we accept a degree of screening in the form of trees is proposed in the application, these will take a number of years to develop. We refer you to appeal case APP/C4235/W/21/3279967 Land bounded by Ashton Road, the River Tame, Turner Lane and Bredbury Industrial Estate, Stockport where this problem of delay of growth of screening is referenced where an applicant attempts to use the planting of new trees to reduce the detriment an inappropriate development has on an area.


Furthermore presently there are existing trees at the periphery of the site, and for most of the year, with the exception of a few summer months, they themselves do not currently block the view from Dale View or Rivermead to the Old Rectory site. This is before the proposed removal of trees on the site.


HAU1 is also supported by policy H10 Detailed Design of Housing Developments of Tameside’s UDP. The layout, design and external appearance of proposed housing developments, will be required to be: (a) a design which meets the needs of the potential occupiers, provides an attractive, convenient and safe environment for the local community, and complements or enhances the character and appearance of the surrounding area, and (d) no unacceptable impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties through noise, loss of privacy, overshadowing, or traffic.


At this juncture it should also be considered the impact that 30 additional cars on the site will have on the air quality surrounding these bordering properties not least as the existing community is primarily made up of some of the most vulnerable: families with young children, or the elderly.


It is the case that the construction of a smaller number of individual dwellings on the Old Rectory site as opposed to an apartment block would be a far more sensitive use of the land when considering the topography of Meadow Lane. This would provide much needed additional housing in Haughton Green but would also respect the special characteristics of the area.


Policy HAU3 – Character


We will focus on the section: Worths Lane/Meadow Lane: Development on the eastern side of the lane takes advantage of the contours of the land, sweeping in broad curves at the site of the former Old Rectory, Dale View and Hillside View overlook Haughton Dale in a series of “terraces”.


The advantage of Dale View and Hillside View being comprised of semi-detached houses with clear breaks is that the houses are able to follow the topography of Meadow Lane, each pair of houses built at different angles and heights dependent on the topography of the hillside as to not create a ‘wall’ of buildings.


The proposal of one apartment block with no breaks completely undermines this very important terracing effect meaning the Old Rectory site, which is already significantly higher up than Dale View and Hillside View will provide a mass of red brick, and nothing in between undermining a very crucial element of the sense of place of the existing community.


The applicant proposes the screening of the development through a tree planting scheme. It must therefore be considered how long it will take these trees to mature. The introduction of these saplings combined with the removal and reduction of other trees on the site would result in the visual amenity of Meadow Lane being undermined for many years to come. Indeed, a sheer mass of brick and concrete is certainly not contributing to the very special character of the local area, and Is indeed in contravention of policies HAU12.


When considering HAU3 we can also look to policy C1 from Tameside’s UPD to inform us further: Conservation And Enhancement Of The Built Environment: In considering proposals for built development, the Council will expect the distinct settlement pattern, open space features, topography, townscape and landscape character of specific areas of the Borough to be understood, and the nature of the surrounding fabric to be respected. The relationship between buildings and their setting should be given particular attention in the design of any proposal for development.

This is supported by paragraph 126 of the NPPF: the creation of high quality, beautiful and sustainable buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities.

Again the NPPF in paragraph 130 d) establish or maintain a strong sense of place, using the arrangement of streets, spaces, building types and materials to create attractive, welcoming and distinctive places to live, work and visit and paragraph 190 c) and d) state the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness; and opportunities to draw on the contribution made by the historic environment to the character of a place.


Surely if we are to retain and extend the sense of place in Haughton Dale the building type of an apartment block is simply not suitable, and would also not be in line with local or national policies.

Turning to the applicant’s own design access statement the comments are made that the development must reinforce the existing “Sense of Place”, adding further identity to the existing community as an extension of the neighbouring housing area, Enhance and re-enforce the surrounding residential character, The exposed nature of the site and its position within a distinctive area of Haughton Green provides an opportunity to create a clearly defined and characterful design response which creates a sense of place as part of the transition from the central Village Green to Haughton Dale along Meadow Lane.

Furthermore: Notwithstanding any reference within the SHELAA to housing there are no planning restriction as to why the site could not be developed for apartments. A single apartment block would appear to be a logical and environmentally sensitive approach to developing what is a relatively constrained site.


We would question how any of these points made by the applicant have resulted in the proposal that has been put forward, not least when considering these comments from the applicant alongside the SPD, UDP and NPPF. It is impossible to understand how the developer has concluded this apartment block is the most appropriate proposal when considering the special characteristics of Haughton Dale.

Again to build a small number of individual dwellings on the Old Rectory site continuing the features and imitating the topography of Dale View and Hillside View would be far more appropriate and in keeping with the character of Haughton Dale.


Policy HAU4 – Massing, Density and Height


Developments in Haughton Green should retain and enhance the character of the area by ensuring:


Densities of residential proposals are no greater than those typifying the SPD area which is broadly 30 units per hectare, unless it can be demonstrated that an increased density would enhance the character of the area.

Existing massing is retained and enhanced through uniform clustering of development with regular spacing between built form consistent with the surrounding urban grain.

This section of our objection to the planning application is self-explanatory when considering the conflicts between the SPD and the size and design of the proposed development.

By the developer’s own admission, the proposal would form the equivalent of a density of 69 dwellings per hectare, completely at odds with the SPD policy of broadly 30 units per hectares. The applicant has proposed a development that is in fact nearly 3 times the density of that listed in the policy.


The SDP specifically states that: it will be important therefore that new developments and alterations to existing properties retain and enhance local character. Significant increases in the density of development are therefore unlikely to be acceptable in most circumstances and proposals will need to show regular form and breaks which are consistent with their surroundings.

Even in the most generous of circumstances Policy H7: Mixed Use and Density of the Tameside UDP specifies that the Council will encourage and permit the development of: (b) schemes which make efficient use of land through housing densities of between 30 and 50 dwellings per hectare net.


To summarise the proposal put forward by the developer undermines the SPD both in terms of density and design of the apartment block. This does not have to be the case. Other solutions and designs for the area are more than feasible when trying to achieve both much needing housing in Haughton Green, whilst retaining and enhancing the character of the area.


Policy HAU7 – Vehicular Access and Parking


The use of private drives to access clusters of generally no greater than 5 residential properties is encouraged to create a sense of place and defined character which is not dictated by the highway.

The entrance to the Old Rectory site is a private drive which, if this application is approved, will provide an access cluster to 24 residential properties. The sense of place and defined character of the historic Meadow Lane will very much be defined by the highway and access arrangements for the new development. This is not acceptable for a development in an area defined by its heritage.


Again a smaller development of individual dwellings could comply with this important policy. Any proposal at the same scale of the one currently before us would completely undermine the sense of place of Meadow Lane. Meadow Lane is the beating heart of Haughton Dale, the main artery through the SPD area and gateway to the Tame Valley.


Tameside’s UDP policy H10: Detailed Design of Housing Developments provides further protections to ensure an area is not overwhelmed with traffic: The layout, design and external appearance of proposed housing developments, which are acceptable in relation to other relevant policies in this plan, will be required to be of high quality and to meet the following more detailed criteria: access to and from the highway, and delivery, refuse and emergency vehicles, including access by pedestrians, cyclists and disabled people, and for convenient access to public transport where appropriate, with no unacceptable impact on the surrounding highway network.


This UDP policy certainly does provide a reality check for the number and variety of vehicles that will be accessing the Old Rectory site through the single driveway.

It should further be noted that under the current design, it appears that larger vehicles such as delivery vehicles and services vehicles would not be able to turn around and would have to reverse out in to Meadow Lane, a potentially dangerous manoeuvre on a dark single-track lane.


Policy HAU9 – Public Realm, Meadow Lane


As we have established Meadow Lane is the jewel in the crown of Haughton Dale, taking the journey from Haughton Green to Haughton Dale and through to the Tame Valley.

HAU9 makes clear that any public realm improvements should include the following elements: develop a ‘Quiet Lane’ initiative for Meadow Lane, retain the rural character of the Lane, reduce traffic speeds through the introduction of non-traditional traffic calming which is in keeping with the rural character of the Lane paying special attention to the needs of walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other vulnerable road users.

If this development is allowed the beautiful and historic Meadow Lane will be dominated by its highway requirements. This is something that must be avoided without exception.


There is already conflict between the multiple users of the lane, walkers, cyclists, horses, those accessing the Tame Valley. If the developer’s focus is to mitigate any upsurge in traffic through the use of public transport, we would suggest due to the ‘narrow profile’ of Meadow Lane the number of additional pedestrians will only make accidents more likely. The sensible solution would be to significantly reduce the number of dwellings in this proposed development given the ‘narrow profile’ of Meadow Lane.


Moreover, Policy C1 of the UDP, Conservation And Enhancement Of The Built Environment states the relationship between buildings and their setting should be given particular attention in the design of any proposal for development.


We do not see how a development with the provision for 30 cars is in step with this policy, not least when access to the development is down a single-track road and then via a single drive.


Policy HAU12 – Trees, Soft Landscaping and Biodiversity


The site sits on the very cusp of Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserve, 22 acres of ancient woodland and meadows that are home to a broad range of insects, birds and animals ranging from owls through to roe deer.

Policy HAU12 places emphasis on the protection and enhancement of biodiversity within the SPD area:


Developers should ensure that proposals maximise the potential for biodiversity improvements through the design or layout of schemes and by including biodiversity features such as nesting or roosting boxes. As a guide, a minimum average of one built in nesting or roosting site per residential unit should be provided across a development.

We – like many local residents – place huge importance on local biodiversity and the environmental and social benefits of the Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserve. We are deeply disappointed that policy HAU12 has not been considered.


Equally, we are astounded that a Biodiversity Survey would imply there were marginal biodiversity gains with this proposal when no biodiversity proposals have been made and Policy HAU12 has been disregarded.

Section 2.4.2.2 Biodiversity of the Environmental Standards Statement refers to the potential for “adverse impacts on the surrounding ecology as well potential for the enhancement.” Again, it is deeply disappointing that even the most elementary of proposals have not been incorporated into this proposal.


Like many residents, we are also concerned that an additional 24 residential units would have an adverse impact on local services, not least the sewage network. In 2022, United Utilities pumped raw sewage in to the River Tame at a staggering rate: for 71 hours from Gibraltar Lane in Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserve; for 81 hours from Hyde Road in Denton; for over 600 hours from Denton Transfer Pumping Station; and for over 700 hours from Hyde Waste Water Transfer Station on the edge of Haughton Green. We are deeply concerned that this will only increase without considerable improvement works to the sewage system in Haughton Dale.


Policy HAU 13 former Old Rectory site Development Principles


Land Use: The site is considered suitable for residential development, where proposals should serve to reinforce and enhance the surrounding residential character.

Proximity: Development should be centrally located to avoid encroachment on the privacy of surrounding residents & impacting on the setting of Meadow Lane through aligning with the minimum privacy distances within the Residential Design SPD paying attention to changes in topography.


Scale and Massing: Proposals should be no greater than 2 storeys in height unless it can be demonstrated that an increased scale would enhance the character or the area.


The density of proposals should be no greater than those surrounding the site which are typically 30 units per hectare, unless it can be demonstrated that an increased density would enhance the character of the area.

Proposals should be informed by the locations of trees covered by Preservation Orders and follow guidance within the Trees and Landscaping on Development Sites.


Primary access should be taken from Meadow Lane while respecting the character of the lane and potential future designation as a Quiet Lane. The use of private driveways to access clusters of generally no greater than 5 properties is encouraged.


The development principles contained in HAU13 as listed above are clearly in conflict with the proposal put forward, many of the reasons for which have been described earlier in our objection.

However the fact that Tameside Council went as far as to develop and adopt a policy specifically for the Old Rectory site shows not only the strength of local feeling, but also the wide range of material planning considerations that must be taken into account when development for this site is proposed.


The planning application does not comply with the planning policies listed in this section: former Old Rectory site Development Principles.


By the applicant’s own admission ‘The Design Statement provided by the application does make reference to ways to develop the site whilst retaining the special characteristics protected by the SPD. Specifically, whilst the block is of a single mass with no breaks, as envisaged by Policy HAU13, this has been dictated by the nature of the scheme comprising apartments rather than detached or semidetached dwellings. Creating breaks was explored but found to have negative implications for the proposed layout and floor plans, and so has not been progressed.’


Not only does this statement illustrate loud and clear the applicant does not wish to enhance the existing residential characteristics of the area but is choosing to favour density over design to the area’s detriment.

The applicant absolutely does not put forward the most appropriate solution for a particular scheme or site in question having regard to the specific character of that defined area of Haughton Green as required under HAU3 as is asserted in the design statement.


HAU13 is underpinned further by policy C1 Townscape and Urban Form of the UDP: “In considering proposals for built development, the Council will expect the distinct settlement pattern, open space features, topography, townscape and landscape character of specific areas of the Borough to be understood, and the nature of the surrounding fabric to be respected. The relationship between buildings and their setting should be given particular attention in the design of any proposal for development.”


Whilst we have discussed the issue of density and privacy in our objection there is an outstanding issue yet to be addressed. We must draw attention to the assertion that the proposed development is two storeys high. We feel it is incredibly disingenuous to somehow presume the third storey of accommodation, whilst catered for in the roof space, does not add to the height and scale of the proposal.

The basis of the policy in HAU13 that buildings should be no greater than two storeys has its origins in the former Old Rectory Hotel being that of two stories, and to ensure any future development on the Old Rectory site respected this principle.


Looking at the projections in the applicant’s Design Statement it is clear this new development would be significantly higher than the Old Rectory Hotel was, further encroaching on the privacy of existing residents, and the setting of Meadow Lane.


Whilst we have already dealt the statements: primary access should be taken from Meadow Lane while respecting the character of the lane and potential future designation as a Quiet Lane and the use of private driveways to access clusters of generally no greater than 5 properties is encouraged, it is not possible to understate the contradiction that exists between HAU13 and this planning application.

HAU13 also states proposals should be informed by the locations of trees covered by Preservation Orders and follow guidance within the Trees and Landscaping on Development Sites.


The applicant’s design brief states the following: the removal of nine individual trees is proposed to accommodate the proposed development, none of which are subject to a TPO. This involves the loss of six Category C trees and three Category U trees. It is noted that Category U trees would be recommended for removal regardless of the proposed development. 7.84. The full removal of one tree group and the partial removal of another tree group is also proposed. The full removal is due to conflict with the proposed layout, whereas the partial removal involves the Group to be thinned removing scrub closest to proposed development and retaining the better quality trees for screening.


To reduce significance of one group of trees over another on the basis of a TPO, when they all exist within a historic area which has the added protection of being covered by a SPD does Haughton Dale and its residents a disservice. A key element of the formation of this SPD and indeed the need to protect the heritage of the area is connected to the value and sense of place trees add to Meadow Lane and its surrounding areas. Other trees protected by TPOs have been destroyed regardless of their protection. For the applicant to diminish these important links to the history of the area on a technicality is contemptuous.

The applicant’s Planning Policy Statement on the matter of trees refers to the NPPF and 8. Retains existing trees where possible. Surely it is the case the developer has not considered all options possible to retain important trees. We have demonstrated above how the site could be developed on this site but without the need for the removal of natural features


The relevance of Tameside’s UDP


Statements are made by the developer regarding the age of the Tameside UDP and the existence of an updated NPPF.

Let us be clear, the UDP is the most recent democratically put together local plan for Tameside. Surely it is unfair on the residents of Tameside to not give adequate weight to their local planning document because it has not been updated recently.


This argument was indeed tested in a Planning Inquiry held only last year through appeal reference APP/C4235/W/21/3279967 Land bounded by Ashton Road, the River Tame, Turner Lane and Bredbury Industrial Estate, Stockport where weight was given to Tameside’s UDP as a standalone document. This same position has been taken by a number of planning inspectors when addressing planning appeals in Tameside showing that the UDP is to still be considered very relevant in these matters including APP/G4240/W/19/3226399: Land adjacent to 30 Ivy Cottages, and APP/G4240/W/18/3216380: Clearance site west of Derby Street, Denton.


Extant planning permission as a result of 08/00366/FUL and /0801266/FUL


The applicant has placed much weight on there being extant planning permission for a 56 bed care home on the Old Rectory site following planning approval in 2009.

Indeed the applicant goes further and highlights the Council is also of the view this extant planning permission as illustrated under HAU13 of the SPD.

However it is important to state this SDP document was adopted in 2017.


Since then there has been important caselaw following a judgement in the Supreme Court on the principle of extant planning permission. This judgement was made in July 2022 and can be viewed here: Hillside Parks Ltd (Appellant) v Snowdonia National Park Authority (Respondent) - The Supreme Court. Following this judgement the assumption of extant planning permission for a 56 bedroom care home on the Old Rectory site must be dismissed.


Early engagement


The applicant makes great reference to their early engagement with Tameside Council on this project. However this is not the experience of the elected representatives. Our first awareness of this proposed development was following resident reports to us of the site investigations.


We therefore proactively engaged with the applicant and requested an urgent meeting to establish the facts which we subsequently shared with local residents.

We are disappointed that the concerns we raised at the time have not been reflected in the proposal.


Whilst the applicant alleges to have engaged with the community and the councillors our experience of this and that of the residents is that it has been lacking.

The consultation sessions as referred to in the application bundle consisted of architect impressions and a number different proposals for the site. There was no firm plan on what would be submitted for approval leaving residents none the wiser of the details of the proposal. Furthermore when the Councillors requested to view the plans prior to submission this information was not forthcoming.

Finally it should be noted that contrary to the report there was Councillor attendance at the consultation.


Use of the NPPF by the applicant


Clearly it is the case the applicant will try to use all policies available to illustrate this proposal warrants approval and indeed states:


The overarching aim of the NPPF is to proactively deliver sustainable development to support the Government’s economic growth objectives and deliver the development the country needs.

Paragraph 8 states that “Achieving sustainable development means that the planning system has three overarching objectives…: − An economic objective – to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation and improved productivity; and by identifying and coordinating the provision of infrastructure; − A social objective – to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by fostering a well-designed and safe built environment, with accessible services and open spaces that reflect current and future needs and support communities’ health, social and cultural well-being; and − An environmental objective – to contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; including making effective use of land, helping to improve biodiversity, using natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, including moving to a low carbon economy.”


Whilst the applicant attempts to present a case that this planning application is fully underpinned by the policies of the NPPF, the crucial element is missing and completely bypassed, that for any development to be sustainable it must be proportionate and retain the sense of place existing in an area.


Conclusion


Haughton Dale is a highly desirable area, and of course we understand people want to live here. However in order to retain and continue to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities and contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment we must resist the urge to overdevelop an area which would undermine the very principles described above.

In conclusion for the reasons above we firmly believe this planning application should be refused. It does not comply with the planning policies locally or nationally, and would seek to undermine the heritage and historical characteristics of Haughton Green and Haughton Dale.


As we have discussed the planning application does not comply with the following policies:

• HAU1 Land use

• HAU3 Character

• HAU4 Massing, Density and Height

• HAU7 Vehicular access and parking

• HAU9 Public realm: Meadow Lane

• HAU12 Trees, Soft Landscaping and Biodiversity

• HAU13 Former Old Rectory site development principles.


As demonstrated above, these policies are further contrary to policies included in Tameside’s UDP and relevant sections of the NPPF


We are fully sympathetic to the need for affordable housing and indeed welcome it to ensure future generations are afforded the same opportunities we have all had.

That said surely we can and must do better for the all the residents of Haughton Green including those who may eventually live in properties on the Old Rectory site. We must not overdevelop a very special area and undermine the existence and growth of a sustainable community.


We object in the strongest possible terms to this proposal.