Contact Officer: Alan Divall Tel: Oxford 815886
PLANNING & REGULATION COMMITTEE – 21 JULY 2008
DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED: THE CONTINUATION OF (CHANGE OF USE FROM HIGHWAYS DEPOT TO YOUTH CENTRE, REF: V.09/06. GRANTED ON 15/01/07) WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH CONDITION 5 (WHICH REQUIRED THAT: A FOOTWAY SHALL BE PROVIDED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF HIGHWORTH ROAD FROM WESTLAND ROAD AS FAR AS THE SITE ACCESS WITHIN ONE YEAR OF COMMENCMENT OF THE DEVELOPMENT HEREBY PERMITTED) TO PROVIDE: 1. NEW PEDESTRIAN CROSSING; 2. NEW FOOTPATH LINK TO YOUTH CENTRE SITE; 3. RESURFACING OF EXISTING FOOTWAY; 4. SIX NEW STREET LIGHTS AND 5. A 50 METRE EXTENSION TO THE 30 MPH ZONE ON HIGHWORTH ROAD [AMENDED TO RELOCATE ORIGINAL POSITION OF 1. NEW PEDESTRIAN CROSSING].
Report by the Head of Sustainable Development
Location: Faringdon Youth Centre, The Cromwell Centre, Highworth Road, Faringdon, Oxon, SN7 7EG.
Application No: V.06/08 District Council Area: Vale of White Horse
1. Planning permission for the change of use of this building, located to the front of Faringdon Highways Depot, to a youth centre was granted in January 2007. Condition 5 of that permission required the provision of a footpath on the south side of Highworth Road, linking the youth centre to the built-up area of Faringdon to the east. This application is for the development to proceed but without complying with condition 5 of the original planning permission. The application proposes alternative highway safety measures to the provision of the footpath.
Location (see site plan) (download as .doc file)
2. The youth centre site is located on Highworth Road (B4019) between Westland Road and Highden Farm on the western outskirts of Faringdon. It is approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometres) from the town centre.
Site and Setting (see site plan)
3. The youth centre is in a small building adjoining the County Council depot to the rear. The latter is used for highways related composting and storage for highways equipment. The building used by the youth centre is brick built with a pitched tiled roof.
4. The nearest properties to the site are located in Westland Road 120 metres to the east. Highden Farm is approximately 180 metres to the west along Highworth Road. There is open countryside to north and south.
5. The proposal includes provision of a pedestrian crossing which would be located to the east of the existing vehicular and pedestrian access to the site and opposite the existing youth centre buildings. Other highway safety measures proposed would be located east and west along Highworth Road (see site plan and description below).
Background and Details of the Development
6. Planning permission for the change of use of the building from a highways depot to a youth centre was granted in January 2007. The site is currently operating as a youth centre. The planning permission included a condition which required that ‘a new footpath be provided on the south side of Highworth Road from Westland Road as far as the site access within one year of commencement of the development herby permitted’. The planning permission also included an informative that stated ‘if during the first year of operation of the Youth Centre, the Youth Centre Management Committee considers that there are no safety issues regarding access to the Centre, they could apply to continue with the development without complying with condition 5 above’.
7. The provision of a new footpath to the south of Highworth Road has been investigated by an Oxfordshire County Council Highways Engineer, who identified a number of constraints, including:
· The ditch at the back of the verge on the south side of Highworth Road would constrain the width of the footpath to 1.2m over a 15m length making it unsafe for pedestrians;
· A sub-station at the junction of Westland Road and Highworth Road would mean extreme care would be required to construct the footpath around this area.
8. As an alternative proposal to that set out under condition 5 of the original planning permission a set of measures has been put together to address highway safety issues. The alternative proposal includes:
(i) Upgrading an existing footpath to the north side of Highworth Road which leads to an existing lay-by to the west of the site, to include repair of damaged areas and a new top surface;
(ii) Six new street lights to be provided along the highway to provide greater visibility for both youth centre users and drivers of approaching vehicles;
(iii) A new 2m unmanned (dropped kerb) pedestrian crossing to be provided to the front of the youth centre building, a new footpath link from the crossing to the entrance to the site also to be provided;
(iv) The 30mph speed limit on Highworth Road to be extended a further 50m to the west of the site.
9. A new dedicated pedestrian entrance gate is proposed to be provided to the front of the site which should prevent children from exiting straight onto the carriageway and which should also avoid pedestrian/vehicle conflicts between the existing youth centre site and the highways depot entrance. A small area of hardstanding, paving and landscaping is also proposed to be provided at the front of the site.
10. The 21 day consultation period ran to 16 June 2008.
Vale of White Horse District Council – Object, noting that permission was granted for the building to be converted as a youth centre with condition 5 imposed. The District Planning Authority is of the opinion that the proposal would not have been acceptable if this condition had not been imposed. The new proposal does not address the serious safety implications of pedestrian users of the youth centre, many of whom will be children, who would be approaching from the south east. As there is no public footway accessing the site from the south side of Highworth Road, users would have to cross the road before the end of the footway and then re-cross at the proposed crossing.
The justification statement is based solely on the cost of implementing the scheme as required by condition 5, this is not a material planning consideration. The Highway Authority states that ‘given the assumption that the majority of children accessing the site from the north’ but no evidence has been submitted to support that assertion. It is noted that there is a large residential area to the south side of Highworth Road and therefore it would seem unlikely that children would be approaching from the north side of the road. The proposal is considered contrary to Local Plan policy DC5 and Oxfordshire Structure Plan Policies T1 and T8.
Great Faringdon Town Council – No objection. Would like to see increased highway safety measures.
Environment Agency – No objection, low risk application.
Transport Development Control – No objection. The current application indicates that the proposal for the new footway on the southern side of Highworth Road was investigated by engineers at the Southern Area Office. A number of problems were identified with the original condition 5 proposal and an alternative proposal suggested for addressing the highways safety issues.
The Highway Authority is satisfied with the alternative proposal and believes that these measures would go some way towards improving the existing situation for users of the centre. Furthermore, given the assumption that the majority of children accessing the site will approach from the north it would appear that improvements to the existing footway on the northern side and the other proposed measures would be of benefit to a greater number of users. The street lighting scheme has been approved to the satisfaction of the highway authority.
Third Party Representations (copies of these letters are available in the Member’s Resource Centre)
11. A local resident has objected to the proposal due to the increased danger that will be caused to children having to cross Highworth Road.
12. A further letter from a local resident has been received making the following comments – “why is it deemed necessary to have a pedestrian crossing to one building when hundreds of school children cross further down Highworth Road and no crossing is provided? Additional lighting to one building will increase light pollution in the countryside.”
13. The local member for Faringdon has written to express her support for the proposal.
Relevant Planning Policies
14. Oxfordshire Structure Plan 2016 (OSP)
G2 – All development to be of a scale and type appropriate to the site and its surroundings and not cause harm to the character and amenities of the area.
T1 – Transport measures and development proposals should give emphasis to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport and balance these against ease of traffic movement, thereby improving travel choice and reducing dependence on private motorised travel.
T8 – Proposals for development should only be permitted if they provide adequate access and mitigation of adverse transport impacts.
Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2011 (VWHLP)
DC5 – Proposals for development will only be permitted provided that:
(i) safe and convenient access will be provided both within the site and to and from the adjoining highway network;
(ii) off-site improvements to footpaths can be secured where these are not adequate to service the development.
DC9 – Development will not be permitted if it would unacceptability harm the amenities of neighbouring properties and the wider environment in terms of external lighting.
Comments of the Head of Sustainable Development
15. In my view the sole issue to be considered is whether the package of measures proposed meets the intention behind condition 5 of the original planning permission granted in 2007 i.e. achieves satisfactory highway safety for children walking to the youth centre.
16. Objections have been received from the Vale of White Horse District Council and a local resident on the grounds that non-compliance with condition 5 of the original planning permission would lead to serious highway safety implications for pedestrians using the youth centre site.
17. A full assessment of the feasibility of complying with condition 5 has been carried out by a County Council Highways Engineer. This assessment has identified a number of physical constraints to providing the footpath on the south side of Highworth Road (see paragraph 7). The alternative scheme put forward has been drawn up in consultation with County Council Engineers and Transport Development Control Officers who consider that the highway safety measures proposed would improve the current situation for users of the site to a satisfactory standard.
18. The Vale of White Horse District Council have commented that the justification for not complying with condition 5 is based on the cost of providing the scheme. Although the cost of the scheme has been mentioned in the application, it is not a material consideration in determining the planning application. I consider that the applicant has identified clear physical constraints to not providing the footpath to the south of Highworth Road and an acceptable alternative has been put forward.
19. Comments have also been received about whether the majority of the youth centre users approach the site from the north and east of the town and therefore use the footpath along the northern side of Highworth Road. The Vale of White Horse District Council have commented that there is no evidence as to which direction children come to the site and that those approaching from the south east of the town will have to cross Highworth Road twice to access the youth centre building. The Area Youth Worker for Faringdon has commented that the age of the children using the site (13+) would mean they are capable of crossing Highworth Road sensibly. He has also commented that children currently living to the south east of Highworth Road have to regularly cross the road anyway to access the town centre.
20. Comments have been received that a crossing to one building is not necessary and that additional lighting will cause light pollution in the area. Lighting Highworth Road for approximately 100 metres to the west of the built up area of Faringdon will have some environmental impact, this will however be limited due to the type of lighting to be used. A street lighting engineer has confirmed that the new lighting will be 50 watt low energy, high efficiency lamps and lanterns which will be hooded to direct light straight down and reduce upward light. I consider that the need and requirement for the highway safety measures proposed in the application are justified and acceptable and in my view it should not have an adverse impact on the visual amenities of the surrounding area.
21. I consider that the proposed package of alternative highways safety measures now put forward is acceptable and should address the safety concerns that were raised in relation to the original planning application. Although concerns have been raised about the reasoning behind not providing the footpath along the south side of Highworth Road (as required by condition 5 of the original planning consent) I consider that the alternative proposals put forward are acceptable, justified in highway safety terms and will not have adverse environmental affects.
22. The Committee is RECOMMENDED to approve Application Number V.06/08 for the continuation of the development approved under permission no. V.09/06 (change of use from highways depot to youth centre, granted on 15 January 2007) without complying with condition 5 (which required that a footway shall be provided on the south side of Highworth road from Westland road as far as the site access within one year of commencement of the development hereby permitted) subject to conditions to be determined by the Head of Sustainable Development to include the following matters:
1. detailed compliance – that the development must be carried out strictly in accordance with the particulars contained in the application and the plans accompanying, which includes the following;
· New pedestrian crossing;
· New footpath link to youth centre site;
· Resurfacing of existing footway;
· Six new street lights (to be low energy and high efficiency lamps with hooded lanterns); and
· A 50 metre extension to the 30 mph zone on Highworth Road.
2. detailed duration – 3 years – that the development shall commence within 3 years of the date of the permission.
3. that the hours of operation of the Youth Centre should be between 09.00-18.00 hours weekdays with two evening sessions per week ending at 22.00 hours unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Head of Sustainable Development.
4. that the number of people in attendance at the Youth Centre at any one time be restricted to a maximum of 60.
Head of Sustainable Development
Background Papers: File Ref: V.06/08 8.4/2794/1