Agenda item

TWC/2021/0356 - Site of AGA Rayburn, Coalbrookdale Works, Wellington Road, Coalbrookdale, Telford, Shropshire


This application was for the development of 101no. dwellings with associated access, infrastructure and demolition (to include the rebuilding of 1no listed building and conversion of 1no. listed building, to provide 3no dwellings), and the creation of an open watercourse, and publically-accessible historic interpretation zone (Full Planning Application) on the site of AGA Rayburn, Coalbrookdale Works, Wellington Road, Coalbrookdale, Telford, Shropshire.


A site visit had taken place on the afternoon prior to the Committee Meeting.


This application was before Planning Committee as the application had been validated as A Non-Determination Appeal by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) and it was necessary for the Planning Committee to confirm to PINS their likely determination had the application been presented to them with a recommendation.


Planning Officers considered that the level and nature of representations on this application would have warranted a Committee decision.


Planning Applications TWC/2021/0356 and TWC/2021/0358 would be heard together but the vote on the recommendations for each application would be taken individually.


Councillor C Healy, Ward Member, spoke against the likely determination be approval of the application due to the potential harm caused to the World Heritage Site.  She considered that there had been a downplaying of the harm and the perceived benefits overstated and referred to the concerns raised by the International Council on Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) in relation to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the World Heritage Site Status.  It was requested that the north west four storey apartment block be removed and this area be left as open fields and the archaeology remain untouched which would reduce the density.  Whilst it was recognised the site needed to be developed, further revisions should be sought to make the scheme acceptable and, in this regard, she would have suggested the application be refused.


Councillor M Bragg, the Gorge Parish Council, spoke against the application on behalf of local residents who raised concerns regarding the impact on the local community and the risk to the World Heritage Status.  Key concerns were the density of the site, particularly in relation to the apartment block, the level of viability, single bedroom units being more appropriate for a town centre, non-adherence to planning guidance, separations standards not being met, flood risks with no betterment to the existing scheme and parking and highway issues along the Wellington Road. 


Ms M Blockley, a member of the public, spoke against the application as a resident and as the Chair of the WHS Steering Group.  She raised concerns regarding the significant harm to the universal site, buried archaeology, the potential damage from the proposed concrete rafts at 3m depth with buildings from the Darby era being at 1.5m deep, the application was contrary to the NPPF.


Mr A Sheldon, Applicant, spoke in favour of the likely determination and informed Members that in relation to the archaeological depths, following the investigations, this could be conditioned.  As the site was currently derelict it needed to be brought back into use as it was an eyesore.  The scheme was of an exceptionally high quality and was sympathetic to the local area.  Extensive investigations had been undertaken and the scheme designed to bring benefits to the local community.  There were no technical reasons why the site could not be developed.  ICOMOS did not fully understand the situation and a large number of objections to the application was not unusual and did not mean the proposals should be refused.  He asked that Members consider the quality of the proposal, together with its associated benefits, and that the likely determination be to approve the application.  


The Planning Officer gave Members a brief overview of the application and suggestions made by ICOMOS and ICOMOS-UK who were not formally objecting to the application and advised that these had been taken into consideration.  The site had been redesigned taking account of the retained heritage assets and the industrial character of the site. This was a bespoke and unique design and involved substantial costs to make it viable.  A Historic Interpretation Area would seek to provide a narrative of the stories of its industrial past via public art provisions.  Archaeology would be recorded and left in situ with the Applicant having to provide an Archaeological Management Plan which had been accepted by Shropshire Archaeology and raft foundations utilised where necessary.  Paragraph 208 of the NPPF balanced harm against public benefit and it was considered that this site provided significant public benefit.   Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) wrote to the Local Planning Authority to advise of the risk that the World Heritage Site could be severely compromised if ICOMOS concerns were not fully addressed but the Officers advised Members that the ICOMOS concerns had little recognition of the site constraints and viability.  The proposal was the best and most viable solution to the site and no further amendments could be made to overcome the ICOMOS concerns.  With regard to increased traffic, the Local Highways Authority had reviewed the application and raised no objection; the site has an over-provision of parking and there would be no loss of existing parking along Wellington Road.   A 1 bedroom housing need had been identified in the Local Plan and the feature apartment block which houses these units replicated a former three storey building in the same location.  The site was brownfield and there was a vast betterment in relation to drainage by achieving greenfield rates and also with the daylighting of the culvert (which involved the removal of old pipework and a slower rate of discharge further downstream).  Consideration had been given to the comments made by ICOMOS, and these have been addressed where feasible and considered in the planning balance. However, the risk to the loss of the WHS status, is not a material planning consideration.  On balance the site constraints have a level of harm which was considered to be less than substantial and brought forward a variety of public benefits which weighed in its favour.  The application was therefore considered complaint with policy contained within the Telford and Wrekin Local Plan and NPPF.


During the debate, some Members raised serious concerns regarding the loss of the World Heritage Site (WHS).  They acknowledged that the site was in a poor condition and some buildings required urgent attention.  Although the proposals were sympathetic to the area a balance was required to consider the threat to the WHS.  Other Members considered that the archaeology needed retaining as this was key to the local area and its history; and more needed to be done to mitigate the impact on local amenities and highway issues needed to be reconsidered, particularly in relation to parking and the impact on Cherry Tree Hill. 


Members asked it be noted that whatever decision was made that the Planning Committee unanimously expressed their concerns over the loss of the World Heritage Site and this must be considered as part of the decision.


On being put to the vote it was, by a majority:


RESOLVED – that a formal recommendation would have been made to the Planning Committee it would have set out a recommendation to:


a)    Delegated authority be granted to the Development Management Service Delivery Manager to grant full planning permission subject to conditions, informatives and the applicant entering in to a S106 agreement, as set out in the report;


b)   delegated authority be granted to the Development Management Service Delivery Manager to grant Listed Building Consent subject to conditions, informatives as set out in the report and set out under application TWC/2021/0358; and


c)    the report should be read in conjunction with the Listed Building Consent Application (TWC/2021/0358), which covered all material planning and Listed Building matters.

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