This application was for the Erection of 24 mixed use units across 8 buildings comprising 5,574sq metre floor area with accompanying amenities and provision for 26no. electric vehicle charging spaces on land adjacent Golden Bear Products Ltd, Hortonwood 40, Hortonwood, Telford, Shropshire.
Planning Committee were asked to determine the application as it required financial contributions via a Section 106 Agreement and Telford & Wrekin Council were the applicant.
The Planning Officer informed Members that a previous consent for two industrial buildings had expired in 2021. The design was typical of the area but had enhanced features such as solar panels and electric vehicle charging points. Highways, drainage and parking met the Local Plan Policy but there was an arboricultural and biodiversity net loss on the site although the Applicant had offered to provide further biodiversity on the adjacent site to try and compensate for this. On balance the Council’s ecology specialist confirmed that although it was not ideal the S106 enhancements were acceptable. The Tree Officer raised objections due to the loss of trees in relation to Policy NE2 of the Local Plan who felt the 180 year old trees were irreplaceable and maintained his objection to the application despite the Veteran Tree Assessment submitted. This application is proposed on an allocated employment site and would provide starter units for small to medium businesses and on balance it was felt the application could be recommended for approval.
During the debate some Members felt that the Tree Officer had presented clear reasons why the trees needed retention as they were very mature old veteran trees and that although a sum of £52,800 had been set aside it was impossible to replace a 180 year old tree. There were alternative larger sites in Hortonwood for such a development. It was felt that the application should be refused as it was in conflict with Policy NE2 and that the natural environment should be maintained. Other Members asked if changes could be made to the layout in order that the trees could be saved and welcomed the solar panels and electric charging points. It was asked if a deferral took place could further negotiations take place with the applicant in relation to the layout to lessen the impact on the trees. Other Members asked if transport in and out of the employment area could be conditioned and raised the green economy and access to roads and cycling areas.
The Planning Officer confirmed that there had been a lot of dialogue with both the Applicant and the Tree Officer and that trees needed to have certain characteristics to become veteran trees. The Planning Officer advised that the trees in question were mature but not veteran, although Policy NE2 still refers to the retention of aged trees. The Applicant had already been asked to amend the layout of the application and advised it would not be possible, therefore it would not be amended if a deferral took place. The Highways Engineer had asked for a contribution towards the Travel Plan and part of the highway contribution was specifically towards cycle lanes. It may not be feasible to transfer the site to another part of the area due to ownership of land.
The Legal Advisor confirmed that transport had to pass a standard test and that as no statutory consultee had highlighted this as an issue it would be difficult to justify. The Travel Plan would encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.
The Development Management Service Delivery Manager addressed Members that approval had previously been given to this site for two large units but due to current demands smaller units were the most viable. The Planning Officers had worked very hard to protect trees. This was an employment site and there was currently a high demand and lots of employment developments were coming forward as part of the Local Plan. The developer had agreed a tree retention policy in order that planting could take place in a more suitable location in strategic ownership and which could be protected, retained and enjoyed by the community.
Upon being put to the vote it was, by a majority:-
RESOLVED - that delegated authority be granted to the Development Management Service Delivery Manager to grant planning permission subject to the following:
a) the following Contributions to be agreed through a S106 Agreement:
- £59,400.01 towards the Strategic Transport Network;
- £14,728.00 towards enhancement of footway/cycle links along Hortonwood 60;
- £5,000.00 towards Travel Plan Monitoring;
- £86,249.00 towards Biodiversity Enhancements;
- £52,800.00 towards Tree Replacement;
- £2181.77 S106 Monitoring Fee (1% of total S106 contributions)
b) the conditions and informatives set out in the report and the update report (with authority to finalise conditions to be delegated to Development Management Service Delivery Manager).