Developer must support path and bridge plans after Chesterfield housing scheme gets the go-ahead
Woodall Homes Ltd, of Chesterfield, appealed for a Public Inquiry after Chesterfield Borough Council’s planning committee had originally left the developer’s planning application for the scheme at Tapton Business Park, on Brimington Road, “non-determined”.
After Woodall Homes said it could not viably help to fund the lion’s share of a new, replacement £1.7m pedestrian bridge over the River Rother, the council’s planning committee indicated it was “minded” to approve the application with the provision that some funding might be sought towards the bridge at a later stage.
However, the final decision on all matters rested with Public Inquiry Inspector Thomas Hatfield on whether the planning application to build 144 properties should go ahead along with possible financial contributions from the developer towards access route improvements including paths, cycle routes, bus stops, a junction improvement and a new bridge.
Inspector Thomas Hatfield stated: “The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for residential development comprising demolition of all existing buildings, to be replaced by the erection of 83 dwellings and 41 apartments, [and] 20 flats over garages together with ground floor commercial units, landscaping, infrastructure and associated works at Tapton Business Park, Brimington Road, Tapton, Derbyshire.”
But Mr Hatfield added that the appeal has been granted on the grounds certain conditions are fulfilled involving financial contributions towards improving certain access route areas near the site.
These include: The upgrade and widening of two footpaths which have become overgrown with plants and bushes, and improvements to steps leading to Brimington Road; Requiring an interest in a strip of unregistered land between the western edge of the site and the River Rother so it does not remain or become unkempt; And safeguarding land on the north west corridor of the site to allow for the eventual building of a replacement bridge.
In addition, once the development is nearly complete, Mr Hatfield stated that if the developers have any surplus money available payments should be triggered towards helping to improve nearby bus stops, the Brewery Street and Brimington Road junction and adjoining registered land.
These areas include: Two bus stops on Brimington Road; the Brewery Street junction improvements; A contribution towards a replacement bridge over the River Rother; An off-site affordable housing sum; And an additional land contribution should the council purchase nearby land and manage it as a last resort.
However, Mr Hatfield added that if the development did not produce a surplus sum these matters subject to any surplus money would not be funded by the development and the council would have to pursue other funding routes.
The council had made a number of financial contibution requests from the developer as part of a Section 106 agreement.
These included: There should still be improvements to off-site footpaths and an on-site open space should be provided; The developer should also provide financial updates and a later financial assessment to show any surplus; And that a share of any surplus should be contributed to the council for improvements to Brewery Street and Brimington Road; And that a parcel of land should be safeguarded for any possible, future bridge for at least ten years.
Woodall Homes had challenged whether the requested requirements complied with Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 and it argued that these should “fall away” as obligations upon the developer. However, Mr Hatfield found they were “necessary” elements that needed to be included among the approved planning application’s conditions.
The proposed 2.59 hectare site is part of the council’s overall Chesterfield Waterside Regeneration plans to support jobs, restore the canal and river and to improve access with footpaths and a cycle network.
James Corbett Butcher, representing the council, said the council has acted proactively throughout to ensure this housing site is well-planned and well-integrated into the larger Waterside site and that there is an appropriate contribution to the wider site infrastructure if that is identified as viable.
Lisa Hopkinson, of Transition Chesterfield – which raises awareness of climate change and promotes walking and cycling as green travel options – also argued that the developers should make a financial contribution towards accessibility to make sure this site is suitable for walking and cycling around.
Ms Hopkinson said: “We welcome the Inspector’s decision to support the need to properly link the new housing development to existing walking and cycling infrastructure.
“Too often developers wrongly view walking and cycling infrastructure as an optional extra. It is essential that children and adults can walk and cycle safely to and from new developments, which helps reduce traffic congestion, carbon emissions, air pollution and danger for pedestrians.”
Planners had originally flagged-up the need to improve footpaths around the site and the need for a new, replacement bridge between Riverside East and the Waterfront areas.
Planners subsequently requested the developers help provide funding towards an improved pedestrian riverside footpath and cycle route alongside Riverside Park, improved secondary pedestrian streets connecting Brimington Road with the riverside, and towards a new, upgraded £1.7m pedestrian bridge across the River Rother.
They had argued Woodall Homes should pay £1.275m towards the cost of any new bridge and that path improvements could cost as much as £131,750.
Woodall Homes had argued during the planning committee meeting in July that it cannot be responsible for matters beyond its site boundary and that to invest in additional work would not be financially viable and would leave a deficit.
However, Mr Hatfield ruled that planning permission had now been granted for Woodall Homes’s planning application with conditions relating to some financial support for access routes following the Public Inquiry at Chesterfield Town Hall, on Rose Hill, on September 19.