[To consider the application]
The Committee considered a report regarding application 17/01089/FUL, proposed residential development comprising 210 houses and 56 apartments with associated landscaping, highway amendments, parking and ancillary buildings.
Stephen Alexander, Head of City Planning reported on updates to the report since it had been published. He advised that there had been no additional objections following the re-notification which meant that there were three in total. Sports England had withdrawn its holding objection, subject to the imposition of relevant conditions.
A Councillor expressed concern regarding the proposed lack of green space and the importance of ensuring that facilities were available to encourage physical activity, particularly when obesity levels were so high in the city.
Stephen Alexander confirmed that the provision of public open space was of considerable importance in planning terms and had been considered as part of the assessment for the Development Plan. This area had been reviewed and according to the Wolverhampton Open Space Action Plan, there was a surplus of amenity space in the area and the site would have good access to facilities.
A Councillor referred to the significant number of houses and the associated need for school places. She noted that many of the local schools had indicated that they were full and asked for clarification regarding this matter.
Stephen Alexander confirmed that school provision was significant and Planning Services worked closely with officers in Education and the projected number of completed houses formed part of the model used by Education. Officers were aware of the pressures in the Wolverhampton area on both primary and secondary school places and the need to look at longer term options.
Bill Hague, Service Manager School Places and Transport attended the meeting and addressed the Committee and confirmed that officers from Education, Planning and Housing worked together to identify future school placements and had achieved high accuracy levels over recent years. Given both internal and external migration in the city, it was very difficult to get an accurate picture and the pressures in Wednesfield were recognised as the schools in that area were very popular. That highlighted the need for flexibility in future allocations and the situation would continue to be monitored.
Councillors expressed further concern regarding school expansion policies, particularly given the lack of available land in Wednesfield they considered that any future expansion of schools could lead to congestion and associated problems. Before planning permission was granted additional information was required as to where all the children would be placed. They were also concerned about the potential lack of medical facilities, flooding issues, problems with un-adopted roads and the overall poor design and over development of the site.
Given the advice from officers, some Councillors stated that it would be appropriate to give delegated authority to grant permission, with an additional condition asking officers to take appropriate measures to plan for the increased demand for school places in the area.
Given the concerns raised during the meeting, some Councillors suggested that the application be deferred to allow those points raised to be clarified.
Stephen Alexander stated that the Council was very mindful of the significant need for quality housing in the city and the current shortfall in provision and advised that all the concerns raised by members of the Committee could be addressed once the principle of development had been agreed.
That consideration of application 17/01089/FUL be deferred to allow further clarification on the following issues:
Over development and design.