Steve Kerry, planning manager at Rectory Homes (pictured here), has confirmed to the parish council that the company has now submitted to West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) an outline planning application for its proposed new development in King’s Sutton. The application contains a proposal for 31 residential dwellings (up from 30, adding a new gateway feature building near the site entrance). The company says 50% of the proposed new homes will be affordable, and its plan includes the creation of new areas of open space, a new access road off Hampton Drive, and landscaping and all enabling works.
WNC will allocate a reference number to the application in due course, and it will be available for viewing on the planning portal once the council has validated it.
Outlined below are the responses provided by Rectory Homes to the questions asked previously by the parish council. Rectory Homes has indicated its willingness to continue to engage with the council with a further meeting to discuss the proposal if it is felt helpful.
KSPC What is the justification for building in open countryside outside agreed village confines?
RH Our site is similar to two allowed appeals in respect of the sites at Land east of Waters Lane and Land south of Thenford Road, both in Middleton Cheney, in that it is located outside of the defined settlement boundary but adjoins it and is located within a primary service village. Despite conflict with local planning policy given the site’s position outside of the defined settlement, the sustainability of those sites were given great weight and the benefits clearly outweighed the harm given the significant shortfall in affordable housing. On this basis, those appeals were allowed.
An Affordable Housing Statement has been prepared in support our application which demonstrates that this shortfall remains and that there is also a need for affordable housing locally within King’s Sutton which is not being met. There are significant benefits to our scheme including the provision of affordable housing; new housing in a sustainable location; mitigation to help alleviate an historic flooding issue in this part of the village; creation of new areas of publicly accessible open space; provision of significant environmental net gains; in addition economic benefits such as increased expenditure in local businesses and creation of new construction jobs.
The proposal is considered to constitute sustainable development and will help boost the supply of housing including meeting a locally identified need which is what the planning system sets out to achieve. As such, the benefits of the scheme are considered to outweigh this policy conflict. Further information is included within the submitted Planning Statement.
KSPC How would the scheme fit in with the surrounding environment?
RH The site is visually contained by the existing mature trees and hedgerows which form the site boundaries. The site is bound on two sides by existing residential development and therefore has a settlement edge character. From the submitted Framework Plan, you will note the proposed development area is situated adjoining the existing built village edge (i.e. the dwellings along Hampton Drive and Blenheim Rise), with a large area of open space positioned in the northern part of the site which will create a gentle transition from the built village edge to the south and the open countryside to the north. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is included as part of the application submission which concludes that any visual impacts will be localised within the vicinity of the site only.
KSPC How would the scheme “conserve and enhance the natural environment”?
RH All boundary trees and hedgerows will be retained with the exception of removal of a small section along the western boundary to facilitate the new site access. An ecological appraisal of the site has been conducted which has assessed the ecology value of the field is very low. The proposal includes a landscaping strategy to include large new areas of open space, habitat creation and landscaping across the site which combine to ensure that the scheme will enhance the biodiversity value of the site and therefore the natural environment.
KSPC Can it be confirmed that all boundaries have been properly researched?
RH All site boundaries have been appropriately reviewed and confirmed to distinguish land ownership.
KSPC Is there a precise indication of where agricultural and other access or easements to remaining farm fields will be positioned?
RH Access to the adjoining fields will be from Main Farm. There will be no further continued agricultural access over the site if the development is permitted.
KSPC Is there precise information on positioning and ownership of ditches within and surrounding the site once it has been completed?
RH The ditches along the southern and eastern site boundaries are within the control of Rectory Homes. These ditches will be managed and maintained by a Management Company to be set up once construction begins. The ditch along the northern boundary falls outside of Rectory Homes’ control and therefore it is up to Mr Harper to maintain.
KSPC Number of houses of each bedroom size?
RH The outline nature of the application means that housing mix is not a matter for consideration. This will form part of a reserved matters application following any outline approval. That said, we have provided an indicative housing mix which demonstrates that a variety of homes, sizes and types can be provided. This is stated as:
KSPC Confirmation of percentage market/affordable?
RH Fifty percent of the total proposed dwellings will be provided as affordable homes. This results in 15 affordable tenure properties (with a financial contribution in lieu of the remainder 0.5 of a unit).
KSPC Within affordable – split by bedroom size?
RH The proposed indicative mix for the affordable housing is as follows:
KSPC How many social rented and how many shared ownership?
RH In line with Government policy, 25% of the affordable housing provision will be delivered as First Homes, a form of entry housing affordable home ownership product to enable first time buyers to get on the housing ladder. This equates to 4 First Home dwelling. The remainder of the affordable housing (11 dwellings) is split 70:30 in accordance with adopted planning policy. This equates to 8 no. homes for affordable rent and 3 no. affordable shared ownership homes. The exact affordable housing mix will be controlled and secured within a Section 106 Agreement.
KSPC Details of standing arrangement with any Housing Associations operating in the Northants/Bucks/Oxon area?
RH We utilise a variety of Housing Associations for our schemes but the most frequently used are Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust; Bedford Pilgrims; SOHA and Paradigm. However, we also approach Housing Associations which are identified on the council’s local list. We will approach any Associations which are on West Northamptonshire’s local list at the appropriate time.
KSPC Confirmation that PV panels, air source heat pumps, solar thermal panels for water, and EV charging points would be fitted as standard?
RH Rectory Homes are committed to providing EV charging points and air source heat pumps as standard across all our sites. In terms of sustainable construction, we utilise a fabric-first approach to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Furthermore, we seek to install water efficient fittings in order to attain a high water efficiency standard. Solar PV panels will be provided if the local planning authority consider this to be necessary.
KSPC Full explanation of how waste water and storm water disposal would be managed?
RH A surface water drainage strategy has been prepared to enable management of surface water discharge from the development and thereby ensuring it has no adverse impact upon flooding elsewhere. Due to the soil and ground composition, the site is not considered suitable for infiltration drainage techniques. As such, following the drainage hierarchy, the next most appropriate solution is to seek discharge of surface water into a nearby watercourse.
The proposed surface water drainage strategy comprises an attenuation pond located in the south-eastern corner of the site which will collect surface-water run off from the proposed development area. From here, flows will be discharged into the Hampton Drive watercourse at greenfield run off rates. The surface water drainage system is designed to accommodate surface water run off from all rainfall events up to and including the 1 in 100-year storm event, including 40% to account for climate change.
As part of the proposals, there will be an improvement to the existing flood risk situation to the site and properties downstream of the site through the implementation of a further flood mitigation strategy. This comprises the creation of a further attenuation pond in the north-west corner of the site to hold surface water flows from the wider flood catchment area and discharge into the Banbury Lane watercourse at a restricted rate.
In terms of foul drainage, it is proposed to connect the proposed development to the existing sewer along Hampton Drive. Full details are included within the submitted Flood Risk Assessment.
KSPC Confirmation that the attenuation basin indicated in the Drawing Framework Plan would be topographically capable of accepting storm water from the scheme? (It appears, from simple inspection, to be located above the low point of your proposals.)
RH The attenuation basin will be capable of accepting surface water from the scheme. This will require a minor increase in the site levels in some places in order to achieve a gravity-fed drainage solution to the outfall. Please reiterate what account of climate change has been taken in the plans: As stated above, the drainage strategy has been designed with an additional 40% capacity to account for climate change.
KSPC Please supply copies of any topographical survey mapping you have commissioned.
KSPC Please confirm that contact has been made with the Environmental Agency regarding flood risk assessment and the capacity of the previous flood alleviation scheme (for which the Agency provided substantial public funding) to cope with the development.
RH We have not approached the Environment Agency. They will be consulted on our proposals and will provide comments over the course of the application process.
KSPC Please confirm that contact has been made with Thames Water on foul sewer capacity (especially in Sandringham Road).
RH Pre-application enquiry from Thames Water enclosed. You will note they confirm there is foul capacity in the local network.
KSPC Please confirm that contact has been made with Highway Authority on storm water sewers and provide copies of any responses received from them.
RH The Highways Authority will be consulted on our proposals and will provide comments over the course of the application process.
KSPC Copies of any reports (and Rectory’s comments) on the scheme’s effect on traffic – volume, car parking?
RH The submitted Transport Statement presents expected trip rates for a scheme of 31 dwellings. This data shows during the peak hours, on average there will be 15 two-way movements entering / exiting the site. This is not considered to have a significant impact on the local highway network. Parking will be provided in accordance with the adopted standards at a minimum of two parking spaces per dwelling. The layout is not submitted in detail therefore the exact parking requirements will be considered at the reserved matters stage.
KSPC Copies of any reports (and Rectory’s comments) on the scheme’s effect on school/pre-school/childcare provision?
RH Contributions towards the improvement of education facilities / schools will be required in order to mitigate the impact of the proposed development. This will be secured under the Section 106 Agreement and Community Infrastructure Levy.
KSPC Copies of any reports (and Rectory’s comments) on the scheme’s effect on local businesses?
RH Local businesses will benefit from the development as a result of increased local expenditure by the new residents.
KSPC Copies of any reports (and Rectory’s comments) on the scheme’s effect on Superfast Broadband capacity?
RH Rectory Homes are committed to providing the fastest broadband available at the time construction commences.
KSPC The extent to which your proposals might enhance the provision of public transport to employment and commercial centres in the Banbury area?
RH Whilst it is up to the local planning authority and highways authority to determine what public transport improvements might be necessary, it is assumed that the proposed development could result in financial contributions towards improving the local minibus service or additional bus service for the village. These improvements must be considered necessary to mitigate the impact of the proposed scheme in order to pass the CIL Tests and be delivered.
KSPC Procedure for layout and confirmation of how such areas will be managed?
RH The open space will be laid out in accordance with an Open Space Scheme which will be submitted to and agreed by the local planning authority. This will be at the reserved matters stage. Rectory are happy to involve the Parish Council and residents of King’s Sutton in agreeing the form, content and design of the open space at the appropriate stage. Once laid out, the open space will either be transferred to a management company to manage and maintain, or offered to the parish council for adoption if they indicate a desire to do so.
KSPC Rectory’s proposals on how the open space will add to biodiversity?
RH An ecological appraisal and biodiversity net gain calculation has been submitted with the application. These documents demonstrate that the proposals will result in a greater than 10% net gain in biodiversity across the site. Such ecological enhancements include ecology ponds (based on the attenuation ponds designed to hold some level of water all year round); a new community orchard; new tree and shrub planting across the site including strengthening the boundary hedgerows; and provision of bird and bat boxes in some of the homes and selected trees. Full details will be agreed and secured for approval through a planning condition attached to any permission.
KSPC Detailed plans for traffic management during construction phase?
RH The requirement for a Construction Traffic Management Plan will form part of a planning condition attached to any permission. This document will be prepared at that stage but we would be happy to engage with the Parish Council on the details of this plan at that time.
KSPC Can you provide details of the scope and nature of the documentation you propose to submit in support of an outline application?
RH Set out below is a list of our submitted application package:
All these documents will be available for review on the Council’s website once the application has been validated.
KSPC You mentioned S. 106 Agreements – can you please provide summaries of enhancements offered to local communities as part of some of your more recent developments?
RH For our scheme at Six Acres, Warborough we offered the provision of a new car park on our site. The site is located close to a school and the local highway used to get congested with cars dropping off children – making the highway network difficult to negotiate and a problem for local residents in the area that park along that road. The new car park will alleviate this issue so residents can use this new space for drop offs, thereby maintaining a clear road.
Another example is our scheme off Tring Road, Wilstone where [we] provided large new areas of public open space but also provided a new footway from the village to the canal towpath. (Our site is situated between these two areas.) The existing situation is that residents would have to walk along the road in order to access the towpath and there is a humped bridge which vehicles cross at speed where visibility is significantly reduced. Our scheme provides a safe off-road alternative connecting these two areas.
The above are further to standards contributions such as education, public transport improvements and sports and leisure contributions.
KSPC Estimated timetable for Rectory’s future key actions re planning applications (assuming approval) submission of details and commencement of any other work?
RH We expect the application will be validated within two weeks or so. Given the delays we are experiencing in planning (across all local authority areas) [we] anticipate the application to be determined around August / September time. This allows time for the Section 106 Agreement to be completed, which is a lengthy process in itself.
Assuming approval, the reserved matters application would then be prepared to provide the detail of the scheme and this will likely take 2-3 months, taking us to November / December as a submission target. The reserved matters application would then be processed and again I would expect around 9 months for this to determined. This estimates that we could secure approval of the detail by August / September 2023.
Following reserved matters approval, the pre-commencement conditions would be prepared and submitted for discharge which would take a further 3-4 months to be approved. As such, based on the above estimations, commencement on site could take place by Q1 2024.
The above is of course subject to significant movement depending on various circumstances.