21/03758/OUT – Land At Stocks Farm The Street Bramley
Outline planning permission (with all matters reserved except for access) for the demolition of one dwelling and erection of up to 140 dwellings and a community building of up to 250sqm under Use Class E, together with sports and leisure facilities.
Bramley Parish Council has now met to consider the above planning application. It should be noted that the meeting was very well attended by residents, with 70 members of the public present and contributing to the meeting.
Bramley Parish Council objects to the proposed development at Stocks Farm. Bramley is unsustainable for any future development – the local infrastructure is already struggling to cope with the considerable recent development in the Parish.
The proposed development fails the NPPF criteria for sustainability on the following grounds:
- Social – there is no capacity at the Surgery nor the school. Bramley already has four community buildings.
- Economic – the Government’s levelling up policy should move development away from the South-East as infrastructure, employment and thus housing is encouraged away from this area. There is no long-term significant employment generated in Bramley by this proposal.
- Environment –
- This application reduces agricultural land thereby increasing the carbon footprint of our food by importation.
- Traffic movement on the limited road infrastructure of Bramley will increase emissions made worse by increased queues at the level crossing.
- More housing will put more pressure on hard pressed water supplies in the Borough area. Significant Drainage and sewage capacity issues need significant long term work just to handle the existing numbers of dwellings.
As you can see the failure to meet NPPF criteria renders this as an unsustainable site for development.
There are three key planning constraints which must be taken into account.
- Doctor’s surgery capacity – the surgery was recently expanded as part of the s.106 agreement for the development at St James Park. However, in August 2021 one of the principal partners, Dr Fisher, confirmed to Bramley Parish Council that
“…the Clift Surgery is at full capacity not only as a building but also as a workforce”.
There is now no land available that the surgery could extend into for further space, and the issues with employing new GPs are well publicised in the national news – there is a national shortage of GPs.
2. School capacity – in September 2021 the Executive Headteacher Glen Golding wrote that the school
“…currently has 417 on roll. As of this year our PAN (Pupil admission numbers) has increased from 60 to 75. This means that in theory we can grow to 525 over the next 7 years. We currently have enough classrooms to do this, however I would be speaking to the Local Authority about further expansion to the school if we are looking like hitting these numbers. The reason for this is that at 525 we would be bursting at the seams. We wouldn’t have any additional space for meetings, running interventions or delivering practical curriculum subjects. In addition, our school hall and playground would be too small to cater for the additional 108 pupils. Then of course there is the question of accessibility on Bramley Lane as a pupil increase of 26% would significantly affect the safety and traffic at the start and end of the day.”
The school has a similar issue to the surgery – there is little land available that it could physically expand into. Coupled with the inevitable increase in traffic around the school, any further expansion of the school is unsustainable.
3. Sewage network capacity – Bramley Parish Council has been liaising with Thames Water for some years now. There have been ongoing sewage issues in Bramley since at least 2009, and it is only in the last couple of years that Thames Water has acknowledged that there is indeed a significant capacity issue. There are known issues regularly at North Row and Centenary Fields. In March 2021, Senior engineer James Hern wrote that
“…we would request a planning condition that no further development took place upstream of Bramley No1 SPS ahead of any works taking place………. Timescale would be 2-3 years from approval.”
The approval James mentions has not yet been given, and Thames Water are still very much at a planning stage. Further, the Senior Engineer at Thames Water has now confirmed in a letter of 27th January 2022 (see appendix B) to Wates that
“Further to recent investigation work, we need to revise our previous conclusion to confirm that we are unable to accept any foul water flow from your proposed development until we have completed our investigations and upgraded the foul sewer network.”
Further development in Bramley will put still more pressure on the sewage network, and if the proposed Stocks Farm development is given planning permission, there will at the very least be a time lag between the development being built and the sewage network upgrades being complete.
The present upgrades being considered are to eliminate the present overflows in the network and further housing is not in the equation, so a reassessment of the capacity of the system would have to be taken to see if there is enough capacity in the approved upgrade to accommodate any more housing. Options being considered by Thames Water vary in timescales from 2 years to a maximum of 5 years to upgrade, and from reasonable expenditure to considerable expenditure. Bramley Parish Council believes that in its present state, Bramley is completely unsustainable considering the sewage infrastructure alone.
There are a number of other significant issues with sustainability in Bramley outside of the principle three outlined above, which can be found at appendix A. This also includes a number of inconsistencies in the Transport Assessment which should be drawn to the Planning Officers attention.
In summary, Bramley Parish Council object to the this planning application and would urge Planning Officers to reject the proposals.
On behalf of Bramley Parish Council
Other sustainability issues
- The local shop has only three parking spaces, and there is no land around it to expand either the shop or the parking. Therefore, customers often park in the road and on the pavement. As the shop is not very far from the level crossing, this causes issues when traffic is queuing at the crossing. The present shop is in the wrong position to serve the existing community let alone more housing. Whilst the proposal suggests a retail shop, it would only serve the surrounding area. Master planning is required to improve this infrastructure service.
- The level crossing barrier can be down for a significant time every hour, which causes inevitable traffic delays, especially at peak times. The application states that the increased traffic movements from the new development will be minimal; however, Bramley Parish Council would argue that cars from 140 new dwellings will place further strain on an already busy road through the village.
- The proposed access to the site will be at a point on the C32 through Bramley where there are known speed issues. The stretch of road past the Village Hall sees a lot of traffic (recent months 3300+ vehicles and pre-covid some 5500+ vehicles in both directions), much of it going faster than the 30mph limit. Therefore, traffic exiting the new development will struggle to join the main road. Further, the Village Hall is used for the Little Apples pre-school, and many parents walk their children to the Hall. The only pedestrian access involves having to cross the road via a traffic island – already a dangerous undertaking, and would become more so with a new junction from the development. Bramley Parish Council have reviewed the proposed plan and see it as a desperate measure to attempt to make the development sustainable in planning terms. The simple fact is that the proposed site lies within the parish of Bramley which suffers from a serious lack of existing facilities and is poorly served by public transport destinations that residents require. Therefore the car and delivery vans will continue to dominate. The Parish Council feel it will make no impact to the use of the private car as the main means of transport. The report statistics shows 0.6% cycle use versus 76.8% car or van use. The bus service is very poor; it is infrequent and takes a substantial time to reach Basingstoke which would be assumed to be the prime destination. One-off £75 payments towards bicycle purchase (costing several hundred pounds) or travel season tickets will make very little difference as investment required by a new resident over the period of tenancy would render this insignificant. The sum – a small £20,000 (possibly) investment, set aside by the developer to “make the site sustainable in travel terms” is a poor reflection of what is needed and represents an inadequate understanding by the consultants, I Transport. Bramley Parish Council regard it as a poor report that is not up to any useable standard. It is a sweeping generalisation (the comment) that the proposed community facility will provide all of the local facilities to keep the new residents on the new development site to further increase sustainability. There are already four community buildings currently in use in Bramley, with established events, to which it is assumed new residents may wish to join in order to integrate with the community.
- The statement below includes extracts from Network Rail’s Rail Freight Forecast; scenarios:
- “Clause 113. Of the National Planning Policy Framework states “All developments that will generate significant amounts of movement should be required to provide a travel plan, and the application should be supported by a transport statement or transport assessment so that the likely impacts of the proposal can be assessed”.
At present the level crossing in Bramley is already a major blockage and social concern. There is no plan to bypass this level crossing; however, the queues (already bad) will just get worse. This is partly because of increasing car numbers using this route but also, critically, because of the increased number of trains. Bramley is extremely unusual in having a level crossing on a railway that is used for commuter trains, intercity expresses and freight trains; it is on the main freight route from the port of Southampton. The publicly available Network Rail report “Rail Freight forecast; Scenarios for 2033/34 & 2043/44” indicates that ‘ports intermodal’ freight will increase by between 56 – 190% by 2033/34 and by between 120 – 280% by 2043/44, depending on which scenario one considers. In addition to this additional freight movement, the new Green Park station at Reading is likely to result in increases to three trains each way per hour during rush hour (already trialled). The combination of the increased freight and the increased commuter trains, will inevitably result in the level crossing being closed substantially longer than it currently is. Any further development in Bramley must therefore be very carefully considered as the level crossing will become a very significant choke point. No attempt has been made to consider these points in the planning application – this approach to development is clearly not sustainable.
- Heritage – BDBC produced the Conservation Area Appraisal for “Bramley and Bramley Green”. In that report, as has been highlighted in the Bramley Neighbourhood Plan, there are important “Vista VIEWS” coming out of the adjoining Conservation Area into the proposed development area eastwards. These are important views, especially of the wider landscape setting of Bramley. These are also highlighted in the Local Green Space application for this area made by Bramley Parish Council. These views, along with the important rural landscape views highlighted by Bramley Parish Council, will be interfered with by this housing development. These views are important in depicting the historical history of Bramley which is and remains rural and agricultural and should be maintained. Bramley cannot become an urban housing area. The addition of this housing development to the existing housing will move it to be more urban than rural, and has to be rejected.
- In recent years Bramley has taken 360 new houses, which is 160 in excess of the allocation given to Bramley in the Local Plan 2011 to 2029. In the studies being made at present leading up to the updating of the Local Plan going out to 2039, it is stated that the parish has no additional housing need. This is attributed to the high number of affordable houses that have been delivered or that are planned to be delivered in the parish.
Additionally, given the adjustment for the parish needs, a requirement for approximately 55 additional homes in and around Bramley has been identified. These will be partially met by housing applications that are in the pipeline and the remainder outstanding from Neighbourhood Planning.
Bramley does not need 140 more houses or the affordable houses within this development. It hasn’t the infrastructure to accommodate these houses; it hasn’t the infrastructure to cope with the existing housing to give the community the quality of life they deserve. Bramley is not here for the sole purpose of “contributing to the housing shortage” of Basingstoke and Deane at the expense of destroying the rural aspect of Bramley and the quality of life of its existing community.
Transport Assessment issues
3.5.1 and 3.5.4 – Neither The Street nor Sherfield Road have street lighting and both have ineffective and badly maintained traffic calming. This would be apparent upon even a cursory inspection.
3.5.6 Traffic Volumes – Taken Sept 2021 during the pandemic. Bramley Parish Council has Speedwatch data pre-pandemic showing Churchlands (200m west of site) 5500 movements per day and a maximum speed of 62mph, with 13.6% exceeding 35mph.
Village Hall (just east of site) 6800 movements per day and a maximum speed of 70mph, with 14.5% exceeding 35mph.
3.6.10 Queue length – A visit of more than a few minutes will satisfy anyone that these figures are incorrect; perhaps it was intended that these queue lengths were minimum figures? The level crossing regularly sees 25+ on the western side often reaching Ringshall Gardens, sometimes to Minchens Lane and beyond thus blocking Coopers Lane, Ringshall Gardens and occasionally Minchens Lane. A similar picture is repeated on the eastern side with Jibbs Meadow, Longbridge Road and occasionally Strawberry fields blocked. The problems to the east are further exacerbated by parking for the One Stop shop and illegal overtaking of queuing traffic.
Regularly motorists take more than one “cycle” of the barriers to get across the railway
4.3.2 Site Access – Bramley PC notes that the centreline of the new access is only 22.5 metres from Beaurepaire Close. This seems very tight to the layman especially when looking at the swept path analysis for a large refuse vehicle.
4.3.3 – The assessment refers to Coopers Close – it is actually Coopers Lane.
6.5.2 Trip Generation of 159 homes – 76 morning rush and 80 evening seems conveniently low. Delivery vans could probably use this allocation.
Table 6.7 – Why is there no assessment of The Street/Minchens Lane Junction as Bramley PC believes that at least 10% of traffic will use this route to avoid queues at the crossing. A significant proportion of traffic from St James Park makes an illegal right turn to use this route ,so why should residents of this site not do likewise?
6.11.17 Summary of level crossing analysis – Makes no mention of ever increasing goods traffic on the railway which will lead to more barrier down time, from an already high 30 minutes per hour.
Transport assessment part 2 Table 1 Trip rates and traffic generation 250 dwellings – Evening peak 56% will turn right, 54%left. THAT’S 110%
Table 2.1 Route audit 1 – Walking to school makes no mention of surface of the footway breaking up west of Ringshall Gardens and kerbside weir drains breaking up leaving holes. No mention of large puddles at the crossing point west of Coopers Lane or the broken railings at the end of The Crescent.
Page 18 of 44 in part 4 Journey to work – Interestingly one person who works in Basingstoke uses the underground.
Appendix B – Letter from Thames Water dated 27th January 2022
The official submission document can be viewed here