Agenda item

Land at Snow Capel, Winnycroft Lane, Gloucester - 22-00519-FUL

Application for determination:


Residential development of 180 no. dwellings (Class C3); vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access from Winnycroft Lane; public open space and landscaping; drainage attenuation, acoustic barrier and other associated works (Environmental Impact Assessment development).


A site visit was conducted prior to the meeting (Tuesday 30 May) to allow for full consideration of the application.


The Senior Planner presented the report detailing an application for a residential development of 180 no. dwellings (Class C3); vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access from Winnycroft Lane; public open space and landscaping; drainage attenuation, acoustic barrier, and other associated works (Environmental Impact Assessment development).



Councillor O’Donnell spoke in favour of the application.


He stated that the application should be granted on the following grounds:


-       Matson did not have enough community stock but had a lot of green space.

-       The monument was not very accessible to the public. The granting of the application would allow for it to be visited by schools and members of the local community.

-       For families living in overcrowded accommodation, the granting of the application could have a large beneficial impact on their life and wellbeing.

-       The granting of the application could get 77 social housing applicants off the waiting list, which was in the region of 6,000 applicants. 

-       The application was supported by local communities and residents.

-       People need good quality homes to live in.

-       The granting of the application would help to combat the issue of overcrowding in homes and make a positive impact on people’s lives.



An operations director at Bromford spoke in favour of the application.


He stated that the application should be granted on the following grounds:


-       Gloucester had nearly 6,000 people on the social housing waiting list . Bromford wanted to work with the Council to help solve the problem.

-       The Matson Site would provide 75% affordable houses. Most of the properties would have gardens. The neighbouring site built by another developer provided zero affordable homes.

-       The application was supported by various community groups including Gloucestershire College, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, Together in Matson, GL Communities. Richard Graham MP supported it.

-       The properties would be energy efficient.

-       Together in Matson had highlighted that inadequate social housing was one of the biggest problems in the area. The granting of the application would help to combat this.

-       The scheme would include public open space.

-       New footpaths would be provided.

-       Despite noting the significant benefits of the scheme in the officer’s report, the recommendation was for refusal. It contradicted the Secretary of State’s position which was that affordable housing should be given substantial weight when deciding on an application.

-       Regarding the landscape issue, the nationally important scheduled ancient monument sat between the M5 and a main road and was hardly known to people in the area and was hidden.

-       The questions surrounding newts could be dealt with via conditions.

-       The application boiled down to whether the benefit outweighed the negatives. The nationally important scheduled ancient monument to the untrained eye was an ‘overgrown hole.’ If the application received consent, they would propose to reveal, protect, and educate people on it. Alongside Together in Matson, they would also fund a history project.





The Senior Planner responded to Members’ questions concerning why other applications that had an impact on important monuments had been granted in the past, whether the fact that the applicant’s proposal to open up the monument to the public changed the view about its affect on the monument, whether it was common for applications to propose such a high proportion of social housing, whether granting the application would allow the monument to come out of obscurity, how many nationally recognised monuments of a similar nature there were, whether the Glevum Way would be impacted, whether the impact on Doctors surgeries had been considered, whether Historic England had placed any boards in the area that advertised the monument and how much harm to the monument the granting of the application would cause as follows:


-       There had been a lot of discussion with Historic England. The view of the Council’s archaeologist and Historic England was that it would cause significant harm to the surrounding area. Each application had to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Currently, the monument did not require any management. Granting the application would mean that it would have to be dealt and the application included a heritage management plan . The applicant had also proposed to pay a bond secured by a S106 agreement in the region of £50,000 to protect the monument.   However, even with this the impact on the setting and the monument, in the officer’s view was not outweighed by the public benefit. This was because the monument was a nationally important asset, though it was a delicately balanced application.

-       The guided walks and educational talks were positive aspects of the heritage management scheme proposed by the applicant. However, there was doubt as to how it would be secured. Even with the heritage management scheme, there was still a concern around the loss of the rural setting.

-       The amount of social housing proposed by the applicant was rare. There were clear benefits for provision of such housing and officers had taken that into consideration when weighing it against the Heritage Impact.

-       The comment that the monument was obscure, was perhaps an erroneous one. It was on a map on the Historic England website. The monument was protected by virtue of where it was located. The fact that the granting of the application may increase visitors to the site, was, by guidance of Historic England, not necessarily a positive one as increasing footfall was not the same as increasing understanding.

-       There were around 3-4 moats in Gloucester, and only two of them were scheduled national monuments. It was a balancing exercise when judging the application. If a housing estate was built around the site, the setting would change.

-       There was a proposal to redirect the public right of way crossing the site, but there would still be access throughout the site, though it would obviously be a different experience for that part.

-       A lack of contributions in respect of GP surgeries had not been one of the recommended refusal reasons.  It was thought that this might be covered by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), but in cases where it was not it could be covered by a S106 agreement if required.

-       Historic England had not put up any boards regarding the Moat and the Moat was currently in private ownership.

-       The scheme would provide a less than substantial harm to the monument but at the upper end of the scale of that level of harm.


Members’ Debate


The Vice-Chair stated that Members had received a thorough report. He stated that he believed the question of the impact on the national monument and the surrounding area was a valid one. However, he said that he believed on balance, that the provision of social housing outweighed the potential detrimental impact on the national monument and the landscape.


Councillor Tracey stated that she believed that it was an excellent site for social housing and that she would support the application.


Councillor Sawyer stated that she believed that it was an excellent application and that she would be minded to support it.


Councillor Conder stated that that granting the application would lead to a change of character in the area.  and was concerned that the development went right up to the motorway and the houses there would hear the hum of traffic, but overall in principle was in favour of the application.


Councillor Gravells said that he would support the application. He further noted that the site was currently difficult to access, as it required climbing over a stile fence.


Councillor Bhaimia noted that assessing the application was a difficult balancing act, however, he would support the application as community housing was important.


The Chair suggested that it might be that the application should be deferred, if members were in principle minded to permit the application, for outstanding matters to be addressed, including mitigation for harm to Great Crested Newts, adequate drainage, amount of play space so that these  could be discussed between the officers and the applicant before the application came back at a later date. Unless it was thought that there could be a delegation to officers on these matters.


The Planning Development Manager noted that there were, in addition to the judgement on the damage to the monument against the benefit of social housing in the area, technical reasons for refusal, highlighted in the officer report and that his suggestion would be for deferral so that officers and the applicant could liaise and discuss these and heads of terms in respect of s106 agreement requests.  Thereafter, when the report came back to committee, it was likely that the recommendation of officers would still be to refuse , but the report could set out if the technical reasons have been addressed, s106 requests agreed and suggested conditions if contrary to the recommendation there was a motion to permit the application.  


The Chair moved and the Vice-Chair seconded a proposal to defer the application for the outstanding matters in the officer report to be addressed and an updated report including a heads of terms in respect of s106 requests and setting out suggested conditions should the application be permitted.


RESOLVED that: the application is deferred.


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