Public questions raised about Chilton Woods at Cabinet in April 2018

Public questions raised at Suffolk County Council Cabinet in April 2018 about the proposed development of Chilton Wood, Sudbury.

This refers to the Cabinet Report from the 17 April 2018.

For more information read:

Can you assure the residents of Acton and Newman’s Green that junction improvements at Acton Lane / A134 Springlands Way will be completed in sufficient time to prevent, rather than cure, the anticipated traffic problems along the Acton Lane/Sudbury Road/ Melford Road route to the A134?

Answer:

This question was answered by Councillor Colin Noble at the Cabinet meeting. The response he gave was:

Transport issues were amongst the most important points raised by the community during the public consultation, so it was very important that they are properly addressed.

As you know, a fundamental objective of our transport strategy for the development is to promote direct access on to Springlands Way, via Acton Lane south and Aubrey Drive, to discourage northbound traffic via Acton and Newman’s Green.

To support and encourage this direct access on to Springlands Way several improvements are proposed to junctions on this route. In answer to your question I can assure you that these improvements will occur at an early point in the scheme.

Our outline planning permission will mean that:

  • Prior to the occupation of 300 dwellings and 2.9ha of employment land, schemes for the improvement of the Waldingfield Rd / Springlands Way / Northern Road roundabout as well as the Aubrey Drive / Waldingfield Rd roundabout are required.
  • Prior to the occupation of 400 dwellings and 5.8ha of employment land, the Acton Lane/Springlands Way junction is to be signalised (to help make it easier for right turners via Acton Lane south) and both Acton Lane and Grenville Road are to be traffic calmed (part of the strategy to discourage the use of Acton Lane north).

These measures are required by planning conditions attached to the permission and sit alongside improvements to other junctions in the town. If you want to find out more, you should read planning conditions 23 to 27 for more details.

In addition, I can reassure you again that a key element of the scheme is to establish sustainable travel patterns early on (walking, cycling and public transport) to help reduce car use overall.

The legal agreement forming part of the permission therefore includes a range of measures including:

  • £850k for buses, comprising £600k towards bus services plus £250k towards a new bus station (payable prior to occupation of 300 dwellings).
  • £130k towards pedestrian/cycle improvements on Acton Lane, Springlands Way and Waldingfield Road (paid prior to occupation of 300 dwellings).
  • New toucan crossings on Aubrey Drive, Waldingfield Road and Northern Road (paid prior to occupation of 200 dwellings).

I hope this provides you with the reassurance you require that the plan is to deliver these improvements at an early point of the scheme.

A concern that in the Table of Options Page 80 para 55 a perceived benefit of Upfront Land Sale is that it would "enable the County Council to benefit from any additional planning consent or enhanced density achieved by a purchaser".

Can you please seek reassurance that it is not SCC's intention to make more money by encouraging increased density as this would make a mockery of all the consultations between parishes, district and county in the past.

Throughout those consultations the declared, and agreed, intention has always been to provide a pleasant, open and above all green area - the number of houses has already risen from the original 850 to 1,150.

Answer:

In the table of options page 80 paragraph 55 the report sets out the benefits and risks associated with an upfront land sale.

The relevant passage reads:

“Potential for overage or clawback arrangements to enable the County Council to benefit from any additional planning consent or enhanced density achieved by a purchaser”.

The County Council can reassure the questioner that it is not seeking to deliver more than 1,150 homes because this would go beyond what has been approved as part of the outline planning permission.

Any developer proposal to go beyond 1,150 homes would be contrary to the approved outline planning permission.

The identified clause is simply a standard way of protecting the County Council’s position in the unlikely event that a developer sought to vary the permission with Babergh District Council.

It does not therefore signal any intent on the County Council’s behalf.

A concern that community infrastructure will be neglected. If plots are sold off piecemeal how will the County Council ensure timely delivery of schools, healthcare and community facilities?

Answer:

All of the required community infrastructure is secured as part of the section 106 agreement and the planning conditions which form the outline planning permission.

The section 106 and planning conditions prevent development or the occupation of a specific number of homes within the development unless the relevant infrastructure is provided.

These are requirements that the developer will have to provide.

  • Appendix 1 provides a summary of community infrastructure, but the section 106 agreement and planning conditions should be referred to for further detail at the end of this page.

It is obvious that the land is going to be sold off in separate tranches.

Many of the highways improvements are not, in fact, part of the Chilton Woods land but are situated in other parts of Sudbury.

These improvements were identified by Highways as necessary in order to keep traffic moving through Sudbury and I suspect that with the sale of the land in separate lots this work could very easily not happen. I am also concerned that in the Table of Options Page 80 para 55 a perceived benefit of Upfront Land Sale is that it would "enable the County Council to benefit from any additional planning consent or enhanced density achieved by a purchaser".

I would like Colin to seek reassurance that it is not SCC's intention to make more money by encouraging increased density as this would make a mockery of all the consultations between parishes, district and county in the past.

Throughout those consultations the declared and agreed intention has always been to provide a pleasant, open and above all green area - the number of houses has already risen from the original 850 to 1,150. Enough is enough.

Answer:

As the questionnaire suggests and the report states it is likely that the land will be sold off in tranches, but no final decision will be made in advance of taking soundings with the market.

The answer to question 2 responds to this question.

Some years ago, Deloitte did an economic analysis of the then proposed single holistic development of Chilton Woods on behalf of SCC and concluded that the plan was not economic. Subsequently, a developer reached the same conclusion. Now, Deloitte is recommending upfront land-sale in phases. It does not sound as if much has changed!

The only worry is that we get uncoordinated piece-meal development with none of the promised community improvements. The good news is that it will no doubt take decades for a significant proportion of the project to be constructed.

I suppose that one question that we could ask would be what ‘early investment in highways improvements’ (page 77, para 1) actually means. In other words, can we have a guarantee that there will not be the construction of a significant phase of the proposed development without the promised improvements to highways?

Answer:

The purpose of the Outline Planning Permission granted by Babergh District Council is to provide a coordinated approach to Chilton Woods, setting out how new homes and employment land will come forward alongside the requisite infrastructure.

The provision of this infrastructure is secured through strict planning conditions and a section 106 legal agreement which the developer(s) will have to comply with.

I do not believe that the sum of £2,700,000 spread over ten years is adequate for the necessary highway works involved in this scheme.

This only allows £270 thousand per annum and I would suggest that the works associated with the Acton Lane and Springlands Way junction could alone exceed this sum.

Answer:

The £2,700,000 referred to in the Cabinet Report does not relate to provision of highway works.

The provision of the necessary highway works is secured through planning condition 6, conditions 23-27 and Schedule 4 of the Section 106 Agreement in particular.

I am surprised that the Council is proposing to take 50% of the development profit on this scheme in lieu of an agreed sum at the outset of the contract.

It strikes me that a % of the profit opens the door to a myriad of claims by a contractor, not least for inclement weather and standing time, each claim reducing the profit.

Answer:

The only passage in the report which refers to the County Council taking a 50% of any development profit is the joint venture option which the report is proposing should be rejected.

The points made by the questionnaire may have some validity, but they do not apply in these circumstances as they apply to delivery route which the report does not recommend.

The proposed option is an up-front land sale. The County Council will derive its financial benefit on behalf of the tax payer from the sale of the land.

The County Council will organise an appropriate competitive process to ensure that best value is achieved in accordance with S123 of the Local Government Act 1972 which requires that the County Council does not dispose of land for a consideration less than the best which can be reasonably achieved.

From Dave Crimmin to Councillor Colin Noble

“Given the provisions of the Localism Act 2011 and the duty upon Suffolk County Council to cooperate with other local authorities, please explain why has Suffolk County Council and its agents AMEC ignored, together with Babergh District Council, the repeated requests of Chilton Parish Council and members of the local Community to be actively involved in the drafting of the planning conditions and the terms of the section 106 agreement relating to the Chilton Woods development in particular since a major part of the development is located in the parish of Chilton and para 24 of the Report to Cabinet recognises that residents and the Parish council of Chilton, as well as other town and parish councils, will be the areas most affected by the development?”

Answer:

The Chilton Woods development has been subject to considerable local consultation. Over a long period, representatives of the County Council attended a Place Shaping Group convened by Babergh District Council. Having heard the views expressed by the Parish Councils, including Chilton Parish Council, we then carried out pre-planning application consultation with the public from 30 January to the16 February 2015, including three local exhibitions.

The outline planning application that the County Council submitted to Babergh District Council, benefited from this feedback and paragraph 37 of the report lists several ways we modified our proposals in response to your feedback. The most notable areas been highways improvements, moving the village centre to be within Chilton Parish and the mix of uses to be included within it.

When we submitted the County Council’s outline planning application the District Council, as planning authority, carried out consultation to inform the councillors on the Development Control Committee.

All the matters contained in the S106 agreement and the planning conditions were well rehearsed during the planning process and reflected feedback from the range of consultees who commented.

As Planning Authority, the need for any further consultation sat with Babergh District Council. They did not consider that this was necessary and given the significant level of consultation that took place during the planning process and I share their view.

Background note

Local Government Act 2011

The above question refers to the Local Government Act 2011, but it is not relevant piece of legislation.

The duty to co-operate provisions within the Localism Act 2011 concern strategic matters, particularly related to infrastructure, affecting at least two district/borough areas that arise during the preparation of Local and Marine Plans.

It applies to county and district councils, and a range of other bodies including Highways England and Homes England i.e. it does not apply to Chilton Council for this development.

Having said all that, whilst this duty does not apply to the determination of planning applications, we have of course consulted and cooperated with the Parish Council and Babergh District Council.

Indeed, the very act of submitting the planning application and bringing the land forward for development demonstrates our co-operation in delivering Babergh’s current Local Plan and to prepare the way for any revision.

From Adrian Beckham to Councillor Colin Noble

“Please explain how and why, providing full details of the relevant calculations, Suffolk county council considers the commuted sum of £50,000, as provided under the section 106 agreement between Babergh district Council and Suffolk county council dated 29 March 2018, is an adequate sum to support the maintenance and future use of the Village Hall facility at the Chilton woods development?”

I am pleased to inform Cabinet that the S106 agreement we have agreed with Babergh District Council provides £1,105,000 to pay for a new village hall.

In addition to this handsome sum the S106 agreement makes an additional £50,000 to help the Chilton Woods community to get the village hall off to a good start. The £50,000 is based on the response of Babergh District Council’s Community Services Team to our planning application (dated 21 June 2017).

The Village Hall will be expected to achieve a financially sustainability within at most 3 to 5 years, so a one-off equipping contribution with say a maximum of 3 years revenue support would be more appropriate.

The £50,000 sum provides for a £25,000 one-off payment, a £1,000 payment in year one and a £7,500 payment in the second and third years.

From Acton Parish Council to Councillor Colin Noble

"The Parish Council is concerned that highways infrastructure will lag behind the construction of new homes and is concerned about the impact of higher traffic volumes along Acton Lane. While the Parish Council notes the commitments given in paragraph 33 regarding the delivery of junction improvements alongside the first 500 homes concern remains that early development of sites will generate high volumes of traffic using the Acton Lane/Sudbury Road route to the A134.

Can you assure the residents of Acton and Newman’s Green that junction improvements at Acton Lane / A134 Springlands Way will be completed in sufficient time to prevent, rather than cure, the anticipated traffic problems along the Acton Lane/Sudbury Road/Melford route to the A134?”

Transport issues were amongst the most important points raised by the community during the public consultation, so it was very important that they are properly addressed.

As you know, a fundamental objective of our transport strategy for the development is to promote direct access on to Springlands Way, via Acton Lane south and Aubrey Drive, to discourage northbound traffic via Acton and Newman’s Green.

To support and encourage this direct access on to Springlands Way several improvements are proposed to junctions on this route. In answer to your question I can assure you that these improvements will occur at an early point in the scheme.

Our outline planning permission will mean that:

  • Prior to the occupation of 300 dwellings and 2.9ha of employment land, schemes for the improvement of the Waldingfield Rd / Springlands Way / Northern Road roundabout as well as the Aubrey Drive / Waldingfield Rd roundabout are required.
  • Prior to the occupation of 400 dwellings and 5.8ha of employment land, the Acton Lane/Springlands Way junction is to be signalised (to help make it easier for right turners via Acton Lane south) and both Acton Lane and Grenville Road are to be traffic calmed (part of the strategy to discourage the use of Acton Lane north).

These measures are required by planning conditions attached to the permission and sit alongside improvements to other junctions in the town. If you want to find out more, you should read planning conditions 23 to 27 for more details.

In addition, I can reassure you again that a key element of the scheme is to establish sustainable travel patterns early on (walking, cycling and public transport) to help reduce car use overall.

The legal agreement forming part of the permission therefore includes a range of measures including:

  • £850k for buses, comprising £600k towards bus services plus £250k towards a new bus station (payable prior to occupation of 300 dwellings).
  • £130k towards pedestrian/cycle improvements on Acton Lane, Springlands Way and Waldingfield Road (paid prior to occupation of 300 dwellings).
  • New toucan crossings on Aubrey Drive, Waldingfield Road and Northern Road (paid prior to occupation of 200 dwellings).

I hope this provides you with the reassurance you require that the plan is to deliver these improvements at an early point of the scheme.

Trigger points for the provision of infrastructure

Highways

Planning conditions 23-27 and Schedule 4 of the Section 106 Agreement provide a range of trigger points for the provision of the necessary highway works to be delivered alongside the development.

Community facilities

Planning conditions 36, 37, 43 and 44 require the provision of community woodland, open space, children’s play areas and allotments to be delivered as part of the development.

Schedule 5 of the S106 Agreement secures delivery of sports provision and a village hall alongside trigger points for their provision.

Education

Schedule 6 of the Section 106 Agreement secures funding for libraries, healthcare, police, waste services and Wood Hall Scheduled Monument, including trigger points for when these funds are needed.