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Agenda item

17/00659/FUL Lilleybrook Golf Club

Minutes:

 

 

 

Application Number:

17/00659/FUL

Location:

Lilleybrook Golf Club, 313 Cirencester Road, Charlton Kings

Proposal:

Engineering works to re-profile and re-contour the existing practice facility to create a mini 9-hole golf course by importing 100,000 cubic metres of inert fill material (re-submission following refusal of planning application ref. 16/00383/FUL)

View:

Yes

Officer Recommendation:

Permit subject to a 106 Obligation

Committee Decision:

Permit subject to a 106 Obligation

Letters of Rep:

10

Update Report:

Officer update and conditions

 

MJC introduced this application as above, reminding Members that an identical scheme was refused in December 2016, on the grounds of a lack of archaeological assessment and no S106 agreement.  The archaeological assessment has now been done and shown nothing of any significance.  Heads of terms 106 agreements are now in place to ensure completion – this is not uncommon. Conditions were circulated as a blue update today – most of the details relate to the drainage scheme – and the recommendation is to permit.

 

 

Public Speaking:

 

Professor John Hughes, local resident on behalf of Charlton Kings Flood Action Group, in objection

Ten years ago, his house was flooded, and he and his family had to move out for one year – hence his involvement with CKFAG.  Is asking that the Committee refuses this application tonight.  His group’s position centres on seven issues.   First, the LLFA has approved modelling for the rainfall attenuation basin based on a different hydrological area - Region 4/Region 8 - with lesser storm rainfall;   technical justifications have been offered, but this practice is irrelevant and indefensible, and the use of correct data is essential. Second, the existing hydrological calculations are inadequate, and new calculations are needed, based on the actual hydrology of the region. Third, there is no full geo-technical assessment of the development, regarding possible landslip, changes in ground water levels, to ensure water quality and control sedimentation; neither is there risk assessment of the materials being dumped or how failures in the bund would be addressed. Fourth, the costs appear to fall on CBC and Cheltenham residents for remedial or repair work, and there is no evidence of a cash bond to ensure financial liability throughout the whole process, nor of a scheme for long-term monitoring, reporting and maintenance.  Fifth, concerns about how the developers would access, light and landscape this major development, and observe county guidelines concerning scope and commencement of work, hours of operation, maximum vehicle movements etc.  Sixth, why is such a massive amount of fill needed, and is it waste? It represents the volume of ten inches of road scalpings from both lanes of the M5 between Cheltenham and Michaelwood Services; what is this material and where is it coming from?  Finally, CKFAG urges Members to align themselves with the interests of Cheltenham residents and recognise that this disruptive and potentially dangerous application, on a massive and unnecessary scale, with risks and uncertainties, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

 

 

Ms Coral Curtis, agent, in support

The previous application was refused in December 2016, for the lack of an archaeological investigation and a S106 agreement to cover the phasing of works.  The Club subsequently paid £15,000 for archaeological work which has confirmed no issues, and the agent has submitted a draft S106 to CBC, with which officers have no concerns.  Thus, the reasons for refusal have been addressed.  Previously, a local member raised concerns over flooding, in particular the run-off that will arise from the site, and in response, the developers agreed to over-engineer the attenuation pond that will serve the land, to provide a significant improvement over the pre-development scenario.  Flooding has also been raised by objectors, although the drainage proposals have been looked at in forensic detail and are satisfactory.  Objectors question whether the correct data has been used, but this is confusing matters and in fact the water would be allowed to discharge more quickly into the off-site ditch if the data referred to by objectors had been used. The attenuation pond will accommodate 20% more water retention capacity than required, slowing the water release from the site, limiting run-off and improving the existing situation.  A condition will require the developer to complete the drainage works and attenuation bund before the start of the works.  The county drainage manager is entirely comfortable by the work undertaken and has explained this to Members.  It would be unreasonable to refuse the application now, the previous refusal reasons having been addressed. One objector has questioned whether this application should be dealt with be CBC or GCC; it has been agreed that it should be assessed by Cheltenham, as long as the project is fully completed – as guaranteed by the S106.   This development will encourage players into the game and provide high-quality practice area for existing, new and junior Members, key to making the Club economically and socially sustainable. 

 

Member debate:

CM:  there was a lot of discussion of the flooding issue with the previous application.  There have been examples of developments, especially in Leckhampton, where the calculations are wrong, and therefore remains concerns.  Would like Professor Hughes’s questions to be addressed by the officer, with regard to whether the correct data was used, the bond and the risk, and the materials used as fill.

 

PB:  his views on this proposal are well known, and it was refused at the last meeting on flooding grounds.  The application is driven by the desire to generate funds – the £15k spent on the archaeological survey has to be considered against the £3/4million profit the club will make.  It is a cavalier application, with little regard to the impact it will have on the local community.  However, as it will now be difficult to make a case for refusal, would request that the conditions are strengthened to protect the residents and the area.  Has a few questions to ask:  regarding the bond, if the golf club were to go bust, who would pick up the bill for on-going maintenance?  This is a crucial issue; where does liability lie – if the flood alleviation work goes wrong, it will be the houses below which suffer – 12 garages flooded before the site was put in place.  Would liability rest with the applicant and their insurers?

 

Regarding the conditions, would like to amend Condition 3 to include ‘attenuation basin’ after ‘proposed bund, swale…’ and ‘calculations to be based on correct hydrological inputs and then increased by 20% to allow for climate change…’.  A third section should be added requiring  full drainage details  to be reviewed and approved to ensure scheme’s off-site impact addressed.  Instead of the drainage scheme being completed within two months of the commencement of development, it should be one month, for the comfort of neighbouring residents; otherwise, a similar flooding situation could arise here as in Leckhampton.  Is sad we are likely to be approving this scheme – hopes that additions to conditions will place more onus on the developers to get it right.  Would also request that the revised conditions and scheme be referred to officers and ward councillors to review.

 

 

SW:  knows that his questions last time was poo-poo’d when he asked about geological studies – this isn’t good enough for this very large development.  Is concerned even more because the site is part of the AONB – the fill material is described as ‘inert waste’.  This might be acceptable in other places but not in the AONB.  What is going there?  The material needs to be sympathetic with the local soils, but will probably be rubbish.  Is very concerned that a lot of the materials going in won’t be sympathetic with the AONB, which could cause a major shift in the quality of the area - a change in the acidity of the soil causing different plants to grow or die.  Calling the material ‘inert waste’ isn’t enough. 

 

AL:  does the LLFA consider the scheme will reduce or increase the flood risk in Sandy Lane?

 

PT:  reading the report and looking at the drawings, is finding it extremely difficult to understand.  It is a huge site and is going to receive a lot of material to cover it over and alter the contours.  Is rather concerned about the type of waste that will be used.  Should we really be authorising a landfill site in the middle of the AONB?  It is very strange.  Is glad this proposal is back for a second bite of the cherry – hadn’t fully thought through the implications before.  Feels that a lot more investigation is needed doing before we approve it.  What is the situation regarding roads on that area?  Big lorries loaded with waste material will make the situation worse. 

 

HM:  PT brought up the issue of roads.  Was concerned greatly with the original application, about the large coned-off area of the A435; the road has now got worse since the original application, with subsidence and slippage beyond the coned-off area.  Is pleased that the operation is scheduled to take 30 months rather than 18, as this will spread the load of heavy lorries up and down the hill – but they will still cause a problem.  The condition concerning the highways management plan is good, but would like to see Highways regularly monitoring the road during the course of the transportation of waste material.

 

CH:  has a couple of queries.  Last time,  tried to say there was a great opportunity to make flood risk easier if it was over-engineered, but couldn’t detect if it was/was not.  We’re hearing today that it will be 20% better – this is good to know.  Other Members have talked about waste materials.  The Environment Agency say this is OK – ‘inert’ doesn’t mean toxic – and concerns about the number of lorries is being addressed.  Has a question – if a building is put up, building control officers will check it is OK.  Several people have raised concern about this development; a lot of material is going in, which could affect the geology of the area and cause landslip.  Who would determine these works in the way building control would do for a building?  If  the developers get it wrong, it could be a major disaster for the golf club – will want to make sure landslip doesn’t happen.  Would the Golf Club insurers be aware/have it covered?  Secondly, PB raised the issue of the construction of the bund and reducing the time limit to one month.  This should make sure that at no point during construction is the risk worse than before development takes place - we should attend to this quickly for the comfort of residents.  Will be relatively comfortable if the right answers are given for these questions. 

 

PM:  CH touched on an issue about which he is concerned.  ‘Inert’ material sounds like a slag heap – is reminded of the Aberfan disaster in South Wales – and is concerned about the impact on the A435 which is a major highway.  The beauty of soil is that trees etc will grow and bind soil together.  We need to know more about the inert material – if it is sand/mud/slag, the propensity for landslip is considerable.  The A435 is in a poor state, undermined by springs. Transporting 100k tonnes along this road is not sensible.  Insurance bonds should include repair to the highway. 

 

 

MJC, in response:

-       To CN, regarding the flood issues raised by the public speaker’s questions:  has discussed at length the calculations with David Parish at GCC; his answer is consistent, that the difference is negligible, but as a caveat, the scheme will be over-engineered.  The condition – if approved – is that the applicant will have to do a lot of detailed work with the flood authority to ensure it is fit for purpose.  PB suggested additional words to make sure it is crystal clear – will have to happen for the condition to be discharged.  Can add PB’s suggestion if Members wish;

-       Regarding the bond and where the risk lies - the SUDS is on private land, therefore the Golf Club will have to manage and maintain it.  Liability is with the Golf Club, and the responsibility to ensure  water is released into the watercourse in a safe way.  Liaison with GCC satisfies what we need to see from the scheme;

-       Regarding waste, Condition 4 concerns the materials management plan; this was discussed at the previous meeting.  The Environment Agency will have to give a permit for anything brought to the site, and through an  informative, we will work closely with EA.  If they’re happy, we’re happy.  It is important to know where the material is coming from and what it is;

-       To HM, regarding the nature of the material: the previous officer report referred to inert soil and granular material.  The Environment Agency will be all over this to ensure it is suitable for the site;

-       To PB, most of his issues have been addressed, but MJC is happy to add changes to the wording of the conditions along the lines suggested

-       Conditioning a specific length of time is difficult – we don’t know how long it will take.  Better to say that the drainage scheme is first thing that happens with no actual time scale – Phase 1 - nothing else happens till then – this will strengthen the condition;

-       Is happy to discuss this with Chair, Vice-Chair and ward councillors once the details are submitted – keep them in the loop;

-       To SW, it isn’t fair to say his comments on geology were ignored – the previous application was recommended for refusal, so no conditions were suggested.  Condition 5 now covers how material will utilised to ensure suitable conditions.  This has been discussed with applicant, to ensure a safe and successful outcome, tapping into the work the Environment Agency will ask them to do .  They will understand the geological conditions, and what being brought to the site;

-       There is no arguing with the fact that this site is in the AONB.  There will be a short-term impact, a medium-term gain, and in the long term the changes won’t be noticed;

-       To AL, as to whether the proposal will reduce or increase the risk of flooding, the LLFA has stated the risk will be reduced; if nothing is done to the site, the risk will stay the same.  This has been strenuously tested;

-       To PT, hopes all her questions have been answered.  The proposal has been heavily scrutinised, and the applicant has answered all questions;

-       Regarding the state of the roads, appreciates HM’s concerns, and that one lane of the A435 is cordoned off, but this is not the applicant’s fault; Members and officers talked on site view about lobbying the County Council to make the road safe;  Members should feel free to do this if they wish;

-       To CH’s concerns about who checks that all the work is done correctly, the Environment Agency has the key role of checking the materials on the site.  Officers wouldn’t generally go out to check – this is private land. If it was public land, the County would check.  The management plan is secured by condition, and should cover these issues.

 

CN:  returning to the issue of the bond – it isn’t usual to talk about this in Planning Committee, but is an interesting idea, with the high risk of flooding and landslip.  How would the Golf Club address the risks if they all materialise? This development will be expensive; professional and commercial companies are used to dealing with big risks, but the Golf Club doesn’t do this kind of thing every day.  Is it set up like a commercial organisation to address the risk?  Would like to see further exploration of the bond issue.

 

SW:  to explain where he was coming from regarding inert waste - doesn’t want to see the Golf Club moving down the hill. The AONB makes it special.  If a lot of acid material is brought in, it will change the nature of the soil; if it is ground-up concrete, similar to stone, it wouldn’t change the sandy nature of the soil so much.  If there is a big shift, the material will migrate – rain water will move it to other areas.  Acid soil is good for rhododendrons – which are not natural in this location.  A lot of plants are very special, and a change in soil type will damage them.  Has no faith in the Environment Agency to address these concerns.  Slate is inert; granite is inert; these materials may be fine to use elsewhere but the AONB is special, and these materials will significantly effect the top soil.  Would like assurance that all materials going in will be natural in the area. 

 

PT:  to bolster SW’s comments, he is quite right – new materials could change the geology of the area.  CN mentioned the cost, but the Golf Club will make a lot of money using the the area as a landfill site.

 

CH:  can the officer answer his question and confirm that at no point during the construction period will flooding risk be worse than at present?  Regarding the bond and questions about liability,  a bond is a way of mitigating risk but the Golf Club will have public liability – as long as assured they are covered should anything go awry between the Golf Club and the insurers.   Members have expressed concerns about what materials are used – can we make representations to the Environment Agency and request that they check any materials coming in?  This would cover worries about materials.  Is concerned that Members are calling this a landfill site – it is not waste from green bins, but inert waste to re-contour the area. We shouldn’tuse these emotive terms – can’t imply the Golf Club is trying to attract new members to a landfill site; we need to be careful about how to express concerns.  We need to be sure the flooding will be no worse than before, understand where liability lies, and that the materials used will be covered by the Environment Agency.

 

AL:  Members need a definitive answer on what the inert waste will be.  There are seven categories of inert waste, and Members need a full understanding of what is going in to the site in this case.

 

PB:  agrees with AL.  It may be covered by condition  but officers need to be more specific. The issue of the bond is interesting.  The Golf Club is doing this work to make itself more viable, but it may not be there in 10-20 years’ time.  Who will pick up the maintenance then?  The time to do this is now, when the Golf Club is rich.  Also, it is important in the conditions to refer to monitoring of the water quality.

 

TO:  if Members are minded to approve, can the Chair write to Gloucestershire Highways to express the Committee’s concern about the state of the A435?

 

BF:  has already done this as county councillor and vice-chair of Planning Committee, when HM brought up the subject at a previous planning meeting.  Is still awaiting a reply.  Tabled the matter as a question for full GCC meeting in October, but was told that it is not eligible. 

 

MJC, in response:

-       To CH, at no point will flood relief be worse.  The applicant has to be able to build a drainage scheme.  This is a not insignificant operation but it cannot be policed at this stage.  After that is installed, the situation will be better.  At Leckhampton Road proposal, building work compacted the land and water run-off was increased; if a drainage scheme had been installed first, this could have been prevented; it makes a lot of sense.  For this proposal, there has been a lot of discussion  regarding the length of the construction phase, but once it is installed, the situation will be better;

-       To AL, regarding the type of inert waste to be used and where it comes from:  the developer will work with the Environment Agency to make sure it is appropriate; we cannot be too prescriptive, and should defer to the experts at the Environment Agency and be guided by them;

-       Regarding the concept of the bond, worries that with this we are straying into the realms of private insurance.  This is a private site; the applicant is doing the work, including a drainage scheme.  How can this be quantified?  Where would we start?  Liability will be with the Golf Club; that’s what insurance is for.  It would not be appropriate for the local authority to take out a bond.  The County council takes bonds for adopted schemes, but this won’t be one.  Struggles with this concept;

-       To PB, regarding water quality and monitoring – can weave this into the decision notice.

 

PT:  what about the Golf Club making money from taking waste material?

 

MJC, in response:

-       Cannot comment on the specifics, as does not know what arrangements have been made.  This is not a planning consideration.

 

CN:  going back to the bond issue, appreciates that it is a difficult issue to address, but the real issue is the liability; if we can maybe put in a condition that identifies whether liability is covered in one way or the other by the Golf Club, whether by bond or insurance, would be happy with that.  This is different from a householder application – a large construction, over a long period of time, with big risks re flooding and landslip.  The  Golf Club is set up as golf club, not a developer – would like some reassurance that this unusual risk is covered.

 

MJC, in response:

-       How best to resolve the issue? Feels we are half way there with the suggested condition – the scheme for maintenance and management;

-       Refers Members to the LLFA comment on the police station application, referring to the “lifetime of the development”; we can be more explicit in that way to give more confidence;

-       A bond/insurance is not necessary.  We are not the insurer;

-       Can strengthen the condition and talk about ‘the lifetime ofthe development.

 

 

Vote on officer recommendation to permit

7 in support

4 in objection

4 abstentions

PERMIT

 

 

Supporting documents: