New estate with 118 homes rejected to stop 'urban sprawl' swallowing village near Yate

January 09 2021
New estate with 118 homes rejected to stop 'urban sprawl' swallowing village near Yate

PLANS for a new housing estate with more than 100 homes near Yate have been rejected after councillors said it would swallow up a village in “urban sprawl”.

Redrow Homes’ proposal to build 118 houses on Iron Acton Way, around three sides of Yate Town Football Club's ground, was thrown out by a planning committee which said it would lead to the village of Engine Common “subsumed” by Yate.

However, because the vote went against the recommendation of a planning officer to approve the application, a final decision will be made at a later date by a higher-level committee at South Gloucestershire Council.

The Redrow scheme was one of two developments, a few hundred metres from each other, which were rejected within two days of each other by South Gloucestershire councillors.

The other, off nearby North Road, was for 89 new homes and made by Newland Homes.

An officer told the meeting that the land Redrow wanted to build on was 5.7 hectares (14 acres) of mostly “poor quality” agricultural farmland.

The land is in the countryside outside Yate’s settlement boundary and is not designated for housing, so building on it “conflicts with” council planning policy, the meeting was told.

But national planning policy directs local authorities to boost the housing supply, and the benefits of the scheme “outweigh the harms”, an officer told the councillors.

The developer is promising to make 42 of the homes affordable and supply on-site parking with an electric vehicle charging point for every household, the strategic sites delivery committee heard on Thursday.

Redrow Homes has also said it will upgrade the floodlights at the football club, upgrade two bus stops on Iron Acton Way, and provide nearly £1 million for extra community infrastructure and services.

The development site almost completely surrounds Yate Town FC's ground and is next to Iron Acton Way, Dyer Lane and fields behind North Road

The site (above) was one of the locations identified for strategic development in the failed joint regional spatial plan for housing which was rejected by government inspectors in 2019 and abandoned last year.

But opposition to the application from 84 residents, two local district councillors, Yate Town Council and Iron Acton Parish Council included strongly held sentiment that the distinct rural character of Engine Common would be ruined by such a large housing estate.

Liberal Democrat Frampton Cotterell ward councillor Claire Young said: “Anyone coming along Iron Acton Way will feel they have entered Yate.

Engine Common is a village community with a separate identity. It’s important that that’s preserved.

Allowing this application would be delivering part of the abandoned joint spatial plan by the back door.”

The committee heard that a previous attempt to build 210 homes in the area had been refused, and the decision upheld at appeal in 2013, as it was considered an “inappropriate suburban bulge”.

But officers said the revised plans included fewer homes and other changes, including allotments and a play area.

Redrow Homes' Matthew Kendrick said the changes created a “defined visual buffer” between Yate and Engine Common.

The previous proposals directly adjoined Engine Common,” he said. “These proposals do not do that.

This application seeks to deliver much-needed housing to boost the council’s housing supply.”

The planning committee refused the application by five votes to four, saying they thought that, on balance, the harms outweighed the benefits and the council’s planning policies ought to be followed.

Conservative member June Bamford said: “We’re going to have Yate, Engine Common and Iron Acton just one long scene of urban sprawl.”

Summing up the committee’s reasons for refusal, a democratic services officer said: “The scale and layout of the scheme would amount to an inappropriate suburban bulge at odds with the character and identity of the village.

Further, the proposal would blur the distinction between Yate and Engine Common, and result in the village being subsumed as part of the neighbouring town.

The separate identity of the village would be lost forever and the setting of Engine Common would be seriously compromised.”

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service