An outline planning application for residential development on land off Inglestone Road, Wickwar.

Crest Nicholson is preparing to submit an outline planning application for a residential development on land off Inglestone Road, Wickwar. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, consultation with the community is virtual both via this website and community outreach.

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WHO WE ARE

About Crest Nicholson

Crest Nicholson has been building new homes for over 50 years. It is firmly established as a leading developer with a passion for creating vibrant sustainable communities informed by collaborative community engagement. Crest Nicholson is a 5 star home builder as rated by the House Building Federation’s customer satisfaction survey and has lots of experience locally of delivering thriving developments, including at Charfield, Kingswood and Harry Stoke.

The Site

The site is circa 4.95ha in size and is currently grassland bordered by hedgerows. It is located off Inglestone Road, to the east of and close to the amenities of Wickwar High Street and adjoining existing residential.

The site is free of any landscape designations and is generally well-screened. It lies within Flood Zone 1 (the flood zone at least risk of flooding) and has excellent links to the nearby settlements of Charfield, Wotton, Chipping Sodbury and Yate.

The Evolved Proposals

Engagement with the community has provided the opportunity for Crest Nicholson to understand the key issues arising from the proposals, which has resulted in a revised masterplan being produced.

The net developable area of the site has been reduced and the number of proposed homes has reduced to 130 and will comprise of a range of types, sizes and tenure. It would create a well-connected, sustainable residential community with a sensitive relationship to the existing village and deliver new open spaces to the benefit of existing and new residents as well as Alexander Hosea Primary School. The new masterplan shows a reduction in development on the high ground near to the primary school building, increased buffers to the west to mitigate the impact for current residents and a strengthened buffer to the south to increase the bio-diversity net gain. Planting will also now sit in the public realm to protect its longevity and the potential footpath will be re-routed.

A greater diversity of new habitats will still be provided, including tree planting, grassland habitats and a sensitively designed attenuation basin creating a water feature that will allow the development to deliver a net biodiversity gain. The outline application will seek full permission for the access into the site with all other matters (scale, layout, appearance and landscaping) reserved for future consideration. Illustrative masterplanning work has been undertaken to demonstrate how the site may be developed and indicatively shows how a development may be shaped. The detailed design of the development, including the buildings on the site, would follow at a later stage.

Download the presentation that Crest Nicholson and the project team recently gave to residents

Technical Considerations

A design team has been appointed to examine all technical considerations relevant to the site and the proposed development. Technical reports will be submitted alongside the outline planning application and will include recommendations for mitigation to be implemented during construction and/or operation as relevant.

Highways

Vehicle, pedestrian and cycle access to the site would be from the continuation of an existing spur of Inglestone Road. The development would be designed to encourage lower vehicle speeds through a range of traffic management measures and traffic from the development would not pass the school entrance. An increase in traffic through the Sodbury Road/ Inglestone Road junction as a result of the development is not anticipated to give rise to queuing at the junction.

Ecology

The site will be designed sensitively to deliver a net biodiversity gain. Currently, the majority of the land is formed by low biodiversity value agricultural grassland, bound by a combination of mature hedgerows and a mixture of trees. The highest value habitat are the hedgerows forming the eastern and southern boundary which contain dormice, bats, as well as common nesting birds and other species. The European Protected Species hazel dormouse were confirmed present within the hedgerows. These hedgerows will be retained in full with a generous stand-off/buffer and protected during construction and enhanced with new native planting and management.

Drainage

Two locations are identified in lower parts of the site for attenuation, with retention of existing easements crossing the site influencing development form.

Sensitive Edges

Views of the site are generally well screened in the landscape due to vegetation, landform, and existing development, with no views from the base of the river valley. The site is clearly visible from the opposite side of the valley around Sturt Farm and Chase Lane and from properties fronting the site along Inglestone Road. Development on site will follow the natural contours as much as possible and landscape buffers to the school, residents, and open countryside to the east and new planting within rear gardens will minimise visual impact.

Sustainability & Climate Change

Crest aims to continually improve the energy and water efficiency of their homes and other buildings, providing appropriate recycling facilities to enable residents to reduce domestic waste. The impact of their products is continually revised through improvements to design, materials specification and working with the supply chain to encourage the reduction of its own environmental impacts.

Get in touch

Crest Nicholson welcomes your input into their proposals prior to the submission of their planning application. If you would like further information, have questions or have had problems reviewing the material, please contact a member of the community team on 07506 769 233, or by emailing callum.warren@tfa-ltd.co.uk.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Crest Nicholson has an Option agreement with the landowner. This is a pre-emption to buy the site subject to it receiving planning permission.

Yes, the masterplan is currently being reviewed so that an exact number of homes can be given but Crest Nicholson has listened to residents and will be reducing the number of new homes it delivers on the site.

Crest Nicholson is aware of the site’s position outside of the current settlement boundary and have submitted the site through all of the appropriate channels, including the Local Plan, with a view to meeting the unmet housing need in South Gloucestershire Council. Even though this site is on Greenfield, they believe this site is suitable for a sympathetic development.

Crest as a company build on all types of land. They have built on brownfield and have lots of regeneration projects throughout the regions.

The development will be built in line with the enhanced building energy regulations for sustainable homes. In addition to that Crest Nicholson will be delivering car charging points as standard and solar panels where appropriate as they are doing on all of our schemes in South Gloucestershire at the moment. South Gloucestershire Council also has an adopted policy on energy and renewables which requires 20% reduction in new homes so they will also be meeting that requirement as part of the scheme.

There are also other things that may be included in the scheme such as creating a travel plan which encourages residents to use more environmentally forms of transport through initiatives like cycle vouchers to purchase bikes and public transport tokens.

It has become apparent from engagement with residents that Wickwar suffers from a lack of social infrastructure. While they don’t consider the subject site itself to be suitable for such facilities, they would like to continue engagement with residents as to how else this could be accommodated and would welcome discussions with the Local Authority at the appropriate time as to how this might be delivered as part of CIL and/or S106 payments.

It is also considered that the additional development brought forward could assist in the higher chances of a local shop, increased bus services and additional facilities coming forward due to increased footfall etc.

If that would be something the Parish Council would like to discuss then Crest are certainly open to having that discussion. Unfortunately, it is not within the gift of Crest to provide the cycleway as they do not control the land that will be needed.

As part of any new development, Crest Nicholson will provide additional school funding for places in early years, primary and secondary education.

They will consult with the education authority to discover the likely impact the new development will have on the local schools’ capacity. The education authority also funds school buses so that will also form part of their response to us.

Yes, Crest Nicholson will be including car charging points as standard and solar panels where appropriate as they are doing on all their schemes in South Gloucestershire at the moment.

In terms of section 106 funding, they are keen to speak to the primary school to see if they would have any use for the green land at the north of the site. In addition to this, through consultation with residents, they have begun to look at the possibility of investing in a village shop.

Construction

Crest Nicholson has built on similar schemes in villages and with a single entrance and exit so there are tried and tested ways of managing this successfully.

Crest will also prepare a construction management plan that will go in alongside an application and that will set out working hours, days and other practises such as wheel washing, noise reduction, and lighting.

This will be scrutinised by South Gloucestershire Council and amended by the officer if they feel that is necessary.

This will come down to construction management plan. It is impossible to say at this time as there is a number of different variables including but not limited how many homes will be delivered, how long the site will take to build out, and if it is agreed that materials would need to come in smaller vehicles.

This would be dealt with by a construction management plan which will be agreed with South Gloucestershire Council.

Often work and deliveries take place Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00 and on a Saturday morning but again, this is something that will need to be agreed with South Gloucestershire Council.

Crest Nicholson has an excellent record of building out sites safely and sympathetically.

There are a number of measures that can be introduced within a construction management plan, including a restriction of large vehicles and their deliveries during school pickup and drop off times, and for a banksman to stand along roads at certain points to make sure contractors are driving suitably.

All of this will form part of the health and safety responsibilities Crest Nicholson will undertake and be audited on – probably on a monthly basis by independent auditors and South Gloucestershire Council.

A construction management plan will look at noise restrictions and put in place requirements to reduce noise pollution. Any plan will likely include measures such as where the compound is located and noise limiting instruments on equipment.

In other developments similar to this, wheels of construction vehicles are washed on site to minimise the mud that is transferred to surrounding roads. In addition to this a cleaning vehicle will also wash the roads surrounding site once or twice a day.

The open space areas on site will be managed by a management company which the new residents will pay into. Crest Nicholson has excellent landscape contractors and an example of their work can be seen at Tadpole Garden Village, Swindon.

If, for whatever reason, work or maintenance is not done to a satisfactory standard then Crest holds a retainer to ensure that work is carried out properly. There is also a requirement that any trees which die or are lost within the first five years are replaced.

Masterplanning

Crest Nicholson believes that the success of the scheme is reliant on it integrating itself within the existing village. They have undertaken site visits, met with the Parish Council and have conducted a public meeting to ensure that they have fully understood the site’s opportunities and constraints. From this basis, the will ensure that proposals:

  • respect the existing green infrastructure (such as boundary hedges and trees) and offer new and reinforced landscape buffers, particularly along the site boundaries.
  • protect and enhance connectivity for all residents.
  • carefully consider how the built form will respond to the existing topography to ensure its in keeping with the immediate and wider context of the village.
  • set out clear design guidelines for the appearance of the dwellings and the suggested materials, based on a detailed character analysis of the village.

Crest Nicholson will be designating land for landscape buffers along all edges of the site. They have a variety of different interfaces along the site boundaries, varying from existing dwellings, the school and wider countryside to the east and south so a bespoke response will be needed in each location. The existing vegetation within these boundaries also varies, with some areas more heavily vegetated within established hedgerows and mature trees, and other more sparsely vegetated. The detailed agricultural survey and work along with the landscape architects and ecologists will ensure they tailor the approach appropriately. These corridors will then be transferred to a management company, who will retain ownership and responsibility for their upkeep, and ensure future residents cannot ‘grab’ these areas and/or remove any of the planting so their integrity is protected.

A typical plot size on Inglestone Road is approximately 10-12m wide and 22-25m deep. They cannot define the specific plot depths on Crest’s site until they get into the detailed design of the scheme, which only happens at a reserved matters application stage.

What they can say is that a similar single plot size on our site would only be appropriate for larger 4 bed housing, and that, theoretically, a 4 bed plot on Inglestone Road, could equally accommodate a pair of semi-detached 2 or 3 bed houses, whilst hitting South Gloucestershire’s minimum external amenity standards and back-to-back distances.

The issue of density can be a misleading one. It is often seen as a measure of how ‘cramped’ a development will be yet two almost identical densities can create very different perceptions of built form and character.

The density of the adjoining Inglestone Road development is approximately 25dph, as is a section of the High Street. The Inglestone Road area is dominated by larger, detached family house with garaging. They would be looking to create a more balanced housing mix than this, with a greater percentage of smaller 2/3 bed housing, which would automatically increase the density, but in our opinion justifiable so, in order to create a better and more inclusive housing mix.

The conclusion from this is that whilst the density needs to be considered, and surrounding areas assessed, a density-led approach is not appropriate at this stage. Instead, Crest Nicholson believes that setting new homes within a robust landscape structure and delivering a varied housing mix, will deliver suitable density, when combined with Local Policy on minimum internal and external amenity standards.

There is no getting away from the fact that the character of the part of the walkway which runs through the site will change. However, Crest Nicholson believe that through maintenance, signage and improvements they will be able to protect the route from damage and flooding.

Ecology

The hedges are being fully retained within the POS and will not form ownership boundaries of gardens. This measure is to ensure they can be managed independently and primarily for the protection of dormice which are known to be present.

For construction, hedgerow protection will be detailed in the Construction and Environmental Management Plan for Ecology (CEMP: Ecology) at Reserved Matters, which will include the fencing and buffering of all hedges and standard CEMP pollution prevention and control methods such as appropriate storage of vehicles and materials, management of dust etc.

There will be a measurable net gain in hedges on site, with new species-rich hedge along the western boundaries adjacent to the school and existing gardens. The existing hedges will also be strengthened and managed long-term as part of the Landscape and Environmental Management Plan.

Lower Woods SSSI is located 800m east of the site (also links with Bishop’s Hill Wood SSSI 530m south east). The SSSI’s are designated primarily as excellent examples of ancient woodland and for geological reasons. Lower Woods is large spanning 280ha. Both woodlands are sufficiently distant and buffered from the majority of possible ecological pathways i.e. direct habitat loss, noise, dust and air quality, and the development site is downstream so it is not hydrologically linked. The assessments does identify the potential for a small increase in visitors to Lower Woods, therefore recreational pressure has been considered as an ecological pathway in more detail.

Ancient Woodlands can be suspectable where there are high levels of visitor pressure, mainly through erosion of ground flora and soil compaction from trampling causing anaerobic conditions in heavily used areas, and also from erosion from leisure pursuits such as mountain biking, or other problems associated with high visitor levels such as direct vandalism etc.

Woodlands such as Lower Woods that are large, away from large population centres and well-managed with clearly marked footpaths and visitor information, result in the vast majority of visitors using only the marked footpaths, keeping them away from the designated features themselves, and therefore keeping the effects of visitor pressure to a minimum. For these reasons, it is not predicated a residential development of this size will result in an un-mitigatable significant impact on the SSSI designation features.

Part of the ecological assessment was to obtain information from Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre on local protected and notable species records and non-statutory designated sites (Sites of Nature Conservation Interest: SNCIs) within 1km of the Site, SSSI’s within 2km and European Sites within 10km. An assessment of the potential impacts of the development on these local Sites will be provided in the Ecology Report including the Little Avon SNCI which is linked with the site both hydrologically and via public footpaths.

The main potential impact identified to neighbouring sites was loss of connectivity or accessibility along the Site’s boundary habitat features, particularly in respect of dormice habitat and bat corridors which use the wider landscape. Consideration has therefore been given to strengthening the corridors around the edge of the site to maintain and enhance connectivity, providing enhanced foraging habitat in these areas such as new native woodland buffer planting adjacent to the road on the eastern boundary, wildflower meadow and wet meadow (SUDS) creation and to ensure light spill can be minimised particularly along the eastern and southern boundaries with adequate buffering.

  • Desk Study
  • Phase 1 Habitat and Preliminary Protected Species Survey.
  • Dormouse presence/absence surveys with 50x Tube checked monthly.
  • Monthly bat activity surveys with 3-hour walked transect and 2x automated detector units deployed for 5x nights April – October.
  • Badger survey

A full arboricultural assessment is being provided with the application.

Highways

Discussions with the highway authority are at an early stage.  They are aware that there are bus services to Wotton-under-Edge and Yate that stop on Sodbury Road/High Street.  They will be considering the potential to increase the service and whether improvements to bus stops would be beneficial.

The development will connect to the existing pavements and therefore facilities that are available by design of the development.  Contributions to wider schemes being promoted will be considered and discussed with the highway authority, such as the crossing points identified on High Street and school bus services.

Traffic generation is predicted to be around 820 vehicles (total to and from the development per day), which equated to about 82 vehicles (total to and from) in the morning and evening peak hour, when normal peaks occur, i.e. less than 1.5 vehicles per minute on average

Crest Nicholson would like to be able to undertake a traffic survey but doing so now would be unrepresentative. Therefore, they are discussing the suitability of surveys and existing available data with the highway authority and they will ensure that data from the additional recent developments and proposed future developments will be included as part of the scenario testing.

They have noted residents’ concerns regarding the unrepresentative nature of the previous surveys carried out, as well as some of the omissions, and would like to assure the community that this is something they will look at as part of the ongoing work they do.

Home to school buses alongside potentially improved bus services and contributions to cycle route to Yate.

Crest Nicholson are looking at the way the signals operate to see whether anything can be done to make these work more efficiently. Work to date suggests that less than half of traffic would head that way but detailed work and engagement with the community is ongoing to see what can be done.

Currently no mitigation measures are proposed as vehicle speeds are expected to be slow and the road of suitable standard to accommodate additional traffic.

Crest Nicholson would encourage future residents to walk their children to school and measures can be considered such as traffic calming, or on-street parking restriction if this is of concern.

The performance of the junction is to be considered as part of the application. Responses to the Wickwar Traffic Management Consultation noted that the road markings need to be repainted and is an example of what could be undertaken if this is still a requirement at the relevant time.

There will be connections for pedestrians to connect to the existing footways and cycling would be on street to connect the existing local roads. Contributions to infrastructure improvements consulted on through the Traffic Management Scheme will be considered.

This is subject to the size of the houses proposed at the Reserved Matters stage. Parking would comply with South Gloucestershire Council standards.

This would be subject to the design at the Reserved Matters stage but at this time they anticipate typically. A minimum standard road width of 5.5m with potential widening to accommodate vehicle passing and potential narrowing to accommodate design if suitable. Pavements (footways) would typically be 2m min width.

Temporary closure may be necessary whilst the access is being constructed to ensure safety, but the aim is for this period to be minimal. The rest of the site construction would be phased to accommodate the retained use of the PROW. This would require temporary diversions of the path and the agreement of SGC.

Any temporary diversions and how long for would be discussed with and require the agreement of South Gloucestershire Council.

Due to the pandemic, a representative survey of traffic levels around Alexander Hosea Primary School during drop-off and pick-up times has not been possible. The Traffic consultants have, however, visited the area during these times and are aware of the issues residents have so far raised.

They ask that residents that have any further information on this document it through the website. Additional sensitivity testing will be taken by transport consultants to assess the implications on areas like Poplar Street.

Crest Nicholson are currently looking in to how the various parts of the school site are used and how our masterplan will work flexibly around this. Alongside this they are looking at the potential for traffic pollution caused by additional vehicles from the development.

Clearly the road will have to go where it is currently situated, but as part of our assessment work they will look at including buffers along the road, including increased planting of trees and a variety of hedgerows.

Planning

Crest Nicholson and their consultant team do believe that the benefits of the scheme will outweigh the harm. This is something that some residents might fundamentally disagree with but in the end, it will be for officers at South Gloucestershire Council to decide before it arrives to committee for councillors to vote on.

As part of the consultation process, one of the things that they have tried to establish with the help of residents is the social infrastructure that the community in Wickwar desires and needs. They hope to assist in the provision of these things through the normal channels alongside the application.

Full details of the relevant policies including an assessment of the scheme will be included within the planning statement at the time of submission however in general, development for residential purposes on the Wickwar site would provide considerable benefits in terms of housing supply, delivery of affordable housing, job creation, support to the local village services and therefore the adverse impacts of developing the site would not in our view significantly and demonstrably outweigh these benefits.

The site is well located to the village of Wickwar and its facilities and represents and appropriate residential site to help meet the required supply of housing in South Gloucestershire. It is well situated to the existing primary school and even offers the potential for expansion of the school site within the application boundary if this was deemed necessary and appropriate.

The site can be delivered via a safe access from the existing road network and is within easy walking distance of amenities and public transport. The land therefore is considered appropriate for housing given that they consider there is an absence of a 5 year housing land supply and the significant benefits that would be derived from the proposals compared to the minor adverse impacts.

South Gloucestershire Council’s five year supply position effectively changed overnight when the Core Strategy was five years old as the requirement shifted from the adopted requirement to the standard method (resulting in a lower annual requirement).

  • It is now questionable whether SGC does have a five year supply. The tests of deliverability (i.e. what sites can be included in the supply) are now much more onerous and the need to demonstrate clear evidence that the trajectory is robust is a high bar to pass. It is arguable that the supply is actually as low as 4.2 years.
  • Following the abandonment of the JSP the Local Plan is now years from adoption and will have to wait for the new Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) to be progressed. Adoption is not programmed until end of 2023 (at best) so there is a policy void over the next three years and SGC will have to maintain supply.
  • The impacts of lockdown in 2020 will have a significant impact on completions and housing delivery test results, and potential supply.

The NPPF is a material consideration to be taken into account in the determination of the application. It seeks to facilitate and enable sustainable development and growth, with a particular emphasis on meeting the profound need to boost the national supply of new housing stock. With no five-year supply, the relevant housing supply policies cannot be considered up to date and therefore the presumption in favour of sustainable development is engaged.

The proposed development responds to the need for new housing in South Gloucestershire and will seek to address the lack of five-year supply in the area; and is hereby submitted by a housebuilder and not a land promoter with the intention to progress a reserved matters application quickly to begin preparation immediately on grant of outline consent.

Pre-application advice was first sought in 2018 but Crest Nicholson are currently re-engaging with this process ahead of submission of the application. As with any pre-application request the matters discussed are generally confidential however should there be written feedback at the time of submission then this would typically be included as an appendix to the planning statement and provide commentary as to how the comments have been addressed.

In terms of housing type and mix this is typically a matter for Reserved Matters stage but in essence CN try to provide at least 2 or 3 house types for each price bracket to allow a choice and also to ensure a mixed development.

However the market may change by the time they get to RM stage so it is something that will need reviewing which the outline application allows us to do. The nature of CN’s business means that they are able to respond to demand and need relatively flexibly.

The scheme intends to be policy compliant and deliver the policy requirement of 35% affordable housing. Further details on affordability will be guided by policy and agreed through a S.106 Agreement which will specify the exact mix, tenure and unit size by percentage.

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