Planners have agreed to accept a reduced number of affordable homes in a development of up to 148 houses in Ferndown in return for the provision of a large area of open space designed to mitigate the impact on nearby protected heathland.
The application by Libra Homes for a site south of Holmwood House in Ringwood Road, Longham, was approved by East Dorset District Council’s planning committee on Tuesday. Members were told that the cost of providing the open space (SANG) meant that it would be unviable to include the 50 per cent affordable contribution expected following approval of the Christchurch and East Dorset Core Strategy, which allocated the site for development.
Andy Ward of architects New Masterplanning Ltd estimated the cost of creating and maintaining the SANG, together with other contributions to infrastructure, at a total of £2 million, and members were recommended to accept the 42 per cent affordable housing offered – an increase on the initial offer of only 30 per cent.
They also heard a persuasive argument for a high quality design drawn up after consultation with the town council and public on a well-contained site within easy reach of facilities in Ferndown.
The district council’s design and conservation team commented: “The use of high quality local materials, dwellings in clusters, such as trios and groups of five will assist in providing a legible cottage scale development.”
They supported the detail indicated including a reference to the locally built Victorian picturesque Lady Wimborne model cottages and use of an historic walled garden for community use. It was suggested that the reinstatement of historical features such as gates, arches and gate piers would add historical reference and character to the development, and that such architectural detail should be continued throughout the scheme and not limited to the public edges.
But a number of councillors sounded a warning that car parking provision and infrastructure would be an important considerations when the detailed scheme was submitted.
Councillor Barbara Manuel said: “It is actually quite remote from services, and not a good place to cycle because of the traffic on Ringwood Road and Christchurch Road.”
She was also concerned that a contribution to improvements to the Longham roundabouts might not be sufficient, commenting: “It all looks very pretty, but there are hidden dangers.”
Councillor Robin Cook said: “We need to be stronger on dealing with the effects of development on local infrastructure. We have had very little house building in the last 25 years, but there is a lot of road congestion. We should bring more pressure to bear to get infrastructure.”
Councillor Derek Burt asked for and was given an assurance that the outline planning permission would transfer with the land if the site were sold to a different developer, saying he understood it was on the market, and was told that informative notes with the outline approval would guide the detailed application.
The development, east of Holmwood House which will remain in the Green Belt and west of Poor Common, will use a new access to be created between the site and Ringwood Road, and the existing access from Christchurch Road would be for pedestrian and emergency use only.
The highway authority were satisfied that a right turn lane in Ringwood Road and pedestrian refuge, together with undefined improvements to the Longham roundabouts and the development of a travel plan, would be adequate to deal with increased traffic.