Here is the full text of Chairman Councillor Mark Rosher’s presentation to the Development Control (West) Sites Inspection Sub Committee, on their visit to the land at Warner’s Court. There is also the full text of Ward Councillor John O’Neill’s and “Fighting for Charfield” leader Liam Balloch’s presentations.
The planning pack that the sub committee had for reference is here.
Councillor Mark Rosher
Good Morning Chairman and Members. I’m Councillor Mark Rosher, Chairman of Charfield Parish Council. I know you’ve got a lot to see today and you’ve had reams of paperwork to read through. I want simply to highlight the points already made in your reports, which show why this application should be refused.
The Parish Council is responding to the very real fears of our community. Our village of a thousand houses is already facing the very real possibility of an additional thousand houses in the new West of England Joint Spatial Plan, and these without any meaningful mitigating infrastructure.
But before that even has a chance to be discussed, this speculative application seeks to build over one of the most important green spaces left in the heart of the village, closing off any options with a community focus. Close by as it is to the central community recreational space it must be critical to any sustainable development plan for a larger Charfield.
The proposed development is characterless, using selected examples of our diversely constructed Charfield to build a series of dull uninteresting boxes. If Charfield is to expand it must be through using the best of Charfield as example, and bringing those historic village characteristics into the twenty first century by using the best practices, to excel at environmentally sensitive housing in a rural setting.
It must also be clear to those here that the sole access to this land is entirely unsuited to a vehicular junction, being on a blind bend in the busy Wotton Road, close by a narrow hump backed railway bridge and adjacent the playground and community centre. The hazards here are plain, and the risk of vehicle collisions and pedestrian fatalities is not being overplayed when I say this is a dangerous section of road.
The developer has presented plans for a retail outlet. If Charfield has to expand it will need retail as well as office and other employment opportunities within the village to reduce the additional carbon cost of unsustainable development. But this shop is set on the Wotton Road where it will inevitably attract drop-in custom from passing drivers who are likely to pull up on the roadside, making for even more congestion and increased risk of accidents.
Charfield cannot be a “go-to” shopping centre, but in any planned expansion must incorporate retail and employment opportunities that can be accessed on foot or by cycle, pushchair and wheelchair.
Finally, this application is not needed. It seeks to undermine the viability of a planned Charfield by sneaking in before the Joint Spatial Plan is determined. It does not address housing need because with two large construction sites already producing more homes than can readily be sold there is no shortage of housing in the area. It simply presents both Charfield and South Gloucestershire with more problems, and flies in the face of local and national CO2 emission reduction strategies.
Charfield Parish Council therefore calls on South Gloucestershire to refuse this application.
Here is the text of Ward Councillor John O’Neill
It is important that I draw attention to current developments in Charfield. The adjacent site is the Bellway homes application for 64 homes, this is in the reserved matters stage and appears on the circulated schedule last week and will move to approval today, 500 mtrs over the bridge is the Crest Nicholson site for 106 homes under construction. Both of these sites were refused on sustainability grounds by the local planning authority went to appeal and you will be aware of the history and the impact on South Gloucestershire.
If outline permission is approved for this site, this will increase housing supply in Charfield to just under 300 homes and that is before any JSP proposal, piecemeal developments such as these add nothing to the village, bringing no benefits only harm.
Charfield Primary school is at capacity in four out of seven classes, with 210 places the current role is 196, this means that the school will not be able to meet the needs of the current developments before this one is even considered, the nearest other schools at Cromhall and Tortworth will also not have the capacity to deal with the projected increase.
Public transport has seen further cuts in Charfield over the last three years, subsidies in the rural area are expensive and this has led to an inadequate public transport system that does not meet the needs of the local population. The services fail to be of any use to those in employment or further education and also for hospital appointments and social use. This has led to Charfield becoming car reliant with less than 1% of residents using public transport.
Lack of employment opportunities has turned Charfield into a commuter village. With only one major employer locally, evidence will reveal that due to the specialist nature of the work most of the workforce commute inwards causing further pressure on the local road network.
The developments will bring social housing and affordable homes, however those without their own transport will find themselves excluded and isolated. This also means that the suggested travel plan to reduce private car reliance is devoid of any thought by offering new residents travel vouchers for a public transport system that will not meet their needs.
Much will be made of the JSP that proposes a further 1000 homes for Charfield. If that does come we know that it needs to bring the infrastructure and improvements with it.
The current piecemeal developments bring no benefits and are putting pressure on the school, roads, services and existing residents.
And finally the text from Liam Balloch
Hello. My name is Liam and as Chairman of Charfield’s Village Hall and as a representative of the newly formed Fighting For Charfield action group, I have offered to come along today, along with my fellow residents, on behalf of the residents of this village and in the strongest possible terms demand that this application be refused.
Firstly we (the villagers) support and agree with wholeheartedly the argument placed before you by our Parish Council and ask you to both listen and act upon it.
Secondly, as public servants we believe that you should, above everything else, serve the public and, with this in mind, listen to what we have to say and what we have to say, along with numerous polls taken within this village, is that enough is enough and that this continuance of unsustainable and, frankly un-needed development has to stop and now is the time to stop it in Charfield. I started the Fighting For Charfield action group in the last 2 weeks and within the first day we had over 100 people sign up to support our cause, this surely shows you the opposition to this and any unsustainable development.
Our reasons, beyond what I have just said are centred on 3 points
Not the right time – As Mark has already mentioned, this application was made despite the knowledge that we are in the middle of both the JSP consultation process where Charfield is being earmarked for up to 1000 houses, but also whilst our own Neighbourhood Plan is still in progress. To me, and too many residents, this wreaks of disrespect and absolute arrogance on the part of those who submitted this application, now is not the right time!
Access – again, as Mark has mentioned, the only access to this estate will be off the main road in Charfield and, if you were to let this happen, taking into account the new development starting soon in the next field over, you will have a situation where you have a narrow bridge, blind bend, entrance to 3 roads and a busy community centre in a very short distance from one another. This is both unacceptable as far as we the people are concerned and unsafe.
Unsustainable – we do not have the infrastructure to cope with anymore developments and with any more growth within our village. The school does not have the space, we don’t have enough employment opportunities within the village meaning people will have to use cars and the roads simply cannot take it, we do not have any significant shop facilities, no gp surgery, very little and limited public transport and the list goes on. It is simply unsustainable!
Once again, on behalf of the residents of this village who oppose this development in the strongest of terms, we implore even demand that this development stops now. I thank you for your time and for your willingness to listen. Thank you