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Agenda item


To consider planning application number 21/1085 for the erection of 52 houses on land to rear of 65-71 Moss House Road, Blackpool, FY4 5JF with associated public open space, landscaping, infrastructure and access from Moss House Road.


The Committee considered planning application 21/1085 for the erection of 52 houses with associated public open space, landscaping, infrastructure and access from Moss House Road.


Ms S Parker, Head of Development Management, outlined the report and reminded members that this had been put before the Planning Committee in September 2023 and had been deferred in order to investigate highway access options further and to further explore potential affordable housing provision.


Ms Parker acknowledged that the Update Note contained a revised recommendation and provided the Committee with an overview of the planning history of the site. The site had been included within the originally approved Kensington Homes Development site, but had been excluded from the second reserved matters scheme in 2017 as it had been intended for use by United Utilities as part of the drainage framework for the area. However, since then two smaller permissions had been granted on parts of the site which remained extant, along with the wider Kensington permission, with phase 2 of that original permission being built by Elan Homes. Ms Parker advised that whilst it could not be said categorically that the original approval would not proceed and whilst it could continue to be implemented, officers had no substantive reason to believe that this would be likely.


The Committee was advised that the application had taken a long time to determine and that this had been largely due to discussions on matters of financial viability. The proposed development site was liable for significant amounts of planning obligations as well as the provision of 30% affordable housing. The applicant had stated that this was not financially feasible and had submitted an appraisal to demonstrate this. This information had been reviewed by an independent consultant, Continuum, and a state of disagreement had arisen. Ms Parker advised that since the September 2023 Committee meeting, at which the application had been deferred, the applicant had asserted that market conditions had worsened to the point where no affordable housing or planning obligations could be provided.


Ms Parker reminded the Committee that at the 5 September 2023 Planning Committee she had advised that she considered the application to be very finely balanced but had concluded that there had been enough positive aspects of the scheme to outweigh the negative issues and it had therefore been recommended for approval. However, the Council’s viability consultants, Continuum, did not consider that the applicant’s withdrawal of all affordance housing and planning obligation provision was justified and this had now tipped the scales in terms of recommendations towards refusal.


Ms Parker provided the Committee with an overview of the key issues of this application and in relation to the Core Strategy, stated that the wider area at Moss House Road had intended to deliver 600 homes. Though it was acknowledged that this would not be achieved, the scheme would still make a notable contribution to the Borough’s housing supply. Notwithstanding some of the shortfalls, the design of the scheme had been considered acceptable and would safeguard the amenity of neighbours, whilst providing a good standard of amenity for occupants. However, the Committee was advised that the scheme would not deliver a housing mix that would accord with policy requirements, it would fail to deliver necessary affordable housing, local health provision and green infrastructure. In addition many of the parking spaces fell short of minimum size standards and the street trees required by the National Planning Policy Framework would not be provided.


In relation to the highways matters that had been discussed at the 5 September 2023 Planning Committee, Ms Parker reminded the Committee of the original access and egress arrangements identified by the Council’s highway officers which was for traffic associated with the development to travel the full length of Moss House Road to the western spur of Redwood Boulevard and out onto Progress Way from there. However, at the last meeting, the Committee had requested that consideration be given to the use of Florence Street. This had been fully considered by the applicant and the Council’s Highways Team, but had been discounted as a less preferable option to Moss House Road. The Moss House Road option had been publicised and had received no objections from affected residents. Works to Moss House Road were estimated to be £30,000 which the applicant was prepared to fund.


Ms Parker drew attention to the recommendation that the Committee adopted the positon of the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, even though it was contrary to the position of Natural England. This had been recommended as although the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit had requested that homeowner packs be conditioned as part of best practice, Natural England had taken this to indicate a potential significant likely effect that warranted an Appropriate Assessment. This had not been the intention of the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and the recommendation was merely one of best practice. On this basis, no Appropriate Assessment under the Habitat Regulations was considered necessary.


In relation to affordable housing, Ms Parker reminded the Committee that over the course of the application, the applicant had moved from a position of zero affordable housing, £85,000 for planning applications and £30,000 for highway works to a position of 15% affordable housing with obligation and highways costs. However, since the September 2023 Committee the applicant had now moved to a position of zero affordable housing and no planning obligations, retaining only the necessary highways works at £30,000. No agreement had been reached with the applicant in respect of viability grounds. Although the Council’s consultants, Continuum had conceded that market conditions had deteriorated, the deterioration had been less than expected and Continuum had also predicted that market values would actually increase in 2025.


Ms Parker concluded by advising the Committee that Planning Officers had carefully considered the report in relation to planning balance, strategic designation of the site, the challenges presented by the applicant and the applicant’s revised position in relation to affordable housing provision. Planning Officers had concluded that the issues relating to housing mix, conflict with Part 2 requirements and the removal of all affordable housing and planning obligations were considered to be sufficient to weigh sufficiently against the application to outweigh these benefits and justify refusal. The Committee was recommended to refuse the application for the reasons outlined in the Update Note.


Mr J Pickthall, Applicant, spoke in favour of the application and advised the Committee that he was disappointed that the recommendation was for refusal and that he disagreed with Continuum’s assessment of affordable housing viability and questioned their experience in dealing with land of this nature. He stated that Rowland Homes would always want to try to provide the maximum affordable housing and planning obligation contributions, however the market conditions and the costs required to remediate this particular piece of land, in Rowland Homes’ opinion, did not support the provision of any affordable homes or planning obligation contributions. Mr Pickthall noted that the £30,000 for essential highways works remained part of the application.


Mr Pickthall highlighted the benefits of the scheme, stated that in Rowland Homes’ opinion, these benefits did outweigh planning balance and asked the Planning Committee to approve the application. 


The Committee discussed the application and in response to questions, Mr Pickthall advised that it had been Rowland Homes’ intention to provide affordable housing and planning obligations, however declining sales, rising costs and inflation and the risky site conditions had meant that these costs outweighed the costs of providing affordable housing on the grounds of viability.


The Committee discussed the report and noted the importance of affordable housing provision in Blackpool.



To refuse the application for the reasons outlined in the Update Note.

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