Gladman Proposals

Information added 19 Aug 2017


Information added 26 May 2017

Gladman housing proposals for Bakers Lane

Residents will probably already be aware that the planning application for the above scheme has been refused by Colchester Borough Council. The full decision can be viewed using the following link:


The Association's formal response to the Gladman application for planning consent

Copy of the objections sent to Colchester Borough Council Planning Department

Email: ku.oc.evil|cesarb#ku.oc.evil|cesarb

Dear Sirs, 28 February 2017


The Committee of the Braiswick Residents’ Association has resolved to formally object to the proposals, for housing development in Bakers Lane Colchester, submitted by Gladman Developments. The grounds for this objection are as detailed below:

1. The Local and Neighbourhood Plans

The prime objection to the proposals must inevitably be the flagrant disregard of the current statutory Local Plan and the emerging Local Plan for Colchester which will cover the period up to 2032. Also completely disregarded is the Myland & Braiswick Neighbourhood Plan recently approved following a referendum. It seems that having failed to get the site in question accepted by the Council in its ‘call for sites’ exercise which was part of the preparation of the new Local Plan, the applicants have decided to ignore this inconvenient fact and submit what can only be described as a speculative and opportunistic attempt to overturn the due planning process.

One of the ironies of the Gladman application is that, in the supporting documents, it uses quotes from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which emphasise the importance of local democracy in the formulation of planning e.g.

In Gladman’s ‘Health Impact Assessment’- one of the NPPF’s twelve core planning principles is quoted referring to plan-making and decision taking which should be “plan-led and empowering to local people

In Gladman’s ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ they quote from the foreword to the NPPF - “People have been put off from getting involved because planning policy itself has become so elaborate and forbidding – the preserve of specialists, rather than people in communities…This National Planning Policy Framework changes that…we are allowing people and communities back into planning”.

Gladman’s also call upon Colchester Borough Council’s own ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ which was adopted in 2013 setting out the Council’s approach to public engagement for planning applications within the Borough. It is a statutory document which details how the Council will involve the community in the preparation of its Local Plan. Gladman’s quote section 1.2 of the Statement as follows:

in order to try to reach agreement within communities, people need to be involved from the early stages of the planning process. The Statement of Community Involvement is therefore a public statement that lets communities and stakeholders know when and how they can be involved. This includes both preparing planning policy documents and when considering applications for planning permission.

Gladman’s reference to the above principles would be admirable if it were not for the fact that by their recent application they seek to overturn and render pointless all the work undertaken in preparation of the Local and Neighbourhood Plans including by, not only Colchester Borough Council, but the Myland Community Council and members of the public through such organisations as the Braiswick Residents’ Association. If this application is approved, either by Colchester Borough Council or on appeal if it refused, it will be sending a loud and clear message to the community. This message will be that there is little point in having a Local or Neighbourhood Plan or indeed in participating in any community consultation exercises in respect of planning matters. Surely the antithesis of what the NPPF, the Localism Act and the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement intended?

2. Are there exceptional reasons to justify approval?

There are no exceptional reasons which might provide justification under the NPPF to override the democratically prepared Local and Neighbourhood Plans. Gladman attempts to justify its application by suggesting various social, economic and environmental benefits might accrue. Some of the benefits quoted are very speculative and they are all presumably applicable to any new housing development e.g. ‘sustainability’. Most if not all new housing in Colchester built by developers playing by the rules and in accordance with the Local Plan can claim the same without the need to flout approved policy.

The proposed development is not for a new factory providing hundreds of new jobs in an economically deprived area, a new hospital to replace an old obsolete facility, nor for something of major regional or national importance. In short, it is simply a proposed speculative housing development in an area which has already planned housing to meet its needs for the foreseeable future and not something which should receive special treatment under the NPPF.

3. Setting an unfortunate precedent

If this application is approved it is difficult to see how Colchester Council could resist further applications for other land accessed from Bakers/ Spring Lane. What would be the grounds for refusal? Surely future applicants would use most if not all of the same arguments used by Gladman. Or will it be a case that it is all right for the first applicant to ignore the locally prepared democratic plan for the area but not the second and third??

4. Gladman’s commitment to community involvement – a sham?

The main plank of Gladman’s community involvement amounted to a brochure delivered to local residents. They invited comments which they now say informed their application. It would be interesting to learn in detail what use they made of the comments which they received. For example the number of houses proposed has increased from up to 110 in the ‘consultation’ brochure to up to 122 in the application. Not something one would have thought Gladman’s would have been able to infer from the comments they received.

In reality, and as can be seen from the replies they have included in their application ‘bundle’, the comments they received were almost uniformly hostile to the proposals. You would not think this however if you only read the summary of comments table which they provide, giving, as it does, a much more balanced view of the responses than would appear to be the reality.

5. The Design & Access Statement

a. Throughout the documents accompanying the application, apart from perhaps its restricted width, there is little recognition of the fact that Bakers Lane and its continuation Spring Lane are by nature a rural country lane albeit one which takes increasing amounts of traffic. With or without the extra volume of traffic which would be created by the Gladman proposals, this is set to increase due to other developments elsewhere e.g. the nearby Chesterwell development of initially 1600 houses and , if approved, the proposed additional amenities at the ‘Play Golf’ facility which will generate additional visits.

Although Gladman propose to widen a short section of Bakers Lane between the access points to the two sites, most of the road is incapable of widening due to existing constraints (houses and the bridge) and has several sharp bends which as regular users of the road can attest to lead to many near- misses and occasionally worse. The short length of wider road proposed may even encourage higher speeds particularly amongst drivers unfamiliar with the road who will then very quickly find the road narrows considerably.

Provision of a section of pavement from the entrance to area ‘A’ of the proposed development and the existing pavement at the top of Bakers Lane will assist road safety although it has to be pointed out that the uncontrolled crossing suggested will be on a section of road with a 60mph speed limit! However in the other direction, towards the unlit Spring Lane, there is no such possibility (and still a 60 mph speed limit) which, again, as regular users will confirm, can be a fraught journey on foot or bike.

The ‘Transport Assessment and Travel Plan’ makes the point that a short length of the existing footway on Bakers Lane near Ramparts Farm is narrow. It is also suggests that the increased use of this footway by pedestrians walking to and from the proposed development in the direction of the B1508 Braiswick may increase the likelihood of pedestrian/vehicular conflict, as pedestrians may have to enter the carriageway at this location. It makes the point that is especially a problem for those with pushchairs/wheelchairs. It recommends that the short length of narrow footway on Bakers Lane should be widened to ensure pedestrians do not have to enter the carriageway. This matter is presumably not within the gift of the applicant to solve and relies on the relevant highways authority.

b. In the section on ‘sustainability’, the Design & Access statement makes a case that the local economy will benefit by the new residents using local shops and facilities. Whilst the provision of 122 houses in a small village might well save the local pub or shop, such facilities in Braiswick, West Bergholt and Mile End (all of which are included optimistically in the Gladman documents) have the existing large catchment area which is soon to be added to by 1600 houses on the Chesterwell development. Thus any notional benefit derived from the Gladman proposals will be negligible and not material in considering whether permission should be granted.

6. The ‘Travel Plan’

The ‘Travel Plan’ associated with the application is aspirational in terms of future walking and cycling rates as all such ‘Travel Plans’ are. When they are in support of non-controversial schemes, applications which otherwise fulfil local planning requirements or needed facilities, that is probably acceptable and provides some potential added value. However they are only aspirations and not within the gift of the applicant to deliver. They are not facts and as such their use to support a scheme which is controversial and does not meet local planning requirements nor fulfils an urgent need renders them of no material use in determining the acceptability of the application.

The travel distances to various local facilities quoted in the Travel Plan are broadly correct although it is noted that they are taken from the middle of the site rather than using the furthest point of the development which does add several minutes to the potential journey time. Although apparently using recognised standard walking speeds (4.8 kph/ 3 mph) to calculate travel times it is most unlikely that these could be achieved by parents walking small children to primary school or pushing a pram. For example 20 minutes to walk to Braiswick Primary School is quoted in the Travel Plan which at 4.8 kph is achievable however the speed of a parent walking a small child will be less than this – perhaps half to two-thirds as much?

To suppose as the applicant does that the use of cars will be significantly moderated by walking is wishful thinking particularly as, for example, children walking to St Helena’s via Spring Lane would also have to negotiate either Cymbeline Way or the slip road from the A12. In an ideal world, parents would walk primary school age children to the local school and get buses to the shops. However we are not living in the 1950’s. Parents and people generally lead busy lives, roads also are very busy and the large weekly shop is not conducive to walking a few hundred metres to the bus stop to hop on a bus and then walking to the supermarket at the other end.

We would all wish it were not thus but to suppose otherwise is foolish. The fact remains that whilst some people will no doubt cycle, walk or use buses on occasion, most people will drive! The evidence for this, if needed, is outside every school in Colchester at dropping off or picking-up time and the full car parks at all the local supermarkets.

7. Deleterious effect on Moat Farm Dyke

The Dyke is a scheduled monument and thus presumably in theory has a similar level of protection as Colchester Castle and Stonehenge.

Much is made in the Gladman’s application of the alleged beneficial outcome for this scheduled monument should planning permission be granted for the housing development. It is noted and apparently not disputed by the authorities that the care of the dyke has been neglected and that it has been affected by tree and bush growth and burrowing animals.

Guidance from ‘Historic England’ states that “Monuments that include earthworks often require nothing more than ordinary good land management, such as the control of vegetation growth, burrowing animals, prevention of erosion and ensuring that sites under pasture are not over-grazed.”

Thus nothing too onerous for the land owners who may be able to get grants to assist in this maintenance and certainly nothing to suggest that it requires the level of funding only available as a ‘quid pro quo’ from a developer! If the dyke is in neglected condition then the responsible land owners (whether private or local authority) should be pressured to fulfil their responsibility to the national heritage. It seems wrong in principle that previous neglect should be used as a partial justification for a development not in conformity with the Local Plan.

The suggestion that ‘low impact’ wild play on the dyke would be beneficial is also worrying. How would such activity be controlled or monitored? How would use of the dyke by mountain bikes etc. be prevented? How would Historic England feel about ‘low impact’ wild play on Stonehenge?

In conclusion the objections of the Braiswick Residents’ Association can be summed up very briefly:

These sites were not included by Colchester Borough Council in its final list of potential development sites (Emerging Local Plan 2017-2032) for very good reasons.

Granting of permission would be a failure of the planning system, a breach of Government legislation on localism and, locally, a fatal blow to public involvement in planning, the importance of which is emphasised in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The alleged benefits and special case argued by the applicant are unsubstantiated and greatly exaggerated.

If the development were proceeded with significant issues would be left to be dealt with by local authorities and the new and existing residents.

We thus strongly urge rejection of this unwanted and ill-conceived application.

Robert Waites (on behalf of the Executive Committee)
Honorary Secretary Braiswick Residents’ Association


Response sent 20 January 2017 to Messrs Gladman in connection with their Bakers Lane proposals

Dear Sirs,

In response to the 'public consultation' document which your company recently circulated in respect of the above I am instructed by the Committee of the Braiswick Residents' Association to provide the following initial response:

The Committee has serious reservations and concerns in respect of your development proposals for the land in Bakers Lane Braiswick. These proposals appear very speculative as they are neither supported by or included in the existing statutory Local Plan nor the emerging Local Plan for 2016-2033 or indeed by the recently approved Neighbourhood Plan. The Committee's concerns are shared by many Braiswick residents as is evidenced by the correspondence which they have sent to the Association on this subject.

The Committee will be responding to your document in detail in due course but wished to make its position clear at this stage to leave your company in no doubt as to its likely response.

Robert Waites

Honorary Secretary Braiswick Residents' Association

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