Friday, March 28, 2008

Allen's West

There's an application in now for outline planning permission for the Allen's West site on Durham Lane. The new owners of the site want to be able to build houses and a care home on part of the site and keep light industry and warehousing on the remaining part. Although they've produced an indication of what they'd like to put where, the only definite thing they're asking for at the moment is confirmation that a mixed use is acceptable and changes to the access. They're proposing a new roundabout and entrance for the industrial traffic at the northern end of the site and changes to the present entrance to make it suitable for the residential end of their proposal.
Last night, wearing our Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe Council (formerly known as Egglescliffe Parish council) hats Alan, John and I attended a special meeting of the E&EC to discuss the application. It's very difficult to discuss something when you know that there could and probably will be changes when it comes to a full application for the design, siting and landscaping of the buildings. The plans are quite long term because the first stage, if approved, is to make changes to provide suitable habitat for the wildlife which currently uses the site, including skylarks, great crested newts, dingy skippers and bats. The applicant admits that the changes will not be enough to mitigate the damage to the skylark habitat, but as it isn't a protected species I'm not sure how much impact that will have on the decision making process.

When I listened in to the public consultation I heard a lot of people saying that they would be happy to have some housing on the site if it would enable the jobs to be retained on the other part of the site, but that they were worried about the traffic that would be generated. That seems to be reflected in what the applicants have reported as a result of their consultations. The Parish Council has expressed a number of concerns about the sustainability of the proposals, especially some of the housing which is a long way from the railway station and the bus stops and even further from the shops. The bus service along Durham Lane (which they sometimes call Durham Road!) is described in their application as being "6 per hour" when in fact it hasn't been that frequent in living memory and is currently only 1 per hour in each direction.

At the moment my feeling is that something can be done in terms of mixed development but that what is being proposed is unsustainable in the long term and needs to be reconsidered. However, as always, I reserve my final opinion until the matter comes to Planning Committee.

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