[These notes have been kindly provided by Cherry Tree Way resident Chris Mitchell in February 2016. At the end of this page there are also some links to other websites which offer advice.]
Below are listed the primary material considerations that a council should take into account when assessing a planning application. If you consider how any of these apply to your individual situation and try to set out why you believe on that basis the proposal is unreasonable.
You may have seen the information on the approval for "green belt" land at Taunton sent through by Bob. The test is that proposal would not cause "significant and demonstrable harm" and is sustainable.
Both of these are going to be difficult to counter. Sustainability is going to be in relation to links to everyday facilities, school, shops, leisure facilities. They would only have to prove that their site has similar links to these facilities as any sites being put forward in the proposed local plan. Being in close walking distance to the school and Liddymore shops through Cherry Tree Way might end up a key factor in it all.
If you draw an arc showing distances from main facilities their proposed site is not significantly further away from Liddymore shops than the primary proposed housing site at Parsonage Farm and closer to the school obviously. Distance by road is almost twice as far, but access by foot through Cherry Tree Way is the same! If the council don't accept the access through CTW is appropriate or available the travel distance is significantly more than either of the proposed sites in the current proposed local plan and there are three or four sites around the edge of Watchet that may be more appropriate as well.
On the primary material considerations:
Overlooking/loss of privacy - no real details to allow us to comment, if the proposals are for one or two storey and match government policy on density there is rarely a case to object on these grounds at this stage. Loss of light or overshadowing - as above, detailed design may show buildings too close that can be objected to but as these proposals are just principle we can't say this will be an issue.
Parking - no details but the density matches government policy so there are ways suitable parking can be achieved within the site parameters set.
Highway safety - there is an argument that the road between Williton and the site will be over burdened by extra housing vehicles using it. The corner by the new housing at the edge of Williton is dangerous and any further traffic could make for a significant risk. The flooding of the road by the current access point is a further consideration, but a new access road to Doniford Road at the edge of Watchet could arguably help to solve that problem. That road does pass through the ridge which is a significant landscape feature and a county wildlife site designated for its botanical value, so putting a road through there might be considered as causing "significant harm".
Traffic - as above.
Noise - quite difficult to argue this, noise will increase but we would have to prove this particular scheme was particularly bad for some reason, not sure how we would do that.
Effect on listed building and conservation area - no real case here.
Layout and density of building - the densities put forward meet government policy so no argument from the detail we have.
Design, appearance and materials - no details supplied so we don't know. The first application will only be for outline approval so there will be no real detail when that comes in either.
Government policy - "significant and demonstrable harm" and is sustainable.
Disabled persons' access - no details to comment on but they are likely meet these requirements with any scheme they put forward.
Proposals in the Development Plan - no, but as government policy above.
Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions) - we have the discussions from 1991 we can refer to and the two ground set out for refusal.
Changes in government policy have weakened these grounds though.
Nature conservation - the hilltop is an important landscape feature, the road towards Watchet could harm that.
Picking up a bit more on the note in Highways about flooding. The surface water run off from the land that is the application site is the principal cause of the flooding of the road (Doniford Road/Liddymore Lane). If a significant part of it is hard paved the surface water run off will increase and the flooding will become significantly worse. The attenuation area proposed does not seem sufficient to me to solve the current problem and certainly not the increased run off that will occur if the site is developed. The bottom field close to the main road is water logged whenever there is significant rain, so the ground conditions are obviously very poor and it would take a significant surface water drainage system throughout the entire site to over come the surface water run off that is likely to occur. There is not sufficient detail in the consultation documents to prove a suitable land drainage scheme can be achieved so without this we would have to make the assumption that signifiant and demonstrable harm would result in the development of the land.
A significant study over the nature of the rainfall, land conditions, surface water runs off and possible solutions would need to be carried out to prove it is possible to overcome the very significant surface water flooding issues that run off from the land is causing and that would need a detailed study over a year or more to give sufficient data for an informed decision to be made. Until that is carried out and the matter is proved either way the assumption has to be that the development of the site would cause significant harm. (my opinion only!!)
I will read through the information again and if I find anything that needs additional comment will pass them on.
You should all try to use the bits we feel appropriate and put them in our own words, I have seen the same letter copied out by a number of residents and it always looks like a single view, so add personal bits as well and you need to stress the two sites in the currently proposed local plan have been under assessment and public consultation for more than 6 years, two weeks to consider and give a sensible considered opinion on a proposal like this is not sufficient.
Just so everyone knows I was one of those who voted to try to negotiate with the developers to get a better outcome and while I will put in the comments above I will also put in that I can see some merits in a well designed scheme, but that I would need proof of covenants on the development of the land to match the proposed goals of green streets, green play areas, hilltop park and that it will not be a standard speculative housing scheme that does not match local vernacular before I offer any support.
Some other sources of advice:
National Association of Local Councils (NALC): NALC advice
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE): CPRE advice
Design Buildings Wiki: Design Buildings
Martin H Goodall, Solicitor, promoting his own book: Martin Goodall book.