Plans for a 690-home development in Coventry have been rejected by councillors for the second time. The bid for outline permission to build seven blocks of flats on land at Abbotts Lane in Coundon had been recommended for approval by council officers.
It was a different version of a 731 home-scheme for the site by Complex Development Projects which was refused by councillors last year. But members of the council’s Planning Committee weren’t convinced by the new proposals and voted to refuse the scheme by four to one.
Local residents voiced their concerns about the plans at the meeting yesterday afternoon (November 3). Nicola Rynott, headteacher at nearby St Osburg’s primary school, criticised the “huge” scale of the development and plans for a vehicle exit opposite the school entrance.
Roads near the school are extremely congested and bringing more cars would be “disastrous” for the safety of pupils, she said. She added: “We continue to be concerned about the proposal high-rise buildings overlooking our playgrounds from a safeguarding point of view.
“And we echo the West Midlands Police’s concerns about the size of the development and potential anti-social behaviour increasing crime, which is already an issue in the area. I was personally labelled in the Coventry Telegraph as irresponsible for objecting to this development as it stands.
“I think I would be more irresponsible as headteacher of the school if I did not object.” A woman living close by said in a statement: “As a local resident with a grandchild at St Osburg’s the development on this scale fills me with dread.
“I don’t want ten, fifteen, twenty-storey blocks towering over me, invading my privacy. I fear for the safety and health of pupils going to and from school because all of the additional traffic and air pollution so near to the school’s worst hotspots.”
Resident Amrit Coyle added: “The site was viably allocated for 100 houses in our Local Plan – this application is for seven times 100 homes.” Sherbourne Cllr Gavin Lloyd, who sponsored two petitions against the plans, said: “We want development. We do want it not to be a vacant gas site.
“What we don’t want unfortunately is what is put forward. It is massively overcrowded and massively intense for the community to deal with.” Others at the meeting spoke in support of the scheme.
Paul Maddocks, Vice-Chairman of the Coventry Society, said members of the group had looked closely at the application and support it. He said: “We feel that this is the future. Not everybody is going to be wanting to drive cars in an ideal future.”
Cllr David Welsh, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, told the meeting “an awful lot of work” had been done since the previous plans were rejected last year. He spoke about the city’s housing need and pointed to a high-density block of flats for older people on Albany Road as an example of an in-demand scheme.
“We also have people waiting for housing, for a number of reasons, on Homefinder. We’ve got nearly six and a half thousand people. So this idea that we don’t need different kinds of accommodation quite frankly is a nonsense.”
He added: “We’ve had contributions today that in my mind contradict each other, because you say there’s not enough parking spaces and then you say that it’s going to cause problems around air pollution and air quality. Well, you know, you can’t have it both ways.”
“Some people choose to live without cars, a lot of people don’t. This development treads that line.” He also praised the green space in the scheme and said there would be an agreement around introducing affordable housing. via a separate application.
The planning agent for Complex Development Projects also spoke at the meeting. She said objections referring to the 100 houses in the local plan are “incorrect” as national guidance states these should be used as a minimum.
A total of 20 per cent of the flats would be at 80 per cent of market rent and the scheme would appeal to young singles and couples in their 20s to 30s. She said locals would be protected by a fully-funded resident’s parking scheme.
Councillors on the Planning Committee were divided on the plans with many raising “red flags” about the scheme. Cllr Ryan Simpson said it was a “particularly tricky” scheme for him as a Sherbourne ward councillor as well as Committee member.
He said he was elected with a mandate supporting the principle of development on the site and believes there is a “silent majority” supporting it. Cllr Simpson also referred to his own difficulties finding a flat in Coundon as a recent graduate.
“People who need apartments like this are actually like me, early 20s, have just left university,” he said. “If I was unable to find a one or two bedroom apartment I would still be in an HMO.
“I do not need a four-bedroom home in Keresley. I need a one or two bedroom apartment and I don’t think there’s enough of that in Coventry.” But Committee Chair Cllr Lindsley Harvard said there were “too many red flags” for him to support the application.
“There are too many red flags here. I was disappointed first of all that the views of the West Midlands Police that were there in the report last time were not there this time,” he said.
“Looking at what the CDP says, it says 100 units here, not 690 – it’s clearly an overdevelopment in that respect. In terms of parking, yes, massively under-supplied when you see what is in the parking requirements in the CDP.
“We did hear a statement that you can’t have problems with air quality and call for more parking. A few things there – it’s not impossible that you can have lower parking and incredible problems with air quality because of the number of deliveries there.”
“Affordable housing is another red flag for me, yes it’s saying we can look at the West Midlands plans and see what happens there but that’s jam tomorrow.” He also criticised the housing mix and the height of the buildings which would recreate “well-documented” problems with 1960s and 70s high-rise blocks.
After a lengthy debate Cllrs Harvard, Auluck, Nazeem and Pervez Akhtar voted for a motion to refuse the plans with Cllr Simpson against and Cllr Naeem Akhtar abstaining. The grounds for refusal were overdevelopment, insufficient parking, air quality concerns, the housing mix and the affordable housing provision.
Source: Coventry Live