A digger has been seen at work on the proposed Abbey Road development. This is not anyone jumping the gun! An archaeological survey on the site has been ordered and the digger has been moving the spoil heaps that had been placed here during work on Abbey Farm. This is to restore access to the original field level so that the exploratory trenches can be dug.
The planning department meeting is on 3 March and that will be the earliest a decision can be made.
Proposal for 11 Dwellings along Abbey Road
Click for large view (will be at least double average screen size)
An application has been submitted for 11 houses along Abbey Farm Road. Plans shown below.
Relevant documents can be downloaded.
Latest News from Site Meeting - Peter Smith, Parish Council Chairman
The Copeland Planning Panel met at Abbey Rd to see what is being proposed and understand the issues. Such a site visit is for obtaining information not making decisions. The Parish Council is invited to site meetings.
The Planning Panel were met with a large peaceful group of residents registering their opposition to the proposed development by their presence and banners. The local press took photographs and interviewed the Planning Officer (Tony Pomfret).
The Planning Officers gave a largely balanced representation of the arguments. They referred to the 350+ letters of protest though noting that many were pro-forma letters and many were not from locals (though the point had already been made that the Priory and environs has national significance). The covenant was referred to; Tony Pomfret clarified that a covenant is not a planning matter as it can affect authority to implement an approved development but does not affect whether planning permission can be given. The required desktop archaeological survey* has not been carried out. It has been commissioned but will only be available for the March (3rd) meeting at the earliest. I suggest we invite anyone who has evidence (rather than opinions) relating to the archaeological significance of the site to submit it to the Planning Officer requesting they make it available to whoever has been commissioned to undertake this study.
Both the Parish Council (me) and Ward Councillor (Norman Clarkson) were invited to speak.
I emphasized that the St Bees Parish Plan had specifically identified this area as one which should be conserved and that we had submitted this requirement for inclusion in the next version of the local plan. There had been no mention of this in the assessments. I argued that if local democracy is to retain credibility such opinions as well as the visible turn out and letters must be taken seriously into account for decision making.
One of the arguments put forward in support of the proposal was that the topography would be improved by the associated landscaping. I argued that as the current topography has been created by the tipping of spoil from another development such an argument would be a charter for fly tipping and the argument must therefore be ignored.
The main argument however is that we cannot accept that converting a field into a housing development can be considered to preserve or enhance this conservation area.
Norman Clarkson went through the planning history. The case for infill was not valid as the Abbey Farm development was not comparable as existing derelict farm buildings were converted into sympathetic housing (as opposed to a green field development). He noted that the applicant was wrong in that the site of the stock yard is on the opposite side of the road, now occupied by infill housing. The application field had only been used for grazing. He added that one of the conditions relating to a prior application required straightening Abbey Rd. He had established that CCC now own part of the site to potentially enable this. This might affect proposed houses 8 - 11. He referred to the Jules Brown report stating that development would be unacceptable. Tony Pomfret claimed that was not relevant as it related to a pre-submission proposal and not the actual proposal. It is difficult to see how this would be relevant as Jules was referring to any development rather than the specific design.
The planning panel then went to look from the various vantage points portrayed in the photo-montage.
* The purpose of the study is to establish if there is sufficient evidence to argue that the site has sufficient archaeological importance to require a site survey. If a site survey is required then this would have to take place before any development works could be undertaken.
Downloads & Links
Planning Application Documents 1
Planning Application Documents 2
Conservation Officer's Report
Environmental Officer's Report