Flooding fears delay decision on 2,000 new homes in Stafford

Councillors have delayed their decision on major plans for up to 2,000 homes and two new schools in the north of Stafford after raising concerns about the development’s impact on flooding and local health services.

An indicative masterplan for the site north of Beaconside submitted to Stafford Borough Council
An indicative masterplan for the site north of Beaconside submitted to Stafford Borough Council

The plans for the 143 hectare site north of Beaconside were submitted to Stafford Borough Council in late 2016 by Maximus Strategic Stafford LLP.

And almost three years on they were considered by the council’s planning committee at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Alongside the 2,000 new homes outline permission is being sought for a two form entry primary school, five form entry secondary school, two “local centres” to provide retail and business space, an “elderly living facility” with up to 60 beds, a health centre, a park, sports facilities, community gardens and roads.

But the highways plans were questioned by committee members – and the need for healthcare provision was highlighted due to demand on current GP services nearby.

Councillors also called for assurance that measures to deal with drainage and flood prevention would be effective in the wake of the latest flooding in the nearby Sandon Road area following heavy rainfall in recent weeks.

Nearby resident Ian Roscoe, who spoke against the application at Tuesday’s meeting, said: “No matter what people say these poor people of Sandon Road will get flooded time and time again.”

Committee member Jack Kemp said: “During the last bad weather we had houses flooded in Sandon Road to a degree I have never seen in 55 years of being in this area – someone was able to row a canoe up Sandon Road.”

Councillor Kemp added that he was not happy with the proportion of affordable homes proposed for the site – 12 per cent per cent. The council’s own policy states that developments of 12 or more residential properties within Stafford must deliver 30 per cent affordable housing.

But Mark Dauncey, who spoke in support of the application, told the committee the development would bring an extra 240 new affordable homes to the borough.

“This application will provide 20 per cent of the council’s allocated local housing requirement up to 2031”, he added. “It is vital for the council to be able to maintain a five-year housing land supply."

If permission is granted for the development financial contributions worth more than £31m are set to made, including £9.2m for off site highways works and more than £13m for education, a committee report said.

Planning officer John Holmes told the committee there were measures designed to make the current situation at Sandon Road better.

And ward councillor Frances Beatty, who called in the application for consideration by the committee two years ago, said there had been changes made since she first raised concerns.

Councillor Ann Edgeller called for the committee to defer its decision. She said: “I would have liked more time to consider this application and I would have liked the highways and environmental people to be here.

“Given the concerns around the table, with regards to highways and CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) can we send it back and get these people around the table to answer questions?

“This is the biggest housing development that is going to be happening in Stafford Borough.”

The proposals, which fellow committee members agreed to defer, are part of the masterplan for the future development of north Stafford. In total around 3.100 new homes and 36 hectares of employment space were earmarked for the north of the town in the proposals by Maximus and Azko Nobel UK, which went on show to the public in 2015.

Stafford Borough Council formally granted permission for Akzo Nobel UK Limited’s plans for 700 homes and a primary school on land north of Marston Grange in October 2018 – the year after the authority’s planning committee gave the application the thumbs up in December 2017.

Miller Homes has been allowed to build 100 new homes on a nearby site off Marston Lane, while Taylor Wimpey has secured permission for more than 400 new homes on land north of Beaconside at Marston Grange.

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