Tag Archives: Council

The Duck Pond!

Last week, the construction fences around the open meadow area on the east side of the Abbotts Walk site came down. The play area isn’t due to be built for another year, as the site has to be handed over to Winchester Council yet (details here). However, we do seem to have a Duck Pond, where a dry infiltration basin should be!

image

The infiltration basin consists of a large underground soakaway that takes the surface water from roads and roofs across the development. The basin itself should only fill up if there is an extreme storm event. Our basin has had water in it since December, so may have been silted up with construction dirt or not been constructed as designed.

This seems to be a problem on 2 fronts, the obvious one being safety if there is to be a children’s play area a few metres away. There are some thorns/nettles around the perimeter, but they don’t go all the way round and still quite small. The second problem is that if it is decided to excavate and ‘clean’ the basin at a later point, will it be charged to the initial construction cost or as a maintenance cost by The Abbotts Walk Management Company and onwards to residents?

[Update]
3rd issue, as the basin is part filled already, it won’t have the capacity required to come with the flooding event, maybe not even a 1 in 30yr? So surface water would flow in to the Itchen and down towards the city. Wondering if the Environment Agency need to be aware.
[\Update]

What to do?

If you’re happy with a duck pond, all is well, otherwise:

Raise a planning complaint to Winchester City Council, where they have a compliance officer who is monitoring the site.

After recent dealings with the council, it’s best if as many people as possible could raise the issue, individual complaints don’t appear to get much attention.

The complaint can be raised by email, here’s a template if you’re short on time, but it’s also best if they are individually written than all to the same template. Here are some pointers:

Recipients:

planning@winchester.gov.uk  (WCC Planning Department)
dhiscock@winchester.gov.uk   (Dominic Hiscock, Ward Councillor)
jmaynard@winchester.gov.uk  (Jim Maynard, Ward Councillor)

Subject:
Planning Enforcement Complaint – Land at Francis Gardens, Winchester, SO23 – Infiltration Basin

Planning

In the Landscape Management Compartment Plan submitted as part of the application reference 11/01798/FUL, the drainage feature in the Eastern open space of this site is detailed as a Dry infiltration Basin. This feature has contained a significant level of water since December 2013 and has recently been made accessible to the public.

This is further detailed in the Flood Risk Assessment that formed part of the original planning application 08/1937/FUL. Section 9.3.6 reads:

The infiltration swale/basin feature has been sized so as to provide storage for the excess flow over the 1 in 30 year event, up to and including the 1 in 100 year plus climate change event. This 
feature which is intended to remain dry, but in the extremists of events (1 in 100 year plus 30% allowance for climate change), will store an additional 225m3 without overflowing

Safety

The current basin constitutes an immediate safety risk, whilst there is the beginnings of a vegetative barrier, it is incomplete and there is a steep slope 1/5 gradient into the basin. (RoSPA guidance indicates fencing may be required where there is a steep slope)

The original plans for this area included a children’s play area in the open space, and whilst not on the current plans, a S106 payment has been made to Winchester City Council to build a play area on site once it has been transferred to the council. This poses an obvious risk if the basin is not corrected to perform as planned.

Play Time!

I’ve had various conversations recently regarding the ‘Play Area’ on Abbotts Walk in the open area by the infiltration basin. I’ve done a bit of investigation over time, and to summarise the current position as I understand is that there will be an equipped play area built, but not until mid 2015 at the earliest.

When we first looked at the development one of the things we noted on the site plan (below) was a play area. Which with a 3 year old, at the time, it was a definite plus point.

playarea1 - siteplan

The immediate question that sprung to mind, was what did the plan mean by ‘informal’, the sales staff did not seem particularly knowledgeable on the subject. So after a bit of investigation on the Winchester City Planning website turned up the proposed play area plans.

PlayArea1 - proposed

The planning permission shows a fully equipped play area, so why had this been downgraded to an ‘informal’ one?

A bit more digging turned up the consultation response from the council’s landscape and open areas officer.

playarea3-950595

So the council had asked Redrow not to build the play area! Instead hand over some cash, the cynic in me says this would likely be funnelled off somewhere else into an overall city landscaping budget and we’d be left with some benches and wood bark. A bit further in to the sales process we had sight of the Section 106 agreement (specifically an amendment in Feb 2012), which details all the contributions the developer is required to make.

playarea s106

playarea s106 definition

So Winchester is being given a sum of £65,859 to build a play area and it very specifically has to be built on the site.

Additionally, the S106 also covered that there is a maintenance period of 1 year after the land is actually transferred to Winchester. So I wouldn’t expect the council to be able to build anything on the open space they’re receiving, certainly not until it had been legally transferred and most likely not until the maintenance period had expired.

With this I contacted Winchester Council to confirm these details and received a response from the landscape officer:

Dear Mr ——-

Thank you for your email. Your understanding of the arrangements for the provision of children’s play facilities at the Redrow development is correct. The s106 agreement included a sum of £65,859 to be paid by the developer to the City Council for the provision of play facilities on site, in lieu of them providing a facility themselves.

This amount has been ‘ring-fenced’ for this purpose but as you correctly state the development is some way off being completed and the land has not been transferred to the City Council yet. The intention would be to ensure that by the time the land was transferred a plan for a facility will have been agreed.

There has been no design work so far. However plans have progressed for the main area of open space to the rear of the development.

As the open space will also be available to adjacent residents, a meeting was held with some residents, elected Council Members, the developer and council officers on 20th March 2012. It was agreed that above all the main area of green space should be a safe area for children to use: well away from any vehicle manoeuvring area, enclosed and contained but well overlooked.

It was also agreed that there should be some formal play facility but only for the very young but that the specifics should wait until enough residents had moved-in before organising a consultation exercise.

So yes, you would be most welcome to contribute to the discussion when the time arrives however this will not be for at least another year to allow the developer to lay out the open space to a satisfactory condition and to maintain it for 12 months.

Call me should you need to discuss.

Stuart Dunbar-Dempsey CMLI
Open Space Project Officer
Winchester City Council

 

So it looks hopeful for a play area to be built at some point, but it will take a while. Hopefully it can use the existing planning permission, and the folks buying in that corner of the site are aware

Another concern was that one response from the council suggesting that the play area wouldn’t need fencing! http://planningapplications.winchester.gov.uk/Planning/652518.pdf . Personally, I hope there will be fencing as the meadow is likely to be used by dog walkers and the proximity to the infiltration basin, which currently isn’t as dry as it could/(should?) be.

“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” Pt 2

In the previous “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” post I mentioned a planning issue with the low flint walls around the site and on our plot.

True to their word Redrow did submit a planning amendment on the 20 June .

Bad news is Winchester Council have now rejected the amendment.

It appears to be on technical grounds on the type of amendment, so Redrow may have success if they resubmit it as a full planning application, although that would need to have consultations with the neighbours.

I’m still waiting to hear on what Redrow is going to do next.

The interesting note from the submission is that there is a photo of an example wall and a design for it. Looking at the photo i’d say it was taken late May as the 2m wall in the background was being constructed at that time and the design is dated June. Seems the drawing was based on what was built rather than the other way around. Bizarre!