Going for planning consent? The importance of consultation and finding the right solution to problems cannot be overstated!

David Knight, Transport Planning Director, Clarkebond

We were delighted to hear recently that development of 85 new homes for which we are providing a range of engineering services had received unanimous approval, with full support from two Parish Councils involved.

This success reminded me, once again of just how important it is to consult with relevant council officers in advance and throughout the application process, to be prepared for every potential knock back and to find the solution that will be supported. 

This scheme at Church Leys Farm in Ambrosden, Oxfordshire, for Bellway and Archstone, presented a number of challenges.

Anyone involved in development will know that transport issues can be a major barrier to planning consent, particularly in areas of growth.  In this instance, because of the expansion of nearby Bicester, the highway authority were concerned about congestion at a local junction with the main A41. In order to assess the junction we commissioned micro simulation modelling of the critical junction to demonstrate that, with a mitigation scheme we devised, the development would not give rise to an unacceptable impact.  A new pedestrian and cycle way link to the village centre was also proposed along with new gateway features and speed limit reductions around Ambrosden.  We consulted with highway officers of Oxfordshire CC, agreed the way forward and helped to achieve planning consent that will help to integrate the new housing into the Village.

Clarkebond have also provided a range of other consultancy services on this development including ground investigation, hydrology and hydraulic modelling of the adjacent River Ray, Infrastructure (drainage and highways) and structural engineering (foundations).

Because the land is adjacent to a flood zones, hydraulic modelling of the adjacent river was undertaken to establish the flood plain for the river and a detailed flood risk assessment was carried out including sequentially looking at the site to locate development into areas of less risk.  Clarkebond recommended revisions to the site layout and road network to avoid flood zones incorporated.

The site levels will also be engineered to provide cover to the existing privately owned 450mm twin pipes serving existing housing to the north running straight through the centre of the development.  Because of ownership of the sewers, it was not possible to connect the proposed surface water drainage to this and we therefore had to explore an alternative route to the perimeter existing ditch networks.

Development sites rarely come without some sort of challenge these days.  It makes sense to seek advice as early as possible in the development process so that issues are identified and any remedial costs known.  With the assistance of the right consultant in the relevant discipline who has experience in finding commercial solutions to these development challenges, most problems can be overcome. 

Developer:  Archstone Projects/Bellway Homes
Planning consultant:  Barton Wilmore
Environmental Consultant:  The Environmental Dimension Partnership