Councillors vote on 200-home proposal at Stepps

Councillors narrowly voted to give planning permission for a major housing development in Stepps following a recent hearing at North Lanarkshire Council.

The proposals being considered, for a site near Hornshill Farm Road, were a joint application from Barratt West of Scotland and CALA Homes to build 199 homes. A previous application at this site had been rejected and the plans subsequently revised in line with recommendations from the Scottish Government.

Barratt West Scotland planning manager David Jinks, representing the applicants,

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Barratt West Scotland planning manager David Jinks, representing the applicants, said: “On the back of extensive stakeholder engagement and having learned lessons from the previous planning application and subsequent appeal, we have made sure that the new plans are genuinely improved and they fully comply with the existing planning permission in principle consent,the development plan and the comments made by the appeal reporter.

“We have taken on board feedback from a range of stakeholders to ensure that the development is of a high quality and would be an asset to the local area."

He listed advantages the proposals offered including a large amount of open space, a large play area, footpath links promoting cycling and walking, landscaping buffers up to 50m thick creating an attractive frontage to the entrance to Stepps.

He added that plans for significant tree removal had been completely revised to allow for all healthy trees to be retained with a further 300 to be planted. Reductions to average house size and total footprint of the development also improved the range and choice of housing which previously was dominated by larger properties.

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Landscape regrading had also been dropped with the new plans following existing land contours. A Section 75 agreement had also been reached, meaning £2.3 million in developer contributions for investment in local schools and affordable housing.

Leading a delegation from Stepps and District Community Council, chairwoman Alice Morton claimed the community council’s review of the proposals found they had not changed sufficiently from the previous application and still did not comply with development policy so did not merit approval.

She added: “There are 73 well-informed objections to it which send a clear message to Barratt and CALA. Stepps needs the clarity and certainty of a high quality development and this revised design does not give that.

“We know Barratt and CALA claim the redesign meets the policy and they want you to approve it. The significant opposition by the community shows that it has lost trust in Barratt and CALA and doubts their commitment to produce a quality development for Stepps. You only have to look at their previous track record to see that these doubts are well founded.”

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She added that the first Scottish Government reporter allowed only for the highest quality development due to the site’s prominent location, while the second dismissed the appeal.

“We struggle to understand what significant improvements this offers. How does building one house less make a significant reduction in housing density or reduce the visual impact of a development of this size? Why is the site layout still too close to the site boundaries? Why can it still be seen clearly from all viewpoints? Why are raised platforms still being built? Why does the development need this expensive tree planting to screen it? We struggle with the claim that a development of this magnitude will integrate well into the semi-rural landscape and make it an attractive extension to Stepps. Our true belief is that this large scale development will have a significant, irreversible visual impact on the rural landscape. It will bring an urbanising effect to the local environment. It will cause harm to the neighbouring amenity and it will not integrate successfully into the local area. Our belief is it will quite simply overwhelm it.”

She added that two previous meetings between the community council and developers were about telling the objectors what they were going to get and Barratt and CALA had refused to consider the community council’s alternative proposals.

Stepps, Chryston and Muirhead councillor Lynne Anderson agreed with the concerns of the community council, adding:that she was disappointed the reporter had granted the appeal on a greenbelt site. “The reporter clearly does not understand what it is like what it is like to watch your greenbelt and wildlife habitats be eroded in front of our eyes.”

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She added that local healthcare and services were inadequately prepared for increased demand. She disagreed with Mr Jinks’ claims lessons had been learned and said the community council’s proposals showed what a much better application might look like. She added that the need for acoustic glazing meant residents of these properties would have to keep their windows closed and nesting sites, where bird boxes had recently been installed, would be destroyed and queried the social and economic benefits offered by the development.

Mr Jinks replied that the proposal had been rigorously assessed and that no objections had been raised on the grounds of visual impact and that the layout was in accordance with the local master plan. He also said the construction offered significant economic benefits in terms of job creation for local trades, retail spend and support for local businesses along with council tax paid by new residents.

He later confirmed the revised plans significantly reduced the requirement for acoustic glazing but the vast majority of housing sites required some degree of mitigation and that research found no significant risk to biodiversity.

Councillor Anderson proposed rejecting permission but council leader Jim Logue moved to grant the application on the grounds it was entirely in keeping with the recommendations set by the Scottish Government and rejection would only lead to an appeal going in the applicants’ favour with legal costs being incurred by the council and deter investment in North Lanarkshire.

The resulting vote was 12-11 in favour of granting the application.