Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has secured final planning approval for a 763-home development on land at Harry Stoke.
The new estate will also have a community centre, nursery and shops, but there will be no GP or dental surgery.
A baseline of 194 affordable homes (25.4 percent of the total) are to be provided through a joint venture between Crest and Sovereign Housing Association.
Plans for a 1.5-form-entry primary school are also in the pipeline but are the subject of a separate planning application that is yet to be determined.
The greenfield site is bordered by the A4174 Ring Road to the south, Harry Stoke Road to the west and north and the Ham Brook to the east.
It forms part of a wider area that was designated in South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Local Plan, adopted in 2006, for the construction of a total of 1,200 new homes.
Outline planning permission for the whole neighbourhood was subsequently granted in 2007, but to date only 166 homes have been built – at the site now known as Highbrook Park, further to the east.
A reserved matters (detailed) planning application for the 763-home development was submitted by Muben Investments in December 2017. However, the land was subsequently acquired by Crest Nicholson, who submitted a swathe of revised plans in late November 2018, in part to substitute its own housetypes. The move angered close neighbours who claimed the style of housing proposed along the western “rural edge” had been “completely changed” and was out of keeping with the existing architecture in Harry Stoke hamlet.
Concerns were also expressed about the height of properties (up to 4-storeys) on the highest part of the site and the preservation of an archaeological feature within the site which was originally thought to be a moat, but was later identified by an expert as likely being the remnants of a medieval fishpond.
Objections were received from 78 residents and from Stoke Gifford Parish Council, which described the proposals as “unimaginative” and “too urban near Harry Stoke Road South”.
A report written by SGC’s planning officers ahead of a meeting of the council’s Strategic Sites Delivery Committee on 19th September had recommended that the plans be approved, despite the numerous objections.
The report said that ‘design codes’ agreed in 2012 to control the detailed design phase had not been strictly adhered to in some parts of the development, but in most cases this could be justified due to changes in circumstances such as the construction of taller buildings on neighbouring sites bordering the A4174. They concluded that the deviations “would not result in material harm”.
Committee members were informed that Historic England had rejected a request for the moat/fishpond to be formally designated as an asset and that the council’s conservation officer and archaeologist both considered it “not to have any significant heritage importance”. Accordingly, the feature was not deemed to be of such significance as to warrant retention ‘in situ’.
As previously reported, an extension of Oxleigh Way from Highbrook Park to Westfield Lane to provide an east-west link road is currently under construction, in line with a condition on previously approved planning permissions. Concerns expressed that this route might be used as a rat run were dismissed as being outside the scope of the current application.
There will also be a north-south spine road through the site, emerging at its southern end onto the A4174 near the Coldharbour Lane junction. Access at this point will be controlled by a bus gate, enforced by ANPR cameras.
Crest recently said it hoped to complete the first homes on the site before the end of this year. It is being marketed under the name ‘Brooklands Park’.
Some of the land has been sold by Crest to Linden Homes, who have named their part of the site ‘Brook Park’.
The Journal understands that the development will be completed in three phases, with the northern section (284 homes) being delivered first, followed by the central section (206 homes) and finally the southern section.
Delivery of the full quota of homes is anticipated by 2028, according to a housing supply report recently published by SGC.
Above: Crest Nicholson Brooklands Park masterplan. [Click to enlarge; view hi-res version (Dropbox)]
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Reactions from some of the objectors
Residents of Harry Stoke South are very disappointed both with the handling and approval of the Crest application by South Gloucestershire Council. We as residents were given to believe there are rules and regulations governing planning e.g. The Design Code. However, it is apparent from our experience that SGC officials, developers and councillors can flout these rules when it suits. So, instead of having a gradual transition from rural to urban with “1.5-2 storey detached and semi-detached properties, with natural stonework on the periphery of the development and in particular Harry Stoke Road South”, there will be high density, up to 4 storeys, and urban core type properties with no natural stonework up to the edge along Harry Stoke Road South and to the southern border of The Yews, a Locally Listed property. Interestingly, this has not happened in the northern periphery where the developer has already built sizeable properties.
Harry Stoke Development Action Group
I am so disappointed that, despite the South Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan listing hedges, dry stone walls, the great crested newt and ponds in their Priority Habitat and Species list, members of the planning committee seemingly ignored their own guidelines and effectively voted for the destruction of the historic medieval fishpond.
Adrian Kerton, local history enthusiast
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.