PLANNING APPLICATION REF 15/1466/OUT
Outline planning application for 45 dwellings
Land To The South Of Cayton Drive, Thornaby-on-Tees
OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSAL, FROM FRIENDS OF TEES HERITAGE PARK
The Friends of Tees Heritage Park wish to submit their objections to the above application for the following reasons.
1) The site is within the Tees Heritage Park – The Tees Heritage Park is included in the Council’s adopted Core Strategy Document – Section 13 Environment – Policy 10 (CS10) Environment Protection and Enhancement policy. Sub-section 7 refers to the Council’s support for initiatives “to improve the quality of the environment in key areas where this may contribute towards strengthening habitat networks, the robustness of designated wildlife sites, the tourism offer, and biodiversity”. Only two sites in the whole of Stockton are specifically referred to – Haverton Hill/Seal Sands and the Tees Heritage Park. The Tees Heritage Park is also specifically referred to in the objectives for the Western and Eastern Areas and is clearly shown on the Core Strategy Strategic Diagram.
The Council’s on-going commitment to the long term success of the Heritage Park is confirmed in their draft Regeneration and Environment Local Plan (RELP), published for consultation earlier this year. The Plan sets out the Council’s policies and site allocation the deliver the development strategy contained in the approved Core Strategy. It includes a specific Policy ENV3 devoted to the Heritage Park, the boundaries of which are also clearly identified and include the site of the application. It is clear that the Council see the Park as an essential and integral part of their Environmental Policy for the future.
Over the past seven years FTHP and the local communities around the Tees Heritage Park have worked with, and been supported by, Stockton Council to turn the Heritage Park into a reality. To provide the equivalent of a mini National Park as a place to appreciate and celebrate our local Heritage, particularly the natural environment along the river valleys – as a place of peace and quiet away from the ever increasing hustle and bustle of everyday life. On this basis Lottery funding for Phase 1 of the Heritage Park was achieved (with Stockton Council as partners) and this phase is now complete. Further funding is being sought for the enhancement of other areas within the Park to protect and improve the landscape, wildlife and ecology for future generations.
The Heritage Park offers a real, one off opportunity to provide a unique amenity in the heart of the urban area for the benefit of local communities and to improve the image of our area generally. We contend that the current application is totally at odds with the aims and objectives for the Park as agreed with Stockton Council.
2) Site is within the River Tees Rediscovered Project Area – This five year, Heritage Lottery funded scheme seeks to raise the profile of the Tees river valley and its tributary valleys as a wonderful amenity, binding communities together. Running from Darlington to the estuary, it recognises the importance of our local heritage and open spaces. The Tees Heritage Park is incorporated as an essential element within the wider project. The Bassleton Beck valley is an integral part of this vision and the proposed development would be very much in conflict with established aims and objectives for the project;
3) Green Wedge – In its current policies and the Core Strategy the Council seeks to maintain the separation between settlements, together with the quality of the urban environment, through the protection and enhancement of the openness and amenity value of green wedges within the conurbation – including “River Tees from Surtees Bridge to Yarm” and “Bassleton Beck Valley between Ingleby Barwick and Thornaby” (Policy 10, subsection 3, Core Strategy). The purpose is to maintain the current limits of development and prevent any incursions into the green wedge. This planning application is clearly in contravention of this policy
4) Visual impact – the site is on the ridgeline above the Bassleton valley and the proposed development will present an uncompromising elevation of housing when viewed from the valley, particularly in the winter. Landscape screening will not effectively alter this affect.
5) Ecology/Environment – Section 13.7 of the Stockton Council’s Core Strategy refers to “…the duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity, which was introduced by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act…. Conservation of biodiversity is vital in our response to climate change….. Natural habitats are also important in providing corridors to allow mobile species to move in response to changes in climate”. The site of this application is an integral part of the Bassleton Beck valley and the proposal would have a seriously detrimental effect on the precious ecology of this locality and its function as part of this wildlife corridor.
6) Detrimental Impact on investment and tourism in the area – The Park area has been identified as having a special character representing the area’s heritage, landscape and ecology. It’s strength is that it enables communities to relate to this part of the Tees Valley as an entity and embrace a unique part of their history and environment with pride. The Heritage Park and Tees Valley Rediscovered Projects could transform the image of the lower Tees valley in regional and national terms making it more appealing to potential investors and employment generators as a desirable place to live. Walks, tours and activities are already underway to raise awareness of this wonderful facility on our doorstep. Sporadic proposals such as this application must be resisted if we are to maintain the momentum to improve and
enjoy the open space facilities on our doorstep.
7) Detrimental to future funding opportunities and community spirit. – In practical terms, Phase 1 of the Park has recently been completed and has been enthusiastically received by all. This first stage was funded by Green Spaces Lottery Funding and has enabled the community to enjoy the tangible benefits of their actions and commitment. River Tees Rediscovered expands this concept along the whole Tees. These projects are essentially community driven and very much in the spirit of the Government’s policies to involve local neighbourhoods and communities in determining their own future. Further funding depends on potential funds being confident that the Council supports the community initiatives with sustainable commitment through their policies and planning decisions. Approval of this application would undermine community confidence and support for future funding initiatives to preserve and enhance their heritage.
We therefore ask the council to reject this application and continue to demonstrate its support for the community’s aspirations embodied in The Heritage Park and River Tees Rediscovered projects. These schemes are also very much within the spirit of Government’s vision for Localism and Neighbourhood Planning and, as such, should be supported by the Inspector in an Appeal situation.
There are clearly other areas of concern, such as traffic generation, but we have concentrated our objections on matters particularly pertinent to the Tees Heritage Park/River Tees Rediscovered. FTHP and the local communities, who have been involved with the Heritage Park vision and progress, look forward to the Council’s continued support and resistance to proposals such as this – to ensure that the aims and objectives we have all agreed for the Park can be achieved for future generations to enjoy. We believe that the consistent rejection of all unacceptable proposals within the Park boundary is essential to protect the Heritage Park’s validity and integrity.
Thank you for your attention
Chair Friends of Tees Heritage Park