Kilsyth Community Council Response To The Proposal By Wimpey Homes To Build 159 Dwelling Houses And Associated Roadworks Colzium, Stirling Road, Kilsyth (Cavalry Park)

 1              Summary

 

This report contains Kilsyth Community Council's preliminary observations on the application.

 

The case against this development is substantial, and we wish to request formal representation at both a site visit and a hearing, at which we expect to be in a position to present additional evidence including photographic documentation of landscape quality, wildlife audit, and further evidence of flood risk.

 

Following the most extensive public consultation exercise we have ever conducted, involving around 600 residents, Kilsyth Community Council has determined to vigorously oppose this ill-conceived and deeply unpopular application on the following substantive planning grounds:

 

The development plan by Turley is incompetent and flawed

Development is contrary to Structure Plan in virtually every respect

Development is contrary to the Local Plan, which promises that; “any developments to the East of Kilsyth will be brought forward in the form of a Masterplan which will consider the environmental and infrastructure impacts of housing on the urban fringe” Our view is that such impacts would be totally devastating, but in any case no such Masterplan has been produced and this application must be rejected on this ground alone.

Development is a gross breach of the Green belt and has already been the subject of a reporters enquiry

Major environmental concerns – loss of wildlife and fragile raised peat bog

Severe flooding and sewerage risk – as this document was being finalized (Saturday 29th November 2003) the Stirling Road was closed between 4pm and 9pm due to excessive floodwater – no warning was in place.

Visual appearance, loss of visual amenity and exceptional landscape quality

Loss of uninvestigated archaeologically unique site of mass graves

Inconsistency with the housing needs of the local area (1998 – 2008 Household projections predict a drop of 20% in households with children)

Detrimental effect on employment in tourism industry

Damage to commercial, social and community facilities

Reduction of opportunities for leisure and recreation

Increased traffic and pollution

The settled will of the people of Kilsyth

 

Our response to this complex application has been produced by unpaid local volunteers working to tight deadlines, opposed to Wimpey Homes, which is on course to make full-year profits of £336m. -  despite their poor customer care record as one of the worst house builders in the UK. Though this has seemed an impossibly one-sided struggle at times, in the space of a few weeks we have generated an extensive democratic community debate and campaign resulting in a clear mandate with over 90% of residents surveyed firmly opposed to the proposal. We have also received support from several national or regional conservation bodies and associations.

This opposition has been registered through:

Email: (dozens of emails of support especially from expatriates and friends of Kilsyth in other parts of the UK who provide a key element of our developing heritage and eco-tourism industry),

Website poll, (384 votes cast, of which 355 or 92% are opposed to Wimpey - see appendix 1)

A well attended public meeting (attended by 52 members of the public of which 48 people, 92%, were opposed to development). (see appendix 2)

A draft letter proforma was distributed at Kilsyth Farmers Market, (over 200 letters taken)

At a vote taken at the Community Council, the development was rejected by 12 votes to 2 (85%).

Extensive local media coverage, letters to the editor etc.

Detailed information and updates about the campaign have been provided through our website, www.kilsyth.org.uk, which receives around 10,000 page downloads per month from virtually every country in the world, mainly from people with an abiding interest in our unique history and heritage. This website is funded entirely through local business sponsorship, thereby demonstrating the faith of our business community in our sustainable tourism and environment strategies which make a significant contribution to the prosperity of the town through attracting inward investment and jobs. It would be tragic if our voluntary endeavours were to be exploited commercially by a speculative large-scale builder by running a bulldozer through the very environmental assets that make the town so attractive to other, longer term, investors.

Recommendation:

Kilsyth Community Council urges North Lanarkshire Council to summarily reject this application in its entirety and to work to rebuild the confidence of the people of Kilsyth in the planning system. Such deeply flawed and unpopular proposals should never again be allowed to reach this stage of the planning process.

 2              The development plan by Turley

 Overview

 The Turley plan is evasive and contentious in virtually all respects. Quite apart from the unimaginative design solution, which is simply intended to pack as many expensive houses into the site as is physically possible, even such basic details as the copyright, pagination and spelling are incompetent.

 Local Plan policy BE3: In determining the suitability of new developments, the Council will require

to be satisfied that a development:-

 Local consultation – why are we still waiting?

 Turley Associates describe themselves as:  a leading multi-disciplinary consultancy in regeneration, planning and design specialising in the fields of urban design, regeneration, land use planning, and stakeholder consultation.

 At no time has Turley approached Kilsyth Community Council to express their interest in “stakeholder consultation”. In fact they have done everything possible to avoid discussing the plan with the real stakeholders, namely local residents.

 2.3          Abuse of copyright material from KCC website renders the plan invalid

 Whilst not strictly a planning consideration, Turley has lifted a great deal of material (pages 3 and 4) verbatim from the Kilsyth Community Council website: www.kilsyth/environment/conservation/kilsyth_conservation_area.htm

 without at any time approaching us to ask for permission. Some of this material is originally sourced from NLC publications such as the Conservation Area Appraisals, but it has been extensively re-written by KCC and this is the text that has been selectively copied to help the developer’s case.

 Our website carries a License for use linked to every page stating clearly and firmly that  “for any commercial purposes, permission should be sought in advance”. Our view is that the use of our intellectual property for commercial gain without prior written permission and clear attribution is at the least, grossly discourteous, and at the worst, a breach of our copyright with potential legal implications. We shall formally request that the offending parts of the plan be withdrawn on this basis, and we request support from NLC, for this position.

 We shall be taking this matter up privately with Turley Associates/Wimpey Homes, and we request that their blatant disregard for the Community Council’s copyright is formally noted by elected members, as an indication of the shoddy and unethical practices of this partnership.

2.4          Design details

The development is in conflict with the Scottish Executive policy “Designing Places” which is meant to create and enhance identity, pleasant spaces, ease of movement, a sense of welcome, adaptability and good use of resources:

The design of 3 storey town houses along the main road is deeply unsympathetic to the rural setting

The house types include many four-bedroom detached houses (lack of adaptability) most of which will cost over £200,000 at current prices and are exceptionally wasteful of scarce land (poor use of resources). The largest part of demand for new houses in Kilsyth is for smaller properties, and local incomes are modest, thereby the development will socially engineer an upper-middle-class ghetto of affluent commuters with no social or economic links to Kilsyth (hence causing damage to local identity). The Local Housing Strategy states that: “The largest population increase will be in single person households (+26%) and single parent families (+27%) …the only type of households set to decrease are families with children (-20%)”(NLC Local Housing Strategy, 2002, Household projections 1998-2008, p 15) This appears to be a case of poorly defined targets leaving a back door open for the developers to produce housing that is inappropriate to Kilsyth and does not meet local needs.

The house styles are standard Wimpey Homes styles seen all over the UK and will not blend in with either the nearby Colzium House and estate or the vernacular and individual styles of 19th and 20th century houses along the Stirling Road.  (causing further damage to identity)

The extensive use of dead-end closes wastes land for roads, restricts movement through the site and creates an unwelcome feeling for visitors of “being watched”.

The suggestion p4 that the existing houses are interspersed with low-grade industrial premises such as car repair workshops and second hand car sales centres is grossly misleading. There is only one second-hand car centre/repair workshop, and that has planning permission for a small housing development and is expected to be demolished soon.

The proposal p4 to carry out a tree survey to ascertain the condition and crown spread of trees along the boundaries of the site is deeply worrying, as this is an ancient beech hedge which is part of the public Colzium estate. (causing damage to pleasant spaces) The trees have a large overhang over the proposed new houses; major branch falls from mature beech trees are common occurrences, and the intention of the plan is clearly to cut down the taller trees to permit houses to be built right up to the boundary thereby maximising profit. This proposal is especially unacceptable, and would in fact destroy the “strong woodland edge to the North” p8 and the “good visual barrier” p13 that is one of the key features of the site. The plan should instead aim to create a natural branch-fall zone at least 100’ from the boundary fence and allow nature to take its course. The site analysis (p13) misses a large number of key feature trees both on the site and on its verges, and also ignores the beautiful and almost unique lime tree avenue approach to Colzium to the East.

2.5          Ecology

The Development Brief p5 proposes that the applicant carries out a bat survey. We would urge that this is carried out by an independent agency at a time of year when the bats are out and about. We also insist that a full ecological survey of all the fauna and flora of the site be carried out. There is a rich variety of diverse and unrecorded species foraging or breeding on the site, some of which are at very high risk or rare (for example willow tits, newts and long-eared owls).

We consider that the claim by the developers pages 5, 6,14, 21 etc. that they can “improve the biodiversity and landscape quality of the site” is a demonstrable falsehood and becomes even more so with repetition. Approximately 90% of the site will be altered beyond recognition, permanently covered in sterile tarmac, rye-grass lawns, plastic gnomes, fast-growing leylandii hedges, patios and buildings. The development process itself will destroy virtually all the existing wildlife and habitat on the site, and it will take many decades, if ever, before the few parts of the site which are to be left undeveloped ever regain even 10% of the current level of biodiversity.

2.6          Design concept and development principles

Vision:

 The developer states “that the Cavalry Park site can provide an extremely attractive and unique setting for a well-integrated neighbourhood which will be a gateway to the town of Kilsyth, etc. etc.”… “creating a unique sense of place” …”a development of high quality landscape and urban design” …. “will make a significant contribution to the sustainability profile of the local area”.

 As visions go, it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this myopic assessment of the potential benefits. Why should town houses designed in Leicester or Milton Keynes provide a better gateway to Kilsyth than the present magnificent sweep of Scottish moor, wood, and heather upland? Why should our native moors and bogs suffer the indignity of an imported “urban and landscape design” that might look perfectly in place in suburban Ashford but owes nothing at all to the inspirational vista of the Kilsyth Hills, the distant church spires and towers of Kilsyth and the fine old mansion of Colzium tucked away in its own parkland setting?

 As for sustainability, Kilsyth has sustained itself perfectly well for over 500 years as a small and comfortable market town with a diverse and hard working population of skilled craftspeople. We don’t resist change; facts show that we are usually at the head of the queue. Still, we have no proven local need for this type of land-hungry, high-energy consuming, two-car-owning commuter housing for people who will leave at 8am for the city in their gas-guzzling 4x4s and return at 6pm to their large and expensive homes stuffed with electronic gadgets. We would like to see this claim, like so many other vague and unsupported statements in the document, either evidenced or withdrawn:

 From the District Plan 2.4,  SUSTAINABILITY:

 “In seeking to achieve the above aims and objectives the concept of sustainable development and also of conservation in the broadest sense is fundamental to the strategy. A sustainable future concentrates development where services and facilities are available, reduces the need for movement, and protects and enhances the natural and built environment while seeking to achieve maximum social and community benefit for residents.

The following policies and proposals translate the strategy and ensure that development of the right quality occurs in the right place at the right time and subject to the right conditions. The development control process will be used as a positive element to improve the quality of life, and to ensure appropriate levels of amenity, safety, and accessibility in all new development.”

 KCC argues that the Wimpey proposal is in breach of all these fine principles – if approved this is exploitation not sustainability.

 b)            Design Options

 With the exception of some cosmetic differences to the Stirling Road frontage, the three options presented are mere clones, so it is doubtful whether they can really be considered separately. They are all unacceptable. The extremely dense and stereotypical nature of the development creates not a “unique sense of place” but an exact copy of so many other Wimpey estates across the UK – you might as well be in Norwich, Cheshire, or Livingston. Natural country, hedges, trees and well-used footpaths border three sides to the development. The houses are unacceptably close to the boundaries and footpaths on all three sides and this will definitely diminish the peaceful enjoyment and use of this area for walking, cycling and horseriding by creating a sense of intrusion. The suggestion that extra planting is required within Colzium itself to screen the development p22 tacitly acknowledges the intrusive nature of the development and proposes that valuable public recreation land and resources be taken up within the Colzium estate to mitigate the effects with additional planting rather than creating a wider screen zone within the Cavalry Park itself. We reject this proposition entirely. This proposal would severely compromise the views of the elegant lime tree avenue to the east and the glorious ancient beech boundary to the north of the site.

 2.7          Pattern Language, Alexander et al:

 This book is cited by Turley on p26 as the theoretical basis for the courtyard design scheme. Pattern Language is not a book that lends itself to selective quotation – it presents a whole philosophy of human design “as if people mattered”. Pattern Language articulates some important and fundamental design and development principles, which strongly support our own case against the development, for example:

 “We believe that people need and have a right to determine and shape their own environment. We also believe that they are the only ones who know in a profound way what they need, and that good architecture can only come from wholehearted involvement of the users in the shaping of their buildings and streets. We need to respect and cherish the particular human qualities that make each country, each people, each region unique, and must pay attention to the subtlety of human value as it arises in different contexts.”

 We endorse these values and call on Wimpey Homes to demonstrate that they have taken the real message of Pattern Language to heart. If they had actually read it, understood it, and endorsed it, then they would never have considered building at Cavalry Park in the first place.

 3              Development is contrary to Structure plan and local Plan

 3.1          Scottish National Planning Framework and Structure Plan:

 This proposal, if approved, will turn the Structure Plan upside down:

 The proposal to develop this site has already been the subject of a recent Reporters inquiry, which concluded in favour of the status quo. We wish NLC to take full account of this report, and to consider whether a further inquiry is a reasonable use of public funds so soon after the previous finding.

The proposal is contrary to 2.1a by promoting development outwith the urban networks and established urban expansion areas (7.26), infringing the Green belt, and fails to reflect the varying needs of rural areas. (contrary to 4.4, 7.1, 7.22, 7.23, 7.24, 7.26, 7.27, 11.9, 12.5)

 The development impinges on nearby open space designated for recreational use (contrary to 2.2b, 11.2, 11.67, 11.68)

 It damages existing protected environmental resources, namely peat bog and river catchments. (contrary to 2.2c, 12.1, 12.2, 12.4, 12.6, 12.7 , and meets several key criteria in schedule 7 Strategic environmental resources)

 It damages habitats and species of national significance (bats, long-eared owls, willow tits, peat bog etc.) and landscapes of regional importance (The Colzium and Kelvin Valley). (Contrary to 5.13 and 7.16)

It damages the historic environment and archaeology, as this is probably a site of Covenanter graves following the Civil War battle of Kilsyth. (Contrary to BE9: Other sites of unscheduled archaeological value which are considered to be of sufficient interest to be protected from disturbance will be safeguarded wherever possible.)

 It is likely to result in an increase in flooding – the development of housing in a flood plain is contrary to government policy, and. (contrary to 2.2c, 9.3, 9.4,) “It is important to safeguard against the risk of flooding, given the predicted rise in the frequency and severity of storms and the predicted increase in rainfall in the next twenty years” (12.12 water catchments)

 It damages the economic development potential of Colzium and jeopardises the creation of up to 50 associated jobs (contrary to 4.2, 6.7, 7.15, 10.3, 10.21, 11.4, 12.9, 12.12 Tourism and Recreation)

It damages the transport network by creating the wrong kind of housing well outwith the main areas of employment of people in the income bracket likely to afford these homes, thus encouraging long-distance commuting by car. (contrary to 6.5, 7.15, 7.26, 11.6, 11.10, 11.30, 11.31)

 3.2          Housing need and history of development in Kilsyth

 Kilsyth has already contributed more than its fair share to an increase in housing over the past decade mainly through windfall and smaller sites. Large-scale additional housing would be disproportionate to need, out of character with the rural small town setting and ignore the need for a fair spread of housing across the wider area (11.19) The alleged housing shortfall is a myth – the Structure Plan shows a massive SMA owner occupied surplus of 2090 units and a Central Conurbation surplus of 15,080 units at 2006. (11.24 Table 11). The history of windfall building in Kilsyth and the history of local support for appropriate low-key developments by local builders indicates that more attractive and affordable local housing will be provided anyway from small-scale developments on brownfield and infill sites (11.28) which have yet to be identified.

Over the period 1991-1998 a total of 462 new dwellings (public sector, private special build, Housing Association and private plots) were completed in the Plan area, representing a 10% increase in the housing stock. Nearly 90% of this new housing has been family sized dwellings built by the private sector, with the remainder split between Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District Council and housing associations. Private developers built 260 dwellings for sale on a speculative basis; and the remaining smaller private plot developments made an important contribution to the overall total.

 The whole concept of a mobile shortfall is relevant to the main conurbation not to outlying rural towns. Kilsyth does not appeal to mobile demand as the town does not have an urban nature, has poor public transport links, and is culturally, historically, and physically removed from Glasgow and Cumbernauld. (5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 11.29, 11.30), Kilsyth is in fact not part of the conurbation at all but is part of a more rural social, economic and culturally distinct area extending along the road, railway, and canal from Kirkintilloch to Falkirk and Stirling. This is reflected in school and hospital catchments, all of which cross local government boundaries. This distinction was pointed out forcefully when local government was reorganized, but representations were swept aside.

The large Cavalry Park development, taken together with the Waterfall Village, would create artificial demand, increase the size of the towns housing stock by an extra 10% in just four years, and fails to reflect the different needs of this predominantly rural (under 10,000 pop) area. This follows a previous period 1991-1998 in which there was a 10% growth of housing in seven years, and is quite unsustainable. (Local Plan refers to loss of identity as a planning issue, and this is especially true of smaller rural towns of under 10,000 population)

The town does not have adequate educational or health services to meet increased demand – schools are already full and there are long delays for GP appointments (contrary to 5.5)

The house types proposed damage the environmental and architectural status of Kilsyth (contrary to 11.61)

It represents a significant departure from the structure plan (Schedule 9 ) Strategic Policies 9 and 10 apply)

Extract from the  District Plan: 5.1

In recent years interest in and concern for the environment in the widest sense, both global and local has grown rapidly. This is reflected in the Government White Paper “This Common Inheritance” which introduces environmental considerations into the whole range of policy making and implementation. The broad objectives for natural resources are as follows:-

Part of the overall strategy of the Plan is to safeguard and improve the environment, and the Council will endeavour to ensure that the Plan area’s natural resources are retained and improved for future generations. The Council also recognises that there is a relationship between the quality of the area, and its attractiveness to investors.

There is no question that this proposal flies in the face of “This Common Inheritance” and is therefore contrary to the District Plan and Government Policy.

4              Detailed and descriptive arguments against the development:

 4.1          Cavalry Park is within a designated Green belt:  Structure Plan, Local Plan, NPPGs etc stress the importance of preserving Green Belt such that it has become an overarching consideration ( Str. Plan 7.42 Strat. Policy1) The land bears no relationship to Structural Corridors and Sensitive Wedges as identified in the Structure Plan. The site already has a definable and defensible boundary in terms of the impact on the Green Belt – it is surrounded on three sides by mature green boundaries and on the fourth by a main road.

 4.2          Effect on a listed building: A residential development here would severely compromise the integrity of the landscape setting of Colzium House, a B-listed building. The present wide, rolling vistas from and to Colzium House would be obliterated – a sweeping, planned, 18th century landscape lost. The open natural views across the estate from both pathways, which form pleasant approaches to the Colzium Lennox policies would be blotted out by urban type housing of no aesthetic value. Chapter 5.4 of the District Plan refers to the continuing need to protect the scenic value of the countryside”, and Cavalry Park comes close to scenic heaven. DP 5.19The Kilsyth Hills to the north of Kilsyth are of considerable landscape and scenic importance” – Cavalry Park is one of the best places to view this fine scenery from the roadside and houses would blot out the view and discourage people from exploring further. DP 6.2 Impact On Locality And Site:

“Many proposals may appear to be acceptable on a particular site when viewed in isolation. However, planning permission will be refused if the development is likely to have an unacceptable impact on the surrounding area” Our view is that this provision applies in this case.

 4.3          Gateway to Kilsyth:   Colzium Estate and Cavalry Park already form an attractive rural entrance to the town. This is vastly preferable to the visual blight of a square field of Wimpey Homes cutting in to this green space creating what would be viewed as an intrusive patchwork of brick and tiles. A clean edge of Green Belt to a town is recommended. (10.23)

 4.4          Destruction of ecologically balanced habitat:  Cavalry Park supports a  wide variety of fauna and flora which, undisturbed, have achieved a natural harmony and bio-diversity which is irreplaceable. Colzium Burn is a designated SINC (Local Plan Appendix 3) Myotis daubentonii bat populations are threatened by loss of habitat, affecting roosting sites and feeding grounds. Willow Tits have been spotted in the sedge near the Stirling Rd. at Cavalry Park for three out of the past four years, and this is also favourite hunting ground of long-eared owls.  September 3, 2003  The Guardian  “the willow tit could soon disappear altogether" according to a new study. There are some worrying declines in certain species," said Mike Raven of the Trust. "The willow tit has seen the population crash by 72% in the last eight years. It's getting so rare now that it will be very hard to observe and track in future surveys." They are red listed by the JNCC which advises government:

(see http://www.jncc.gov.uk/species/Birds/PosB/red_list.htm

 4.5          Disturbance Of Peat Bog: This is known to lead to pollution by release of CO2 (estimated at 8 tonnes per hectare p.a.)  Sarah Boyack MSP to call for immediate action to preserve Scotlands unique peatland ( Sunday Times 19.10.03) Scotland's lowland raised peatlands represent a unique and valuable habitat, home to a variety of amazing, specially adapted wildlife. Peatlands have formed over thousands of years and, once gone, they are lost forever.Since the beginning of the 19th century the extent of primary lowland raised peatland in the UK has decreased from 95,000 hectares to 6,000 hectares - a decline of 94% - with two thirds of the remaining area located in Scotland. Most surviving peatlands have been altered through drainage; invasion by scrub; forestry plantations; peat extraction; conversion to agriculture; development and mineral extraction”.

4.6          Economic potential: Green Belt desecration would weaken the attraction of the district for economic investment by compromising the conference, visitor and tourism potential which exists at Colzium.  It runs completely counter to NLC’s decision to commit a great deal of finance to enhance the House and estate for such ends. The main bandstand, used by the Carnival and other events, is just yards from Cavalry Park. Building Houses this close to the main stage is incompatible with amplified music and will restrict evening events.

 4.7          Tourism: Stevens Associates, tourism consultants, whom NLC commissioned in this regard, advised that maintaining the integrity of Cavalry Park is vital to the Council’s plans for improvement.

 4.8          Alternative strategy: It is clearly stated in the Structure Plan that the housing targets are set to cater for a ‘mobile demand’ (and certainly within the actual populace of Kilsyth, with such a large drop in the number of families with children there is little local demand).   Indeed 40% of house moves are between one community and another (STR. Plan 1.4) in the G.& C.V. area. The Structure Plan states that on account of the demand being ‘mobile’ any developments need NOT be constrained to any particular SMA. (Str. Plan 11.29) Mobile demand is that which can be accommodated within any SMA of the relevant  HMA (Str. Plan glossary) NLC’s HMA includes  Airdrie Coatbridge and Motherwell. This being so, we suggest that NL contains much former industrial land which could be built on and in fact to these areas Wimpey Homes could be considered to be an improvement on the present dereliction to be found. Thus NLC may be depriving these places of an opportunity for improvement and should ‘exploit’ the developers in order to get these areas of land decontaminated and at the same time satisfy the perceived demand for more housing. (Table 3 Str. Plan ‘priority should be given to the decontamination of derelict urban  land’ - Also (Str. Plan 2.2.B  giving priority to the use of brown field  land’)

4.9          Profit before people: It is obvious that Wimpey and others prefer unsullied land and beautiful surroundings to brownfield sites and are looking to obtain maximum profit but do NLC have a duty to play into the hands of developers? They do have a duty to respond to the will of a local community who are convinced that preservation of Kilsyth’s rural character is key to regeneration of the area by tourism. (‘Str. Plan 7.22  G.&C.V Green Belt seeks to preserve the special character of towns, including their landscape setting’)

 4.10        Civic identity: Colzium House and estate having been gifted to the people of Kilsyth has given the town a strong sense of ownership and concern regarding any factors threatening its integrity as has been amply demonstrated by public responses to this particular development proposal. Unity of pride and purpose in a community has to be respected.

 4.11        Archaeology: The origin of the name Cavalry Park is contested, but local legend that this is the site of a mass grave of the defeated Covenanting forces following the great Civil War battle of Kilsyth cannot be discounted, as it is one of the closest areas of soft ground to the battlefield  and it is certain that locals were sympathetic to the Covenant and would therefore have given the dead a decent burial. The great flood of 1738 covered much of the area in several feet of debris and this will have obscured the graves. Because this is peat, the bodies may be quite well preserved, and it would be a crime to build on the site without a thorough investigation. Local Plan: BE9: Other sites of unscheduled archaeological value which are considered to be of sufficient interest to be protected from disturbance will be safeguarded wherever possible. On sites where development is permitted, consent will normally be subject to a Legal Agreement and/or conditions to ensure that archaeological remains are preserved in situ.

 4.12        Increased traffic: The lack of local jobs in the salary range required to support a mortgage of £200k makes it fairly obvious that these are homes for commuters, who will add to the congestion on local and trunk roads. The extra 300 vehicles will add an extra 10% to the current 3,629 vehicles on Kilsyth’s roads, which combined with the extra 300 vehicles from the Waterfall village and the lack of pedestrian crossings will render the main road much more dangerous especially for children and older people.

 4.13        Damage to leisure, countryside pursuits and recreation: The Colzium footpaths surround Cavalry Park on three sides, and are very popular, with wide views of the wildlife from these paths, which includes deer, varied birdlife, and varied habitat.  The existence of a large housing estate will cause serious loss of amenity and spoil the open aspect of these paths which makes them so attractive as well as destroying the educational and bird-watching potential.

 Who is in charge of housing strategy – Wimpey Homes or our elected Council ?

 There are 37 vacant and derelict sites (105.36 Ha) identified in the Kilsyth Local Plan of 1999. Despite the alleged shortage of housing, no pro-active efforts have been made to identify additional suitable sites with the result that NLC is now considering speculative bids for totally unsuitable sites in the most sensitive parts of the Green Belt.

 It is not the remit of KCC to locate sites, but we have not been made aware that NLC has advertised or made any strenuous efforts to identify alternatives. In response to a request for further information, we received the following response:

 “The Council’s Vacant and Derelict Land Register lists a total of 15 sites; with a combined area of 31Ha, on the register at March 2003 from a previous list of 37 sites.  The removal of 22 sites with a total area of 74 Ha reflects the fact that the sites have either been developed, are in the process of being developed or have been removed as a result of a change in their definition e.g following regeneration into grassland etc”.

 KCC questions whether, in a former industrial area (North Lanarkshire)  with plenty of fairly grotty areas of derelict land, a comprehensive search has been made for suitable alternative derelict sites? The Council claims to have “undertaken an exercise to identify additional housing land to meet a strategic requirement placed on the Authority by the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Structure Plan Joint Committee. The Interim Housing Land Statement Document of July 2002 and the subsequent Committee Reports explain the methadology (sic) and the outcome of the process”  (correspondence)

 We have never been approached to ask for our help in this matter. There are a number of under-used areas of semi-derelict public and private land around Kilsyth known to the KCC, and we may be interested in working with NLC to survey these sites and rationalise their use with a view to some selective land release, as part of an overall land use survey. There appears to be scope for partnership here, as whilst we do have local knowledge, we do not have access to funds to access the Land Register in order to verify ownership details.

 “The attached list provides a breakdown of these sites including their current status and land ownership. As you can see the majority of the sites are within private ownership and therefore outwith the scope of public sector intervention”.  Has anyone actually tried to intervene, for example by talking to the owners? Given the sensitivity of Cavalry Park, where should public sector intervention start, and if no pro-active contacts have been made, why not?

 “Of the 15 sites 5 are capable of being developed for housing in terms of their relationship to other housing areas, local plan policy etc, however, of these only the combined sites at Constarry Road Croy are of a size (1.54) Ha which would be attractive to the speculative volume house builder”.

 Where does the District Plan say that ‘speculative volume house builders’ are to be given preference over local people with smaller sites on offer? We have seen in the past that very significant volumes of houses can be developed through smaller infill schemes, that these favour local firms and local employment, and also are more sensitive to environmental concerns and reflective of proven local needs for flats and affordable social housing.

 “The Council was asked to respond to a strategic requirement for additional housing land which could be achieved by 2006. In order to meet this requirement an exercise was established to identify sites with a minimum area of 2 hectares which could satisfy the Council’s housing development needs”. In that case the premise was fundamentally flawed as two sites of one hectare each or four of an acre are just as effective as one site of two hectares in meeting the need. There is no difference between strategic and opportunistic developments – they all contribute to the housing supply. In this case the intervention of NLC appears to be distorting the entire market by encouraging a commercial development that is wholly inappropriate to planning guidelines, for the sake of meeting arbitrary targets, which bear no relation to local needs. This is precisely the kind of market intervention that gives planning a bad name.

 “None of the remaining 15 sites have the combined criteria of a site area >2 ha and suitable for housing which would have enabled them to be considered as part of the IHLS process.” Precisely, so perhaps some fresh thinking is called for before the whole plan becomes discredited? There is nothing sacred about >2 ha, and this figure is not written into any planning guidelines of which we have been made aware.

 “The Council’s intention at this time is to rezone the sites for residential use in the forthcoming North Lanarkshire Local Plan (NLLP) which will replace the current adopted Local Plans. The Adoption process for the NLLP will incorporate a public consultation period which will enable people who want to object to the Council’s intention to rezone sites not yet developed an opportunity to object, this objection if sustained through the various draft’s of the NLLP will proceed to the Local Plan Inquiry.” This is news to us as we have not seen a draft of the plan. KCC has yet to be formally notified of such policy intent, and NLC should be aware that we will vigorously resist any such rezoning in the new Draft Plan that destroys key environmental assets. It is completely unreasonable and premature to carry out a policy U turn on such an important planning issue without full public scrutiny and discussion.

 5              Flood Risk and Sewage

5.1          Cavalry Park is in an area at risk to flooding with downstream displacement.   Local knowledge and experience bears this out and hydrologists for the objectors will produce projections based on the effect of the proposed development plan, taking into consideration  (Str Plan 9.3) the predicted increase in rainfall over the next 20 years.

Site selection requires that the site or the relevant part of it is free from problems of slope, aspect, flood risk, ground stability difficulties – this site suffers from all of these problems.

Str. Plan also refers to protecting and enhancing environmental resources including ‘river catchments, including areas liable to flooding’ Str. Plan 2.2.C) Flooding risk: There are repeated reminders through history of violent flooding to Cavalry Park caused by the close proximity of the Kilsyth Hills. In these circumstances it becomes apparent why locals in the know have not favoured Cavalry Park for housebuilding in the past. To take just three recorded examples from many:

 

5.2          Flooding history 1738 “In the year 1738, on the 27th of June, a very remarkable thunder storm took place. The morning was fair, the sky clear, the sun bright. About eleven a.m. a gleamy kind of darkness overspread the sky; a water-spout seems to have fallen; numberless torrents poured from the hills, sweeping houses, bridges, corn, and cattle all before them. Several acres in the valley were covered with stones of all sizes, from 20 tons to small gravel; in some places, from 4 to 6 feet deep”. (New Statistical Account 1841) (nb: this depth of debris would have also obscured the Covenanter graves from the Battle of Kilsyth believed to be in this area).

 

5.3          1832 Floods “In the year 1832, June 14th, we were visited with a waterspout and thunder storm, with hail, and torrents of rain. For two hours, the storm was truly terrific, and threatened awful devastation”. (New Statistical Account 1841)

 

5.4          November 1953 Floods: “Stirling County Council decided to seek compensation from the British Transport Commission, owners of the Forth and Clyde Canal, following heavy flooding at the temporary school in Stirling Rd., Kilsyth. A canal feeder from Banton Loch overflowed following heavy rain. The school was evacuated. Even the sewage system broke down. A second downpour flooded the town centre”. (Kilsyth Chronicle Nov 19th 2003, Flashback section) Site selection requires that site be free of infrastructure constraints or any expenditure required on infrastructure provision is committed to enable house building within the period under construction. There is no evidence that the sewerage system has been improved significantly since the 1953 floods and in fact many houses on Stirling Road still have septic tanks.

 

5.5          Future risk of flooding: Minor flooding incidents are a regular, almost annual occurrence along the lower parts of the Stirling Road, with major incidents occurring every few years. As this submission was being written, following a few hours of heavy but not exceptional rain, and without a local flood warning, the main Stirling Road was closed for several hours due to flooding and the Tak Ma Doon Road was blocked by mudslides. (Kilsyth Police report: Nov 29th). The Garrel, Ebroch and Colzium burns drain the whole valley between Colzium and the Tak Ma Doon Road, with a vertical drop of 400M in just 3 km. (steeper than 1:10). Meeting at Burngreen, these torrents have combined catchments of around 10 sq km. Sudden major flooding of Cavalry Park is totally inevitable following really exceptional rainfall. A fairly modest downpour of just 1 cm of rain in an hour can generate 100,000 cubic metres of floodwater from 10 Sq km – over 1600 cubic metres per minute, and it all has to either be absorbed or flow downhill. Replacing deep absorbent peat with hard roofs and roads increases the risk even further.

 

The maximum local rainfall recorded in a day is 23 cm at Loch Lomond on 17 January 1974, and 8 cm was recorded in just 30 minutes in Eskmuirdale in 1953. Even half of this would be utterly catastrophic.

 

The burns through Kilsyth cannot handle this flow, and this water is thereby forced into the low-lying land from Cavalry Park and the Stirling Road to the Burngreen, where it forms a temporary lake. Under extreme conditions The Lade (the small lateral canal feeder built in the 1760's) that follows the 90M asl contour just a few feet from Cavalry Park) becomes overwhelmed and overflows as described above. There is certainly no defence possible against these regular and expected events apart from leaving the floodplain well alone, and with the uncertainties of global warming it is only a matter of time before further major flooding and massive movement of mud and boulders reoccurs. As for the many other recorded floods in the area occurring every few years, possibly only a man made drain of typhoon proportions would provide anything approaching reasonable protection.

 

5.6          SEPA report The reviews of flooding provided by the developers and SEPA fail to take account of these entirely predictable events, and of future trends. This is a serious oversight in the risk assessment. Kilsyth Community Council wishes to prevent such a catastrophe occurring, and questions who would pick up the bill for disaster relief and damage to property should the development go ahead against all sensible advice and national guidance.

 

5.7          Causes of more severe flooding

The heavy rain in autumn of the year 2000 led to 10,000 homes and business throughout England and Wales flooding. It was the wettest Autumn for 270 years.

 Chairman of the Environment Agency, Sir John Harman, says " Flooding is a real risk. It is one we know about and one that people can do something practical about. Last year’s floods were described as a ‘wake-up’ call, but there are signs that the alarm bells aren’t ringing loudly enough to trigger action by many people." According to climate experts: "Multi-day rainfall events are an important cause of recent severe flooding in the UK, and any change in the magnitude of such events may have severe impacts upon urban structures such as dams, urban drainage systems and flood defences and cause failures to occur. In the north, the 10-day growth curve has steepened and annual maxima have risen during the 1990s. This is particularly evident in Scotland”.

“The 50 year event in Scotland during 1961-90 has become an 8-year, 11-year and 25-year event in the East, South and North Scotland pooling regions respectively during the 1990s. This may have severe implications for design and planning practices in flood control". http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/104551279/ABSTRACT

 

6              IN CONCLUSION

 

Does this proposed departure from the Structure Plan satisfy the following required criteria for such?

 

Strategic Policy 9A(ii)         

Local demand for this type of housing?     

NO

Strategic Policy 9B(ii) a)     Giving preference to brownfield rather than greenfield land or open space ?              

NO

Strategic Policy 9B(ii) b)   Safeguarding Greenbelt?     

NO

Strategic Policy 9B(viii)    Avoid risk of flooding?     

NO

 

Appendix 1

 

Summary of website poll AT WWW.KILSYTH.ORG.UK

 

Vote Caster at 26 November 2003

Should Wimpey be allowed to build houses at Cavalry Park?

 

Votes

Percent

Yes, I love the idea of new houses near the Colzium estate.

17

4%

No, certainly not.

 

355

 

92%

Maybe, if they are nice homes and affordable*.

 

12

 

3%

Total Votes Cast : 384

powered by Powered by Bravenet bravenet.com

 

 

*(nb it is doubtful that these homes will be affordable to many local residents as the house types shown in the development plan are all advertised in nearby Bishopriggs at prices over £200,000. If this proves to be the case, then opposition can be counted at closer to 95%

 

Notes on the Counter method: Web surveys are not perfect and can potentially be abused by repeated voting, (but do not allow repeat voting in a 24 hour period unlike some phone-ins) However, the figure of over 90% opposition is similar to both the Council’s own vote and also the public meeting, so there is no reason to doubt its legitimacy, and in any case it is also potentially open to abuse by either side equally. At the November Saturday farmers market in Kilsyth, 200 form letters opposing Wimpey were requested and only a handful of people expressed support for the development – mostly employees in the building industry.

 

Internet surveys are now used extensively by professional pollsters, Government and business corporations, and are regarded as a more accurate indicator of public opinion than many other forms of poll such as house to house, telephone or high street surveys.

 


APPENDIX TWO

CAVALRY PARK PLANNING CONFERENCE

 

29th October 2003, 7.30 pm, Burngreen Hall

 

Aims of the Meeting

 

 

Receive specific comments for and against the application, and prioritise these views

Take a vote on the proposal

Gauge the community views in terms of forward planning for the area

Determine the best form of community action to take in responding to the application

Elect an action group to take the matter forward

 

AGENDA

 

Recording those present (names and addresses) on index cards

Welcome by chair and explanation of purpose of meeting (SJ)

Brief history of site and development (RK)

Explanation of the workshops (RK)

Workshops

 

Research question:

 

What is the case for and against the proposal by Wimpey Homes to build 159 houses at Cavalry Park?

 

Brainstorm the issues – go around the whole group in turn

List issues for and against on a large sheet of paper

Put issues in priority order (each person to place issues in order in turn)

Record a vote on whether your group is for or against the development.

Report back

 

6                              Main Meeting – Report back by workshop groups

7                              Discussion and questions

8                              Seek nominations for group to take forward the campaign.

9                              Agree meeting with Planning Aid on Monday evening

10                           Close

 

RESULTS SUMMARY

Total

 

VOTES FOR the development

4

VOTES AGAINST the development

48

 


Results: Extra ticks in boxes refer to the relative priority of each item afforded by each group.

 

Issue Against

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Total

Damage to integrity of Colzium estate and breach of deed of covenant

üü

üüü

üüü

ü

9

Flood risk and lack of sewerage

üüü

ü

ü

üü

7

Increase traffic

ü

ü

ü

üü

5

Green belt

ü

üü

üü

 

5

Damage to wildlife and habitat – intended as bird sanctuary

ü

ü

ü

üü

5

Urban townhouse development totally out of place and too expensive – poor house designs

 

ü

ü

üüü

5

Damage to tourism & jobs (50+) predicted in Colzium Plan (goes against consultants report)

ü

ü

ü

ü

4

Increase pressure on overloaded public services – schools full

ü

ü

ü

 

3

Archaeology unexplored - graves

 

ü

ü

ü

3

Damage to visual amenity & noise

ü

 

ü

ü

3

Disruption will add to chaos as waterfall village is delayed – two huge sites on main road

 

 

ü

ü

3

No local need for this type of housing

ü

 

 

ü

2

Waste of money spent on Colzium improvements

ü

ü

 

 

2

Should develop brownfield and town centre sites first

 

 

ü

ü

2

Against Local Plan

ü

 

 

 

1

Set precedent

ü

 

 

 

1

Already seen huge increase of housing in Kilsyth in past decade

ü

 

 

 

1

Threat to peaceful use of park for functions like Carnival

ü

 

 

 

1

 

ISSUES FOR

Meet housing shortfall

ü

ü

 

ü

3

Impact on local house prices

ü

 

 

ü

2

Traffic calming

 

 

 

ü

1

Best use of vacant land

 

 

 

ü

1

Minimise impact on Colzium through planting

 

 

 

ü

1

Attract inward investment

 

 

 

ü

1

No loss of historical amenity

 

 

 

ü

1

Formalise entrance to Kilsyth

ü

 

 

 

1

Positive effect on local business

 

ü

 

 

1