Erection of an employment building and associated multi-storey car park.
As amended and amplified by:
• Written Scheme of Investigation and Archaeological Evaluation dated June 2021
• Archaeological Evaluation dated September 2021 and additional ecological information submitted 7 September 2021
• Amended by drawings and tree information received 5 November 2021
• Additional Addendum Transport Assessment dated 24 November 2021
• Revised parking provision and tree, drainage and ecological information received 28 February 2022
• Addendum transport statement dated 31 March 2022 and Master Plan January 2022 and construction traffic management plan received 4 April 2022
• Amended Arboricultural Method Statement received 11 April 2022)
The committee considered application P21/S1257/FUL for the erection of an employment building and associated multi-storey car park. As amended and amplified by:
• Written Scheme of Investigation and Archaeological Evaluation dated June 2021.
• Archaeological Evaluation dated September 2021 and additional ecological information submitted 7 September 2021.
• Amended by drawings and tree information received 5 November 2021.
• Additional Addendum Transport Assessment dated 24 November 2021.
• Revised parking provision and tree, drainage and ecological information received 28 February 2022.
• Addendum transport statement dated 31 March 2022 and Master Plan January 2022 and construction traffic management plan received 4 April 2022.
• Amended Arboricultural Method Statement received 11 April 2022) at land west of Main Avenue, Culham Science Centre, Clifton Hampden.
Consultations, representations, policy and guidance, and the site’s planning history were detailed in the officer’s report, which formed part of the agenda pack for the meeting. A site visit, involving members of the committee, had taken place on Tuesday 26 April 2022.
The planning officer reported an error in the report at paragraph 6.6; the height of the multi storey garage was stated as being 17m. in height, whereas the sentence should correctly have read; “its subservient associated multi storey garage at 13 metres high”.
The planning officer reported that officers of Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) highways department were present virtually at the meeting, to answer any highways or transportation issues. These officers were Mr. Michael Deadman, Ms. Judith Goodwin and Mr. James Sherwood.
The planning officer introduced the report by stating that the Culham Science Centre (CSC) was the home of the UK’s national fusion research programme which was a world renowned centre for fusion energy research and that this application would help to facilitate its ongoing work. The planning officer reported that after extensive discussions between the applicant, the agent, council officers and OCC, 61 car parking spaces had been removed from the proposed total of 292, giving a reduced final figure of 231 spaces, which accorded with current standards. The applicant had also supported the application with a copy of the Culham Science Centre masterplan, indicating the proposed growth and longer-term vision for the site in line with the requirements of Policy STRAT8 of the South Oxfordshire Local Pan (SOLP).
The planning officer also reported that in combination with the adjacent strategic allocation (set out in Policy STRAT9), the site would deliver at least a net increase in employment land of 7.3 hectares. The policy intended to ensure that site would deliver a net increase in employment land, a net gain in biodiversity and it was confirmed that the site was now removed from the Oxford Green Belt. Council officers had concluded that the application also represented a net increase in biodiversity. The planning officer drew the committee’s attention to the detail contained in paragraphs 6.9 to 6.35, which gave a full assessment of the highways impact of the development. Paragraph 6.34 provided information on the content and funding of a proposed S.106 agreement. Of particular note was a contribution of £325,000, to improve the existing footway on the south side of the A415 to a 3m. shared footway/cycleway facility within the existing public highway, from the CSC site entrance towards the train station (approximately 900m). These specific pedestrian and cycle improvements were intended to promote active travel in the local area, including for journeys to and from CSC. The committee noted a contribution of £303,050.87 towards improvements of the local bus services to the CSC, including, but not limited to, improved services to Cowley, Berinsfield, Abingdon and Didcot.
Council officers had concluded that the application was acceptable in terms of policy compliance, S.106 content, visual impact, net biodiversity gain and mitigation measures and therefore recommended approval.
Caroline Livingstone, a representative of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, the applicant, spoke in support of the application. In response to a question from the committee regarding whether the CSC would be meeting its objectives to be clean and green, when it was developing car park facilities, Ms. Livingstone replied that car parking supported the science vale cluster centre and the proposal contained fewer spaces than the policy objective.
Mr. Steven Sensecall, the agent, spoke in support of the application.
In response to a question from the committee regarding capacity to deal with waste water and the need to have safeguards in place, Mr. Sensecall replied that the CSC was working closely with Thames Water to find solutions. In addition, tenants of the CSC were managed to ensure compliance with discharge regulations.
In response to a question from the committee regarding safeguards to ensure that that new business tenants’ operations accorded with those of the CSC, Ms. Livingstone responded that all activities of occupiers, existing or prospective, were scrutinised to ensure that they complied with the CSC’s science and technology ethos attaching to the fusion cluster.
Councillor Sam Casey-Rerhaye, local ward councillor, spoke to the application.
In response to a question from the committee regarding capacity to deal with waste water and the need to have safeguards in place, Mr. Sensecall replied that the CSC was working closely with Thames Water to find solutions. Tenants of the CSC were managed to ensure compliance with discharge regulations.
The committee referred to the fact that local areas were having to wait for Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) monies for improved bus services in the local area, in particular serving Long Wittenham. In response to a question from the committee regarding the bus services in the vicinity of the CSC, and in particular the reinstatement of the 95 service, OCC representatives reported that in 2017 discussions had commenced in respect of funding a modal shift from car travel to other forms of transport, particularly buses. It was an ambition to have a service to Didcot, Oxford and then Berinsfield. The OCC travel and transport plan was designed actively to effect the modal shift, which in itself, was a longer term prospect. OCC representatives assured the committee that there would be a bus connection between the CSC and Didcot, notwithstanding any delays in implementing plans funded by S.106 monies. The committee concurred that this funding would be valuable to settlements around the CSC.
The committee considered that overall the application was acceptable in terms of local employment, modal shift ambition, biodiversity, mitigation measures and highways/transport improvements.
A motion moved and seconded, to grant planning permission was declared carried on being put to the vote.
RESOLVED: to grant planning permission for application P21/S1257/FUL subject to the following conditions and the signing of a S106 agreement;
Standard conditions -
1. Commencement three years - Full Planning Permission
2. Approved plans *
Prior to the relevant part of construction conditions –
3. Schedule of Materials
4. Landscaping Scheme (trees and shrubs only)
5. Ecology – Evidence of biodiversity offsetting
6. Ecology – Faunal biodiversity enhancements
7. Surface water drainage
8. Plan of car parking provision (specified number of spaces)
9. Water supply details
10. Water network improvements
Prior to occupation conditions –
11. Cycle parking facilities
12. Green travel plans
13. Travel plans
14. Energy Statement verification
Compliance conditions -
15. Construction traffic management plan – as approved
16. BREEAM Standard
17. Tree protection (implementation as approved)
18. Wildlife protection (mitigation as approved)
19. External lighting