(Councillors Carson and Hanvey did not participate in the vote on this item as they had not been present for the duration of the officer’s presentation when it had been presented previously on 16th February, 2021.)
The Planning Manager reminded the Committee that it had originally considered the application at its meeting on 16th February. He reminded the Committee further that it had resolved to defer the application in order to carry out a site visit and to seek clarification on Air Quality issues from Environmental Health. The site visit had taken place on 10th March.
He advised the Committee that one further objection to the application had been received on 18th February, raising concerns relating to the impact of traffic using the Balmoral Avenue access, in particular the impact on a neighbouring property to that access. He provided the officer’s response to the issue and outlined that no new planning concerns had been raised. He added that DFI Roads had been notified of the late objection and that it had offered no objection, subject to conditions.
The Planning Manager drew the Committee’s attention to the Late Items pack whereby, following receipt of DFI Roads final consultation response which recommended the provision of a minimum of 4 additional car club spaces, the applicant had confirmed that they were willing to provide 4 additional spaces resulting in an overall provision of 6 car club spaces. The Planning Manager explained that, while the additional car club spaces were not required to make the development acceptable, they did provide greater opportunity for sustainable transport modes for users of the site. He added that those spaces, along with discounted membership (50%) of a car club for a period of 3 years, would be secured through a Section 76 Agreement.
In respect of the air quality issues, the Members were advised that the Technical Note, available on the Planning Portal, stated that “the air impact quality assessment had robustlyassessed the impacts of traffic emissions in the Air Quality Management Area. Due to the improvements in vehicleemissions with time; the phased nature of the development; and the mitigation measures included within the proposed development, which would reduce vehicle trips and encourage sustainable travel, the residual air quality effects as set out in the ES Chapter were not significant”. The Planning Manager confirmed that, having assessed the Air Quality Impact Assessment, Environmental Health had offered no objectionto the Air Quality Impacts, subject to a condition relating to the installation of any combustion plant.
The Members were advised that Environmental Health had prepared an additional report, also available on the planning portal, to provide further information for Members as to how the consultation process in relation to ambient air quality impact was undertaken by the Council’s Environmental Health staff, and the conclusions reached in respect of the ambient air quality impact of the regeneration proposal.
The Committee was advised that the report stated that, at each stage, the proposal had assessed the information provided against local air quality management technical guidance and planning policy and emphasised that extensive consultation had been undertaken in relation to the AQIA methodology, between Air Quality Consultants and the Council’s Air Quality Technical Officer. Environmental Health was satisfied that the AQIA had been undertaken in accordance with relevant government guidance, including the Environmental Protection UK and Institute of Air Quality Management guidance document, ’Land-use Planning & Development Control: Planning For Air Quality’ (January 2017) and the UK Local Air Quality Management Technical Guidance document LAQM.TG(16).
The Planning Manager outlined that the AQIA employed traffic flow data for relevant local roads, converted into Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) flows and provided by the project transport consultants. He outlined that the Council’s Air Quality Technical Officer had requested confirmation of the accuracy of the road traffic data utilised within the AQIA as part of the planning consultation process and was satisfied that the additional traffic emissions, associated with the proposals, had been assessed correctly and in accordance with relevant guidance.
In its conclusion, the report stated that, apart from the Stockman’s Lane monitoring station, Environmental Health currently monitored nitrogen dioxide annual mean concentrations at Stockman’s Crescent, Balmoral Avenue and at the Upper Lisburn Road and none of those three monitoring sites had recordedexceedances of the nitrogen dioxide annual mean objective during 2019. As a result, Environmental Health had a goodunderstanding of air pollution concentrations in the vicinity of the regeneration proposal and were therefore able to provide comprehensive advice to the Planning Service.
The Members were advised that Environmental Health had acknowledged that the air quality predictions for 2021 had been based on worst-case assumptions regarding the increase in local traffic flows. It had been assumed that the whole scheme would be completed and be fully operational in 2021, whereas the development buildout and occupation were to be phased over a 5-year period; 2021-2026. The Planning Manager explained that the further analysis undertaken by the consultants had demonstrated that the impacts associated with the proposed development were predicted to be negligible before 2026, when the proposed development was to be fully operational.
It was reported that Environmental Health had noted that the consultants had indicated a series of mitigation measures were to be implemented, aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of sustainable travel, which would further reduce the impact of road transport sources. The measures included the provision of secure cycle storage facilities and public transport information as prescribed within the Travel Plan.
The Planning Manager added that Environmental Health had considered the proposed mitigation measures and advised that they would reduce associated emissions from road transport users and that they were appropriate and achievable.
The Chairperson advised the Members that Ms. E. Barszczewska-Lyner, Environmental Health officer, was in attendance to answer any technical questions from the Members.
In response to Members’ questions, Ms. Barszczewska-Lyner provided the Committee with clarification in respect of the process by which Environmental Health had carried out a detailed assessment of traffic emissions in the area, particularly given the scale of the proposal and its location which was close to an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). She reiterated that the assessment had been based on the worst case scenario with the whole site operational and with the 4,000 additional car journeys mentioned within the report.
The Chairperson advised the Committee that Mr. G. Pellizzaro, Air Quality Consultant, Mr. B. Pope and Ms. N. Semple, Transport Consultants, and Ms. E. Walker, agent, were also in attendance.
In response to a Member’s question, Mr. Pellizzaro advised the Committee that the Stockman’s Lane AQMA monitor had shown a decrease of nitrogen dioxide concentrations, by 11 micrograms, between 2014 and 2019. He advised that the figures tied in with data from across the U.K and explained that Air Quality was predicted to continue to improve due to older vehicles having been retired from the road.
He added that, for the Air Quality Assessment, they did not take into account any behavioural changes in terms of an increase in users cycling, walking or using car clubs, and that it had been carried it out based on the worst case scenario of everyone driving to and from the site.
In response to a further question, Ms. Semple provided the Committee with details on the use and operation of car clubs.
In response to a further Member’s query on the Green Travel Plan, Ms. E. Walker, agent, advised the Committee that the developer would include an electric vehicle charging point within the multi-storey car park element of the scheme. In relation to the Travel Plan measures, she explained that there would be monitoring to ensure that the mitigation measures were demonstrating an increase in the use of sustainable transport.
The Director of Planning and Building Control added that the Travel Plan was not a static document and that it was required to be reviewed over the development period. He explained that the document was still not finalised as the end users had not yet been agreed.
Accordingly, the Chairperson put the officer’s recommendation to approve the application to the Committee, with delegated authority granted to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the Section 76 Planning Agreement and the wording of conditions, subject to no new substantive planning issues being raised by third parties.
On a vote, six Members voted for the recommendation, two against and four no votes, and it was declared carried.