On 7th November, representatives from ECNF met Taylor Wimpey to discuss their plans for Edenfield.
Taylor Wimpey opened by saying that they had no real agenda for the meeting but thought it was now the right time to meet so that they can arrange how they can work with ECNF and residents in the future. Unfortunately, it appears that this “working together” is on arrangements post approval of the Master Plan and Design Code (MDC) and associated Planning Application. Taylor Wimpey told us that Rossendale Borough Council were “on board” with the MDC and are hoping to progress to approval at a Development Control Committee meeting soon.
Taylor Wimpey has given us details for a point of contact until construction starts, after which contact will be via the Site Manager. Taylor Wimpey anticipate that approval of the MDC will be before the end of the 2023 and the Planning Application will be approved by April 2024. They anticipate construction starting in summer 2024 with first completions in 2025. Based on current sales levels they anticipate building starts at the rate of three houses per month but that could be exceeded dependent on the economy and other factors. They are planning one single phase of building for all 238 houses. Based on three houses per month, building on this site will take around 7 years.
They anticipate that Northstone (who own the land at the North of the village) are likely to follow closely behind Taylor Wimpey. Anwyl (who own the land near the Rec) have not yet given any information on dates.
Taylor Wimpey is of the opinion that after the development is complete it will improve the village. Taylor Wimpey stated that there was little point discussing the detail of the MDC and Planning Application with them as they are only dealing with RBC (and LCC).
Taylor Wimpey’s definition of “community-led” includes the Council as they are the elected representatives of the residents. This appears to be their reason for not working directly with residents in respect of the MDC and their planning application. If this is the case, we believe that this should say “Council led”. This also appears to be their justification for effectively ignoring our representations on the consultations so far.
Taylor Wimpey state that they are not moving in to be “disruptive” – they want to be part of the community, not an impediment. They anticipate ECNF and residents being involved after planning approval has been given. This would include open meetings which would be attended by the Site Manager.
ECNF updated Taylor Wimpey on our Neighbourhood Plan. The revised Design Code was now finalised and had been appended to our representations about the MDC.
We told Taylor Wimpey that our revised Neighbourhood Plan should be sent to RBC before the end of the year with a view to a referendum being held mid-2024. They said that if the Neighbourhood Plan was in place, they would have to follow it. They consider the Site-Specific Provisions in the Council’s Local Plan to be a “low bar” and consider that their MDC goes “above and beyond” what is required.
Taylor Wimpey stated that they have (or will have) an agreement with Peel/Northstone if a school extension is required in the future. We presume that this relates to a financial contribution. The Taylor Wimpey site will have a Management Company to manage communal facilities. The situation regarding maintenance of the proposed car park is still to be resolved.
All houses will be freehold. The external design of the houses will be varied in an effort to reflect the existing village. All site roads will be wide enough to ensure that they are adopted by the Council. Existing dry-stone walls will be retained. They believe that rebuilding the dry-stone wall at the entrance to their development would enhance value.
Taylor Wimpey intends to undertake a photographic survey of Market Street before work starts so that they can defend unfounded damage claims.
In terms of transport: Taylor Wimpey had met with LCC Highways on 6th November, the day before our meeting. It seems that the main discussion was on the timing of the highways work, i.e., deciding which work needs to be done before building starts and what needs to be done before the first homeowners move in. Taylor Wimpey informed us that LCC Highways believe that the proposed road changes would go down well with residents, if the first things done were the Market Street refuges near Church Lane and near the Taylor Wimpey site access. It appears that Taylor Wimpey is not involved in any highway work beyond the part of Market Street bordered by their site which includes the ghosted right turn.
The 13 car parking spaces on the Taylor Wimpey land near their site access has been agreed with the Council (we assume LCC). They say that “if we have a problem with it we should take it up with the Council”. They prefer not to increase the number of parking spaces because this would reduce the number of houses. There was some discussion on parking issues, but they concluded by telling us that the Council owns the public highways network and it is up to the council to make any decisions relating thereto.
Taylor Wimpey considers that businesses in the village will welcome the development because of the potential big increase in customers. They believe that they will make Market Street a safer and better environment.
They would welcome working with residents on the north and south gateway features which would give a sense of “arrival” on entering Edenfield.
The concern of new residents being able to access the footpath/track no 126 (which passes Mushroom House) with vehicles was discussed. Taylor Wimpey will put in place measures to ensure that for new residents, access can only be made from Market Street. Taylor Wimpey seems receptive to our suggestion for a diagonal path from the new car park to Market Street. Any lighting of these spaces would be low level.
In conclusion, it is apparent that Taylor Wimpey only deals directly with RBC (and LCC on traffic, schools etc). and will not engage with us directly, except on some fairly minor iussues once construction work starts. They believe that RBC have virtually agreed to the MDC and are close to agreeing the Planning application. This is not the impression we had from RBC at our last meeting and we will check RBC’s understanding of the situation as well as Taylor Wimpey’s proposed timescales.
On traffic, our worst fears regarding LCC’s acceptance of the proposals were confirmed. For them to meet with Taylor Wimpey when they don’t have time to meet with us or RBC is particularly disappointing. We have asked our traffic consultants for comment.
We have contacted RBC to make them aware of the traffic situation and hope to meet with them before the end of the month.