Agenda item

20190126 - 44 South Hill Road, Gravesend - Retention of UPVC casement windows on the front elevation and composite front door - report herewith

Decision:

Resolved that retrospective application 20190126 be PERMITTED subject to the condition regarding listing drawing numbers, reasons and informatives that will be described in the decision notice issued by the Planning Department and available on the following link: www.gravesham.gov.uk/planning-search.

Minutes:

The Board considered an application reference 20190126 which sought to retain the UPVC windows and composite front door installed, which were considered unacceptable due to their unsympathetic design and adverse impact on the setting of the Windmill Hill Conservation Area. The scheme was contrary to both local and national policy as it failed to preserve or enhance the Conservation Area, but rather caused harm to it. The application was before the Committee at the request of Ward Councillor Steve Thompson.

The following points were made during discussion on this application:

·         Concern was expressed on the lack of definitive planning advice on what alterations to properties and their locale could and could not be undertaken in Conservation Areas within the Borough.

·         The Board was informed of the Article 4 Directions, introduced to prevent further loss, which only applied to alterations made in properties within Conservation areas after the date of adoption of the Article 4 Direction by the Council.

·         The lack of clarity on what was appropriate and what was inappropriate in a Conservation Area.

·         The Board was reminded that the personal circumstances of applicants were not a material planning consideration.

·         Following a question on enforcement, the Board was advised that enforcement was carried out in a piecemeal way as and when infringements were either noticed by planning officers when undertaking site visits in the area or when reported by members of the public. It was also highlighted that enforcement in regard of building operations could only generally be carried out within 4 years of the alteration being completed.

·         Members were informed that advice on this application had come from the Council’s Conservation Architect and this advice stated that this retrospective application caused harm to, and does not preserve or enhance the character of, the Windhill Hill Conservation Area.

·         The Planning Manager (Development Management) advised there have been advances in window and door design technology in recent years and these the advice the Council has on its web pages does not currently address these advances. For example, original wooden sash windows used to have to be replaced by single glazed, wooden sash windows. Now it was possible, in certain circumstances, to permitted double glazed UPVC sash design windows, that have a slim-line design. However, the general rule remained that any new installation must look very similar to the original feature it replaced and that such replacements must be considered on a case by case basis, as a modern uPVC window and door design in one location may not be appropriate in an different location. The Planning Manager (Development Management) urged caution when considering alternative window/door design and construction options within conservations areas where an Article 4 Directions had been applied in regard to replacement windows and doors.

·         Members noted that the number of properties in the road that still had original features was very low. However, there was quite a high number that had replaced the original windows with sash lookalikes.

·         There was a general opinion that since the road contained a diverse set of houses with difference features, little harm had been caused by the alterations to the windows and doors undertaken on the property, as proposed to be regularised by the applicant in the submission of this application.

·         A concern was raised that to approve this application might set a precedent for future decisions in relation to Conservation Areas.

Resolved that retrospective application 20190126 be PERMITTED subject to the condition regarding listing drawing numbers, reasons and informatives that will be described in the decision notice issued by the Planning Department and available on the following link: www.gravesham.gov.uk/planning-search.

Note:   (a)        Mr E Shovlar (Applicant)(a supporter) addressed the Board.
            (b)        Cllr Steve Thompson spoke with the leave of the Chair.

Supporting documents: