Agenda item

20190169 - Demolition of existing house and outbuildings and erection of a part four storey and part three storey building for the residential development of 20 no. one bedroom, 41 no. two bedroom and 3 no. three bedroom apartments with associated car parking - Cobham Lodge, Valley Drive - report herewith

Decision:

Resolved:

 

(a)  that application 20190169 be DEFERRED to enable negotiations with the applicant and/or the applicant’s agent to address the Board’s concerns in regard to all five grounds of refusal, as the Board considered a residential reuse of this site to be justifiable subject to revisions/amendments and additional information being agreed with officers and being formally submitted, with the instruction that the application be reported back to the Regulatory Board (Planning) on 4 September 2019 for Members to consider the revisions/amendments and additional information submitted, at that time. The concerns of the Regulatory Board (Planning) included that the proposed development fails to make any provision for affordable housing, or any other developer contributions and as such the proposal is contrary to Policy CS10 and CS16 of the Borough Council's adopted Gravesham Local Plan Core Strategy (September 2014) and National Planning Policy Framework; and

(b)  that should the applicant and/or applicant’s agent decline to enter meaningful negotiations then the application be reported back to the Regulatory Board (Planning) on 4 September 2019 for Members to determine the application in line with the officer’s original recommendation.

 

Minutes:

Cllr Bob Lane remained in the Council Chamber but took no part in the discussions or voting on this application.

The Board considered an application reference 20190169 which proposed the demolition of the existing house and all outbuildings on the site and the construction of a part four storey and part three storey building for the residential development of 20 one bedroom, 41 two bedroom and 3 three bedroom apartments and associated car parking. The Principal Planner (Major Sites) set out the significant objections to the application relating to the siting, size, bulk, massing, design, impact on the street scene, adverse impact on the amenity of surrounding properties and the poor amenity for future occupiers. In addition, the proposal was failing to provide affordable housing or any S.106 contributions. As such the officer’s report recommended that permission be refused and the report listed five grounds for refusal for Members’ consideration. The application was before the Board as it was a major development proposal.

The following points were made during discussion on this application:

·         Members noted that the reference to the overlooking of rear gardens at the rear, north side of the site was referring to a garden with no building within 5 metres of the boundary of the site which was in excess of the requirements of the Gravesham Local Plan Core Strategy. However, residential gardens would be overlooked by the proposal including a four storey flank wall and Council policy required that amenity space be protected.

·         The Board was advised that the apartments met the minimum size space standards. However, storage provision depended on the layout of the apartment. As the agent advised they wished the proposal to be considered as submitted negotiations had not taken place on the internal layout of the flats.

·         Concern was raised that the proposal failed to provide affordable housing or any S.106 contributions. The Board was advised that the applicants had considered the profit margin to be too low to include affordable housing or S.106 contributions and to do so would render the development unviable. Members considered that there should be affordable housing provided, if not on this development, then on another within the Borough.

·         The Principal Planner (Major Sites) advised that the applicant had refused to negotiate with regard to concerns raised by officers and had asked that the application be considered by the Regulatory Board (Planning) as submitted.

·         Following a question about whether the development had been designed with numbers of units in mind or for the people that might live there, Members were advised that a balcony had been included on every unit as amenity space together with the inclusion of appropriate play spaces rather than open grass areas. It had been proven that appropriate play spaces were used more regularly than open grass spaces. Careful planting had also been designed to improve amenity spaces and green roofs and walls had also been included in the design.

·         Members noted that the elevations of the buildings shown in the PowerPoint presentation appeared squashed and would, in reality, appear taller and more vertical.

·         Members were advised by the agent that this development would set a precedent for the Borough as a consequence of the Government’s housing targets. This view was based on other available sites for development nearby including the lorry park and the Nell’s café site. The construction of the Lower Thames Crossing would create a market for these residential developments.

·         The Board noted that the 20% profit from developments was used as aspirational guidance in London Boroughs and other neighbouring authorities. However this aspiration was subject to market price drops the causes of which might include Brexit or a rise in taxes or inflation.

·         The vehicle access was considered to be an awkward right turn from a busy road. However, Members were advised that officers had raised concerns but had been informed that there would not be enough vehicles turning right into the development per hour to qualify for a right turning lane layout to be introduced.

·         Comments were made on the bulk, massing and density of the development and the lack of sympathy with the surrounding locale which was described as a leafy suburb.

·         The Board was advised that a mix of materials was suggested including red brick and white render which was similar to nearby residences. Green and brown roofs were proposed. The green roofs would be planted with sedum and the brown would be spread with soil, stones and small rocks to allow local species of plants and flowers to seed themselves. The water collected from the roofs would be used for irrigation of the roofs and the wall planting. The walls would be covered in a series of pockets forming a vertical sheet. Hadlow College had undertaken research into this type of planting and flowering plants and higher density foliage would be used. This type of planting was able to remove particulates from the air. It was confirmed that the planting would need bi-annual maintenance.

·         It was noted that some aspects of the design, the green/brown roofs and walls would be a good idea for use by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation in the Garden City.

·         Members were informed that the perimeter trees of the site would be retained and additional trees would be planted in the open spaces.

·         A Ward Member highlighted residents’ concerns regarding the density of the development, the overlooking and loss of amenity, the proximity of the development to the road, the possible underestimation of the number of car owners that might reside in the development. It was considered that a smaller development would be more in keeping with the area.

·         Members were advised that Government guidelines stated that local authorities required a 5 year housing supply. As GBC does not have one concern was raised by Members that GBC would lose planning appeals for proposals of this nature and would therefore lose the ability to apply planning conditions or influence the design of this type of development in the future.

·         The Board noted that the proposed development did not lie within an Air Quality Management Area.

Resolved:

(a)    that application 20190169 be DEFERRED to enable negotiations with the applicant and/or the applicant’s agent to address the Board’s concerns in regard to all five grounds of refusal, as the Board considered a residential reuse of this site to be justifiable subject to revisions/amendments and additional information being agreed with officers and being formally submitted, with the instruction that the application be reported back to the Regulatory Board (Planning) on 4 September 2019 for Members to consider the revisions/amendments and additional information submitted, at that time. The concerns of the Regulatory Board (Planning) included that the proposed development fails to make any provision for affordable housing, or any other developer contributions and as such the proposal is contrary to Policy CS10 and CS16 of the Borough Council's adopted Gravesham Local Plan Core Strategy (September 2014) and National Planning Policy Framework; and

(b)    that should the applicant and/or applicant’s agent decline to enter meaningful negotiations then the application be reported back to the Regulatory Board (Planning) on 4 September 2019 for Members to determine the application in line with the officer’s original recommendation.

Note:   (a)        Mr Darren Bland (Agent)(a supporter) addressed the Board.
(b)        Mr David Gingell (an objector) addressed the Board.
(c)        Cllr Sarah Gow spoke with the leave of the Chair.

 

           

Supporting documents: