Agenda item

20190833 - Garage Block and Part of Amenity Space adjacent to Constable Road and Rembrandt Drive, Northfleet - Revised Description and Plans

Decision:

Resolved that application 20190833 be PERMITTEDsubject to the planning conditions and informatives, which would include conditions with regard to the detailed shape / form of the Gabion wall, planting and landscaping to ensure public safety and protect the privacy of the proposed dwellings and provide for semi-mature trees to be planted in the greenspace, to be set out in the decision notice issued by the Planning Department and made available on the following link: https://www.gravesham.gov.uk/planning-search.

Minutes:

The Board considered an application reference 20190833 in relation to the demolition of 6 garages on Rembrandt Drive and erection of a 1one bedroom bungalow and erection of a terrace of 6 one bedroom bungalows along Constable Road with associated off street car parking and improvements to the existing children's playground and amenity space adjacent to Constable Road.

The Principal Planner (Major Sites) introduced the application by highlighting that the application site consisted of two elements. Site A was a corner plot on the junction of Rembrandt Drive and Constable Road which consisted of grass, a mature sycamore tree and a block of six lock-up garages. Site B was an amenity green space surrounded by Cotswold Road, Chiltern Road and Constable Road. The application site formed part of a wider post war housing estate which was all council housing with a portion of houses purchased through right to buy.

The proposal was for affordable housing consisting of 7 one bedroom dwellings each served by one parking space to the front. The applicant had confirmed the tenure would be for rent and would be allocated to applicants on the Gravesham Housing Register and to ensure the development was retained as affordable housing, this would be conditioned.

Site Awas too small to be included within the amenity green space quantitative figures.  As such Site A provided visual amenity to the area over recreational use. The lock-up garages currently on Site A were considered to be detrimental to the existing street scene as they essentially provided dead frontage and backed onto the street scene. It was considered that the proposed development of Site A would improve the street scene and as such complied with local and national planning policy.

The development of Site B would clearly affect the street scene of Constable Road, and whilst not completely obstructing the appreciation of the amenity green space to the rear, would allow for the retention of amenity green space to the rear and side of the development and improvements to the amenity green space had been offered by the applicant through tree planting and improvements to the facilities on site.  In addition, whilst a moderate proportion of the frontages to the Site B terrace would contain hardstanding for vehicle parking and pedestrian access, a good level of soft landscaping would also be included.

The Board was advised that 9 trees at the front of the site would be removed to make the most efficient use of the site which was a requirement of local and national planning policy. However, to offset the loss of these trees the planning conditions would require 2 for 1 planting ratio for replacement trees. The officer confirmed that the suggested conditions would require the applicant to engage with local residents on what improvements they would like on the remaining amenity green space.

With regard to impact on the amenity of adjacent properties, it was confirmed that, as outlined in paragraphs 5.57 to 5.64 of the report, there would be no adverse impact on the amenity of adjacent properties. 110 individual comments and a petition signed by 96 persons had been received during the course of the application. All of material planning considerations raised by third parties had been fully considered during the evaluation of the proposal.

The application was before the Board because the Local Planning Authority was the applicant.

The Board heard the views of the public speakers who answered questions from Members.

The following points were made during discussion on this application:

·         Following a question on why applications 20190833 and 20190834 had not submitted as a single application, Members were advised that this had originally been the intention. However, officers had been unable to support the proposal contained in application 20190834 and therefore it had been submitted as a separate application as the Board could not issue split decisions.

·         It was recognised that the stepped design of the rear gardens on Site B was not ideal, however given the topography of the site it had been the only solution available to the applicant.

·         Concern was expressed about whether the tiered garden as proposed provided the safe environment needed for wheelchair users.

·         A privacy issue was raised in that people walking past the proposed terrace (Site B) would be able to see into the houses as a result of the topography of the site. In addition, the back gardens would also lack privacy if people viewed the rear of the properties from the top of the Gabion wall. The Board was advised that a condition in relation to appropriate boundary treatment had been included in the officer’s recommendation.

·         Concern was expressed over the loss of the green space and it was noted that 100 individual comments had been received. The space was considered to be a local landmark that had been in situ for 50 years.

·         The Board was reminded of the application in Whitehill Parade, Whitehill Lane had, in 2019, been refused because of the proposed loss of amenity space and the Planning Inspectorate had upheld the Council’s decision after an appeal against the decision had been lodged by the applicant.

·         The balance between the need for this type of housing in the Borough and the need to protect amenity space was highlighted. It was noted that a portion of the amenity space was being retained and would be improved by new planting and new play equipment. The current location and slope of the green space meant that it was not easily used for ball games as the balls ran off to the road.

·         Members’ attention was drawn to the Open Spaces Study produced by Knight, Kavanagh & Page which had confirmed that the amenity green space was considered to be of low quality. However, it was noted that the local scout group used the green space for nature studies.

·         The high demand for this type of dwelling that had been designed for use by elderly or disabled people with a high quality build, good levels of insulation, electric car charging points etc was recognised. It was noted that the space in the loft, although not designed to be a bedroom, met the Government’s space standards.

·         The replacement of two trees for one was noted and replacement with semi-mature trees was requested.

·         The height of the Gabion wall was advised to be around 1.8m. Concern was expressed in relation to the wall possibly being used by free-runners and being climbed on by children and the likely incidence of injury. It was suggested that a condition be included that consideration be given to the modification of the design of the wall to make it difficult to climb and stand on.

·         Following a concern raised in relation to the run off of water from the site, the Board was advised that a condition had been included that would deal with water run-off.

·         A concern was raised about the use of a portion of the greenspace setting a precedent. The Board was assured that any future applications for this site would not be supported by officers.

Resolved that application 20190833 be PERMITTED subject to the planning conditions and informatives, which would include conditions with regard to the detailed shape/form of the Gabion wall, planting and landscaping to ensure public safety and to protect the privacy of the proposed dwellings and provide for semi-nature trees to be planted in the greenspace, to be set out in the decision notice issued by the Planning Department and made available on the following link: https://www.gravesham.gov.uk/planning-search.

(Cllrs Harold Craske, John Burden, Brian Francis, Brian Sangha and Lauren Sullivan requested that their votes in support of the recommendation be recorded. Cllrs Conrad Broadley, Gary Harding, Jordan Meade and Frank Wardle requested that their votes against the recommendation be recorded.)

Note:   (a)        Mr Simon Doherty (Applicant)(a supporter) addressed the Board.
            (b)        Ms Anna Kadziolka (Architect)(a supporter) addressed the Board.
            (c)        Cllr Emma Elliott spoke with the leave of the Chair.

Supporting documents: