Agenda item

20140550 - Demolition of existing building and erection of a four/five storey building at Former Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Clarence Place, Gravesend

Decision:

Resolved that application 20140550 be DELEGATED to the Planning Manager (Development Management) to grant planning permission subject to:

·                Further consideration of late representations received prior to the resolution of the Regulatory Board (Planning) and whether those representations raise any new issues with legal advice to be sought where appropriate.

·                Completion of a Section 106 Agreement, with Heads of Terms as set out in the main report, within 6 months of the date of the resolution made by the Regulatory Board (Planning).

·                Planning conditions/informatives, including pre-commencement conditions to be agreed in consultation with the applicant.

Minutes:

The Board considered an application in relation to the former Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, Clarence Place, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1LD for the demolition of existing building and erection of a four/five storey building to accommodate 16 two bedroom and 3 one bedroom self-contained flats with 19 parking spaces, cycle storage provision and bin stores at basement level.

The Principal Planner (Major Sites) introduced the application giving a description of the site and provided details of additional comments received since the publication of the report. It was the Officer’s view that whilst the third party comments were noted, they raised no fresh issues within the application. For clarity, officers had not seen the documents before as they had not resulted in an offer or formal pre-application being submitted. Officers disagreed that paragraph 4.19 to 5.12 of the supplementary report were misleading and considered that the advice that Members need to weigh the application as a whole, including what would replace the non-designated heritage asset, was correct.

Members were asked to have regard to Section 66(1) and Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (as amended) which places a duty on the decision maker to pay special attention to the desirability of preserve the heritage asset. In the Board’s consideration of this duty, attention was drawn to section 6 of the main report and section 4 and 5 of the supplementary report especially where reference was made to paragraph 193 of the NPPF which states that with respect to buildings or other land in a conservation area, special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area. The heritage issues had been carefully considered by both the Council’s Conservation Architect and the applicant’s heritage consultant

It was acknowledged that the scheme had been controversial and a significant number of objections had been received.

With regard to the delivery of housing, significant positive weight has been given to the proposal in respect to redevelopment for housing which complies with policies CS02, CS14, CS15 and CS16 and the expectation in the NPPF that previously developed land in sustainable locations were positively brought forward for housing that makes optimal use of the site.

In conclusion, the Principal Planner (Major Sites) advised that, on balance, it was considered that the proposal was in accordance with the development plan as a whole and that there were no material considerations which indicate otherwise.   In particular, the Council had also concluded that the clear and convincing justification had been given which was required by the NPPF. It was therefore recommended that that the proposal can be supported.

During consideration of the application the following points were raised:

·                     Members were shown photographs of the current condition of the exterior and interior of the building which had been vacant since 2010 and was in a poor state due to vandalism by youths and burglars. However, Members were advised that the site could not be described as derelict rather it is regarded as a vacant site. The site is previously developed or, more commonly, classified as a brownfield site and was within the Windmill Hill Conservation Area.

·                     Following a request from a Member, an application received in 2008 to redevelop the site was compared with the current application. The 2008 application proposed more units and also incorporated an additional section to the rear of the building.

·                     The need for appropriate housing in the Borough was acknowledged as was the scarcity of brownfield sites.

·                     Three periods of marketing had been undertaken. The most recent had been undertaken by Caxtons Chartered Surveyors & Property Services (Kent) over a 6 month period which had been unsuccessful.

·                     Members were advised that the Gurdwara intended to rent, not sell the proposed flats to elderly people at a reduced rent 20% below the marketable value and Gravesham residents would be given priority. It was noted that the Gurdwara was a registered charity and therefore had to operate under charitable rules. Officers explained to Members that whilst that might be the Gurdwara’s intention, the application before them did not include that information and should be judged as providing open market housing with no affordable housing being provided. 

·                     Members noted that a number of residents considered that the building could be used as a community centre, art gallery, offices and a possible home for Mr Tony Larkin’s historical artefacts. The meeting was advised that following the construction of the new Gurdwara, the Section 106 agreement on the permission included a clause that prevented the former Gurdwara from being used as a place of assembly because of complaints from residents about the lack of parking in the area.

·                     Members noted that with regard to the building being proposed for use as a community centre, art gallery, offices and a possible home for Mr Tony Larkin’s historical artefacts, a serious offer had been made to the applicants who had not responded. Following questions, it was determined that the offer was £50,000 and there were queries whether this could be considered as a serious offer at that very modest level. However Members noted that they could only consider the scheme before them.

·                     English Heritage confirmed that the former Gurdwara building was not of listable quality. Whilst it was a non-designated heritage asset located in the Windmill Hill Conservation Area, a sustainable future use was considered key for its retention and an alternative viable proposal had not been put forward. 

·                     The design of the proposed building was considered to be a pastiche but one that the Board considered would harmonise with the surrounding area.

·                     The Board acknowledged that over 190 objections to the application had been received and recognised the local attachment to the building but also noted the large number of residents who supported the proposal.

·                     Another Councillor felt that the Windmill Conservation Area should be respected and the former Gurdwara building should not be allowed to be demolished to build flats especially as a number of other possibilities had been suggested.

Resolved that application 20140550 be DELEGATED to the Planning Manager (Development Management) to grant planning permission subject to:

·                Further consideration of late representations received prior to the resolution of the Regulatory Board (Planning) and whether those representations raise any new issues with legal advice to be sought where appropriate.

·                Completion of a Section 106 Agreement, with Heads of Terms as set out in the main report, within 6 months of the date of the resolution made by the Regulatory Board (Planning).

·                Planning conditions/informatives, including pre-commencement conditions to be agreed in consultation with the applicant

 

Note:   (a)     Mr Geoff Haskin (agent for the applicants) (a supporter) addressed the    Board.

(b)     Mr Yaadwinder Singh Sumray (a supporter) addressed the Board.

            (c)     Ms Tejinderjit Sanghera (a supporter) addressed the Board.

            (d)     Mr Ian Kilblane (an objector) addressed the Board.

            (e)     Mr Paul Martin (an objector) addressed the Board.

            (f)      Mrs Melanie Parr (an objector) addressed the Board.

            (g)     Cllr Steve Thompson spoke with the leave of the Chair.

 

Supporting documents: