Agenda item

20200561 - Former St Johns Ambulance, Brigade HQ, Armoury Drive, Gravesend - Demolition of vacant brick buildings and erection of 2 no. one bedroom bungalows and a two storey block containing 4 no. two bedroom flats with associated access from Albert Murray Close and Armoury Drive, car parking, landscaped amenity and ancillary enclosure

Decision:

Resolved that application 20200561 be PERMITTED subject to conditions and informatives as set out in the report including:

1.            A condition requiring the implementation of the Code of Construction Management Plan to control the hours of working and levels of noise and pollution. (Based on the wording for Clifton Slipways approval Code of Construction Management Plan Condition.)

2.            A heritage interpretation condition in relation to the preservation and conservation of the water tower dated plaque to be agreed before the demolition of the water tower.

3.            A condition requiring the re-use of the construction materials from the demolition of the water tower to be used in the construction of the boundary walls where appropriate

4.            A condition in relation to the soft and hard landscaping.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered an application reference 20200561 for the demolition of vacant brick buildings and the erection of 2 one bedroom bungalows with flexible living space on the first floor and a two storey block containing 4 two bedroom flats with associated access from Albert Murray Close (the block of flats) and Armoury Drive (the bungalows), car parking, landscaped amenity and ancillary enclosure at the former St John’s Ambulance Brigade HQ, Armoury Drive, Gravesend.

The Career Grade Planner showed a site location plan and described the location of the site in relation to the surrounding locality and the buildings currently on the site which included a former barracks building and a water tower. It was noted that the skylights in the bungalows pointed skywards to reduce the impact on neighbouring properties. The bungalows were also sited lower and therefore would not cause any detrimental effect regarding loss of light on neighbouring properties. A plan demonstrating the massing in the area and the location and effect of the proposals was shown as were photographs of the existing buildings on the site.

In conclusion the officer stated that the application was policy compliant and hence the recommendation as set out in the report.

The application had been referred to the Committee as Gravesham Borough Council was the applicant.

The Committee heard the views of public speakers in support of this application who answered questions from Members.

The following points were made during discussion on this application:

·         Eighteen objections had been received which mainly related to the character and appearance of the proposal which abutted the Windmill Hill Conservation Area. The officers noted that the design was of a modern development which matched the design of residences to the north of the site. The Conservation Area to the south was separated from the site by a wall.

·         Following a question on heritage concerns, Members were advised that Kent County Council (KCC) Archaeological Service had been consulted. KCC had then posed a specific question in relation to the water tower to Historic England who had advised that the water tower was not worth saving and could be demolished after being recorded for historical purposes. Members were shown a map of the location of the water tower on the site and it was noted that the Committee had little faith in opinion of KCC. It was suggested that the water tower be re-evaluated as to whether it was valuable or useful for Gravesham from a heritage point of view and Policy CS20 (paragraph 5.16.10) was quoted in relation to the protection of local heritage.

·         Other Members of the Committee were content to accept to opinion of Historic England and for the water tower to be recorded and then demolished. It was also noted that the financial resources for conversion or preservation of the water tower were not available. In addition, some considered that the brownfield site should be used to alleviate the housing shortage in the Borough.

·         Officers were advised that Historic England did not have the resources to get involved local heritage issues and was only interested in ancient monuments or Grade 2* listed buildings. It was suggested that the expertise of the Council’s Conservation Officer be relied on who’s opinion had been notably missing from Committee reports. It was also suggested that the former Barracks be considered for listing as it had been in use in the first and second World Wars as an artillery hospital.

·         The Committee was advised that houses were not as space efficient as a block of flats and would have equated to 3 houses instead of 4 flats.  Therefore the layout had been designed to make the most efficient use of the site.

·         In relation to the heritage concerns, a question was raised on whether the architectural design of the water tower be reflected in the design of the proposal and also whether the plaque on the water tower could be incorporated in the soft landscaping. A suggestion was also made about the possible re-use of the water tower as a dwelling giving its solid construction which would accord with the Council’s Climate Change objectives. The applicant agreed that given enough funding for renovation and future maintenance, the tower could be utilised. However, this would be costly and was therefore not feasible and, if retained, would result in the loss of two dwellings on the site. This possibility had been considered but budget had precluded going forward with this idea. Members were advised that construction material from the water tower would be re-used for the hard landscaping on the site.

·         Following a question about the heritage of the site, Members were advised that there was a detailed heritage study that could be made available. However, the Chair advised that public speakers were not permitted to share documents during the meeting. However, the document was in the public domain and so officers displayed the document once the public speaking had finished.

·         Members were advised that a condition on obscure glazing in windows on the side of the block of flats had been as a result on objections received. It was noted that these were also bathroom windows. The design of the bungalows incorporated high level windows to avoid overlooking.

·         There was a Tree Protection Order (TPO) on the boundary of Love Lane which mainly included lime trees. There was an Acer to be removed but this was not included in the TPO and would be replaced with two new trees. No evidence of the presence of bats had been found on the site. There was also a condition that vegetation clearance could not take place during the bird nesting season.

·         The site was privately owned with no access to the public and therefore had not been used as a community space.

·         The Committee was advised that an informative with regard to the hours of construction had been included in the recommendation set out in the report.

·         The Principal Planner (Major Sites) advised that the heritage statement for the water tower detailed the structure of the tower and the existence of a more modern extension which was built of yellow stock brick. Members were shown internal condition photographs.

A motion for a Covid secure site inspection was moved, seconded and put to the vote. The vote was lost.

A number of Members asked that their vote on the recommendation set out below be recorded and it was suggested that the Committee’s vote as a whole be recorded as follows:

For the motion – Cllrs. Lauren Sullivan, Harold Craske, Brian Francis, Elizabeth Mulheran and Steve Thompson.

Against the motion – Cllrs. Conrad Broadley, Bob Lane, Jordan Meade and Tony Rice.

Resolved that application 20200561 be PERMITTED subject to conditions and informatives as set out in the report including:

1.    A condition requiring the implementation of the Code of Construction Management Plan to control the hours of working and levels of noise and pollution. (Based on the wording for Clifton Slipways approval Code of Construction Management Plan Condition.)

2.    A heritage interpretation condition in relation to the preservation and conservation of the water tower dated plaque to be agreed before the demolition of the water tower.

3.    A condition requiring the re-use of the construction materials from the demolition of the water tower to be used in the construction of the boundary walls where appropriate

4.    A condition in relation to the soft and hard landscaping.

Note:   (a)        Mrs Sharon Donald (Applicant)(a supporter) addressed the Committee.
(b)        Anna Kadziolka (Architect)(a supporter) addressed the Committee.

 


Supporting documents: