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This page is from the Round Hill Society archives which are available for historic interest. Please bear in mind when viewing archived pages that details may no longer be current.

Carelet 2005-Appeal Decision

Appeal Ref: APP/Q1445/A/05/1178381

Land behind Nos. 67-81 Prince's Road, Brighton, E Sussex

 

  • The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant planning permission.
  • The appeal is made by Carelet Ltd against the decision of Brighton & Hove City Council
  • The application ref BH2004/036O5/FP, dated 12 November 2004, was refused by notice dated 23 February 2005.
  • The development proposed is "erection of 30 no. flats (all to be affordable for rent) in development comprising part five / part six storey building to rear of Nos.67-81 Prince's Road and two-storey building (with three basement floors) adjacent to No.81 Prince's Road. Provision of communal gardens, refuse store, cycle storage and one car club parking space."

 

Summary of Decision: The appeal is dismissed.

____________________________________________________________

Preliminary Matters

1. Prior to determination the number of flats that were the subject of the application was

reduced from 33 to 30 and I note that, in the Committee report, the development is

described as providing 12 units for affordable housing.

Main Issues

2. I consider the main issues in this case to be:

1) The effect of the proposal on the Round Hill Conservation Area.

2) Whether the proposal would be over development at too high a density and whether it would contain adequate provision of amenity space.

3) The effect of the proposal on the amenities of neighbouring residents, particularly with regard to overlooking and loss of privacy.

Planning Policy

3. The development plan for the area includes the Brighton Borough Local Plan 1995. Policy ENV1 seeks to protect and improve the local environment, whilst ENV 3 requires new development to be of a high standard of design in terms of scale, height, form, mass, density, materials and landscaping and to take account of its surroundings. Policy ENV22 says that the Council will pay special attention to the desirability of enhancing as well as preserving the character or appearance of conservation areas, in this case the Round Hill Conservation Area. Policy HI 9 says that private usable amenity space should be provided, appropriate to the scale and character of the development.

4. The emerging Brighton & Hove Local Plan (Second Deposit Draft 2001) is at an advanced stage of preparation and carries significant weight. Policies QD1, QD2, QD4 and HE6 generally reflect and amplify Policies ENV1, ENV3 and ENV22. Policy QD3

requires new development to make efficient and effective use of a site at an intensity of development appropriate to the locality and encourages higher densities in areas with good public transport and close to a range of services and facilities, but avoiding 'town cramming'. Policy QD27 seeks to protect the amenities of existing and future residents and neighbours.

5. Policy HO requires provision of private usable amenity space appropriate to the scale and character of the development. Policy QD16 seeks to protect trees and hedgerows. Policy SU2 says that proposals should demonstrate a high standard of efficiency in the use of energy, water and materials. The Council has referred to SPGBH21: Brighton & Hove Sustainability Checklist, but have not supplied a copy.

Reasons

6. The appeal site is an area of land behind Nos.67-81 Prince's Road, a row of terraced houses that step down the slope from west to east. There is also a steep drop in level behind the houses of approximately two storeys. Bounding the site to the north, in a cutting, is the Brighton to Lewes railway line and to the east, also at a lower level, an industrial estate. To the west, the site boundary is formed by the rear garden of No. 65.

The entrance to the site would be via a new 'gatehouse' building at the side of No.81, which would incorporate a lift and stairs to the lower level where the main block of flats would be built. The road frontage immediately to the east contains a belt of trees that effectively screens the industrial estate from views from Prince's Road.

Effect on the Conservation Area

7. The Round Hill Conservation Area is characterised by Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses and villas, in a variety of architectural styles depending on the date of construction. Nos.67-81 Prince's Road comprise houses and maisonettes, of two storeys on the road frontage, though with ground floors below road level, and up to four storeys at the rear. The railway line and the industrial estate mark the boundary of the Conservation Area and the site lies just within it.

8. The 'gatehouse' would be of contemporary design, of two-storeys with a flat roof. There is little uniformity of design in the immediate area and I note that Policy QD1 discourages replication of existing styles and pastiche designs. I do not think that a building of contrasting, contemporary design would necessarily harm the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. However, a flat roofed building would appear wholly out of context with the surroundings and it seems to me that the proposed building would sit awkwardly in relation to the adjoining property, especially in the juxtaposition of flat and pitched roofs and the construction of the road level forecourt and its use for car parking and refuse collection.

9. Again, I see no reason in principle why the main building should not be of contemporary design. However, though it would not be easily visible from Prince's Road, it would be seen in views from the north and east, where its bulk and mass would contrast sharply with the linear, stepped form of the existing terraces. Although on the edge of the Conservation Area, any development of this site should respect the character of the Area and its setting, and it seems to me that the scale and mass of the purpose-built block, rising to six storeys, pays little regard to the topography of the site or the relationship with the height, stepped roofscape and small scale design of the existing properties.

 

10. I understand that the use of timber and climbing plants are intended to reduce the impact of the new building, but in my view it would over-dominate the rear of the properties in Prince's Road and, because of its height, size and bulk, would not respect the character of the Conservation Area. It would be obtrusive, out of scale and harmful to the setting of the adjacent properties and I conclude that the proposal would neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. It would therefore conflict with adopted and emerging local plan policies ENV1, ENV3, ENV22, QD1, QD2, QD4 and HE6.

Density and Amenity Space

11. The main block would occupy most of the available site. On the north and east it would be close to the side boundaries. On the south side, the two 'wings' would be close to the garden boundaries of the frontage properties. At the lower levels the flats would have very limited outlook and, on the northern side, the belt of trees along the railway line would restrict the outlook of a number of the flats at the upper levels. The amount of daylight and sunlight received by some flats could also be restricted and the proximity of the boundary trees could result in pressure to lop or fell them, which would reduce the screening of the railway line and waste depot beyond.

12 None of the flats appears to have any private amenity space and I have no doubt that the amount of communal open space would be inadequate for a development of 30 flats that includes family accommodation. I understand the desire to maximise the density of development, but in my view the site is simply not big enough to accommodate this amount of development satisfactorily. The main block would appear cramped and, with the lack of amenity open space it would, in my view, represent significant 'town cramming' and over-development of the site. It would therefore conflict with adopted and emerging local plan policies ENV1, ENV3, ENV22, H19, QD1, QD2, QD3, QD4, HO and HE6.

Effect on Residential Amenity

13. Neighbouring residents are particularly concerned about the effect of the proposed building on their outlook and privacy. Although a number of the windows at the rear of the terrace are to kitchens or bathrooms, several are to habitable rooms and, having viewed the site from the rear windows of No.75,1 believe that the new development, rising to five and six storeys in height, would produce a canyon-like effect and be significantly overbearing in the outlook of residents of those houses. Additionally, thebedrooms of upper flats in the new block would overlook their gardens and there would be the possibility of overlooking between the flats and the terrace houses with consequent loss of privacy for the occupiers. I conclude that the proposal would be overbearing on and have an unacceptable detrimental effect on the amenities of the adjacent properties and that it would therefore conflict with emerging local plan policy QD27.

Other Considerations

14.  The Council is concerned about the future of the horse chestnut tree which is the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and is situated at the side of the proposed 'gatehouse' building. The tree is shown to be retained in the submitted plans. The Tree Report submitted by the appellants recommends removal because of the lack of long-term potential as a specimen tree, but says that the tree could be retained, given suitableroot and stem protection and some aerial crown pruning. The Report recognises that, because of the somewhat restricted vehicular access, there would be a high possibility of damage, however much care is taken. In my opinion, the tree makes a significant contribution to the street scene; every effort should be made to retain it in any future development and allowance should be made for its future growth. I agree with Council that it has not been demonstrated satisfactorily that the tree could be retained in the long term. Its loss would be contrary to Policy QD16 of the emerging local plan.

15.     The Council has also questioned the sustainability of the development, particularly in the use of energy, water and materials. However, from the information supplied, the construction appears to be designed using sustainable principles and materials and I agree with the appellants that additional details could be dealt with by way of conditions, should the appeal be allowed

16.      Local residents are particularly concerned regarding traffic and pressure on parking in the area. I have to say that I share some of these concerns. It is not clear that the development could be guaranteed to remain 'traffic free' and that none of the residents would own or use cars. The existing residents rely heavily on on-street parking and any significant additional car usage would exacerbate the pressure for parking in the area, with the concomitant additional hazards to road safety stemming from possible indiscriminate parking and the circulation of vehicle drivers seeking a parking space. Prince's Road and several of the surrounding streets slope steeply and are not ideal terrain for cyclists or pedestrians. I note that the Highway Authority does not object, providing the details of the car club are pursued further, but the lack of a guaranteed traffic-free solution reinforces my view that the proposed development is unacceptable.

Conclusions

17.   For the reasons given above, and having regard to all other matters raised, including the representations of interested parties, I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.

Formal Decision

18. I dismiss this appeal.

INSPECTOR

 

J Mansell Jagger MA(Cantab) DipTP MRTPI IHBC 

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