Gardens & wildlife

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Carelet 2013 inaccurate misleading information

 The Gatehouse still seems far too busy, given very limited space
Details on the proposed design of the gatehouse (miniscule drawings) are still insufficient to show clearly whether there is enough space for all that would have to go on: services/post, storage of black bag waste, materials for recycling, cycle parking, transport of bicycles/people/rubbish within the single lift.

BH2013/03782 [greenfield site to rear of 67 to 81 Princes Rd]: increase in height to the 6 three storey buildings permitted earlier this year
application site
Photo taken from a little way up Davey Drive showing nearly all the application site. Note the misleading information in section 24 of Carelet's application form: Can the site be seen from a public road, public footpath, bridleway or other public land? No
Existing residents (67-81 Princes Road) could look out of windows (from the middle floor of their 3-storey homes) and see over the roofs of the houses in the approved scheme. However, this proposal would raise the roof-heights so that these Princes Road residents would look directly onto a line of solar panels (of a design not fit for a conservation area). These ones do not even blend into slate roofs; they would be barely 20 metres away. Such a display at the front of homes would not be permitted in streets in Round Hill. The proposed terrace is "not in a street" because poor access & lack of space do not allow a roadway. Developments of 6 houses or more (especially tall houses) which do not have a street frontage of their own fall short of the design standards expected in policy QD 5 (street frontages) of Brighton and Hove's Local Plan.

In section 1.2 of Carelet's Design & Access Statement "revisiting the amount of excavation works required by the proposed development" describes a request for permission to do less excavation and to lower the costs of the development. If Carelet is granted a cheaper development while the bulk increases, the losers will be the existing residents living in the terrace at the NE end of Princes Road as well as the amenity value of the Round Hill conservation area. Long views into our neighbourhood noted for its green spatial characteristics and period architecture (especially from a little way up Davey Drive to the NE) would be badly affected.

Section 1.3 of Carelet's Design & Access Statement under-reports the extent of the damage. The developer claims here that "The current scheme maintains all of the principles of the approved scheme, such as footprint. The main deviation relates to the roof height of the proposed terrace, which has been increased by approximately 1.2m"

1.2 metres (nearly 4ft) is a significant increase in height. More bulk will hide some of the very green space which Carelet suggests (in the rest of section 1.3) that a cheaper development would secure. Inverted logic is made worse by under-reporting the actual increases in height which individual homes in the terrace would have to live with. I list these below.

[To check my calculations go to the drawings showing proposed floor plans, elevations & sections and view the NW elevation showing proposed houses and existing houses behind. Note the roof heights of each proposed house. Then go to the drawings showing proposed floor plans, elevations & sections for which Carelet Carelet obtained permission earlier this year. Also view the NW elevation and note the roof heights which received planning permission. Subtract the differences.]

Proposed house [A] opp proposed gatehouse & 81 Princes Rd
Proposed increase is 1.21 metres (near enough to 1.2 metres)

Proposed house [B] opp part of 81 & 79 Princes Road
Proposed increase is 1.41 metres (not 4 feet, but over 4 feet 7")

Proposed house [C] opp parts of 75 & 77 Princes Road
Proposed increase is 1.46 metres (not 4 feet, but over 4 feet 9")

Proposed house [D] opp parts of 73, 75 & 77 Princes Road
Proposed increase is 1.16 metres (not 4 feet, but over 4 feet 7")

Proposed house [E] opp part of 71 & 73 Princes Road
Proposed increase is 1.16 metres (about 3 inches short of 1.2 metres)

Proposed house [F] opp part of 81 & 79 Princes Road
Proposed increase is 0.9 metres

House F omits the lower ground floor which all the other houses have, but adds a wing at the end of the access path which brings the new build very close to the gardens of 67 & 69 Princes Road.

The figure of 0.9 metres is less than the generally figure reported in the Design Statement as 1.2, but the shortfall is used to report a general figure which underplays the increases in the parts of the terrace most sensitive to problems from overlooking

There is a steeply descending hillside between the existing and Carelet's proposed houses, but if the floors (and therefore the SE-facing windows) of all the proposed houses are raised, whether by 3ft 9" (proposed House D) or 4ft 9" (proposed House C), then the wall-to-wall distances between existing and proposed houses will shorten.

Carelet previous application, which was granted, barely met the CABE recommendation of 20 metres separation. This new application makes the separations even tighter and increases the degree of overlooking.

The roof-heights now proposed would also bring existing residents closer to 12 unsightly solar panels (click here to see how they look), while with the previous application (with the proposed roofs significantly lower) most existing windows offered views over roof tops.

Section 1.4 of Carelet's Design & Access Statement quotes selectively (paragraph 18) from an appeal decision which went against Carelet on several counts - an appeal which they in fact lost.

Please read the whole of planning inspector Roger Mather's Appeal Decision.

This appeal decision related to a proposal for a mix of 8 two & three storey houses, a design which the planning inspector did not like since the rooflines stepped both up and down, failing to echo the stepped descent of the existing terrace.

The inspector rejected the design and made it clear (paragraph 17) that the scheme also failed by not achieving acceptable living conditions for future occupants in relation to overlooking and loss of privacy. He elaborates his concerns about the latter in paragraph 16. He also failed the scheme both on the parking issue (see scathing comments in paragraph 13, 14 & 15) and on the damage that the combination of two & three storeys would do to the character & appearance of the Round Hill conservation area (paragraphs 10, 11 and 12. In paragraph 9 he also mentions that Carelet's site can be clearly seen in views from outside the conservation area to the north and east. Yet Carelet continues to write (e.g. in its current application form) that the site cannot be seen from the street.

Are inaccuracies ever corrected or is misinformation left for busy residents or perhaps even for busy members of the planning committee to absorb. The Council officers are perhaps too busy or too short-staffed to get involved in correcting design statements, but misinformation is not fair-play and does not serve local democracy.

I find it really disappointing that inaccuracies in applications and design statements from this developer have not been corrected and that "grey areas" (which are only grey areas if you believe what you read) have not been made clear. If this application is granted, it will be more than truth and clear-minded decision that will suffer. Costs which the developer should have met, if they had researched permitted schemes which they are inferring are no longer viable, will be transferred to our residents and neighbourhood.

The Council may tell us that they do not go by design statements, but by the drawings.

However, residents would need to devote their lives to planning applications if they had to look at drawings through magnifying glasses to check 'fair play' in design statements. Non-professionals are more likely to read the design statements (if at all) rather than extract microscopic print relating to distance-above-sea-level from plans.

Inaccuracies in Carelet's Application Form

1. The applicant implies that Carelet's site was once a domestic garden. Only the small section of the site (the most westerly bit adjacent to No 67 Princes Road which has been garden-grabbed from No 67) was ever a domestic garden. The main body of the strip (i.e. to the rear of the truncated gardens of 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79 and 81 Princes Road has always been a greenfield site as Brighton and Hove City Council recognised by including it in an Open Space study. It has never been a domestic garden. When Carelet purchased this undeveloped plot of land early in 2004, the open space was an entirely separate freehold from those of 67 and 81 Princes Road (the latter two also purchased by Carelet and having houses within the curtilage of their plots).

2. The applicant states that the site cannot be seen from a public street. The very photo contained in their supporting documents shows this not to be true. There is a vantage point (a little way up Davey Drive) where most of the application site can be seen and the period architecture of the Round Hill conservation area behind it. The planning inspector who made the Appeal Decision, selectively quoted in Carelet's Design and Access Statement , confirms the visibility of both the application site and the conservation area in long views from the north.

3. They state that there is no contamination on the site. Residents who suggested in 2004 that the site might be suitable for growing food were told otherwise by the developer's (then) architect. All Carelet's proposals (including this one) have included supporting documents reporting on contamination.

4. There is only no significant biodiversity interest (wildlife etc) on the site since the developer stripped most of it to bare earth in 2005 before any planning permission was given and Network Rail also felled mature trees for safety reasons. The site was previously a wildlife haven containing a great diversity of species including slowworm.

It should be made clear that the new application is for car-free development
Also of concern to local residents is that Section 7.3 of Carelet's latest Design & Access Statement states that "The steep and narrow access to the site, and eco-conscious nature of the proposal has resulted in on-street car parking provision, under Control Parking Zone scheme, being provided for new residents" I believe that the latter assertion is a mistake. The above text, referencing an expected CPZ, was most likely left in from an earlier Access & Design Statement and probably relates to their 2009 permission for 4 two-storey houses. See The Council's planning conditions imposed on their (less tall) 6 three-storey-house scheme which was permitted in summer 2013. I don't believe that any Local Authority would renege quite so quickly on a planning condition made to ensure that the benefits of our CPZ were not immediately reversed.

Lifting the condition that the development should be car-free would create an estimated demand for 9 extra on-street parking places in a part of Round Hill which has only recently had its bottlenecks eased. parking
2013: even with a residents' parking scheme, there are still bottlenecks during the day before parking difficulty reaches its peak in the evenings after the CPZ cut-off time of 8pm.

Both Round Hill's July 2010 community parking survey and a 2011 appeal decision made the need for the planning condition clear to the Council in the context of a proposal for 6 three-storey houses which would involve as many as 9 on-street parking places. Paragraph 18 of Isobel McCretton's 2011 Appeal Decision notes that night-time parking is a specific concern in Round Hill. She observed that the late evening time period when parking pressures were at their peak had not been covered by the appellants The pressures on hot-spots within the Area J, where the supply of on street parking space is still finite, remains a concern especially for residents who get back from work somewhat later than others. This is compounded by the fact that the Area J CPZ cuts off after 8pm every day and does not control parking until 9am the next morning.

SOS Save Our Tree
Tree experts unable to guarantee that listed horse-chestnut would survive a construction phase on Carelet's application site
Paragraph 20 (of the appeal decision Carelet suggests offers support!) mentions the concern expressed by the Council's arboricultural officer that survival of the horse chestnut tree is not guaranteed if Carelet's construction phase went ahead. While not citing this as one of his reasons for dismissing the appeal, he recognises the significant contribution that the protected Horse Chestnut makes to the street scene in Princes Road.

No experts have guaranteed the horse-chestnut tree's survival in the event of construction works, in spite of describing hosts of measures used to protect trees in locations where access is far more generous. (See more detailed article + links to tree reports, which explain why this beautiful & much valued tree is unlikely to survive if any of Carelet's proposals go ahead).
This view from the summit of Princes Road may soon be changed chestnut
The residents who got this tree listed in 2004, when Carelet first appeared on the scene, wanted to save it. We must not surrender to the tactic of "not using permissions, but bombarding us with planning applications". A horse-chestnut is not an elm, but both contribute to amenity in several ways. If Round Hill residents wish to apply the same energy as residents who protected the listed tree at Seven Dials, then it does no harm to tell the Council our concerns.
Comments received before noon on Friday noon 24th January 2014 will be added to the late list. Comment on the The Council's website.
This page was last updated by Ted on 30-Mar-2019
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