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Crescent Road 2015 Liaison

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Liaison with 28 Crescent Road developer
before planning application BH2016/00862

Residents living in the vicinity of the narrow strip of land, which separates properties on the east side of Belton Road from those on the west side of Crescent Road, had two meeting (Monday 16th March and Wednesday 24th June 2015) with the developer - one on the application site at 28 Crescent Road and the other at The Jolly Poacher.

At the second meeting, the solicitor said that his applicant was keen to address neighbours' concerns and would do their best to alter windows so that they could perhaps be recessed so that overlooking wasn't so much of an issue and perhaps some bricked off.

 

Failure to make more than token gestures to address residents' concerns:

the new application is for AN EVEN GREATER AMOUNT OF UNWANTED INFILL

Residents living in the vicinity of the site still have the same concerns as they expressed powerfully before the last full planning application BH2014/00124 was WITHDRAWN just over one year ago.

Note that in the documents column, the Council has included a decision for a future planning application refused on 29th June 2015. This is a mistake. BH2014/00124 was definitely withdrawn on Wednesday 19th March 2014 as recorded in the summary details.

It was felt, then, and it is still felt that as many as 5 residential flats within a small plot (offering a limited but valued amount of green space) surrounded by numerous existing homes, was overdevelopment and would involve overlooking, loss of privacy and loss of a small green lung which contributes to a feel-good factor to living in a very densely developed conservation area.

Why was the last full planning application withdrawn?

Shortly before the last full planning application BH2014/00124 to locate five residential flats on this site was withdrawn on 19th March 2014, the Council's Conservation Advisory Group recommended that it should be refused as the proposed design and poor quality materials were not acceptable and that the proposal was an overdevelopment of the area.

Both the latter recommendation and residents' comments to The Case Officer (objecting to the scheme) may have indicated that the application was likely to be REFUSED. An actual refusal would have specified "grounds for refusal" which could have set limits for successive applications.

Why would a developer withdraw a planning application if they felt that it had a good chance of being APPROVED?

Review Round Hill residents' campaign to get the first full planning application refused, before it was WITHDRAWN.

Another explanation

It is possible that BH2014/00124 was withdrawn simply because the applicant thought that an application for "prior approval" claiming permitted development rights (under government planning policies temporarily in place until 2016) would succeed.

Through entitlement to the government's grant of permitted development, the developer could have by-passed local opposition to the intended scheme.

Under these temporary rules designed to boost development, residents' main concerns would not have counted as valid grounds for refusal.

Review the applicant's attempts to use the grant of permitted development.

A full planning application, however, will return our normal democratic rights.

Further background when a smaller amount than in the current application was expected:

Reading the report of the meeting on Monday 16th March 2015, it is difficult to observe that the developer has made any significant adjustment to the concerns relating to the full planning application "WITHDRAWN" over one year ago. On asking for more information, I am now aware that he is no longer considering one of the annexes to the west of the site as a suitable footprint for a flat, but instead he does seem to want to erect a flat on the footprint of the lock-up/outhouse on the southern perimeter of the site. It looks as if the proposal in the pipeline or his future intention is still to erect five flats.

There has been no undertaking to reduce the amount of development to a maximum of two or three flats - perhaps a "REFUSAL" is needed for this adjustment to happen. Nor has there been any commitment up front to use high quality materials and a design which is sensitive to the period-look of the houses around. This would be how those wanting the Round Hill conservation area to be "preserved or enhanced" would wish the developer to respond.

UPDATE: I learn (on further enquiry) that when reminded about The Conservation Advisory Group's assessment of his first full planning application, the developer did speak about the possibility of a type of cladding that could be used to both help with energy ratings and to help the appearance sympathise with the surrounding area.This is an area which The Round Hill Society will want to look at when we see the actual plans and which will come under scrutiny again if the designs are so unsympathetic that we ask for the new proposal to go to CAG. The conversion of office buildings to residential accommodation will not only require planning permission, but it will involve building regulations. A Building Regulations Inspector will specify the cladding or insulation needed to meet today's energy efficiency standards for residential accommodation. The Council's Heritage Team (who can choose to take CAG's advice or not in giving their own recommendation to the Case Officer) involve themselves in whether the materials, window and door designs, roofing etc are of a high quality (not off-the-shelf) and whether they blend with the character and appearance of a conservation area with an Article 4 Direction.

A new footprint for a 5th flat?

Instead of undertaking to reduce the amount of development, the applicant disclosed that he would like to make the outhouse/lock up at the bottom of the site into a residential flat too. The location of this is on raised ground near to the garden walls of residents living to the south of the site. The prospect of residential accommodation on the footprint of the outhouse, a terrain where a larger structure would stand out, gave little reassurance to those at the meeting. The developer's suggestion that he could dig out some of the raised terrain to reduce the levels, caused further disquiet in relation to the garden walls.


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There was general concern about the green space being used as a communal garden for the proposed flats in terms of noise pollution/nuisance etc.
green open space
The developer initially said that he intends to landscape it (possibly once it's been dug out) and make it into a garden that would be fully managed for the use of the residents of the flats.

He was considering how to reduce loss of privacy there and talked about possibly putting up trees etc around the border to aid this. There was concern about loss of light. He also suggested he could in fact keep it as a wild garden, leave the levels as they are, and not allow residents use of it (other than access to the proposed flat at the outhouse end). There was a lot of support for this, but it was noted that this could be hard to police.

The main issue

In summary, the concern is OVERDEVELOPMENT of land, more of which needs to be retained as open space if the application site is going to be put to residential use without compromising the privacy and living conditions of both newcomers and existing residents in the several properties all around.

While it would be welcomed if the developer's new proposal avoids use of the footprint of 'the office building in the foreground of the picture (below)' for residential accommodation, the high-level of the terrain nearest to the Belton Road gardens which are on lower land (immediate foreground) needs to be tightly managed to respect the amenity of existing residents.


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Related articles

Campaign to get the first full planning application refused, before it was WITHDRAWN.

The applicant's attempts to use the grant of permitted development.

This page was last updated by Ted on 14-Sep-2018
(registered users can amend this page)