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7 Richmond Road Brighton BN2 3RL
The applicant who was refused planning permission for BH2021/02065 | Erection of 1no single storey, two bedroom dwelling (C3) to the rear of the large 1860s semi-detached Victorian mansion (now divided into 5 flats) has launched an appeal.
Appeal (deadline for submissions 26th April 2022)
I am writing in support of Brighton and Hove City Council's three main reasons for refusing planning application BH2021/02065, which I will come to later.
There are also matters concerning Sustainable Transport, Ecology and Heritage mentioned in the Officer's & other reports, which require more emphasis.
The Sustainable Transport team objects to the proposed new dwelling on page 5 of the Officer's Report since no car parking is provided and this is likely to result in overspill parking on the highway in a controlled parking zone where permit uptake averages at 90%.
The County Ecologist's report does not reflect the value that many residents submitting objections attach to their urban green spaces (in a neighbourhood where public open spaces such as parks, recs, & woodland are absent). There are notable gaps in the Ecologist's report. SPD 11 Nature Conservation and Development confirms that a Nature Conservation Survey must be carried out by a qualified ecologist taking account of any nature conservation features within the development site and wider area, but application BH2021/02065 offers no such survey. The Ecologist's report focuses, narrowly, on designated nature conservation sites. That is not how the City Plan and other guidance defines nature conservation features and the 'green network', which includes non-designated areas and areas with the potential to contribute to the network. Text accompanying City Plan Policy CP10 Biodiversity (para. 4.133) confirms 'The South Downs Way Ahead Nature Improvement Area (NIA) includes all of the city's Green Network and much of the surrounding downland'. The aims of SPD 11 (not mentioned in the Ecologist's Report) include: 'To ensure the Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP)3 and the Brighton and Hove Green Network is fully integrated into the local planning process.' SPD11 confirms the green network includes 'land suitable for habitat creation to meet local, natural green space and LBAP targets. SPD11 para. 2.6 confirms: 'Many nature conservation features occur outside both designated sites and the Green Network. To be sustainable, it is important that the development identifies, conserves and enhances such features. A plan taken from the report 'A Green Network for Brighton & Hove Final Report of June 2009 (cross referenced in the City Plan) shows Richmond Road as a 'Connection Zone' connecting areas designated as part of the 'Green Network', including the communal gardens south of Richmond Road.
Heritage: Note the absence of content & depth in the applicant's Heritage Statement. Although the 1860s semi detached Victorian villa is not listed, it was one of the very early properties in Round Hill. In autumn 2020, the neighbouring villa at 9 Richmond Road offered a fascinating display of the property's heritage as part of Round Hill's Heritage Open Days event. The display board presented a timeline of previous occupants looking at four sets of them in some detail. Among the four is Colonel Heber Drury (see his Wikipedia entry). A proper survey of the history of these large Victorian semi-detached villas could keep the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Blue Plaque Panel busy for a long time. However, the appellant has not scratched the surface of the history of No. 7 Richmond Road. The Officer's Report does the site of the application and the 1860s villa somewhat more pride: "It is not locally listed; it makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area and its spacious rear garden contributes to character, appearance and spatial quality."
THE APPEAL STATEMENT
2.0 SITE DESCRIPTION
The claim in 2.4 that "there are frequent examples of separate dwellings utilising these garden spaces" is exaggerated. Round Hill's 'green ribbons' (the geometric matrix of green arcs and segments) are remarkably intact, as long views into the conservation area from The Race Course, Tenantry Down and Woodvale (to the east) show.
3.0 PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT
Note in 3.1 that the proposed development only leaves 6 metres of garden to be shared among 5 existing households.
The split level design mentioned in 3.2 means that a very large footprint of garden will be concreted over, comparable in size to the original house,
4.0 FORM OF DEVELOPMENT & CHARACTER OF AREA
Paragraph 4.3 contends that large outbuildings and backland development are characteristic of the area. However, the illustration submitted does not show dwellings constructed within gardens. The buildings to the west of Crescent Road were erected on a former light industrial site. The buildings in The Copse (top of picture) replaced a row of garages with easy level access from Princes Road. The existing 'backland' developments cited as precedents in the application are either built on former light industrial sites or outbuildings ancillary to dwellings. As such, they are wholly different from the proposed development which would situate a new dwelling within a garden.
Paragraph 4.4 is inaccurate in its conclusion, failing to distinguish between garden grabbing and backland development.
There is no truth in the contention (paragraph 4.5) that both Heritage and Planning Officers agree that the proposed design is appropriate for the garden context and that there is no objection to the principle of built form in the garden.
The reality is (Heritage comment from the Officer's Report) that "there is no objection to the principle of built form in the garden (such as a garden room) but not for a dwelling. In addition to the principle not being acceptable the footprint is also too large, being comparable in size to the original house, and the proximity of the proposed house to the side boundary wall, if it is an original flint wall it would inevitably be lost. If a garden room was proposed, clarification would be sought regarding loss of boundary treatment."
Paragraph 4.6 contends that the new dwelling would only be visible from neighbouring properties. Round Hill's Conservation character statement comments that "There are further green ribbons of land not visible from the street, which also define the unaltered Victorian street plan of the conservation area from a distance". While noting that the proposed development would have a green roof, the worry is that at a later stage permitted development rights would be exercised to install rooflights, given the dark and gloomy communal living space cited in BHCC's second main reason for refusal. This worry seems reasonable given that paragraph 5.6 of the appeal statement reads: "were the Inspector concerned regarding light ingress to the kitchen / dining part a rooflight could be secured by condition." See also paragraph 7.6.
Paragraph 4.8 comments that it is unusual for a development in a dense urban setting for more of the site to remain uncovered by built form than be built upon. This shows scant regard for the heritage, and site location of 7 Richmond Road. The officer's comment is that its spacious rear garden contributes to character, appearance and spatial quality.
The conclusion in paragraph 4.10 that "the proposal respects and conserves the character of the area in an innovative manner and complies with City Plan Policies CP12 Urban Design, CP14 Housing density and CP15 Heritage" is completely unwarranted.
5.0 STANDARD OF ACCOMMODATION
Paragraph 5.1 concedes that bedroom 1 (10.7 sqm in the Officer's Report) is slightly under the Nationally Described Space Standards for a double bedroom.
Paragraph 5.6 entertains the possibility that a rooflight may be needed to address concerns that the living space (kitchen; dining part) would be dark and gloomy. This would detract from the landscaping function of the green roof.
Paragraph 5.7 concludes optimistically that the rooms are well-proportioned, natural light levels would be suitable and an attractive outlook over large, landscaped garden spaces will be provided. Reason 2 for refusal contends that the proposed scheme would provide a poor standard of living accommodation for future occupants by virtue of the dark and gloomy communal living space and limited bedroom sizes, resulting in cramped and oppressive living accommodation.
6.0 AMENITY OF NEIGHBOURS
Paragraph 6.1 falsely states that the LPA agree that no overlooking or loss of privacy to neighbours would occur. Page 10 of the Officer's Report states that the proposal would also result in more intensive use of the garden area for the new dwelling which is likely to cause disturbance to the surrounding neighbours on each side and to the rear, and to the occupants of the host property.
Paragraph 6.2 dodges the question of loss of communal amenity space by the occupiers of the five flats at 7 Richmond Road by observing that the garden is little used. It puts this down to a lack of a sense of ownership, though a well maintained garden or residents interested in gardening might reverse this lack of use. I would observe generally that Interest in gardening is very high among Round Hill residents. The objections to BH2021/02065 also show the value we place on our green spaces.
Paragraph 6.3 states that a good sized garden (approximately 55m2) would be retained. The Officer's Report observes that although some green space will be retained for the occupants at No. 7 Richmond Road, this will be significantly reduced.
7.0 BENEFITS OF THE SCHEME
I refute the applicant's contentions in paragraphs 7.1 , 7.2 & 7.3 that the proposed development would not cause the adverse impacts contended by the LPA. Section 4.0 of the appeal statement fails entirely to convince that the character of the Round Hill Conservation Area would be preserved.
Paragraph 7.4 repeats the untruth that the LPA agree that the design is suitable for garden context, implying that they see it as good quality when they characterise it as resulting in cramped and oppressive living accommodation.
Paragraph 7.6 devalues the green space, stating that the Ecology consultee noted that the existing site is of relatively low biodiversity value. Of the 55, objections to BH2021/02065, most place a much higher value on our conservation area's green spaces and some show detailed knowledge of National and Local planning policies on biodiversity, nature conservation & development. Paragraph 7.6 again confirms the concern that the appellant really wants a rooflight to punctuate the green roof.
Paragraph 8.3 repeats the exaggeration that "large outbuildings behind the building line are an established feature of the area", equating the redevelopment of light industrial sites (former laundries) or garages with the construction of houses in back gardens.
Paragraph 8.5 repeats the assertion that the new house would avoid causing adverse impact to the amenity of neighbours when pages 9 & 10 of the Officer's Report identifies several households all around (apartments within Richmond Road villas Nos 5, 7 & 9 as well as nos, 31, 33 and 35 Crescent Road) which would be adversely affected.
Paragraph 8.5 also anticipates the use of a garden by a small family group which they say is unlikely to lead to unwarranted disturbance, but the appellant cannot vet future occupants for good behaviour or stop the new dwelling in the future becoming a noisy air B & B. Compliance with policy QD27 is more a matter of physical distancing and offering future occupants adequate living space.
I disagree with paragraph 8.8, that there are no adverse impacts that significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The appellant failed to submit a Design and Access Statement for BH2021/02065. The application is not well thought out and lacks regard for both the setting of the Round Hill conservation area and the amenity of its occupants. I urge you to dismiss the appeal.
NOTESThis page was last updated by Ted on 04-May-2022