Refuse planning permission for the reasons set out in this report.
[Councillor Gentry vacated the Committee for the duration of the item].
Case no. 15/04274/FUL (agenda item seven, page 201 of the agenda, page 13 of the first addendum and page seven of the second addendum)
The Planning Officer gave a presentation which included a summary of the report and subsequent addenda that had been published on Friday 17 March and on the day of the meeting. Members were advised of the material planning considerations which included the erection of two three storey properties, the harm to conservation areas and the lack of compliance with policy Q14 (development in gardens and backland sites). Members were advised that officers recommended refusal of the application.
Following the Planning Officer’s presentation, objectors raised the following points:
· They supported officer’s findings.
· While it was necessary to maximise provision of additional homes, this had to be done sustainably.
· NPPF guidance was key to backland development. NPPF guidance also advised that previously developed land be used for development.
· The proposal would cause harm to the local area and could create a precedent for similar schemes.
· The design was inappropriate and did not reinforce the distinctiveness of the local area. The size, height and massing was out of keeping.
· The application did not meet polices Q5 (local distinctiveness), Q7 (urban design: new development) and Q22 (conservation areas).
· Properties on Park Hill would overlook the site.
· There was no access to the site from the public highway.
The agent for the application then spoke in favour of the scheme, stating that:
· The site was not garden land and had been severed from Park Hill for over 30 years. It provided little in terms of biodiversity or visual amenity.
· The site was accessible from Mayfield Close and the applicant was in discussion with the Salvation Army to secure access. It was not a backland site.
· The leafy, suburban character of the area was achieved through properties being set back from the highway with front gardens. This proposal would not impact on front gardens.
· The scheme would not be particularly visible from the road and there would not be significant issues of overlooking.
· The scheme would contribute to the evolution of the local area.
The Ward Councillor for Clapham Common, Councillor Bernard Gentry, addressed the Committee, stating that:
· Approving the application would set a precedent for similar schemes in the future. There was a risk that development would spread across the green corridor of the area.
· There was a need to preserve gardens to protect biodiversity and quality of life. There were few areas of the borough with such high levels of green space.
· The application would have a highly detrimental effect on the area.
· A number of local residents were vulnerable.
The Ward Councillor for Clapham Common, Councillor Tim Briggs, addressed the Committee, raising the following points:
· It was a finely balanced proposal. He had called the application in to the Committee as the applicants had been given conflicting information from officers for four years as they sought to develop a suitable scheme. The scheme had previously been recommended for approval, but new officers were now recommending refusal.
· The applicants had worked to amend the proposal in line with officer advice.
· The Committee had previously agreed to view guidance more flexibly to maximise housebuilding.
· The site was not a garden and had not been used as one for over 30 years.
In response to questions from Members, officers stated that:
· Half of the site was standalone, while the other half was connected to 83 Park Hill. Part of the site was therefore a garden, and part was not.
· The addendum provided a list of conditions should the Committee approve the application.
· A bat survey had not been conducted as it was only possible to do them at certain times of the year. Condition 4 required an ecological assessment.
· Ownership of access was not a material planning consideration. If the application were approved, the applicant would be responsible for securing access.
The committee considered points raised and information provided by officers, objectors, the applicant’s representative and Ward Councillors in conjunction with the report before making the following observations:
· The guidance that Councillor Briggs referred to was in regard to extensions, not new development.
· Policy required 70% of the garden to be retained in backland sites, which was not met. The proposal would result in a significant loss of garden.
· There would be an unacceptable impact on the conservation area and the green corridor.
It was MOVED by Councillor Simpson, SECONDED by Councillor Clark, and
To REFUSE the application in line with officers’ recommendations.