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Agenda item

17/01220/FUL Cotswold View, Reddings Road

Minutes:

 

Application Number:

17/01220/FUL

Location:

Cotswold View The Reddings Cheltenham

Proposal:

Demolition of existing dwelling and erection of 3no. dwellings

View:

Yes

Officer Recommendation:

Permit

Committee Decision:

Permit

Letters of Rep:

48

Update Report:

i.        Letter from applicant, email from neighbour

ii.       Letter from Councillor Collins

 

EP introduced the application as above, reminding Members that it was deferred in September, for Members’ concerns about two issues to be further investigated.  Firstly, highway safety:  following the meeting, the applicant commissioned a speed survey with a Highways Authority approved consultant.  This demonstrated that the 85th percentile speed travelling to the south west was 31mph, requiring visibility splays of 48m, and to the north east 19.9mph, requiring a splay of 25m.  These results have been  passed to highways officers, who are confident that the visibility splays provided will exceed those required.  The plans have also been amended to accommodate a 1.2m-wide pavement.  Secondly, the status of the building:  the conservation officer had previously stated that the building had been significantly compromised over the years, and does not have the architectural merit to warrant listing.  The recommendation therefore remains to permit, subject to the conditions set out in the report. 

 

 

Public Speaking:

Mr Paul Thomas, on behalf of Reddings Residents Association, in objection

At the September meeting, committee members wanted a traffic survey because of road safety concerns. Peak traffic speeds were recorded at over 60mph, although the  positioning of equipment not in line with Highways standing advice.  This was raised with the highways officer, as the equipment was located near a bus stop, near a junction, and where cars regularly park outside a shop.  Guidance states to avoid these as the results are not representative of the true speed. Residents asked Highways for a survey in accordance with guidance, and were told it would be  unreasonable to ask for another survey – in view of the safety issue, an unacceptable response. The visibility splays and narrow pavement can only be realised if both adjacent neighbours remove fences in their ownership which they will not do – so how will the development work.   The applicant has attempted to incorporate a narrow pavement, exposing other issues with that are wrong with this proposal. The proposed pavement is 1.2m wide, narrow in the context of traffic volume and peak speeds, and unsafe for parents with small children or a push chair.  The adjoining pavements are 1.8m with a 1.5m grass verge.  This amendment also makes the drives shorter, exacerbating safety worries as any large parked vehicle on the driveways will block visibility further. Given the known road dangers, all the neighbouring properties, near the roundabout have turning areas. The revised proposals have removed most of the green landscaping at the front of the properties; the tree officer wants to preserve the Rowan and requested a landscaping plan, but these have not been submitted.  The drawings are confused and contradictory; the 3D images show shrubs and trees where there is a small patch of grass, which will inevitably be tarmacked over. The street scene from the road looks like one continuous ugly slab of tarmac, 22 metres wide; there are no other examples of this in Reddings Road – the proposal will represent an open car park.  To rectify the safety and landscaping aspects, the build line would need to be moved back, but this can’t be done because of the minimum separation distance – all pointing to an overdevelopment of the site.  Notwithstanding the heritage issue to be addressed by the ward councillor, an an application for two suitably spaced houses was submitted, the safety and landscaping objections could be resolved

 

 

Mr Mark Le Grand, applicant, in support

As Members know, the application was deferred in September; is here tonight to confirm the actions undertaken to deal with Members’ concerns relating to the existing property, the pedestrian footpath, . highways safety, and over-development.   A 1.2m pavement has been incorporated into scheme, the full length of site frontage, linking the existing pedestrian footpaths on the north side. The footpath has been designed in strict accordance with Manual for Streets and will be adopted by Gloucestershire Highways on completion.   In response to Members’ concerns about highways safety and vehicle speed, two speed surveys have been carried out by Highways-approved contractors, collecting data over seven days.  The Highways report stations that the speed survey confirmed that the 85th percentile speed travelling to the SW was 31mph, this requires visibility splays in accordance with Manual for Streets of 48m and NE an 85th percentile speed of 19.9mph which will require a splay of 25m.’   Drawings illustration that highway visibility will be greater than 61m in both directions, far exceeding requirements set out in Manual for Streets, and that two large cars on the driveway of each plot will not compromise the visibility splays.  Regarding the demolition of the existing property, the conservation officer and Historic England have confirmed the building doesn’t warrant local or national protection.  Regarding over development, the size and scale of the proposed dwellings, plot dimensions, driveways and gardens are all appropriate to the locality; the Architects Panel raised no objection, stating that the site layout, density and scale are all in keeping with other plots in the area.  .  With additional information and amendments provided, all previous concerns have been addressed; is confidents that the scheme is suitable for the site and locality, and hopes that Members will be minded to approve.

 

Councillor Britter, in objection

At the last meeting, the decision was deferred to fully investigate two issues:  highways safety, and a full review of the current historical status of the existing dwelling.  Neither of these issues has been properly undertaken or answered; many residents have been in contact, reconfirming their opposition to the proposal, and their belief that the property is of historic importance to village and town warrants it.  Cotswold View is the oldest building still standing in the Reddings – there are none of this architectural style or character in the area, both key requirements  for listed status.  There is no argument about age – 200+ years – which is another key factor for listing.  The  conservation officer report states a large number of alterations have resulted in the building losing its architectural and historic interest, but the previous owner confirms that many features still exist, and a letter  from a local resident who has been in contact with Historic England tells a different story – the opposite, in fact.  It is a fact that many of the requirements of listed status are met; the Council has a duty to review application sin a fair and transparent way, but in this case it has not. No further investigation of referral to Historic England for full assessment.  Why not?  Many key elements are there, and once the building is gone, it is gone for ever. 

 

This is a ‘garden grab’ development – three houses where there was one – and a blatant over development, contrary to NPPF guidance, inappropriate, and impacting adversely on the overall environment. The development will impact on road safety in the area.  The proposed pavement is welcome but only adequate for a single pedestrian and makes the drives shorter as a result, and a large car or van parked on the front driveways will impede visibility from neighbouring driveways.  To accommodate the pavements the majority of green landscaping to the print has been removed, and a small decorative wall, leaving one continuous slab of tarmac 22 metres wide on this part of the road. There are no examples of this type of street scene elsewhere in The Reddings, and it will look out of place – other properties have walls, hedges or lawns.  In addition, does this large expanse of tarmac comply with sustainable urban drainage requirements?  

 

Regarding the second issue referred back to officer – highway safety – the residents’ association still has major concerns.  The submitted traffic survey is not conducted in accordance with highways standards, with the monitoring equipment positioned in the wrong place.  This was repositioned on the slowest part of the road, and the results are not a true reflection of the traffic speed adjacent to the proposed development.  To achieve the required 54m visibility splays from each access point, and to implement the new footpath, the boundary fences on both sides of the development will need to be modified, but the applicant doesn’t own the fences in question, and both neighbours categorically confirm they will not alter or amend their boundaries.  If this application is permitted, there should be a planning condition to ensure that development cannot commence until this issue has been satisfactorily resolved. 

 

 

Member debate:

PT:  do the visibility splays have to be in place before the building starts?

 

CN:  can officers address the issues raised by the speakers:  firstly, the location of the speed equipment – is this a significant issue?;  secondly, the visibility splays – how dependent are these on the neighbours’ fences and how significant is that issue?

 

SW:  Condition 6 states that the new dwellings shall not be occupied until the visibility splays are sorted;this should state that the building work shall not start until this is sorted. Conditions are not followed up retrospectively – the excuse always being ‘it’s a bit late … can’t pull it down now…’ but once demolition starts, there is no going back.

 

Regarding the architectural merit of Cotswold View, is disappointed in the officers’ view.  Can see tremendous value in the building.  It’s true that it’s altered over the years, and is  not good at the back, but if that work hadn’t been done, the place wouldn’t have been suitable for modern living and would have been demolished many years ago.  How many times has Lypiatt Lodge been altered since it was built, yet it is now a GII listed building.  Cotswold View has been altered but cannot see that this makes a lot of difference, as it is the view from the street that is most valued.  Walks through The Reddings a lot – there are a lot of modern buildings and only one or two beautiful old ones like this.  It even includes an old smithy’s workshop in the back garden, adding historical interest and offering tremendous value to the area, making The Reddings what it is.  It was once a little village – it’s now encompassed by Benhall, but it is nice to look back at what it was.  This beautiful building – the market garden, the blacksmith, the post office – has enormous historical value. 

 

The first speaker said that it doesn’t appear that anyone at CBC has done any real work in evaluating the building – he said the officer has cut and pasted the neighbour’s notes about the building, and the rest is speculation.  Has anyone really been to have a look at this or  done any real work to discover the true historical value of this building.  It doesn’t appear so, and will find it very difficult to support the application until this work has been done.  Is minded to vote to refuse the proposal.  Realises an appeal is likely, but it would allow time for a proper assessment of the building; if this shows that the building isn’t worth keeping, then fair enough, but it could be of enormous value.

 

CH:  has some questions about the fences on the adjoining properties.   Why has the condition been changed?  It previously stated that works couldn’t start until the conditions were satisfied.  Since the last meeting, it’s become apparent that planning officers at County Highways don’t talk with local highways managers who know the roads and traffic situations well.  Would be interested to know if the highways officer has been in touch with the highways manager to see if he has any views on the development and the way in which it will impact on the street.

 

BF:  this building is not locally listed, but there have been a few applications over the years for locally indexed buildings – so Members know that it is very difficult protecting buildings that are locally indexed.  The speaker said that if the application was for just two houses rather than three, the local residents wouldn’t object – even though this would involve demolition of the building they are trying to protect. 

 

EP, in response:

-       Regarding the visibility splays and fences:  the condition was suggested by the county council – vehicle access not until theroadside frontage boundaries have been set back to provide splays. Alterations on the boundaries are needed for this; even if this is not in the control of the applicant, the applicant will be under obligation to fulfill the condition.  At the moment, there is a trigger in the condition – not to use the vehicle access until the visibility splays are achieved.  We could change the trigger to ‘prior to any works on site’ to satisfy Members’ concerns;

-       Regarding the location of the speed monitoring equipment:  this was initially placed at a point where highways officers felt it would not give accurate results; it was subsequently moved and the remainder of the survey was carried out in accordance with highways advice, in keeping with the criteria set out in the Manual for Streets, regarding the junction/roundabout;

-       The Reddings is a busy road, with parked cars and a bus stop, and highways officers felt that the position chosen was representative of the road.  The speeds recorded were not particularly high, or even borderline, and were considered acceptable for the area, demonstrating that the visibility splays provided far exceed the requirements – this has been confirmed by highways officers, who are confident in these results;

-       To CH, some of the conditions have changed from the previous application, but the highways conditions are identical to last time;

-       The conservation officer is present at the meeting to give further elaboration on the situation relating to the historical value of the building.

 

AD, in response:

-       Regarding any special architectural or historical interest relating to Cotswold View, carried out a desk-top survey, looked at historic maps, made two site visits, discussed the case with the new conservation officer, and had an informal chat with Historic England.  All confirm that the property is not eligible for listing, and the local authority is therefore not put it forward for special status; anyone can put in a request for listing to Historic England however;

-       The building has a two-storey flat-roofed extension, a uPVC conservatory, uPVC windows and porch, no original fireplaces; it has lost its original two-up two-down plan form, the roof is angled at the front and flat at the back, and architectural character is gone;

-       If local residents submit a request for the building to be listed, Historic England will look at it quickly, as it is under threat of demolition.

 

PT:  the pavement proposed by the builder is narrower than the adjoining pavement, and it will be very difficult for a wheelchair user or someone with a pushchair to negotiate – it will not be safe.  Has looked at this on the drawings – it is a nice touch but doesn’t do the job.  Also notes that this isn’t included in the list of conditions; unfortunately, developers sometimes promise things to get their plans accepted which don’t materialise.  The pavement should be enshrined in a condition to prevent any mistakes.  It is a fact that the visibility splays should be in place before any work is done on the site.  Lorries will need vision of the road as they come and go. 

 

SW:  the conservation officer said residents could seek listing of the building.  If Members vote to permit the scheme, they won’t have the opportunity to do this.  The applicant will say permission has been granted, but the neighbours may want to go further forward with the listing.  We need to further defer or refuse the proposal tonight, to give residents the opportunity to do that work.

 

RH:  to clarify with EP – can we put in a condition to stipulate that no work at all can take place until the visibility splays are in place?

 

TO:  supports SW.  The decision should be deferred again, to give residents the opportunity to apply for listed status.

 

EP, in response:

-       The trigger for the implementation of the visibility splays could be set for pre- or post-demolition, though it would be cleaner to set it as before any work is done on the site;

-       To PT, re a condition to ensure the pavement is included – this will be included on one of the approved drawings, which will be set out in the conditions, but if it would give Members extra comfort, an additional condition can be added to ensure that the pavement is implemented.

 

PT:  will the pavement be full width?

 

EP, in response:

-       It will be in line with the altered plans.  The highways officer has said that a pavement 1.2m in width is OK in this location, and there is no basis for requiring it to be any wider as it meets the criteria used by highways;

-       Regarding a further deferral to allow residents the opportunity to apply for listing – they have always had this opportunity, and the application has been in since July.  Would therefore be reluctant to recommend that course of action;

-       The conditions require certain works to be carried out before demolition, and this time will allow residents the opportunity to apply for listed status.  Historic England say they would dal with such a request quickly.

 

BF:  can the conservation officer confirm that if a building is locally indexed, it is not protected from demolition.

 

AD, in response:

-       That is correct.  Local indexing shows that a building is important but offers no protection in legislative terms. 

 

AL:  if the building was to be nationally listed in the near future, would it be protected even though planning permission had been granted?

 

AD, in response:

-       Listed building consent would then be required to demolish it.

 

RH:  for clarification re. the splays – unless the adjoining residents give their permission to sell or change the boundary line, nothing can happen there anyway?

 

EP, in response:

-       If they own the boundaries, they would have to come to some arrangement with the applicant.  Who owns the boundaries is not relevant in planning terms. 

 

MJC, in response:

-       We don’t know who owns the boundaries and nothing can be done on the site or to the building until the condition regarding visibility is discharged.  The ownership issue needs to be resolved, and the dwelling cannot be demolished until that happens.

 

BF:  understood that if a hedge belonging to another property is not allowing proper visibility, the highways authority can insist it is removed. 

 

MJC, in response:

-       We are not talking about a hedge here, but a physical structure;

-       Feels that the debate is going round in circles.  Members have received clear advice on the two issues for which the decision was deferred in September;

-       the conservation team has explained the relevance of the building, and although no one wants to see the building demolished, we have to work within the planning system, which is offering it no protection.  Although this is what Members want, the building is unlikely be listed by Historic England.  Members of the public had the opportunity to apply, and the Committee didn’t request officers to do so;

-       regarding the highways issues, the splays needs to be resolved before the building is demolished, which allows an opportunity for residents to apply for listing.

 

Vote on Councillor Wheeler’s move to defer

2 in support

9 in objection

3 abstentions

NOT CARRIED

 

Vote on officer recommendation to permit with additional condition stating that no work can be carried out on the site until the splays and pavement have been resolved

8 in support

5 in objection

1 abstention

PERMIT

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: