Agenda item

Villa Nova, Undercliff Terrace, Cheltenham 20/02296/FUL


The Planning Officer presented the report relating to the demolition of existing dwelling, garage and shed and erection of replacement dwelling and additional new dwelling with garaging.  The application was before committee at the request of Councillor Horwood, who initially raised concerns regarding access, flooding and land ownership. While some matters had been resolved, the request remained due to his concerns regarding access. An objection was also received from the Parish Council.


Ralph Guilor spoke on behalf of the applicant, explaining that they had bought the site when it was overgrown and in need of significant work, which had made it difficult for surveyors to enter the site. The original intention was to just refurbish Villa Nova but considering the amount of work needed to dispose of asbestos and get it to modern construction standards, it was cheaper to propose a replacement dwelling. The site had planning consent in principle for an additional dwelling, with plans submitted and revised following consultation. Three issues remained to be debated: the flood assessment situation, the width of the lane and the impact on the AONB. He clarified that because the site was overgrown, it had been difficult to draw boundaries, with vague hand-drawn land registry documents leading to questions over the boundary alignment, though neither affected the proposals. The flood risk assessment had been approved by the Planning Officers.


The ward member, Councillor Martin Horwood, spoke in objection, thanking the applicant and Planning Officer for their work in making significant changes to the application. However, residents had continued to express concerns, which he shared, particularly around flood risk and the possible loss of amenity in the road. Surface water was a particular concern due to the hillside location, as was fluvial flooding, which did not preclude development but required caution. The culverted part of the building under Undercliff Terrace had been flooded the day before the meeting, with the water aiming straight at Villa Nova, with only a crude concrete channel in front of the house to divert this which the application would remove. Ground water was also a concern, and he had seen it rising when he visited the site, and there was no schematic for an sustainable urban drainage system in the application. On the issue of road amenity, he acknowledged that the boundaries had become vague over time but noted that the 1922 and 1927 area plans made it clear that Undercliff Terrace was supposed to observe dead straight lines, which were still there in the shape of the buildings themselves. The applicant’s plans would not observe this, and would encroach on the common road area. He advised imposing conditions regarding the flood risk assessment and following the straight lines if the application were to be permitted.


In response to a member question, the Officer clarified that the comments from the architects’ panel were made with regard to the original scheme, and that they were not consulted again about the revised plan.


The Officer also responded to member queries regarding flooding, noting that a flooding consultant had produced a full report that raised no objections, although they had initially suggested requiring the submission of a flood scheme. The agent had responded to this proactively and provided all the necessary information. The consultant also visited the site, particularly to look at the position of the watercourse, and did not believe that it had been recently altered. Overall, the consultant was satisfied that the necessary conditions had been met in order to address possible flooding issues, without the need for further information.


The Chair moved to the debate, with one member noting that it was a shame that the architects’ panel were not asked to consult on the revised design. They also expressed significant concerns about the scheme, particularly for residents living down the hill, and suggested that the application contradicted parts of the Joint Core Strategy which committed to reducing flood risk. He endorsed Councillor Horwood’s proposed condition that the flood scheme be approved before any development started. The impact of the development on the AONB was also significant.


A member suggested that the design did not sit well adjacent to the AONB, and that Cheltenham should look after the small areas of outstanding natural beauty that lay within the town. Another member agreed with this assessment and stressed their concerns about the risk to neighbouring properties in the case of flooding. A robust drainage scheme was required to account for the significant amount of vegetation removed.


A member suggested that an extra condition would not be sufficient, and that it would be wiser to defer the item until a full amended plan could be considered.


A member suggested that the flooding consultant should have been invited to the meeting. The Head of Planning clarified that this had not been possible due to a scheduling clash, and that an officer representing Highways was present.


A member asked what the threshold for ‘unacceptable flooding’ was in the context of the report. The Planning Officer clarified that this was up to the individual flooding consultant, who had reviewed the application and deemed the risk to be acceptable.


A member proposed an amendment to the condition suggesting a change to the wording regarding the drainage works from ‘prior to the first occupation of the development’ to ‘prior to the development commencing’.  The Head of Planning suggested the amendment wording did not work as drainage works would be at the commencement of development.  He understood however that the member meant before major works started and suggested the wording needed fine tuning.  It was proposed to delegate the final wording to the Head of Planning in consultation with the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Legal Officer and the Chair took a vote on this.


For: 11

Against: 0

Abstain: 0


Condition GRANTED unanimously


Based on this a member was happy not to proceed with a deferral.  In answer to a final point on land ownership, the Planning Officer confirmed development would  be within the red line which denoted the application site and that they were happy with the boundary line as detailed on the Land Registry.


There being no further questions or comments, the Chair moved to vote on the Officer’s recommendation to permit the application with the amended condition 7.


For: 8

Against: 3

Abstain: 0




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