23/00359/FUL 3 Pittville Crescent Lane, Cheltenham, GL52 2RA
The case officer introduced the report as set out in the papers, for a revised scheme following grant of planning permission earlier this year. It was at committee at the request of Councillor Tooke, and was part-retrospective, the most notable change being that the proposal was now brick-faced rather than rendered, to match the existing dwelling and the single storey extension reduced in size. The recommendation is to grant, subject to conditions.
The neighbour, in objection, made the following points:
- the Town and Country Planning Act includes a statutory requirement to publicly display a planning notice, as happens in other boroughs, yet in Cheltenham is only discretionary. Letters about the original application were only sent to a select group of neighbours, as a result of which she was unaware of the proposals, and delayed over Christmas, giving little time to comment. Ward councillors were told that it was too late to request a committee decision;
- neighbours had no prior knowledge of the plans, despite the applicant living nearby for a couple of years;
- the property was built on a garden plot, and permitted development rights were removed, to prevent over-development and additional windows without express permission;
- the two-storey side extension and front entrance are very dominant; these were amended during the original application and permission was granted;
- a rendered finish was specified in the first application, and red brick in the second, which makes the property entirely out-of-character with its location. There is a mix of styles in the area, and it would be possible, with considerately-designed amendments, to improve a building which currently has a negative impact on its surroundings;
- the part-retrospective application was submitted, with no site notice, for the red-brick finish; this is now a fait-accompli, and the result is an outlook on an industrial-looking dark, concrete-roofed building, rather than a rendered one which would at least reflect a little light;
- regarding privacy, a proposed clear-glazed first-floor window will overlook her entire garden, living room, first-floor bedroom windows and rear porch;
- the proposal has resulted in an overbearing and dark appearance, impacting on light in her house and garden, and the approved rooflight overlooks her bedroom despite assurances from the planning officer that it would not.
The applicant made the following points:
- the revised application arose from neighbours’ concerns about loss of daylight as a result of the side extension – it has been reduced in size and a window removed;
- the two large existing windows in the side extension are being replaced with windows which don’t give rise to overlooking the neighbour;
- the window is needed in the fourth bedroom is required for light, ventilation and fire safety purposes; a bathroom window further down will not cause any privacy issues at all;
- a similar style of new-build dwellings are being permitted in the area, and Pittville is dotted with a plethora of different styles and materials;
- they bought the home for its red brick character, with the intention to modernise it, install sash windows, and remove all TV aerials and satellite dishes;
- the removal of tarmac and the store room will increase greenspace and biodiversity, with trees, lawns and hedging, unique for a narrow service road in the greater Pittville area.
Councillor Tooke began by saying that with proper communication between the applicant and neighbours, a committee decision could have been avoided. Planning guidelines support the reasonable concerns of the residents at 11 Pittville Crescent Lane, and it is not reasonable to change the design of a project midway through, or for changes which will have material effects on the surrounding properties to be pushed through. Neighbours felt that the public consultation was not run as it should have been, and that by bringing it to committee, the application will get the public scrutiny it deserves and some modest changes can be achieved. He highlighted the major concerns about the new design:
- it has been changed substantively so that the neighbours at No. 11 will lose privacy, light and sunlight, with two additional first-floor windows now added overlooking their garden, kitchen and living room and bedroom window, in addition to the approved skylight overlooking their second-floor bedroom window;
- proposals that result in unacceptable harm to the amenity of neighbouring dwellings should not be permitted according to the SPD, yet it is clear that 11 Pittville Crescent Lane will lose much of its privacy;
- Cheltenham Plan Policy SL1 states that loss of privacy is a key reason to reject an application, yet the report ignores the newly-positioned windows, not included in the original application;
- the Pittville Character Appraisal management plan from 2008 states includes an paragraph on St Paul’s, the adjacent ward, recognising the impact development there can have on the area;
- in the original planning application, the officer considered the rendering of the building important enough to comment on it, saying that Cheltenham Plan Policy D1 requires that new development should complement the local area and that render was therefore wholly appropriate;
- the main request today is that the building should be rendered, as originally supported by the case officer, and the loss of privacy be taken into account.
In response to Members’ questions, the Head of Planning gave the following responses:
- although not relevant to the case, the file shows that there were no procedural errors. The legal requirement is for either a site notice to be displayed or neighbour letters to be sent. CBC tend to send neighbour letters but often goes over and above the statutory requirements be doing both;
- permitted development is work that can be carried out without planning permission, so in that respect it does trump planning permission considerations such as privacy, loss of light and loss of amenity. The single storey extension and some of the other works could be done under PD rights, so this is a realistic fall-back position;
- regarding the clear windows on the rear extension, planning permission isn’t required for windows on rear elevations. If they were on a side elevation, they would have to be obscure-glazed and/or non-opening;
- the main difference between the current proposal and the permitted scheme is the brick finish replacing the previous render, and the additional windows. The footprint is slightly smaller.
In debate, Members made the following observations:
- the brick used is semi-industrial with stone coining, a design typical of the 1980s, has been well done and is low maintenance and long-lasting. There are examples of rendered buildings around the town with grey/black coming through the render;
- the application being considered is for minor reworks to a previously-granted permission, and has not deviated from policy regarding notification;
- the complex report is very well done, with the issues explained clearly;
- standing out from the neighbouring properties isn’t a bad thing, with variety is the street scene to be welcomed; the coins are slightly pastiche, but break up the brickwork so are acceptable;
- in view of the council’s commitment to the climate crisis, it would have been good to see some eco-friendly features included, such as solar panels or heat pumps;
- the applicant is relocating the apple trees in the garden which is a positive move;
- there is a lot of render in the area, but also a lot of dark red brick walls, and some other brick dwellings. The mix is quite attractive.
The case officer confirmed that submission of a sustainability statement was sought, but this didn’t get any further, and it should be remembered that this is a householder application, with some of the works being classed as permitted development.
With no further comments, the Chair invited Members to vote on the officer recommendation to permit.
9 in support
- 23-00359 Officers Report, item 5a PDF 296 KB
- 23-00359 Appendix 1 - to Officers Report, item 5a PDF 307 KB
- 23 00359FUL Representations, item 5a PDF 838 KB
- Photos from objector - house styles, item 5a PDF 2 MB
- Photos from objector - various images, item 5a PDF 5 MB
- Officer presentation - 3 Pittville Crescent Lane, item 5a PDF 2 MB