P0763/11/FUL New Dwelling adjacent Cobbles, Lansdown Walk, Bream
Erection of a detached dwelling (Revised Scheme) (Retrospective)
Erection of a detached dwelling (Revised Scheme) (Retrospective)
Please refer to the late material circulated prior to the start of the meeting
Development Control Manager, Clive Reynolds, gave a full and detailed outline of some of the issues surrounding the application and referred to the site visit in June and to the late material that had been circulated prior to the meeting, (containing additional information from the applicant and a further message of support). Mr Reynolds informed the committee that, whilst aware of individual representations from the applicant and a series of allegations regarding the conduct of officers and council procedures, he did not intend to précis this information, but wished it to be noted that officers did not accept such views. He reminded members that the committee was only required to consider the application on the planning merits of the development and not to any complaints that had been made regarding officer conduct. On this basis, members were advised not to take into account any representations regarding officer conduct.
Referring to the revised plans on display, the Development Control Manager confirmed that one of the reasons for refusing the application, (based on concerns about whether two parking spaces could be provided), had now been addressed. He said that, in spite of this information, the key issue for members to consider was the visual impact of the property and whether or not the revised height of the property was acceptable, particularly when the approved plans had indicated that the property would be no higher than the adjoining cottage.
The Development Control Manager said that, whilst the property appeared in keeping when viewed from some aspects, (notably the more distant views and views from the modern housing development below), the key concern for officers was the view from the direct front aspect of the property and the relationship of the property to the adjoining cottage. He said that, on this basis, the recommendation remained one of refusal, with the deletion of reason 2, relating to car parking.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, the speaker asked the committee to consider whether the property differed in overall size, shape or position to the proposals that had been approved by the planning committee in August 2007. The speaker said that, although the property had been built in accordance with the approved plans, a street elevation drawing, (submitted by the architect as a last minute submission), had been conceptually inaccurate, showing the building to be the same height as the cottage. In the applicant’s defence, the speaker said that there had been no sight of the architects drawing before its submission to the planning authority and that the error had since been recognised and acknowledged by the architect during a meeting between Peter Williams, Group Manager for Planning and Housing, and the applicant. The speaker said that the original street elevation drawing had not taken into account the sloping lie of the ground on which the applicant’s property was built and that it was the retrospective plan that demonstrated the true relationship between the property and Lansdown Cottage. She said that the property was not out of context with the height of other properties in the local area and that several neighbours believed the property enhanced the built environment and complimented the housing style adopted on the nearby Princess Royal Estate and surrounding area. She said that, since the house had been built in 2008, the height of the property had not caused any detrimental effect to neighbouring properties and that the current objection was the result of a malicious complaint. The speaker reiterated that the overall size and scale of the property did not differ from those reflected in the original drawings and gave her assurance that the applicant had not acted with any unlawful or wilful intent. She also said that a member of the planning team, (who had made her decision following a visit to the site), had recommended the retrospective application for approval. The speaker acknowledged that the second reason for refusal, (car parking), had been resolved earlier that day and on that basis, appealed to the committee to reconsider the recommendation to refuse the retrospective application and accept the assertion that a potentially costly error had resulted from a conceptual street elevation when compared with the as-built drawing.
Ward member, Councillor Paul Hiett, informed members that, such was his conviction in the acceptability of this application, that this was only the second time in his 15-year appointment as District Councillor that he had felt the need to attend a planning committee meeting. Councillor Hiett said that he believed there had been a number of errors in the planning process and that he had been very angry that a member of the planning team had allegedly made disparaging remarks about the local area. He also said he had been disappointed that, despite assurances from a member of the planning team that the application was likely to be approved, (with no requirement for it to be called in before the committee), that he had not been notified when the application had been recommended for refusal. Councillor Hiett described the property as a lovely, well-built property, in keeping with neighbouring properties and a creditable design. He said that the house had not been built for profit but as the applicant’s home, who sadly, despite having paid the mortgage on the property for over 3 years, had still not moved into the property. Councillor Hiett said that he supported the view that the variance in roof height was not detrimental to the street scene, particularly when the property was viewed from certain angles. Furthermore, the street scene was not dissimilar to that offered by the different mix of houses on the nearby Princess Royal Estate. Opposing the recommendation, Councillor Hiett said that, despite the commencement of enforcement action in August 2010, the only communication to the applicant during that time had been a letter of notification in February 2011. He said that the applicants had gone out their way to comply with regulations and that, in his opinion, the height of the roof was not a problem.
During the meeting, speakers had been requested not to make references about planning officers by name. At the end of Councillor Hiett’s statement, committee members were advised to disregard any comments of this nature.
Reflecting on the merits of the recent site visit, Councillor Norman Stephens said that he did not like to go against the officer’s recommendation but on this occasion he felt it was appropriate to do so because he could see no harm in the height of the property in relation to other properties. On this basis, Councillor Stephens proposed that the application be granted consent, subject to appropriate conditions and the proviso that the render to brick ratio of the property be amended to 50:50. Councillor Jane Horne seconded the proposal. The majority of members shared the perception that the height of the property constituted no demonstrable harm to the surrounding area and therefore suggested that the application be granted delegated permission to allow officers to consider appropriate conditions. Development Control Manager, Clive Reynolds, suggested that the conditions, (subject to slight amendment), be the same conditions as imposed on the original application in 2007, and this was agreed.
Responding to a question from Councillor David Thomson, Clive Reynolds, Development Control Manager, confirmed that the architect’s sketch had been submitted before planning permission was granted. Councillor Thomson concluded that it was the planning process that had let the applicant down and that someone should have questioned the accuracy and use of a sketched drawing before granting planning permission.
Earlier in the meeting, Councillor Norman Stephens had proposed and Councillor Jane Horne had seconded that the committee grant delegated planning permission. A recorded vote was taken, and members,
RESOLVED that the Group Manager for Planning and Housing be authorised to approve retrospective planning permission, subject to appropriate conditions and further negotiations to achieve a 50:50 render/brick finish to the property.
Councillors Frank Beard, James Bevan, Frankie Evans, Terry Glastonbury, Julia Gooch, Val Hobman, Jane Horne, Gabriella Kirkpatrick, Paul McMahon, Norman Stephens, Lynn Sterry, David Thomson and Roger Yeates
Against (1) Councillor Gethyn Davies
Abstention (1) Councillor Arthur Thomas