Proposal: Demolition of existing retail unit and removal of existing car park and erection of a part 4, part 5 storey building plus a separate dwelling house comprising 26 new affordable homes for Council rent together with associated amenity space, two car parking spaces, secure cycle and refuse storage, landscaping, tree planting and other public realm works.
The Committee considered the pre-application briefing for the demolition of existing retail unit and removal of existing car park and erection of a part 4, part 5 storey building plus a separate dwelling house comprising 26 new affordable homes for Council rent together with associated amenity space, two car parking spaces, secure cycle and refuse storage, landscaping, tree planting and other public realm works.
The applicant team and officers responded to questions from the Committee:
· It was clarified that the applicant team was no longer proposing to locate a house in the centre of the courtyard as, following discussions with the Planning Team, it was considered better to have an area of open space. It was explained that a four bed wheelchair unit was now proposed instead of a house.
· Some members queried the accuracy of the diagrams provided in the report. The Planning Officer explained that the proposals were being developed and that there had been some changes since the diagram was circulated. It was noted that the only key difference was the introduction of a four bed wheelchair unit in place of the previously proposed house.
· It was noted that a previous application for this site had been submitted by a different applicant and the current application had been submitted by the Council. The Planning Officer clarified that there was no relationship between the previous applicant and the Council.
· The Committee enquired about the layout of the proposals and whether it would be possible to deliver additional units by amending the use of the space near Kerswell Close. The applicant team explained that this had been considered with the Quality Review Panel (QRP) and Planning Officers and that some useful feedback had been received. It was considered that any building on the northern frontage would negatively impact both the garden area and the service road. It was added that the current proposal felt more connected to the surroundings and that there would be an opportunity to enhance the area, including through co-production with residents.
· In response to a query about the location of the site in a critical drainage area, the applicant team noted that there would be drainage, including sustainable drainage.
· It was enquired whether the screening from trees would be effective during the winter. The applicant team noted that there would be some screening from trees in winter but that this was likely to be reduced. It was added that root preservation and the presence of birds on site would also need to be addressed.
· The applicant team explained that all but one of the flats would be dual aspect and that daylight and sunlight consultants were looking at each flat.
· It was clarified that family units would only be located on the ground and first floors. The taller blocks would have a lift and the four storey block would have stairs.
· The Committee expressed some concerns that the lighter brickwork proposed for some areas of the building would be damaged by pollution and would have a negative visual impact, particularly if the façade was rendered. The applicant team clarified that the façade would be made of brick rather than rendered and that textured and flecked bricks, which would weather well, were being considered. It was added that there was a reasonable precedent for lighter bases in London so this would not be automatically discounted as an option.
· Some members highlighted the concerns expressed by the QRP about the height of the buildings and that the buildings should have lifts to accommodate the large family units. The applicant team explained that the mix of units had changed as the scheme design had evolved. The height of the scheme had been reduced and it was currently proposed to have 25 flats, with 4 family units, 12 two bed units, and 9 one bed units.
· It was clarified that the QRP was a group of professional design experts and did not include councillors.
· In relation to trees on the site, the applicant team explained that it was aimed to retain the largest and best quality trees and to re-provide trees that were lost. It was added that the proposals would involve re-providing trees in more barren areas.
· It was noted that the houses in the immediate vicinity would have access to, and would be included in co-producing, the open spaces.
The Chair thanked the applicant team for attending.