Scout Hut

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					Development Control Committee
28 January 2005


Reference:        2004/1257/01/DET

Proposal:         Erection of one 2 and 3 storey building comprising of 6 self
                  contained flats (Class C3) and provision of 6 car parking
                  spaces following demolition of existing scout hall as
                  amended by plans received 30 November 2004

Location:         Scout Hut, Church Road, South Gosforth

Applicant:        RJ Dodds and Sons Contractors

Report by:            Acting Head of Planning & Transportation

Ward Implications:    South Gosforth

Planning Control Area 3



INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

1.    This application was originally referred to the December Development Control
      Committee meeting at the request of Councillor Cookson. However members may
      recall that it was deferred from determination at the request of the applicant to allow
      for the preparation of better presentation/visualisations to show the modern design
      approach to members and to allow progression on a second application for the
      comprehensive development on both the scout hut site and the adjoining Council
      owned land to the north. Since then no further submissions have been received in
      respect of this application however the applicant has requested that the application be
      determined in its current form.

2.    Planning permission was originally sought for the erection of a modern three storey
      residential block of flats of contemporary design comprising of seven units to replace
      the existing two-storey pitched roofed scout hut building. Following concerns being
      raised by officers about the overall scale of the development, the applicant has
      submitted an amended proposal for the erection of a two-storey block with a recessed
      roof top apartment now comprising of six two bedroomed residential units. The
      proposed building would be sited on the footprint of the existing scout hut building and
      be marginally taller than the existing building. The garden area to the south of the site
      is proposed to be laid out as car parking with a total of six spaces provided to serve
     the development. A new vehicular access would be formed from Church Lane
     requiring the removal of a small section of the stone boundary wall.

3.   A planning brief has been prepared and adopted by the Council to guide development
     on the scout hut site and also the adjoining open space to the north. A copy of the
     brief is appended to this report for information. It should also be noted that a second
     application has been recently submitted by the same developer for a larger
     comprehensive redevelopment of both the scout hut site and the land to the north
     comprising of 9 units which is also to be referred to committee for determination.

CONSULTATION AND PUBLICITY

4.   Residents and local businesses in the surrounding area were directly notified of the
     application submission. St Nicholas Church was also consulted. A site notice was
     displayed for a period of 21 days, which expired on 13 July 2004 and notice of the
     development proposal was also advertised in the local press.

5.   In response to the initial consultation exercise for the three-storey development, three
     letters of objection have been received from local residents opposite the site. The
     main concerns include:- the visual impact of a three storey development within the
     street scene and its affect on the setting of the Grade II church and also the
     inadequacy of the off street car parking provision which would lead to exacerbation of
     the existing parking congestion problems along the street in front of the site. A fourth
     letter was also received from a resident seeking the retention of the pleasant
     character of the area.

6.   Two of the original objectors have reiterated these objections following a re-
     consultation exercise on the amended plans submission for the smaller scale
     development proposal with emphasis on the lack of visitor parking and also the
     inappropriate scale of the development.

7.   Ward Councillors were also notified of the application submission. In response to the
     second consultation on the revised scheme, an objection has been received from
     Councillor Cookson querying the sustainability of the proposed development, the
     acceptability of the design and also expressing concerns about the exacerbation of
     existing traffic problems in the locality.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN PROVISIONS

8.   I consider the following UDP policies to be relevant to this application.
     H2     DEVELOPMENT, WHICH WOULD HARM THE AMENITY OF ANY DWELLING, OR GROUP
            OF DWELLINGS, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. IMPACT ON RESIDENTIAL AMENITY WILL
            BE ASSESSED WITH PARTICULAR REGARD TO:

            A.     PROTECTING THE CHARACTER OF THE LOCALITY AND OF THE EXISTING
                   BUILDING IN THE CASE OF ALTERATIONS, EXTENSIONS OR CONVERSIONS;

            B.     PROTECTING TREES AND OTHER SOFT LANDSCAPING OF AMENITY VALUE;

            C.     ENSURING SATISFACTORY DAYLIGHT, SUNLIGHT, OUTLOOK AND PRIVACY
                   FOR ALL DWELLINGS, EXISTING AND PROPOSED, PARTICULARLY IN
                   RELATION TO GOOD STANDARDS IN THE LOCALITY;
       D.    AVOIDING THE INTRODUCTION OF SUCH ADDITIONAL ACCESSES, TRAFFIC
             OR PARKING AS WOULD INCREASE VISUAL INTRUSION, NOISE OR
             DISTURBANCE OR PREJUDICE ROAD SAFETY; AND

       E.    ENSURING THAT NON RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AND/OR ASSOCIATED
             OPERATIONS WILL NOT HARM RESIDENTIAL AMENITY.

H4     A HIGH QUALITY OF DESIGN AND LANDSCAPING WILL BE REQUIRED IN ALL
       HOUSING DEVELOPMENT. PARTICULAR ATTENTION WILL BE PAID TO:

       A.    THE CHARACTER AND QUALITY OF THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT;

       B.    GOOD STANDARDS OF OUTLOOK, NATURAL LIGHT AND PRIVACY IN ALL
             DWELLINGS;

       C.    SAFE, CONVENIENT AND COMFORTABLE CIRCULATION FOR PEDESTRIANS
             ESPECIALLY CHILDREN, ELDERLY PEOPLE AND THOSE WITH DISABILITIES,
             INCLUDING MEASURES FOR TRAFFIC CALMING AND CYCLING;

       D.    MEASURES FOR DESIGNING OUT CRIME; AND

       E.    MEASURES TO MAXIMISE ENERGY EFFICIENCY

OS1.4 DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD CAUSE DEMONSTRABLE HARM TO ANY PUBLIC
      OPEN SPACE, OR PRIVATE OPEN SPACE FOR OUTDOOR SPORT, WILL NOT BE
      ALLOWED. HARM INCLUDES LOSS OF THE SPACE IN WHOLE OR PART.
      DEVELOPMENT, THEREFORE WILL ONLY BE ALLOWED IN EXCEPTIONAL
      CIRCUMSTANCES IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY OS1.5. HARM WILL BE ASSESSED
      ACCORDING TO THE IMPACT ON THE VALUE, ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL, OF THE OPEN
      SPACE FOR ANY ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES:

       A.    INCLUSION WITHIN A GREEN WEDGE LINKED TO THE COUNTRYSIDE OR LAND
             OF COUNTRYSIDE CHARACTER WITHIN THE URBAN AREA;

       B.    PROVISION FOR PARTICULAR SPORT OR OTHER ORGANISED RECREATIONAL
             ACTIVITY;

       C.    PROVISION FOR INFORMAL OR CASUAL RECREATION, INCLUDING
             CHILDREN’S PLAY AND RECREATIONAL ROUTES;

       D.    PROVISION FOR HORTICULTURAL OR OTHER SIMILAR SPECIALISED
             RECREATION SUCH AS ALLOTMENTS AND PIGEON CREES;

       E.    OPENNESS AND/OR GREENERY PROVIDING VISUAL RELIEF IN A BUILT-UP
             AREA;

       F.    CONTRIBUTION TO THE AMENITY OF A LOCALITY; OR

       G.    PRESERVATION OF A WILDLIFE HABITAT OR CONTINUITY OF A WILDLIFE
             CORRIDOR.

C2     ALTERATION OR EXTENSION OF A LISTED BUILDING OR OTHER DEVELOPMENT
       WHICH WOULD HARM ITS ARCHITECTURAL OR HISTORIC INTEREST OR SETTING
       WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.

C4.2   WHERE A PROPOSAL MAY AFFECT A SITE OR AREA OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL
       INTEREST, THE DEVELOPER WILL BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT AN APPROPRIATE
       ASSESSMENT OF ITS POTENTIAL IMPACT UPON THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS
       AND WHERE NECESSARY UNDERTAKE AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD EVALUATION.
     NC1.7 IN DETERMINING APPLICATIONS FOR PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPMENT
           LIKELY TO HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT UPON WILDLIFE, THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE
           REGARD TO THE FOLLOWING CONSIDERATIONS:

            A.     AN ASSESSMENT SUBMITTED BY THE APPLICANT AS AN ECOLOGICAL
                   APPRAISAL OF THE NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE OF THE SITE AND THE
                   IMPACT OF DEVELOPMENT ON A DESIGNATED WILDLIFE SITE OR WILDLIFE
                   CORRIDOR OR PROTECTED SPECIES;

            B.     THE DESIRABILITY OF RETAINING NATURAL FEATURES AND HABITATS AND
                   OF PROTECTING THEM DURING CONSTRUCTION;

            C.     MAINTAINING AND IF POSSIBLE INCREASING THE NATURE CONSERVATION
                   VALUE OF THE SITE BY ENHANCEMENT OF EXISTING OR CREATION OF NEW
                   WILDLIFE HABITATS;

            D.     USING A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF LOCALLY NATIVE SPECIES IN
                   LANDSCAPING AND PLANTING SCHEMES;

            E.     INCORPORATING THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE AREA OF PERMEABLE GROUND
                   SURFACES AND OTHERWISE MAINTAINING EXISTING NATURAL DRAINAGE AS
                   FAR AS POSSIBLE WHEN DEVELOPING PREVIOUSLY OPEN SITES;

            F.     PROVIDING APPROPRIATE MEASURES EITHER ON OR OFF SITE TO OFFSET
                   THE LOSS OR DISTURBANCE OF WILDLIFE HABITATS WHERE THIS IS
                   UNAVOIDABLE; AND

            G.     PREPARING AND IMPLEMENTING SUITABLE MANAGEMENT ARRANGEMENTS
                   TO SECURE THE LONG TERM SUCCESS OF ANY OF THE ABOVE.

     T4.5   DEVELOPMENT SHALL PROVIDE PARKING WHICH SATISFIES OPERATIONAL
            REQUIREMENTS. PROVISION IN EXCESS OF THIS REQUIREMENT WILL BE
            DETERMINED IN RELATION TO THE IMPACT OF DEVELOPMENT ON THE
            ENVIRONMENT. PARKING PROVISION WILL BE MET BY:

            A.     THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PARKING STANDARDS ON SITE; OR

            B.     THE PAYMENT, BY DEVELOPERS TO THE CITY COUNCIL, OF A COMMUTED
                   SUM SO THAT ALTERNATIVE PROVISION CAN BE MADE ELSEWHERE; OR

            C.     THE PROVISION OF CAR PARKING SPACES BY THE DEVELOPER ON AN
                   ACCEPTABLE SITE ELSEWHERE IN THE LOCALITY.

     Development Control Policy Statement 23 – Parking Standards for Cars and Cycles

PLANNING ASSESSMENT

     Principle of development

9.   The site is white land in the Newcastle Unitary Development Plan i.e. is unallocated
     for any particular use. A planning brief was however prepared and approved earlier
     this year and is attached as an appendix to this report. The brief relates to both the
     scout hut site and the adjoining open space to the north of the building. It outlines that
     the site would be suitable for a residential development, however the Housing
     Pathfinder policies have since been adopted and are an important material
     consideration. The application site does not fall within the identified pathfinder zones,
     however as the proposed development would create less than 10 units, the new policy
     does not restrict development in this instance. Given that the surrounding area
     consists predominantly of residential properties, the redevelopment of the site for a
      residential use is considered to be the most appropriate. The principle of the
      development is considered to therefore be acceptable. However the proposal has to
      be assessed against other UDP policy considerations as set out below.

      Loss of Open Space

10.   The application that is currently before committee members is for a development on
      the footprint of the existing scout building and the area of open area to the south of the
      site is to be laid out as parking with the existing landscaping retained or replaced as
      appropriate. In view of the fact that the area of open land to the south is not proposed
      to be built on, it is considered that the proposal would not conflict with policy OS1.4 of
      the UDP and there would be no justifiable reason for requiring a contribution as the
      proposal would not result in the loss of open space. It should be noted however that a
      developer contribution is to be sought on the second application submission for the
      nine units in line with the development brief as this proposes development of the area
      of private open space to the north of the scout hut building.

      Scale, Massing & Design

11.   The original three-storey development was considered to be unacceptable by virtue of
      its inappropriate scale and massing and the dominant overbearing visual impact that it
      would have had on the character and appearance of the street scene. The applicant
      has since amended the proposal so that the three-storey element is significantly
      reduced in scale and is recessed back from the front street so that the building reads
      as a two-storey building from eye level from the street. It would only be marginally
      higher that the existing scout hut building. The footprint of the building has also been
      reduced so that it is no further forward than the existing building to reduce the visual
      impact of the proposal. A sectional drawing confirms that that the overall scale of the
      revised development proposal would sit reasonably well within the context of other
      properties in the locality when taking into account the fall in levels across the site.
      These amendments have resulted in the number of units being reduced from 7 to 6. I
      am now satisfied that while the form of the development would differ from surrounding
      buildings, the overall scale and massing would not be overbearing and am happy that
      in this respect the proposal would not have a significantly detrimental impact on the
      amenities of the surrounding residential properties.

12.   In terms of design, the scheme proposed is a modern design. This approach does not
      follow the design criteria set out in the planning brief but the applicants argue that the
      approach is reasonable as they consider that there is no clearly predominant
      architectural character in the locality and the only noteworthy building is the Grade II
      listed church. I consider that the contemporary design could work in principle but
      following the committee visit to the site, I requested further images of the proposals to
      enable a proper assessment of the detail of the scheme by both officers and
      members. However the applicant has not submitted any further drawings. On the
      basis of the information submitted to date, I am not happy to recommend approval of
      this application.

13.   The development brief recommended that the scout hut site and the adjoining council
      land be developed together as one site. The current proposal for the scout hut site on
      its own presents a largely blank face to the remainder of the site and though the
      absence of windows ensures no overlooking, the scale and design of the elevation
      and its close proximity to the boundary would increase the likelihood of there being an
      overbearing effect on any development of the remainder of the site. I remain to be
      convinced that the individual and strongly contemporary style of design would not
      affect the ability to develop the adjoining open space in a compatible manner. I
      therefore have concerns that if this application is approved it would prejudice the
      potential of the whole site ie both the scout hut site and the adjoining open space to
      the north of the site, from being properly and comprehensively developed. It is
      considered that a better development could be achieved if the site were
      comprehensively developed.

      Highway considerations

14.   The development proposes the provision of 6 unallocated off street parking spaces for
      use by both residents and visitors. In light of survey work undertaken in December
      2002 for apartment/flat type of developments in the Gosforth/Jesmond area which
      indicated that associated car parks were never more than 60% full where spaces were
      unallocated, the highway engineers are happy that the proposed parking provision is
      satisfactory to serve the development. It should also be noted that the site is located in
      close proximity to local bus routes and South Gosforth metro station. Furthermore, the
      building could be re-used for a variety of other community activities without the need
      to obtain planning permission, which could generate significantly higher volumes of
      traffic to the site and cause much greater congestion problems in the locality.

15.   There is sufficient spacing between the proposed access and the existing junction
      opposite the site. Officers are also generally happy with the proposed access
      arrangements subject to agreeing appropriate visibility splays of the proposed
      vehicular access. This may require the lowering of the height of the wall at either side
      of the entrance to ensure adequate visibility splays are achieved as well as the
      removal of a 5m wide section of the stone boundary wall. Officers are satisfied that the
      current proposal would not prejudice the development on the adjoining site in highway
      terms, although the highway engineers have pointed out that the existing access to
      this area may have to be repositioned slightly.

16.   The location of the refuse storage area adjacent to the front of the building is
      considered to be acceptable in highway terms however it is recommended that a
      condition be attached to any permission that notwithstanding the submitted details, the
      applicant be required to submit exact details of the capacity and appearance of the
      refuse store.

      Trees

17.   The applicant has submitted a tree survey and management plan. It recognises that
      the line of trees along the western/front boundary of the site provides an attractive
      pocket of greenery in an otherwise built up area and is also an important habitat for
      wildlife. The developer has therefore redesigned the layout of the proposed car park to
      the south of the building to avoid the loss of any trees along this boundary although
      some pruning/thinning works are proposed. The developer also proposes to introduce
      some additional landscaping along this boundary including interplanting of silver birch,
      mountain ash, holly and crab apple trees/hedging. The use of locally native species
      will help promote wildlife in the area. The relatively large tree directly in front of the
      scout hut building is however proposed to be felled on the recommendation on the
      Council’s landscape section in view of its poor quality. A replacement tree is proposed
      to be planted in the same area to help soften the visual impact of the development
      from the street scene.

18.   The existing trees along the southern boundary are considered to be in fair condition
      however are too large for their location and are impacting on the adjacent residential
      dwelling abutting the southern boundary. The applicant therefore proposes to remove
      these trees and replace them with native trees and shrub planting of a more
      appropriate size for the location, which will also promote natural wildlife. The
      submitted tree survey also identifies that the vegetation growth along the eastern
      boundary of the proposed car park area are all multi-stemmed ash trees also in fair
      condition. The applicant proposes to thin these out retaining the best specimens to
      help them flourish into mature trees. It is considered that the retention of these trees is
      important as they provide a natural habitat for roosting bats and birds and this can be
      dealt with by planning condition.

      Bats

19.   The site lies adjacent to a Wildlife Corridor and it is known that there are foraging bats
      in the locality. As the existing scout hut building has been vacant for some time, a bat
      survey has been undertaken. The report concludes that there is no evidence of any
      bat activity within the building however recommends various mitigation measures and
      so it is recommended that a condition be attached to agree the method of demolition
      of the building and also to control the timing of the demolition. Whilst the former
      requirement can be conditioned, the Local Planning Authority cannot control the timing
      of demolition however the onus would be on the developer to ensure they comply with
      bat legislation.

      Archaeology

20.   The Archaeological Assessment report submitted with the application identifies the
      site within the extremes of a medieval village. The site also lies adjacent to St
      Nicholas Church and graveyard and it is known that the graveyard boundary has
      changed over the years. It is considered therefore probable that there could be
      archaeological remains beneath the site. Since the last committee an archaeological
      evaluation of the site has been undertaken. The subsequent report concludes that
      there were no post medieval features found however recommends that an
      archaeological watching brief be carried out during construction.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

21.   I consider that on balance though the scale of the development is acceptable in
      principle, I remain of the view that based on the submitted information the proposal as
      shown in the application is both inappropriate in design terms and would prejudice
      proper comprehensive development of the overall site as recommended in the
      approved development brief.

22.   In view of the above, it is recommended that the application be refused based on the
      following reasons:-

         Insufficient information to guarantee that scale and design of proposed
          development would work.
              The development would prejudice the potential for a comprehensive development
               on the whole site.


BACKGROUND PAPERS

Held by Acting Head of Planning and Transportation on file 2004/1257/01/DET.



Lucile Alder, Planning Officer
Extension: 28977, Direct Line: (0191) 277 8977
E-mail: lucille alder@newcastle.gov.uk




p617decla – Scout Hut – Church Road - lw

				
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