Application for a minor-material amendment under S73 to vary condition 2 (approved Drawings) and condition 11 (Energy Statement) following a grant of planning permission Ref: P2017/2444/FUL dated 28/11/2017 for the construction of 40 new dwelling units comprising 8 x 1B2P units, 3 x 2B3P units, 27 x 2B4P units, 2 x 3B5P units with associated amenity space and 41.8sqm community use floorspace, provided in six new residential blocks ranging from 2 to 6 storeys in height, along with bicycle storage, improvements to the public realm, and the demolition of existing garages and storage units
The amendments sought are: Increasing affordable housing provision to 100% social rented housing; amendments to the landscaping plan, removal of an additional tree, swapping a 2-bedroom wheelchair accessible home in Block B with a 3-bedroom home from Block G, amendments to design and layout and relocation of cycle parking spaces.
(Planning application number: P2020/3313/S73)
In the discussion the following points were made:
· The Chair reminded members that the application was a S73 planning application for amendments to a planning permission so to avoid revisiting the issues considered previously that are not subject to the amendments.
· The Planning Officer informed the meeting that 10 further objections were received since the publication of the agenda, 9 of which did not raise any additional points to those addressed in the report. One representation raised questions regarding the location of Block D. The Planning Officer advised that Block D is enlarged by 0.3 square metres but would continue to be located on the boundary wall. It was advised that the originally approved Design and Access Statement incorrectly refers to the retention of this boundary wall. The Planning Officer advised that recommended condition 2 would be amended to remove reference to the relevant part of the Design and Access Statement
· The Planning Officer advised that the reference in paragraph 7.4 to paragraph 9.135 should read as paragraph 9.116.
· The Planning Officer advised of the number of signatories to an online petition
· In comparison to the previously approved scheme, the Planning Officer informed members that the proposal will result in an increase in affordable housing provision from 55% to 100% social rented housing; an amendment to the landscaping plan; removal of an additional tree; swapping of a 2 bedroom wheel chair accessible home in Block B with a 3 bedroom home from Block G and amendments to design and layout and relocation of cycle parking spaces
· Key planning considerations are the increase to 100% social rented units, design and layout considerations, which are sympathetic and are of high quality, improvements to daylight levels, tree mitigation and the translocation of a mulberry tree.
· Members were advised that the amendments to the scheme will result in an improvement to daylight levels received by the flats, and that applicants have provided sufficient tree mitigation measures for the translocation of the Mulberry tree.
· In terms of design changes from the original scheme, the Planning Officer informed the meeting that it involves a minor increase in the footprint of all blocks, a decrease in the parapet height of Block E, revisions to the fenestration of blocks A, B, D and G, revisions to the materiality of some of the blocks and amendments to balconies and windows
· Members were advised that as a result of the various design amendments, the internal layouts and private amenity spaces have been affected however, all units continue to meet minimum space standards.
· The Planning Officer advised members that the proposal will result in the relocation of the mulberry tree from the north of the site despite that it wa detailed to be retained in the original application, that the proposed mitigation which includes an early mature mulberry tree and the planting of another 12 trees in addition to the translocation of the existing mulberry tree will result in an uplift in tree canopy cover from the approved development.
· An updated Energy strategy has been submitted to reflect the amendments to the proposal which is to be secured by condition and a legal agreement ensuring that applicant undertakes a feasibility assessment for the location of additional PV’s on the estate in order to achieve the target of 27% CO2 reductions
· A resident objected to the removal of the mulberry tree and the subsequent decision by the applicant to relocate a highly valued tree especially after applicants had reassured the community that it would be retained in its present location, that the tree represents a focal point for the community and has sentimental value to residents.
· The objector was concerned that residents had been misinformed in 2018 that the tree was dying, only to be informed that it is not infected with any fungus. Objectors asserted that the removal of the tree is contrary to the Council’s declaration of climate emergency and that planning officers had not taken this into consideration. Objectors also asserted that residents have been unfairly treated throughout the whole exercise, despite having conceded a plot of land which had been previously allocated as a play area for children to build a block building.
· Another resident objected to the ever changing reasons provided to justify its decision to remove the tree since the scheme was approved, reminding the meeting that its removal would require the use of a large equipment, that it was a risky operation and that there is no guarantee of the tree survival in its new location. He was concerned with what he asserted was the developers numerous attempts to undermine the health of the tree in order to justify its removal. The objector questioned how a young mulberry tree could be described as adding value when it is well known that the value of any tree is in its age.
· In response, the agent acknowledged the sentimental value of the tree to residents but reminded members decision to relocate the tree was not taken lightly, that in light of the ongoing complex groundworks, to the tree cannot be retained in its present location, that a tree radar survey was carried out which indicates that the roots are in the way of the development. Members were advised that conditions have been recommended to ensure that both its removal and care are properly managed.
In response to Chair’s concerns about the
amendments to the originally agreed scheme, the Planning Officer
advised that according to a high court decision, changes that do not
affect the description of the scheme can be regarded as minor.
· The Chair acknowledged resident’s frustration especially having been initially informed that the tree would remain when application was approved but reminded members that as planning authority, it is important that members decide on whether it is reasonable for the tree to be relocated to another section of the estate.
· Members agreed that although the removal of a tree can be viewed as expensive, the urgent demand for housing for Islington residents is paramount in this instance.
· A Member questioned the reasons for the removal of the tree noting the unanimity of the committee when the scheme was approved 3 years ago, that the tree was a selling point. Member suggested the possibility of inviting the architect or project manager to explain why the tree cannot be retained.
· The Chair reiterated the above concerns but informed the meeting that having viewed the plans, it was obvious that a significant proportion of the tree roots would lie deep under the proposed building footprint, concluding that the tree would unlikely survive in its present location, that the option to relocate the tree seems more suitable, noting the amount of work carried out and the cost involved.
· Councillor Khondoker moved a motion on the possibility of strengthening a recommendation to recognise residents cherished memories by designing the hard landscaping in the area where the tree had previously stood in such a way as to mark the area that it had occupied. This was seconded by the Chair.
· The Chair noted conditions 24 and 25, requesting the possibility of modifying condition 12 with an informative which will help identify the relocated tree
Councillor Klute proposed a motion to grant planning permission subject to amending the above condition. This was seconded by Councillor Poyser and carried.
That following consideration of the case officer’s report (the assessment and recommendations therein), the presentation to Committee, submitted representations and objections provided verbally at this meeting, planning permission be granted subject to the conditions and amended informatives set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report and subject to the prior completion of a Deed of Planning Obligation made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 securing the heads of terms as set out in Appendix 1 of the officer report.