Demolition of existing building and construction of a four-storey building (with basement levels) comprising Office use (Class E) with associated works
(Planning application number:
Councillor Wayne did not participate in this item as he left after the consideration of item B4.
In the discussion the following points were made:
· The Chair reminded the meeting that item was deferred at the meeting on 22 February following concerns raised regarding daylight and sunlight transgressions to neighbouring properties and also objectors request for a site visit to understand the impact of the scheme. The Chair noted that he was able to visit the site.
· Also Members had requested that the applicants review the massing of the building and seek betterments to the daylight and sunlight reductions.
· The Planning Officer advised that since the last meeting further representations had been received bringing the new total to 35, noting that no new material considerations had been raised from those which had been addressed within the 22 February Committee report.
· Further, the meeting was advised that the Applicant submitted amended plans and an updated daylight sunlight report since the 22 February meeting and that revisions to the proposal include the stepping back of part of the upper most floor and the introduction of a pitched roof to the rear of the This has led to a 20sqm reduction in floor area (GIA floor space has reduced from 1,788sqm to 1,758sqm).
· The Planning Officer acknowledged that amendments to the mass of the proposed development has led to betterments, albeit marginal to daylight and sunlight reductions to neighbouring properties.
· The Planning Officer highlighted a number of amended conditions that were recommended in the 22nd February 2022 Committee Report, that
Condition 2 has been amended to include the revised drawings, condition 11 has been amended to include restricted hours for deliveries and servicing of the building so that they do not disturb standard nightime/sleeping hours (between 2300 and 0700); and Condition 12 has been amended to restrict demolition and construction to weekdays only (no Saturday, Sunday or Public Holidays).
· An objector requested that the application be deferred, as the minimal reductions to the massing makes a mockery of the committee’s reasons for deferral, as it would not address the issues raised by the neighbouring residents, stating that the scheme would need to be reduced in line with the residential properties on each side so as to preserve the open spaces and mitigate light loss. He was concerned with the terraces, roof gardens and balconies as it would result in privacy loss and overlooking, noting that the main roof should be a green roof. The objector acknowledged a potential light loss to his property but not a 100% light loss as it would be detrimental to his amenity.
· A further objector was concerned with the format of the meeting especially as residents don’t have the right to reply during Council and Planning meetings, with the result of the risk of council being misled by the Applicant.
· The objector highlighted a number of inconsistencies for example in discussions about the Daylight/Sunlight report, the Planning agent comments describing the ‘isolated violations of BRE criteria’ when in fact, 50% of Pietra Lara’s south facing windows on floors 1 & 2 suffer daylight experience losses in excess of BRE criteria.
· Another correction was highlighted by the objector, with regards to a statement that the “majority of window failures at Pietra Lara were only just over the 20% threshold”, noting that this is true of windows (VSC), but not of rooms (DD/NSL), that the failures for rooms are 29, 24, 34, 39, 49 and 53%.
· The objector was also concerned with the Planning Agent’s statement that “there were no losses larger than 30%”, when in fact the largest loss for a window is 32% (window 243) and the largest room is 53% (room 240)
· The objector was further concerned with another assertion by the Planning Agent that the room uses listed, noting that this was wrong for example in Pietra Lara every room described was described as a kitchen when it was actually a living room kitchen diner, and every residential flat in 26/27 Bastwick described as ‘unknown or non-domestic were in fact all living room kitchen diner or bedrooms.
· The objector stated that the assertion that all windows was tested is disingenuous, which creates a false impression that the transgressions is not as bad for residents than it really is.
· The objector noted that all these misleading inaccuracies quoted in the report and representations would have become apparent if a planned site visit had gone ahead.
· The Meeting was informed that in light of concerns about the highlighted errors in the applicant’s submitted Daylight/Sunlight report, objectors commissioned their own experts which concluded that with regard to the sunlight analysis of neighbouring properties that only 62% of windows assessed will comply with both the annual and winter assessment criteria. Many of these reductions are substantial and well in excess of the BRE Guideline.
· In addition the assessment noted that the reductions recorded were in breach of the BRE Guidelines and could therefore considered to present an overly dominant obstruction to the access of light to the residential properties at 37 Bastwick Street and 39 to 45 Central Street.
· In conclusion, the objector advised members that information in the Applicant’s submitted Daylight/Sunlight report is unsound, urging the committee to reject the proposal, stating that if the proposal is to progress further, any design must be restricted to Class E(g) use only, as is the case with 44 Pear Tree Street.
· Councillor Graham requested that the item be deferred as resident’s concerns had not been sufficiently addressed. He acknowledged an expected light loss but not a total loss of light, and requesting that developers go back and allow residents to participate in the whole process. Councillor Graham queried the suggestion that there is a demand for additional office space in the area.
· In his response, the Applicant’s architect informed the meeting that the team carried out an exercise on how to reduce and mitigate any sunlight and daylight loss in conjunction with council officers, noting that suggestions about a cutback to the rear was not correct as this was where it had the greatest impact reminding members that for the building to be BRE compliant, the top floor would have to be removed, noting that the scheme provided office space which is policy compliant.
· Green roofs have been provided in various areas across the site, extensive consultation was carried out with residents and their feedback have been taken on board for example the refuse storage has now been incorporated into the ground level space
· On the issue of daylight/sunlight assessment, the Applicant’s consultant responded to the objectors comments that room uses had not been correctly identified, stating that an extensive online search of room uses of neighbouring properties was undertaken and where impossible, it took a prudent approach by treating the rooms as either habitable or unknown.
· The daylight and sunlight consultant reiterated the submitted daylight/sunlight assessment noting that in terms of daylight tests, of all the windows tested of the neighbouring properties for VSC only 5 habitable rooms fell short of the recommended guidelines. Similarly for daylight distribution tests only 8 rooms fell short of the recommendation of which 5 were marginal.
· With regards to concerns about the loss of light to the garden of 45 Central Street, the meeting was advised that prior to the proposal, the garden already exhibited a 30% loss, so was poorly lit, however officer noted that assessment carried out on 21st March which is the average of light for the year, it is believed that in the summer months it will receive more direct sunlight which is rare given its urban setting and it being surrounded by taller buildings.
· In response to the residents assertion that different base line surveys were carried out in comparison to other developments in the area, the consultant informed the meeting that base line surveys changes with different scenarios, that this is based on the amount of light that a neighbouring property receives prior to the development being built and when it is built so it is never the same base line.
· The Chair indicated that during his site visit, whilst standing on the roof terrace and looking out onto the site he could see the roof line of the existing building as this is not clear from the revised diagram submitted as it appears that the extension is higher. He stated that the amendments being put forward by the applicant did not appear to make any progress on the reasons why the committee requested for deferment.
· A member felt that having asked for the item to be deferred initially he was not agreeable to it being deferred once again unless the applicant is specifically advised on what changes the committee requires , noting that applicant had already made some amendments albeit marginal.
· Chair suggested item be deferred in order for the first floor rear extensions to be pulled back from the boundary, as he felt these would lead to an unacceptable sense of enclosure. Chair also requested the applicant provide better drawings, as this could help clarify the configuration of the rear wall and its relationship to the existing roof terraces as the submitted drawings are not clear.
· Members agreed for application to be deferred for the betterment of the sunlight impact and to see the possibility of the first floor extension be pushed back
· Councillor Klute moved a motion to defer the item. This was seconded by Councillor North.
That consideration of the application be deferred for the reasons outlined above.