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Agenda item

DM/18/02975/FPA - William Robson House, Claypath, Durham

Extension and conversion of the multi-level decked car park to form 4 no. 1-bed apartments and 8no. 2-bed apartments (C3 housing) (Resubmission). 


The Senior Planning Officer, Paul Hopper, gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes).


Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site.  The Senior Planning Officer advised that Members of the Committee had visited the site and were familiar with the location and setting.  The application was for extension and conversion of the multi-level decked car park to form 4 no. 1-bed apartments and 8no. 2-bed apartments (C3 Housing) (Resubmission) and was recommended for refusal.


The Senior Planning Officer referred Members to the site plan and highlighted the application site, former printworks to the west which had permitted development for 30 dwellings, and nearby residential housing.  He noted proposed elevations and clarified that within the report that No.1 Blue Coat Court was referred to as the most affected, however, that property was actually No.4 Blue Coat Court.


Members were informed that the proposals extended the existing footprint and was for 4 storeys with some roof space.  It was highlighted that the eastern elevation was blank, this being the elevation most visible from the nearby residential properties. 


The Senior Planning Officer noted there had been no objections from statutory consultees and representation had been received from the City of Durham Parish Council, a summary of which was within the report, and a representative was in attendance to address the Committee.  Members were informed that in respect of internal consultees, the Landscape Section noted that adjacent trees would likely come under increased pressure for heavy pruning from future occupants and that therefore it was likely the development would result in significant adverse landscape and visual effects post construction in conflict with saved policies E6 and E14 of the saved City of Durham Local Plan.  It was added that other consultees offered no objection subject to conditions.


The Committee were informed that there had been six letters of objection from the public, with the main issues raised being impact on residential amenity and the noise and disturbance during development.  It was noted the application was within the Conservation Area and in proximity to the World Heritage Site of the Cathedral and Castle.


The Senior Planning Officer noted that in terms of the principle of development, NPPF Paragraph 11 required permission to be granted unless adverse impacts outweighed the benefits. 

He added that the application site was in a sustainable area, close to a number of shops, employment opportunities and transport links within the City Centre.  The Senior Planning Officer noted that loss of residential amenity of surrounding occupiers and the detrimental impact upon visual amenity of the area.  He added that the increase in housing supply was slight and was in the context of being able to demonstrate over five years supply of housing land. 


Members noted that while there had been some concern raised in terms of the possibility of the development effectively becoming a Purpose Build Student Accommodation (PBSA), upon speaking to the developer it had been confirmed single use, and the application was for C3 use.


The Senior Planning Officer noted that accordingly, the application was recommended for refusal on the basis the application would be contrary to saved City of Durham Local Plan Policies H7, H13 and E14 and paragraphs 11, 127 and 180 of the NPPF.


The Chairman thanked the Senior Planning Officer and noted Councillor D Freeman, a Member of the Committee was also a Local Member in respect of the application and asked if he wished to speak first in relation to the application.


Councillor D Freeman noted he was a Member of the City of Durham Parish Council, however, was not a member of their Planning Committee and had no input into their comments on the application.  He noted that upon listening to the Officer’s presentation he supported the recommendation for refusal as set out.  He added he felt there were major flaws in the application and that amenity for adjacent residents would be adversely affected, especially in the context of the blank, featureless gable which Officers had said was not acceptable.  Councillor D Freeman noted that should the application be approved he believed there would be serious negative impact upon the landscape.  He noted that the site felt “pokey” and he could not see it being targeted at anyone other than students, however, he appreciated that the application being considered was for C3 use, though his fear was for future applications in terms of a change of use for C4 use.


The Chairman thanked Councillor D Freeman and asked Parish Councillor, John Ashby, representing the City of Durham Parish Council to speak in relation to the application.


Parish Councillor J Ashby noted he was pleased on behalf of the City of Durham Parish Council to congratulate the Council’s Planning Officer on his meticulous report.  He added he could simply say that the Parish Council fully supported the report, but he wanted to underline some key points. 


He added that the Parish Council in principle welcomed C3 developments in the area that provided residential accommodation for year-long occupation.  He noted that the site was an ideal location for such development, especially suitable for elderly people because of its proximity to the city centre. 


Parish Councillor J Ashby noted that there were five matters of great concern which supported the Planning Officer’s recommendation.

He noted that firstly, the submitted Transport Statement (paragraph 3.2.8) stated that “it is anticipated that the apartments could prove attractive to students…” and highlighted that this was a clear indication of the apartments being in effect a PBSA scheme.


He asked Members to note that secondly, waste collection service required wheelie bins to be placed on the public highway for emptying and then to be returned to within the curtilage of the property. 


It was explained that Claypath was often obstructed by wheelie bins from apartments further up Claypath and noted this issue must be addressed, noting including permitted development, 42 domestic wheelie bins in total would totally block pedestrian movement on Claypath,


Parish Councillor J Ashby noted that thirdly, no car parking provision was made and that whilst this was in principle a worthy stance, in practice some of the residents would have a car and would attempt to park somewhere in the area, exacerbating the current situation in which cars searching for a parking place slow down and obstruct traffic flow on Claypath and Lower Gilesgate.


He explained that fourthly, operational conditions would be needed and enforced to manage the entry and exit of construction and building materials lorries, learning from the difficulties with the Student Castle site opposite that is having a major detrimental impact on traffic flows, pedestrians and retailers in Claypath.


Parish Councillor J Ashby noted that fifthly, essential provision to meet accessibility requirements was not shown.


With reference to the Planning Officer’s report, Parish Councillor J Ashby noted paragraph 47 states that the Education Authority had advised that existing school places within the locality could accommodate the anticipated increase in the demand for primary and secondary school places.  He noted that that was puzzling; the only primary school in the vicinity was the “Independent Grammar School” which is a non-regulated establishment.  He added there were no schools in the vicinity where the Education Authority could place pupils.


Parish Councillor J Ashby highlighted that, in paragraph 112, the sum of £22,924.50 was identified as the appropriate Section 106 commuted sum for open/play space provision if planning permission were to be granted.  He noted that the Parish Council would be happy to assist in finding a suitable location for such provision.


In conclusion, Parish Councillor J Ashby reiterated that the Parish Council fully supported the Planning Officer’s recommendation and grounds for refusal. 


The Chairman thanked Parish Councillor J Ashby and asked Members of the Committee for their questions and comments.


Councillor J Clark referred to paragraph 100 of the report regarding narrow access and asked if that was the only access to and from the site.  The Senior Planning Officer confirmed this was the case. 

Councillor J Clark noted that paragraph 46 referred to financial contribution based upon 20 units, however, the application was for 12 apartments. 


The Senior Planning Officer explained that within the building with permitted development, a number of the proposed units were outside of the amount allowed under such permitted development and would be subject to separate consideration.  He added that however, the open space calculation was cumulative, so as it was set out within the report was correct.


Councillor M Davinson proposed that the application be refused in line with the Officer’s recommendation and he was seconded by Councillor J Clark.




That the application be REFUSED.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714