Erection of 2no. apartment blocks containing 8no. residential apartments (C3) (16no. in total) with associated parking.
The Senior Planning Officer, Leigh Dalby, 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 the erection of 2no. apartment blocks containing 8no. residential apartments (C3) (16no. in total) with associated parking and was recommended for approval, subject to conditions. The Senior Planning Officer noted that following the latest revision to plans, the City of Durham Trust had rescinded one element of their objections to the proposals in relation to Nationally Described Space Standards, however, their other objections, as set out in the report remained.
The Chair thanked the Senior Planning Officer and asked Councillor M Wilson, Local Member, to speak in relation to the application.
Councillor M Wilson noted she was speaking on behalf of local residents and explained that there were concerns as regards parking and the impact on the highway from the development, in respect of displaced parking and the ability for large vehicles, such as refuse and emergency vehicles, to pass along the highway. She noted parking provision of one per dwelling and asked where additional vehicles would park should the occupiers of each unit have more than one vehicle. She explained that additional vehicles would make the situation more difficult and Members on the site visit would have been made aware of the situation. She concluded by noting she hoped that the Committee would consider the issues raised.
The Chair thanked Councillor M Wilson and asked Mr Glenn McGill, Agent for the Applicant to speak in support of the application.
Mr G McGill explained that it had taken a year and a quarter to get to the current position with the application, with a lot of work with the Planning Department. He noted that the site was a small, derelict, in-fill site in a sustainable location close to shops, services, schools and open spaces. He added that the planning history for the site included three applications, the last being for 11 houses, however none were taken forward due to viability. He explained the proposals were not the most profitable, however it would tidy up the derelict space.
Mr G McGill noted that the proposals met CDP Policy 21, ensuring proper standards in relation to highway policy. He noted that as the land was private property, the existing use by nearby residents for parking could be taken away at any time. He noted that the proposal for flats would not generate as much parking and vehicle movements as the previously approved application for 11 houses. He reiterated the work with Planning Officers to resolve issues and noted the Case Officer’s report dealt with those issues and stated that the application met all the CDP and highways standards. He concluded by noting it would help meet housing delivery and hoped that Members would consider the application worthy of approval.
The Chair thanked Mr G McGill and asked if the Senior Planning Officer had any comments on the points raised by the speakers.
The Senior Planning Officer noted he would defer to the Principal DM Engineer, however, he reiterated that the parking on the application site could be taken away at any time by the landowner.
The Principal DM Engineer, D Smith noted that the issues in respect of the current parking by nearby residents on the application site and added that could be removed if the site was fenced off. He noted there would be some displaced parking and explained he had visited the site at the weekend and noted around five or six vehicles on the land. He noted that the street was five metres in width and noted some parking may be displaced to Cochrane Mews. He noted that parking would not be disruptive if parking was in line and added that the Front Street was protected through part-time parking restrictions and bollards. He concluded by noting that while there would be some displaced parking there was not such an issue to refuse the application.
The Chair thanked the Officers and asked Members of the Committee for their comments and questions.
Councillor D Brown explained he had attended the site visit and noted the comments within the report and from the Applicant’s agent were true. He noted he did not understand how there were buildings in the middle of the site, however, he did not see why the application should not be approved as it would tidy up the site. He noted the comments relating to the development obstructing a view, however, as he understood that was not a material matter and therefore, he would propose the application be approved as per the Officer’s recommendation.
Councillor S Wilson noted the issues raised as regards parking and felt that, similar to the first application, it was a moot point as the site could be fenced off tomorrow as it was private land. He noted his concern as regards bin collections, access along past the site and noted he would listen to more comments before coming to a conclusion.
The Chair asked if the Highways Officer could clarify as regards bin collection. The Principal DM Engineer explained that generally refuse vehicles were around 2.5 metres wide and noted if resident parked responsibly there would be sufficient room to gain access and turn around, as with any other street.
Councillor J Elmer noted there were many positive aspects to the application and congratulated the applicant in going above and beyond building regulations with the inclusion of cycle storage, photovoltaics and water harvesting. He noted, however, that the Committee should not rule out of hand the concerns raised as regards parking. He added that he had attended the site visit and noted around 10 cars parked on the land and noted those cars would need to park somewhere. He explained that such displacement of vehicles can lead to stress and arguments in a street. In respect of tidying up green spaces he noted that could be resolved with a litter pick.
The Chair noted there had been a proposal for approval by Councillor D Brown and asked Members if there was a seconder or any other proposals.
Councillor K Shaw seconded Councillor D Brown’s motion for approval.
Upon a vote being taken it was:
That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions and Section 106 Legal Agreement as set out within the report.
Councillor S Wilson left the meeting at 11.31am