Change from dwellinghouse (C3) to small house in multiple occupation (C4) including conversion of the garage into a habitable room and single storey extension to rear.
The Planning Officer, Michelle Hurton 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 application was for change from dwellinghouse (C3) to small house in multiple occupation (C4) including conversion of the garage into a habitable room and single storey extension to rear and was recommended for approval, subject to the conditions.
The Chair thanked the Planning Officer and asked Parish Councillor Susan Walker, representing the City of Durham Parish Council, to speak in relation to the application.
Parish Councillor S Walker thanked the Chair and Committee and noted that in terms of car parking, the NPPF was clear that parking and transport were key to make a high quality development. She added that displaced parking was a known issue in Durham City and was specifically an issue in this area. She reiterated that car parking should be integral to development, especially in an area with known parking issues. She added that the Parish Council suggested that the Council’s Parking Standards should be followed both in principle and spirit, in this case where a residential dwelling is being changed for use as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and there was no proposed in-curtilage parking but would be a dropped kerb, actually decreasing on-street parking. Parish Councillor S Walker noted that the DCC Parking Standards referred to two parking spaces and a double garage for such developments and therefore the proposals were not in the spirit of the policy. She added there were additional issues, such as the loss of garden space, which could impact on flooding on the A167, already an issue in that area, risking conflict with CDP Policy 35. She explained that CDP Policy 31 related to amenity and pollution and as the new development could led to additional traffic and congestion, this was in addition to the already significant traffic issues in the area. It was added that the area and junction specifically was part of the walking route to Durham Johnston School and therefore there would be an increased risk and perceived risk to children and therefore likely to led to increased use of cars to drop children off at school, contrary to CDP Policy 21.
Parish Councillor S Walker noted that DCC had declared a Climate Emergency, something the Parish Council supported, and therefore all development should meet the requirements of CDP Policy 29. She added it was not clear how this particular application met that policy.
She explained that it was clear that if the application was allowed there would be impact upon residential amenity, with five unrelated adults generating significantly more noise and disturbance than a single family. She added that the CDP referred to ‘mixed and balanced communities’ and noted the Parish Council found it hard to find that within this application. She referred to the comments from Durham University in relation to a recent application for the Apollo Bingo in that there were sufficient properties to meet their projected need in terms of student accommodation. She noted the need for family homes in Durham City and asked that Members refuse the application, it being contrary to CDP Policy 16(3) relating to the quantity of cycle and car parking provided (referring to the Parking and Accessibility SPD) and on the basis of the many objections from residents to the proposals.
The Chair thanked Parish Councillor S Walker and asked Kate Gorman, Local Resident to speak in relation to the application.
K Gorman noted she was a homeowner living on St. Monica Grove and she was representing the 62 homeowners living in the area opposing the change of a family home into an HMO. She explained that their community was a stable, diverse and mixed community with those that worked, school age children and those that had retired. She noted the area was within walking distance of the school and was exactly the type of house for families. She added that the Council policies relating to protecting against the proliferation of HMOs were welcomed and explained that there were already four HMOs within 100 metres of the property in question and echoed the comments from the Parish Council in that student resident were very different from families. K Gorman noted that the application was contrary to CDP Policy 16(3) and represented an assault upon residents’ amenity. She noted it was contrary to CDP Policy 29 in terms of sound proofing not addressing the additional noise from comings and goings of the student residents, and also in terms of separation distances and garden size not being sufficient. She added the proposals were not suitable.
K Gorman noted there was another application for 3 St. Monica Grove by the same applicant for a seven-bed HMO and therefore it would be appropriate to defer the application for 1 St. Monica Grove and for them to be considered together. She explained that the current application contravened CDP Policy 6(e) in terms of creating issue for access for emergency vehicles by exacerbating parking issues. She noted that the area was a direct route into the City Centre and part of the National Cycle Network. She noted comments from the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University who had stated that purpose build student accommodation (PBSAs) was only at around 50 percent occupancy, therefore there was no need for additional student properties. She asked that Members protect residents and allow them to grow old in their City, maintaining the strong balanced community that existed in the area.
The Chair thanked K Gorman and asked the Committee for their comments and questions.
Councillor J Elmer thanked the Officer and speakers for their comments. He noted concern as regards car parking, pushing cars on to the road as a result of a loss of parking. He noted the issue raised in terms of the application next door for similar development and whether the application should be considered together. He asked as regards cycle storage, waste bin and recycling storage in curtilage. He noted concern there were room sizes that did not meet NDSS and asked for clarity from the Officer. He asked as regards privacy, with separation distances of 15 metres where 21 metres was the requirement. Councillor J Elmer noted that he felt there was not much effort being made with the application in terms of CDP Policy 29 and carbon neutrality. He concluded by noting he could not see how the application identified a need, certain not the need of the area, which was not a student area.
The Principal Planning Officer, Paul Hopper noted there was some confusion in relation to space standards. He confirmed that the application was compliant with the NDSS and that separation distances were deemed acceptable as they were existing separation distances, the 21 metres could not be applied retrospectively and accordingly, the arrangements were considered satisfactory. He added that in relation to CDP Policy 16(3), need was not a requirement.
The Principal DM Engineer explained that while there were adjacent applications, each would be looked at on their own merits. He noted that in terms of parking, if additional parking was provided and there was a dropped kerb, there potentially would be a loss of on-street parking. He noted that the existing white ‘H’-bar lines would extend across the proposed access driveway and therefore there would not be a loss of parking if drivers were complying with the rules. He explained that the application did comply with the Council’s parking standards in terms of providing one additional space, the double garage requirement was for new development and therefore the application was acceptable from the Highways perspective.
The Principal Planning Officer (PH) noted that cycle and bin storage would be on-site, and Officers were comfortable as regards the condition managing the property, though the condition could be amended to contain precise details if Members were so minded.
Councillor L Brown noted it was a very difficult application for her, having been brought up living in St. Monica Grove and would wish for the impact on residents to be mitigated. She asked as regards the parking proposed and whether it would require a new dropped kerb.
The Principal DM Engineer noted a new drop kerb, with an informative to be included within any permission granted.
Councillor L Brown noted that would be a double entrance and asked if a condition could be put to ensure that any surface within the property was permeable, that and EV charging point be provided, and that at Condition 6 the start time of works be changed from 7.30am back to 8.00am and to finish at 2.00pm on Saturdays. She noted that parking on St. Monica Grove was an issue as it was the nearest street to Durham City Centre without a controlled parking zone. She noted that also its proximity to Durham Johnston School meant there were many parents that used the street for parking. She noted that three had been an attempt to get a controlled parking zone for the area, however, that had not been successful. She noted that further attempts would be made should the applications for 1 and 3 St. Monica Grove be successful, as it was becoming increasingly difficult for residents to park, with some people leaving their cars in the street and then going into Durham to commute to work at Newcastle via rail. She accepted there were no material concerns and therefore she hoped only to mitigate some of the issues faced by residents.
The Principal Planning Officer (PH) noted that it would be possible to add a condition relating to the surface material for the driveway and noted that the condition relating to hours of work was a standard condition and if Members wished to alter then a specific reason would help in that regard. In respect of a requirement for EV charging, it was not policy for development of this scale and therefore it would be for Members to explain why on a policy basis.
Councillor L Brown noted it was a shame in relation to the EV charging point, however, the reason in relation to 8.00am start times and 2.00pm finish on Saturday was as the development was near to existing family homes and would also be in line with the conditions as set out in the Witton Gilbert application previously considered. The Principal Planning Officer (PH) noted 8.00am start times Monday to Saturday and with a 2.00pm finish on Saturdays. The Lawyer, Planning and Highways Neil Carter noted those conditions were within the gift of the Committee to alter as they saw necessary. Councillor L Brown asked if the cycle/wate storage was already conditioned, the Principal Planning Officer (PH) noted that Condition 5 relating to the management plan could be amended regards cycle/waste storage. He asked if Councillor L Brown would wish for 2.00pm finish on Saturday to include internal works non-audible to outside the property, she confirmed that was the case.
The Chair noted that while additional HMOs were not wanted in the city centre, there did not appear to be grounds for refusal in this case. He noted that three had yet to be a motion in relation to the application.
Councillor S Deinali moved that the application be approved, subject to the additional condition and amended conditions as set out be Councillor L Brown, she was seconded by Councillor K Shaw and upon a vote being taken it was:
That the application be APPROVED, subject to the conditions as set out within the report, with an additional condition relating to permeable driveway surface and amended conditions making reference to cycle storage and permitted hours of development, with 8.00am start times and 2.00pm finish time on Saturdays.