Agenda item

DM/23/02935/FPA - Garage Block, Bewick Crescent, Newton Aycliffe

Conversion and alteration of existing garages to form 4no. bungalows including bin collection hardstanding.


The Committee considered a report of the Planning Officer for the conversion and alteration of existing garages to form 4no. bungalows including bin collection hardstanding (for copy see file of minutes). 


Councillor E Adam declared that he had called the application in to be discussed at committee as he had concerns with the proposal.  He was not prejudicial and had not pre-determined the application.


M Sandford, Planning Officer gave a detailed presentation that included a site location, aerial photographs, site photographs of the garages that included the hedges and privacy screen, the proposed bin collection site, the existing site plan, the proposed site plan, the existing elevations, the proposed elevations and 3D images of examples of existing developments of the same nature in the northeast.  A site visit had taken place prior to the Committee meeting to enable Members to assess the impact of the proposed development and the relationship with their surroundings. He explained that there were three garage blocks that totalled 29 garages within an established residential estate that was surrounded by the rear gardens of residential properties that consisted of a mix of privately owned and housing association. 


It was proposed to convert the garages into four bungalows that contained two bedrooms, a combined living and cooking area, bathroom, storage and small garden areas for each unit as well as a shared outdoor space, with bin store, bike store, rotary drier area and two car parking spaces per bungalow and a visitor parking space provided adjacent to the remaining private garage.  The proposed small gardens would offset the bio-diversity net gain for ecology purposes. There was no support for the removal of the well-established hedges on the site.  This would re-use a brownfield site that was considered underutilised, accrued maintenance costs and was a blight in the area. 


As the land was private there could be no proposals put forward to improve street lighting but occupants could install their own external lights. 

The bungalows met nationally described space standards internally and the close proximity of the bungalows would create a close-knit community with security benefits.  A site visit of a similar development had proved that the arrangement was successful.





Local Member Councillor E Adam had requested the application to be called in to be discussed at Committee as he was concerned over access to the site, lack of parking restrictions, lack of EV charging points and internal/external spatial requirements. The proposed bin collection point (within the site) had been considered unacceptable and a new plan showed the bin collection point to be located on Emerson Way which was acceptable. It was reiterated that the access from Bewick Crescent was unadopted highway and would remain the responsibility of the landowner.  The development proposed affordable housing and was recommended for approval subject to the conditions highlighted in the report.


Mr Edwards, Agent thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the applicant for the application.  He explained that the site was for 100% affordable housing that would be managed by Livin.  He noted that the age population had increased in Durham and they did not want to create barriers for people to live independent lives.  It was an innovative design for four sustainable two bed bungalows that was compliant by accessing housing on a brownfield site.  The properties had easy access, high levels of design, a wet room, an air source heat pump and EV points.  He had worked closely with Councillor E Adams and had hosted a site visit with him to view similar designed bungalows at a different site.  There would be no parking signs at the entrance of the site and sprinklers in each bungalow that had been approved by the Fire Authority.  He advised that they had worked with highways for a suitable bin collection site and it had been agreed that no refuse wagon would enter the site.  The bungalows met with national space standards and other sites of a similar nature had proved to be successful.  The bungalows were aimed at the over 55 year old demographic and had private gardens that would be easy to maintain.  The bungalows would be designed and built to ensure living rooms and bedrooms did not overlook each other and there would be privacy screens added.  There were developments in Spennymoor and Peterlee that had long waiting lists. He asked that the committee approve the application.


L Ackermann, Legal Officer (Planning and Highways) noted that Councillor E Adam had not pre-determined the application but was concerned with what she had heard from Mr Edwards that Councillor E Adam had worked with the agent on the application and asked for clarification on the relationship.










Councillor E Adams clarified that the agent had used the wrong choice of words.  He had concerns with the application since October 2023 and that was the reason he had called the application into committee.  He had issues with the internal and external space and had asked the Planning Officer for advice who had put him in touch with Mr Edwards.  He contacted the agent to express his concerns which some had now been addressed.  He had been shown round a bungalow that was of a similar design on another site that had alleviated some of his concerns.  He confirmed that he had no financial gain and was purely assessing the information that had been supplied in the report as factual. 


Mr Edwards agreed he had used the wrong choice of words in stating that he had worked with Councillor E Adams.  He confirmed that he had taken Councillor E Adam on a site visit of another site that had similar designed bungalows to that what was proposed in the application and had taken on board the issues that Councillor E Adam had highlighted.


The Legal Officer (Planning and Highways) was happy with the clarification. 


The Chair opened up the meeting to questions.


Councillor E Adam referred to paragraph 95 within the report relating to the RAS SPD as being 7 metres separation between properties but nationally it should be 18 metres.  He was concerned that they were too close and the proposed privacy screen would have a visual impact.  He asked if this was the opinion of the officer.


The Planning Officer responded that the NSD (National Described Space Standard) only looked at the internal space and not the external space.  The development could not accommodate the 18 metre division as the site was enclosed.   He advised that the dwelling’s proposed layout was that the living rooms or bedrooms of each property would not face each other.  He added that it would be advantageous considering the demographics of the site that the closeness would help with surveillance and create a close community.


Councillor E Adam was worried about the entrance to the site as he thought it was too narrow with substantial hedges in the vicinity.  He queried if the entrance could go all the way up to the edge of the site.  He was unhappy with the bin location.  He asked who maintained the hedges and if there was a management plan in place as he received lots of complaints about overgrown hedges.


The Planning Officer stated that the hedges were owned and maintained by Livin.  He had visited the site three times and they were well maintained and kept back from the road.  Livin would continue to maintain them.


Councillor M Stead acknowledged it was good information to know about the maintenance of the hedges.  He asked if the application was approved how long would it be before the proposed site would be finished and the properties occupied. 


The Planning Officer was unsure of deadlines but as the bungalows would be erected from the shell of the existing garages it was likely that the timescales for completion would be reduced.


The applicant informed the Committee that if the application was approved, he aimed to be on site as soon as possible with full completion by March 2025 for occupation.


Councillor G Richardson stated that upon attending the site visit the garages were in a dilapidated state of disrepair and asked how many garages were occupied.


The Planning Officer noted that at present there were 5 occupied out of 30 garages.  There was one private garage that would remain.  The garages were built a long time ago and were not built for the size of modern cars.


Councillor N Jones thought it was a great development.


The Chair opened up the meeting for debate.


Councillor E Adam had looked at the planning application for a period of time as potentially there may be other proposals come forward in the future for other garage plots and queried what properties should be acceptable and sustainable for Newton Aycliffe.  He thanked the agent for the site visit to see a similar designed bungalow on another site which he thought was excellent the way it had been laid out and consideration given to the build.  He was still concerned that the bungalows would be too close to each other.  His concerns had been alleviated over parking and the EV charging points and real consideration had been given to the bin collection site and the access road and on that basis he moved the application to be approved.


Councillor J Atkinson did not agree with Councillor E Adam over the hedges.  Upon looking at the photographs the garages were a blot on the landscape and seconded the application to be approved.


Councillor A Savory thought it was a great scheme as bungalows were sort after and was happy the site promoted affordable housing.  She supported the application to be approved.


Councillor S Quinn thought the standard of work by Livin was exceptional in the new bungalows in Shildon. They were homes people wanted to live in.


Upon a vote being take it was unanimously:




That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions set out in the report.

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