The Gateacre Society's objection letter (contd)
7. We object to the proposed height of the new Blocks 2 and 3. We believe that three-storey blocks here will adversely affect the setting of the listed buildings. The Brewery must have been by far the tallest building in the neighbourhood when it was first constructed, and we feel that an extension on the scale proposed would detract from its character. The new blocks will also have an overshadowing effect on the neighbouring properties in Halewood Road and Lower Sandfield.
8. We object to the inadequate level of parking provision which is proposed. The plans show a total of 22 apartments - 9 in the Brew House, 4 in Block 1, 6 in Block 2 and 3 in Block 3 - and 22 car parking spaces. The application states that 'car parking provision is in accordance with SPG8' but this is clearly not the case. The Council's minimum standard for 'New Flats (Private)' is 1.5 spaces per unit, which would mean 34 spaces for a development of this scale (i.e. 23 dwellings including the house at 42 Gateacre Brow). Furthermore para.6 of SPG8 states that 'whether off site car parking would result in a danger to highway and pedestrian safety [or] result in demonstrable harm to residential amenity' will be factors taken into account in applying the standards to any particular scheme. Bearing in mind the size of the apartments and the price range suggested by the applicant - averaging around £200,000 - we feel that they are unlikely to attract single-person households and it is unreasonable to expect that here will only be one car-owner within each. It is difficult to see where the residents and their visitors will be able to park without causing an obstruction to other vehicles and/or pedestrians.
9. We are concerned about the likely traffic implications of the development. In our comments on the previous planning application, we pointed out that Sandfield Road - which was the sole means of access then proposed, and remains the sole exit route - is not only too narrow for two cars to pass one another, but is also regularly used by goods vehicles. We mentioned our discussions with City Council officers, extending back a number of years, about how the existing traffic problems in Sandfield Road could be remedied. These problems are largely due to the presence of the Travis Perkins builders' merchant's depot, which is accessed by heavy (even articulated) lorries which often have to travel in reverse gear owing to the lack of turning space. Such lorries have, on numerous occasions, caused damage to the overhanging Listed Building 28a-d Gateacre Brow and to the sandstone boundary wall of Gateacre Chapel while attempting to enter Sandfield Road from Gateacre Brow. We therefore advocated the signing of a legl agreement whereby the developer contributes towards the cost of the long-awaited highway works in Sandfield Road, including a physical narrowing of the carriageway, widening of pavements and raising of kerbs, to keep vehicles away from the walls on either side, and an improvement in signage and sight-lines at the junction with the busy Gateacre Brow. Some of these works - specifically the narrowing of the Sandfield Road carriageway - have recently been carried out by the Council. However, further work still needs to be done - and any increase in car traffic can only add to the existing problems.
10. We are worried about the proposed vehicular access point on Gateacre Brow. In our comments on the previous planning application we welcomed the retention of the old timber gates on Gateacre Brow, which contribute to the character of the brewery complex, and we also welcomed the closure of these gates to traffic bearing in mind the problems - danger to pedestrians and damage to the Green opposite - which were formerly caused by lorries leaving the premises. The current planning application proposes that the gates should be moved back slightly from the road and used as an entry point for vehicles. While we accept that the provision of this direct access should help reduce the conflict between traffic entering and leaving Sandfield Road, and marginally reduce the amount of queuing on Gateacre Brow, we believe that physical measures (e.g. metal flaps on the road surface) will need to be included - and maintained in perpetuity - in the interests of highway and pedestrian safety, to prevent the gateway being ued as an exit point. We also feel that the character - and possibly the saleability - of the Brew House apartments will suffer as the originally-proposed landscaped 'oasis' will be lost. Indeed - bearing in mind our comments on the inadequacy of on-site provision - we envisage that the area immediately inside the gates will regularly become clogged with parked cars. At the very least, the new gates will need to be carefully designed to ensure that the entrance does not detract from the Gateacre Brow street scene.
continued . . .