The Gateacre Society's
letter commenting on the
Planning Manager's report (contd)
Possible Legal Agreement (point 13). "We are concerned that the piece of land on the corner of Sandfield Road and Lower Sandfield - which was shown as residents' parking space on the previous planning application - is indicated on the current drawings as a 'Future Development Site'. We cannot envisage what kind of development would be appropriate here, but feel that it is important to identify its use now rather than at a later stage. Perhaps the legal agreement which we have suggested could include the dedication of this land as a public 'passing place' to ease the movement of vehicles in Sandfield Road".
2. Regarding the design of the proposed new apartment blocks, the Case Officer Report is contradictory. It states that "the use of Corten Steel ... and Zinc ... will echo the industrial history of the site". Yet it also states that "the historic fabric of the site has been severely blighted by several modern, utilitarian buildings". Why seek to remind people of these unattractive additions by approving another modern, utilitarian building? As stated in our original email (point 1), the character of the site is that of a country brewery. Country breweries do not incorporate Corten Steel, nor do they have zinc roofs. (And, as mentioned in our point 6, Corten Steel will potentially cause unsightly staining of adjacent surfaces).
3. Regarding the traffic problems of Sandfield Road, which will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the development, we fail to understand how the proposed Condition 5 - requiring the developer to pay for the painting of yellow lines - will help. (Moreover the 'Reason' given for Condition 5 would appear to be pure gobbledygook). The fact is that this section of Sandfield Road is too narrow for two cars to pass one another, so no-one can park on it without causing an obstruction. What is needed (point 9 in our email) is a mixture of physical measures and signage, which we have been advocating for several years. (Incidentally, Condition 4 should refer to "11 Lower Sandfield" rather than "11 Sandfield Road", which is a different house altogether).
4. Most significantly of all, the Report appears to be remarkably uncritical of the 'enabling development' arguments. It states: "The Planning Manager ... bearing in mind that ... the level of development proposed is required in order to make the scheme financially viable, ... considers that the number of car parking spaces proposed is acceptable as it provides one space per residential unit". Apart from the fact that this statement is illogical as regards parking provision, it is also unjustified as regards the 'level of development'. Where and how has the applicant demonstrated that the type of housing we have suggested would not be 'financially viable'? All that is mentioned in the Case Officer Report is that "the applicant alleges that the conversion and alterations of the brewery and No.42 are not viable in economic terms in their own right and therefore a new build element to provide additional residential accommodation is required to finance the repair and refurbishment of the Listed Buildings" and ha "submitted a financial justification as part of the application". In our original comments we drew attention to the over-supply of apartments in Gateacre and the unattractive outlook of the proposed blocks, both of which factors will adversely affect their selling price. (The use of obscure glass for the windows, as required by Condition 4, and the elimination of some of the landscaping, as required by Condition 6, will further reduce the appeal of the proposed flats). We are therefore surprised that the Council has not examined a range of possible alternative, lower-density forms of development for financial viability rather than simply accepting the rather crude calculations submitted by the applicant.
If you are, for any reason, unable or unwilling to bring the contents of this email to the attention of the Planning Committee, please let me know as soon as possible.
(Environment Secretary, The Gateacre Society)