The Gateacre Society's objection letter (contd)
8. We are worried about the height of Blocks 001 and 002, in particular, and the effect which the new development will have on the skyline of the Conservation Area. It is, however, difficult for us to be certain on this point, because the submitted drawings do not show the relationship between the new buildings and the existing properties on Halewood Road. The residents of Halewood Road and Lower Sandfield will, undoubtedly, be concerned about the overshadowing and potential overlooking of their accommodation.
9. We doubt whether the surrounding area will be able to cope with the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposed new development. Your consultation letter states the total number of dwellings to be 36, but the submitted plans show only 33 car parking spaces: 25 underground and 8 on the corner of Sandfield Road and Lower Sandfield. The on-site parking provision would therefore seem to be inadequate, and it is difficult to see where else the residents and their visitors will be able to park without causing an obstruction to other vehicles and/or pedestrians. Furthermore the access to all of these spaces is via Sandfield Road, which is not only too narrow for two cars to pass one another, but is also regularly used by goods vehicles.
10. We have been engaged in discussions with City Council officers, for a number of years now, about how the existing traffic problems in Sandfield Road can be remedied. These problems are largely due to the presence of the Travis Perkins builders' merchants 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. Any increase in car traffic can only add to the problems.
11. Prior to planning permission being granted, we feel that a legal agreement should be sought by the City Council, whereby the developer contributes towards the cost of the long-awaited highway works in Sandfield Road. Basically, these should comprise 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.
12. For several reasons, therefore, we feel that the number of new dwelling units to be constructed on the site of the portal-framed 'sheds' should be significantly reduced. Furthermore we note from the Draft Supplementary Planning Document on New Housing Development (November 2004) that the City Council is currently advocating densities of between 30 and 50 dwellings per hectare for areas outside the city centre. On our calculation - based on a site area, measured from the submitted layout plan, of about 0.3 hectares - this density range implies a total of between 9 and 15 dwellings, rather than the 36 for which planning permission is being sought.
13. We see no reason why an attractive and profitable development could not be designed based on 'character' two-storey houses. This would be more in keeping with the Conservation Area and would minimise the problems of traffic, overlooking and overshadowing. It would also avoid exacerbating the over-supply of apartments in Gateacre: a high proportion of the flats in Woodholme Court (Belle Vale Road), St Stephen's Court (Halewood Road) and Woodsome Park (Halewood Road) currently being for sale. If the new dwellings were designed with elderly residents in mind, then the traffic problem might be further alleviated.
Please would you acknowledge receipt of this email, and notify me of any revised drawings which may be received in relation to this application. Please would you also notify me of the date of any Planning Committee meeting at which it is to be discussed, and of your decision in due course.
(Environment Secretary, The Gateacre Society)