CLEGGS GIVEN THE GO-AHEAD
Planning permission for the redevelopment of the former Cleggs Felt Factory was granted by the City Council on 7th August.
The decision to approve the plans was taken by the Council's Planning Committee (on the advice of its Planning Manager) at its meeting on 18th July, despite numerous well-argued objections from local residents, Councillors and the Gateacre Society.
Even a site visit, and verbal representations by Councillors Mace and Collinge and 7 members of the public, failed to convince the Planning Committee that certain aspects of the scheme would be severely detrimental to Gateacre's environment and to the amenities of those living nearby. Local residents from Sandfield Road, Dale Mews, Gateacre Brow and Halewood Road all drew attention to the potential traffic and parking problems arising from the scheme, the visual impact of the 'prison like' new blocks, and the lack of demand for new apartments in Gateacre.
Our own comments on the proposal - which are fully set out in the special 'Cleggs' section of our website - may be summarised as follows:
- We welcome the proposal for residential conversion of the old Brewery building, the refurbishment of the former manager's house and residential development on the site of the portal-framed Felt Factory 'sheds'.
- We have no objection to the removal of the sections of more modern brickwork on the west elevation of the Brewery building, or to the architectural treatment which is proposed including the insertion of a glazed staircase tower.
- We object to the 'Cor-Ten' (rusty steel) slabs which are proposed for some of the staircase walls and window surrounds of the new apartment blocks. We also believe that copper and zinc are inappropriate roofing materials.
- We believe that the new three-storey Blocks 2 and 3 will adversely affect the setting of the listed buildings, and will also have an overshadowing effect on the neighbouring properties in Halewood Road and Lower Sandfield.
- We object to the inadequate level of parking provision which is proposed (22 spaces for the 22 apartments). 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.
- We are concerned about the likely traffic implications of the development. Any increase in car traffic can only add to the existing problems in Sandfield Road, which will be the sole exit route from the development. We are also worried about the proposed vehicular access point on Gateacre Brow.
- While regarding the new plans as an improvement on those previously submitted, we feel that the number of new dwelling units proposed is still excessive. We see no reason why an attractive and profitable 'mews-style' development - ideally designed with elderly residents in mind - could not be designed.
We disagreed with many aspects of the Planning Manager's analysis - in particular his assertion that the proposed three-storey apartment blocks on the site of the Felt Works 'shed' were justified as so-called 'enabling development' to finance the restoration and conversion of the Listed Building, i.e. the former brewery building on Gateacre Brow. We could see no reason why a low-rise 'character' housing development at the rear of the site should not generate just as much income - enhancing rather than detracting from the appearance of the Listed Building, and creating a more attractive environment for the new residents.
Who exactly will buy these 22 new apartments, people are asking, when so many similar properties - with more convenient access and parking arrangements and a more pleasant outlook - are for sale or vacant nearby?