The Report of the Planning Department of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council


Planning application No. TW/00/01474
Crest Homes (South East) Ltd. and Southgate Developments Ltd. [a live subsidiary of BT (British Telecom) - Company House Reg. No. 02325912]
Telephone House, Church Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells



AN ANALYSIS BY THE TELEPHONE HOUSE NEIGHBOURS ASSOCIATION







REFERENCE COLUMN:

correspondence 3.11.2000
to Rodney Stone,
Chief Executive - TWBC

additional Notes complement this letter





















































6.4. Trees
Note: See documentation on trees, including a drawing of street and building lines of the south side of York Road.


3.1. Parking spaces



3.2. Listed buildings











































Note: Even with the second application, again these details were not filed; a revision was needed.
One would expect planning applications to be complete when submitted.









Note: The unsophisticated layout and the clutter of 4 blocks of flats, was not an improvement to the previous application.

See the layouts in comparison following this analysis.





Note: This is much opposed by the residents









4.1. Visitors’ parking













Note: Involvement of residents was avoided, this is now contrary to the Urban White Paper § 3.10. line 2














Note: as mentioned before: One would expect planning applications to be complete when submitted.


6.3.2.
Note: This study is incomplete.
Note: The setting of the sun is indeed equal in March and September (Equinox)



























































Note: The previous application was refused on the grounds of:

- Policy ENV15
- Policy ENV17
- Policy ENV19
- Policy EN1
- Policy EN3
- Policy EN5
- Policy EN6
- Policy WK2

















































Note: PPG3 § 56 confirms this comment !












































Note: This view is not shared by the residents.






























































5.1. Capacity of Utility Companies
Note: A study should be provided by the applicant, before submitting the application.


Note: See correspondence including study of parking spaces and traffic flow.

































Note: Residents asked for a survey esp. on Asbestos. This request was ignored. The nature of this issue is still prominent.



5.2. Residents’ letters









5.2.1.
A complete phrase of this letter was omitted: “ 3.) Sole access / exit for vehicular arrangements through York Road is unacceptable.”


















5.2.2.
31 individual letters are on file.


5.2.3.
Letters were not correctly summarised




































































































Note: This view is not shared by the residents.


Note: Nos. 23 & 25 York Road were demolished 20 years ago !
- Why not look at the building line seen on historical maps e.g. of 1839 ?

6.4. Trees
Note: See documentation on trees, including a drawing of street and building lines of the south side of York Road.



























6.1.1. Overall scale







































6.1.2.
This opinion is only supported by the TWBC officers and the developers

English Heritage, Civic Society, the elected Councillors of the Western Area Planning Committee and the affected residents do not share Mrs. Ruth Chambers’ view.















6.2.
Note: A sign at the entrance of the site in York Road is warning:
These gates will be closed between 1900 hours and 0700 hours

Note: The proposed density of 140 units per hectare is unacceptable. PPG3’s recommends 30-50 units per hectare.

This area of Tunbridge Wells is a part of a town which does not need to be revitalised. This residential area is popular and due to earlier conversions, splitting most town houses into 4 or more dwellings, town cramming is already causing problems.





6.3.1.
This description is false.










6.3.2.
Note: The study is incomplete.
A full study incorporating a continuous weekly chart of the sun’s position is needed to make such a crucial judgment.









The sign at the entrance gates indicates that from
7pm to 7am the parking area was closed.





6.4. Trees
Note: See documentation on trees, including a drawing of street and building lines of the south side of York Road.

Note: The officers’ report does not explain what the positive elements would be.


Note: See correspondence including study of parking spaces and traffic flow.

6.5.1. Visitors’ parking




Note: Residents living here for more than 20 years do not remember having seen the parking space ever occupied to its full capacity.












6.5.2. Residents’ permits

Note: Over-crammed living areas and missing parking facilities for residents, will force professional people out of this area. It is this group of people which has to be encouraged to remain in town centres. (Urban White Paper)

Note: N. Baldwin, Senior Engineer, confirmed in a letter dated 30.11.00 that demolition and construction traffic would be excluded completely from York Road.



6.6. Density







Note: This calculation is false. (126)

Note: This calculation has to be clarified. (105)

Note: This is the officers’ interpretation of PPG3 § 58.

Note: Kent Design: 8.4.5 does not aim at simply replicating densities from its surroundings.



Note: For the residents this density level is not acceptable. They find their point confirmed not only in PPG3 § 58, but also in Vision for Kent, the Kent Design and ultimately in the Urban White Paper.



Note: The proposed new development with its larger amount of floor space than the office building, will neither have restricting hours for usage, nor can the number of people living there or the number of visitors be restricted.
Note: The disturbance to existing residential amenities will be more intense than with a B1 licensed office building. The negative impact of the new development will in fact be higher if the developer is not forced to accept a lower density.

Note: The willingness of the applicant to enter into a Section 106 agreement should not give him the chance “to pull a fast one” . By looking for a compensation for his “offer” he will try to gain control and will decide over the fate of an important historical part of the town centre. “This development could be the only way to get rid of the current eyesore” - Andrew McPhillips, Crest Homes

Note: The developer seems to make up for the opportunity cost by neglecting the on-site amenities.










Note: This is a discriminating statement. It is contrary to § 3.35 of the Urban White Paper:
An inclusive society











6.7.
The commuted sum has to be disclosed to the public.


































Note: The officers’ report does not explain what the positive contribution would be.






















6.7. The commuted sum has to be disclosed to the public.
























Note: On York Road south side, iron cast area railings should be reintroduced





























































Note: N. Baldwin, Senior Engineer, confirmed in a letter dated 30.11.00 that demolition and construction traffic would be excluded completely from York Road.

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WESTERN AREA PLANNING COMMITTEE

REPORT OF THE PLANNING AND BUILDING CONTROL SERVICES MANAGER
(Nigel Eveleigh)
18 October 2000

PLANNING APPLICATION FOR CONSIDERATION
Reference: RCC / CRW

APPLICANTS' NAME :
Crest Homes (South East) Ltd and Southgate Developments Ltd.
AGENTS' NAME - AGENTS' ADDRESS :
Barton Willmore 35 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4BW

T.P. REF : TW/00/0174
DATE VALID : 13/07/00

LOCATION: Telephone House, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells
NAT. GRID REF. : 58305/39485

BRIEF PARTICULARS : Demolition of existing building and erection of 43 flats with basement level parking.
DATE OF APPLICATION : 13/07/00



DESCRIPTION


The site is located in the heart of the town with road frontages to Church Road to the south, and York Road to the north. At present the site is occupied by a 5 storey plus basement office building, constructed in the 1960s. This has its main elevation to Church Road and has an overall height of approximately 19 metres, measured from ground level. This is significantly higher than the buildings either side. The building extends for almost the whole width of the site on this main elevation and extends back into the site north wards with a narrower wing, forming a 'T' shaped building.

The building and site are currently vacant, but the previous and authorised use was for offices ( B1 ).

The remainder of the site is currently open, largely consisting of areas of car parking and circulation space. The parking area for the office building was extended following demolition of 23 and 25 York Road in about 1982. Part of the permission for the extension to the car park included a landscaping scheme consisting of a row of trees fronting York Road. These trees now form a semi-mature screen at the roadside and are a prominent feature of this part of the street.Most of the parking area outside the office building is accessed from York Road giving a total of approximately 55 spaces. However, the original permission for the car park extension shows more than this, some cars being double-parked. In addition there are up to 15 visitor parking spaces with access from Church Road.

The site is within the Conservation Area and there are many listed buildings in the immediate vicinity. These include a commercial building adjacent to the east fronting York Road (Trinity House), a pair of houses opposite on York Road, a listed terrace opposite on Church Road, and Trinity Arts Centre to the east fronting Church Road, separated from the application site by a commercial building.


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The ground level of the site falls from north to south, with an overall difference in level of approximately 3 metres between the two road frontage, measured midway across the site.

Residential properties lie to the west of the site (Clarence Mews) and York Road itself is largely residential in character. These properties area a mixture of flats and single dwellings.

The application site can be seen in views from Mount Ephraim to the west and from the Common, which is itself on rising land. There are also views through to the site from Mount Pleasant to the east, between existing buildings which front the street.


Previous refused proposal for residential development

The current application follows refusal of an earlier proposal for residential development of this site.

This consisted of:
- four storey block fronting Church Road;
- two, three storey blocks fronting York Road, the larger one having accommodation in the roofspace.

The blocks fronting York Road had ground floor levels up to 2.9 metres higher than existing ground levels at the rear and approximately 1.5 metres higher fronting the road.

Details of materials/finishes, were not provided.

All the blocks showed parking in the basement/semi-basement. A total of 40 spaces were provided in this manner. There were also 6 visitors' spaces with access to Church Road.

Conservation Area Consent for demolition of the existing building has been granted under reference TW/00/02207 subject to a condition tying any demolition to an approved programme of redevelopment for the site.


Summary of current proposals

The current proposals take the form of 4 main blocks:

- Block A - 5 storeys plus basement parking (18 flats)
- Block B - 4 storeys (8 flats)
- Block C (attached to block B) - 3 storeys plus basement parking (9 flats)
- Block D - 3 storeys (8 flats)

The flats in block D have been offered as affordable housing as part of the overall proposals.

Access to parking for residents of all the flats is from an access drive to York Road.

The parking is provided at the rate of one space per flat for blocks A - C inclusive, and with an additional visitor space under block C. These spaces are all located in the basements of blocks A and C (a total of 36 spaces). There is the provision of one space per 2 flats for block D (4 spaces).

Visitors' parking is accommodated in the form of 4 spaces from Church Road. The proposals entail the removal of the existing trees fronting York Road. An outline landscaping plan has been submitted which shows new planting in the form of tree, hedge and shrub planting, particularly to boundaries


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The proposed four buildings are of differing design and appearance. The applicant has amended the external appearance of block A in particular as a result of informal discussions with Officers. The Church Road elevation has been modified in relation to the overall modelling and materials used, and the window and balcony design and layout. Two key features of the building as amended are the set back 'penthouses' with pitched roofs and the two curved bays on the main Church Road elevation. Block B shows two projecting bays on the front elevation to York Road, as well as feature windows at first floor and prominent entrance porch. Block C sits between the two existing street frontages. This block has balconies facing east on all floors and a series of pitched roofs. Balconies on the west elevation of this block have been modified on upper floors to reduce overlooking to existing properties. Block D has a feature bay fronting York Road, and the building design incorporates bands of horizontal brickwork. The layout of this building makes us of some of the roof space to provide third floor accommodation.

A schedule of external materials and annotated plan have now been provided outlining proposals for each building.

The submitted application includes a design statement and a planning statement. This latter document included a daylight and sunlight study for blocks B and D in relation to the existing properties opposite York Road. This included shadow diagrams for different times and months of the year. These show, for example, the ground floor only of the residential properties opposite being partially in shadow at 2pm in March and additional drawings submitted as part of the amended proposals, show a similar situation at 2pm in September.

Other amendments submitted during the course of the application show:

1. A more detailed proposed landscaping scheme;
2.Details of provision for bins. These are now shown as basement storage areas in blocks A and C for use by blocks A - C, and covered spaces adjacent to parking under block D. An additional area is shown adjacent to the access road as an assembly area on collection days. This is indicated as being covered;
3. Sections through the buildings to demonstrate that lift housings do not project above the line of the roof except for in a valley of block C.


RELEVANT HISTORY

SW/1/62/303 - 5 storey office block - Approved 14/09/62.

TW/80/0374 - Demolition of 23 and 25 York Road - Approved 6/08/80.

TW/80/0375 - Extension of existing offices and car park - Approved 23/06/82.

TW/82/0448 - Additional parking facilities and fence enclosure - Approved 16/06/82.

TW/97/00095 - Refurbishment of offices and installation of condenser units at ground floor level - Approved 21/07/97.

TW/99/02207 - Conservation Area Consent. Demolition of office building - Approved 27/01/00.

TW/99/02211 - Demolition of office building and provision of 42 flats - Refused 27/01/00


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POLICIES


1. Kent Structure Plan 1996

- Policy S1 - Sustainable development.
- Policy S2 - Quality of environment.
- Policy S6 - Housing provision.
- Policy S8 - Development in town centres.
- Policy ENV15 - Built environment conserved and enhanced.
- Policy ENV16 - Use of land in urban areas.
- Policy ENV17 - Development in conservation areas.
- Policy ENV19 - Development affecting setting of listed buildings.
- Policy H3 - Housing in urban areas.
- Policy H7 - Dwelling sites. Affordable housing.

2. Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan Adopted 1996

- Policy EN1 - General development criteria.
- Policy EN3 - Setting of listed buildings.
- Policy EN4 - Demolition of unlisted buildings in Conservation Area.
- Policy EN5 - Development in Conservation Area.
- Policy EN6 - Impact on skyline.
- Policy H6 - Affordable housing.
- Policy H7 - Element of small dwellings in housing schemes.
- Policy H9 - Residential development within Tunbridge Wells
- Policy TP1 - Road hierarchy.
- Policy VP1 County parking standards.
- Policy VP2 - Allocation of disables spaces.
- Policy R2 - Recreation open space



CONSULTATIONS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS


1. English Heritage

24/08/00 (comments on original submissions) - Although Block A fronting Church Road is smaller in scale than the existing Telephone House, it is unduly dominant in terms of its overall mass and sits very uncomfortably against the neighbouring buildings and those opposite. Two detached blocks, slightly reduced in height, would be more appropriate to the context. Telephone House is an example of 1960s disregard for context and should not be used to justify an over-scaled redevelopment.

Blocks B and D are more successful in their frontages to York Road, but as with the earlier proposals for the site it is highly unsatisfactory to leave a small gap between existing terrace (number 27) and the new development to the east.

Despite the impressively full presentation, I still have fundamental concerns with the proposed redevelopment in that is uses the scale and bulk of Telephone house as a precedent and the justification concludes that any redevelopment which offers a smaller building must be an improvement. If Telephone House is to be demolished then the starting point when considering redevelopment should be the buildings immediately adjoining the site and this context does not justify a building of the scale and bulk of that being proposed.


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2. Kent County Council Property Group

01/09/00 - The development as proposed would create the demand for an extra 16 primary and 6 secondary school places. At present, the additional requirement for the primary places cannot be accommodated within local schools, however, the secondary places can.

The cost of providing these extra school places is currently estimated at £ 71,200. Should you require further information regarding the calculation of the contribution, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I would wish to point out that this figure is valid for 3 months from the date of this letter after which it may need to be recalculated due to ongoing planning applications, changes in school capacities and forecasted rolls I also wish to mention our calculations are based upon the assumption that the proposed development does not include and 1-bed units or sheltered housing.

Could your Council please impose a suitable planning condition or require the developer / landowner to enter into an appropriate Section 106 Agreement relating to the provision for this contribution for the additional school places. The developer / landowner should also be required to pay the County Council's legal cost incurred in completing this agreement.


3. Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society


03/10/00 (comments on amended plans) - As you know, we feel the proposed design for Block B and D, which front onto York Road, will complement the existing streetscape well.

However, we have scrutinised the amended drawings for Block A, submitted to you recently, and are disappointed to discover that the design is virtually the same as that shown to us at the 17 August 2000 meeting. Although the design shown to us then was a modest improvement on the previous solution, we still considered a really satisfactory solution had not yet been achieved. In our letter of 2 September 2000, we did not elaborate upon our particular concerns because we hoped the meeting would lead to another and better proposal. Since this outcome has not happened, we now set our comments in more detail:

Density

At the meeting at the end of July, we expressed our concern about the proposed height of Block A, fronting Church Road, since, although it will be less high than the present building of Telephone House (Syncordia House), we feel it would still intrude unfortunately upon the streetscape of Church Road. We were informed by the developers that, in their view, to reduce this building by one storey (and even by adding a storey to Block C) would lose a significant portion of the value of the site.

We understand that while Regional Policy Guidance 9, Policy Q3, recommends a density tin towns of 30 to 50 dwellings per hectare - this proposed development will exceed the higher of those figures by more than 150 % - there is also Policy Q1 which seeks to promote higher densities in town centre sites. We hope you will give careful consideration as to whether this development resolves these apparently conflicting aims satisfactorily. We think the proposal would benefit from a lesser density if this were possible to achieve.

Elevation Design

Some of the unresolved details of the design of Block A are:

- the bulky supporting piers at each side of the curved portion of wall on the upper floors which might be better replaced with columns;


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- the complete lack of glazing bars in the window on the southern elevation - we feel that such details are an important component of the character of the streetscape;
- the design of the parapet walls and associated roof details;
- the very narrow tapering space at each side of the balconies in the centre of the rear elevation.


4. Southern Water Authority

24/07/00 - Does not wish to make any comments.


5. Highway Manager

05/09/00 - With reference to the above application, I have no objection in principle although there are certain aspects which are less than ideal in highway terms. Block D is not well served by car parking. Will each of the units be granted a space ?

In general term, the provision of (just over) one space per unit is acceptable in this town centre location, and the accessing of the majority of these spaces off York Road is much to be preferred in highway terms.

The access road needs slight amendment - the footway is too narrow and the carriageway could be reduced . (These amendments have now been made)


6. Environmental Services Manager

15/08/00 - This Service would have no objection to the application in principle.

The area to the rear of the existing building is primarily residential and accordingly and should the application be granted approval, I feel it would be prudent to restrict the hours of work during both the demolition and building phases of the project. Similarly, with residential property in such close proximity, there should be no burning on site and the impact of dust on the locality will need to be kept to minimum.

I have managed to view some old plans dated circa 1800 which indicate that residential housing existing on this property previous to Telephone House. This would suggest that the site is unlikely to be considered "high risk" from a contaminated land point of view, but I am minded to recommend that the developers maintain a high degree of vigilance in view of the highly sensitive nature of residential property with regard to contaminants.


7. Private

43 copies of a letter from local residents stating the following:

1. The proposed density of 43 flats on 0.307 hectare is excessive.

2. Among other possible problems (pollution, loss of amenities, noise, safety), the 43 flats would generate too much traffic and too many parking related problems.

3. The demolition of the present building should commence as soon as possible.

4. York Road is a purely residential area. Heavy traffic has to be directed through Church Road during the demolition and construction period.

5. The groups of trees on the site are a feature of York Road. They have to be integrated into any planning consent.


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6. The council should insure that during the demolition and building time the amenities in the conservation area should not deteriorate and damage the residents' quality of life.


20 other individual letters raising the following issues:

- Increased traffic (11 letters);
- Development too intensive (contrary to RPG9 and PPG3) (11 letters);
- Loss of trees on York Road frontage (10 letters);
- Access should be from Church Road (6 letters):
- Inadequate parking (8 letters);
- Additional pollution (7 letters);
- Damage to existing buildings/pavement during construction (4 letters);
- Loss of light and privacy (4 letters);
- Construction traffic should be from Church Road (4 letters);
- Control of method/hours of demolition/construction needed (4 letters);
- Buildings too High (4 letters);
- Design /appearance unacceptable (3 letters);
- Support demolition of existing building (3 letters);
- Are services adequate? (2 letters);
- Unacceptable - little change from previous, refused scheme (2letters);
- Detrimental to Conservation Area (2 letters);
- Increased noise (2 letters);
- Is there asbestos in existing building? (1 letter);
- Site should be used for flats for the elderly (1 letter);
- Misrepresentation of existing situation regarding building location (1 letter).


Comments in relation to amended plans and additional information received September 2000

42 copies of a letter stating the following:

I would like to refer you to my previous letter regarding this application;
None of my comments have been considered in the revised plans. I trust you will now give these comments serious consideration. For your interest the residents of York Road have created a web site demonstrating and highlighting the issues we feel are important in the redevelopment of the Telephone House site.

Visit it at uk.geocities.com/twyorkroad You do not need to type www. to access the site.

7 further copies of original standard letter (from further addresses)

5 further letters of objection raising the following issues:

- Inadequate parking (3 letters);
- Concerns as before (2 letters);
- Still no submission of drawing in relation to houses on north side of York Road (1 letter);
- Material/Finish unacceptable (1 letter);
- Site more suitable for fewer houses or retirement homes (1 letter);
- Something else should be done to site (1 letter);
- Details should have been provided before (1 letter);
- Additional traffic problems (1 letter);
- Trees should be protected (1 letter);

1 letter - No objection to original or revised development.


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APPRAISAL


The key areas for consideration in relation to this application are:

- The effect on the Conservation Area;
- Impact on the setting of adjacent and nearby listed buildings;
- Impact on residential amenities;
- Loss of trees fronting York Road;
- Highways matters - access and parking;
- Density;
- Loss of the existing employment /commercial use;
- Provision of affordable housing;
- Provision of recreation open space;
- Provision of commuted sum to take account of additional demand for school places arising from the development.


Effect on the Conservation Area

The blocks have been designed in a variety of styles and finishes which, I consider, take account of their settings in relation to adjacent buildings and the character of the respective road. The height, bulk and roof form of all the buildings have been the subject of considerable discussion between the applicant and officers. I consider that blocks B and D fronting York Road are acceptable in terms of their visual impact on the character of the street. The ridge height of Block B would be no greater than 27 York Road adjacent. The ridge of block D would be lower to take account of the lower roof height of Trinity House adjacent. These two blocks are also considered acceptable in streetscape terms relative to the existing properties on the opposite side of York Road. The scale, height and front building line are in character with the existing street. In effect, the proposal re-establishes the building line which existed prior to the demolition of numbers 23 and 25 York Road. However, the front building line of the two new blocks results in the loss of the trees on this street frontage planted as the landscaping scheme when the extension to the car park was allowed. These trees currently make a positive contribution to the general appearance and character of the street. However, if these were to be retained as part of any new proposal, any building would need to be set back which would not reflect the traditional form and layout of the street. The existing car parking area does not, in itself, make any positive contribution to the appearance of the Conservation Area.

The ridge of Block A would be significantly lower than the existing Telephone House. The top floor of the building has been set back front the Church Road frontage and in views from the street the parapet line will be important in establishing the scale of the building. In longer views, two areas of pitched roofs will help to break up the areas of roof. The ridges of top floor units of the new building would be 3m lower than the general height of Telephone House. The flank elevation of the new building would be 6m lower than the existing building. The overall building would still be significantly higher than its neighbours either side. The comments of English Heritage have been discussed with the applicants. Their response has been to emphasise the articulation of the front elevation so that it appears as two main elements rather than a single building block. This has been achieved by introducing a slightly curved projecting bays, reducing the width of balconies and by adjusting window proportions, all of which gives a more vertical emphasis to the design.

In my view, the Church Road elevation would achieve an acceptable relationship with the adjoining properties in terms of its overall scale.

The Church Road elevation has been amended to complement existing buildings by its alignment, design and finishes. It would be clearly expressed as a contemporary building which does not attempt to copy earlier styles. I consider that overall, the building can be supported in terms of its impact on the Conservation Area.

The central Block C would, it is considered be acceptable in its impact and character due to its siting, design, and height. In particular, views through from Mount Pleasant would complement existing development and the setting of buildings.


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All the new buildings would have a considerable impact on the skyline, being prominent in long-distance views, particularly form the west. The proposed roofscape is well modelled and significantly lower than Telephone House. It would afford additional views of Trinity Arts Centre from various vantage points, including the Common from where anew line of sight would be opened up across the rear of Block A. Subject to there being no additional plant or other structures on the roof, it is considered that the development offers a significant improvement over the current situation in this respect. The addition information submitted in relation to how lifts would be accommodated within roofspaces is acceptable. The existing roofscape of Telephone House detracts from the overall character and appearance of this part of the Conservation Area.

Details of provisions for bins is satisfactory. These would generally be stored within the shells of the buildings, not in the open. Details of the collection point are needed but its location is acceptable in principle.

In conclusion, the scheme would result in a significant enhancement of the Conservation Area.


Effect of setting of Listed Buildings

The listed building in the vicinity of the application site are of various ages, forms and character. It is considered that the development offers a considerable improvement on the relationship to the existing buildings on the Church Road frontage. On the York Road frontage, I consider that the new Block D would complement the character and appearance of Trinity House. Both new blocks would not, in my view, detract from the character of other nearby listed properties in York Road, the development would complete a street frontage which was previously occupied by buildings, in places as recently as the 1980s. In streetscape term, the new development would be appropriate.

In Conservation Area and listed building terms, it is also important to consider the effect of the proposed use of the development as well as its built form. The previous use of the site was for B1. This use was not subject to any conditions in relation to hours of use and the building and site has the capacity to generate a very significant amount of activity in terms of pedestrian and vehicular traffic movement. Although the proposal represents an intensive use of the site, I do not consider that this would be unacceptable in listed building/Conservation Area term, taking into account the existing authorised use of the site.


Impact on residential amenities

This category can be divided into the following:

- Overlooking / loss of outlook / overshadowing from new development;
- Disturbance from traffic generated by the development.

The buildings have all been designed to try to reduce overlooking of existing properties where possible within the constraints of this town centre location and the overall density of existing an proposed development. The new development would contain balconies but these have been avoided in the most sensitive locations. Windows on the York Road elevation would overlook existing properties across the street but his is considered to be in keeping with the overall pattern of development in the street.

Considerable concern has been expressed by residents of York Road in relation to overshadowing an loss of light as a result of the blocks fronting the road. The applicant has submitted shadow diagrams to show how the development would affect existing properties at various times. Properties on the north side of York Road currently face south across an open site. Clearly, any development of this site will impact on the sunlight and daylight reaching their properties. However, I am satisfied that the applicants have demonstrated that a refusal of permission on ground of impact on sunlight and daylight would not be warranted. In addition, the issue has been taken into account to some extent in the overall height of buildings and the arrangements and design of roofs.


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The access for all proposed residents' parking would be from York Road. There is an existing access on this road frontage which serves the parking for the commercial use. This has the potential when the B1 office building is occupied to cause significant disturbance to residents. It is not appropriate to compare the situation resulting from the new development to the existing one, with the building and site currently empty. I do no consider this would offer a reasonable ground for refusal. This issue is also considered below under 'highway matters'.


Loss of trees in York Road

As stated previously, the existing trees make a positive contribution to the streetscene. Their loss a part of these justified on these ground alone, particularly when weighted against the positive elements of the proposal in relation to the impact on the Conservation Area.


Highway matters

The access to the parking for visitors would be from York Road. This is supported by the Council's Highway Manager. Access for parking of this scale from Church Road would be objected to on grounds of the harm to highway safety on that road due to increased turning movements in close proximity to the Church Road/Mount Pleasant junction. A further point to consider is that the greater part of the parking for Telephone House is served from York Road. The proposals entail fewer parking spaces served from this access than is currently the case. The limited visit/delivery parking to be served off the existing Church Road accesses is an improvement over the existing level of provision served by these accesses.

Vehicle parking is provided at the rate of one space per flat for most of the development. This level of provision is supported in this town centre location and in line with the thrust of recent policy advice and guidance. The scheme meets this Council's approved Interim Parking Standards for the Central Parking Zone. A higher level of provision is not considered necessary and would be unlikely to be acceptable in this location which is well served by public transport and easily accessible to the amenities of the town centre. Increased parking provision would not, in my view, be in accordance with current national planning guidance nor the Kent County Council's recent publication 'Kent Design. The serious concerns of the existing residents have been taken into account before coming to this view. In particular, I have noted their concerns about the existing difficulties of parking in York Road and the sometimes limited value of residents' permits. However, the new development must be looked at on its own merits. I consider that this makes sufficient provision for vehicles generated by the development itself having due regard to current policy guidance.

The use of York Road by construction traffic has been raised as a serious concern by residents of that road. I agree that in the interest of safety and residential amenity, construction traffic should be restricted to using an access from Church Road. The applicant has indicated a willingness to enter into a legal agreement to that effect, although in my view this matter could be covered by condition.


Density

National planning guidance in the form of Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 states that local authorities should encourage housing development which make more efficient use of land (between 30 and 50 dwelling per hectare net) and seek greater intensity of development at places with good public transport accessibility. The proposed scheme has a density of approximately 126 dwellings to the hectare. Whilst this is significantly higher than the range give in Government guidance, it is only marginally higher than the density of historic development in York Road, which has a density of approximately 105 dwellings to the hectare. The Government guidance is a general guidance to all residential land coming forward, including greenfield sites in suburban locations. It does not seek to set a limit on the appropriate density to town centre locations - indeed there is specific encouragement for seeking higher densities in such locations.


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In view of the location of the site in the town centre, with good public transport links an level and easy access to the amenities of the town, I consider that, the density proposed is acceptable and inline with the objective of making the best and most efficient use of urban land in accordance with PPG3 and Regional Planning Guidance Note 9.


Loss of employment use

The existing B1 use is well related to the town centre but, as previously stated, the use of the site for such purposes in the future is not subject to special planning conditions restricting hours of use nor numbers employed. As such, because of the large amount of floorspace involved, the existing use has the potential to result in considerable disturbance to existing residential amenities by reason of overlook, traffic and other, more general activity. I therefore do not consider that there is any justification for requiring the retention of the commercial use in this situation. this did not form a ground of refusal in the case of the previous proposals for this site.


Provision of affordable housing

The applicant has offered the 8 flats in block D as 'affordable housing', the occupation of which would need to be subject to a legal agreement. This equates to 19% of the units within the scheme. Having regard to the site constraints and the additional planning benefits in relation to the demolition of Telephone House, this would, in principle be in accordance with Policy H9 of the Local Plan. I consider that the location and level of provision as part of the overall scheme is appropriate and acceptable.


Provision of recreation open space

The number and size of units proposed results in the requirement for the provision of recreation open space in accordance with the Policy R2 of the Local Plan and the Council's supplementary planning guidance on this matter. No on site children's playspace has been allocated. However, there are communal gardens to the rear (west) of block C. In this instance, it is considered that this small area of open space justifies waiving further requirements for an unequipped play area.

The development also attracts a requirement for youth/adult recreation space under the same policy. In response to a request to this effect, the applicant has commented inter alia that 'We would question the need for the provision of such facilities given the nature of the proposed development. .......this development is for the construction of luxury apartments, and as such the nature of the intended occupants are not likely to include those with young children, or families. On this basis, we feel that the level of open space, and the site's proximity to Mount Ephraim is such that additional provision is not necessary on site. In addition, given the nature of the intended occupants of this site, we do not feel that there is a justification in this instance for any commuted payment in lieu of on site provision ...... We ask that in considering this matter further, you have regard to the fact that this development is facilitating improvements to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area .......'.

I have taken account of the applicant's view but do not consider that there is any special justification in this instance which should override the requirement for a commuted sum in lieu of on-site provision for youth/adult recreation space. This is therefore required and should be part of the legal agreement referred to above.


School place provision

I have noted the County's request in relation to the provision of a sum of £72k towards school places. However this Council does not at present have an adopted Local Plan policy in relation to such matters which it is anticipated will form part of the new Local Plan. I do not therefore consider that such a requirement is justified at this particular time.



CONCLUSION



This is a significant development proposed at a key site in the heart of the town. Its impact would be marked both in terms of the physical form and appearance of the new buildings and the activity generated by the use proposed. It undoubtedly represents an intensive use of the site. The acceptability or otherwise of the scheme needs to be judged having regard to the existing buildings and use on the site as well as all other policy and material considerations. In particular, the site's central urban location means that national guidance in relation to the best use of urban land is particularly relevant. All of the above leads me to conclude that in this instance, an acceptable development is now proposed which should, overall, make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. I am therefore able to recommend approval of the revised scheme subject to an appropriate legal agreement to cover the issues highlighted above and subject to other safeguards in the form of conditions.



RECOMMENDATION - THE APPLICANT BE INFORMED THAT THE COMMITTEE WOULD BE MINDED

(I) TO REFUSE PERMISSION FOR THE REASONS SET OUT IN PARAGRAPH (III) UNLESS WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF BEING INVITED TO DO SO THE FREEHOLD OWNER ENTERS INTO A BINDING AGREEMENT TO COVER THE MATTERS SET OUT BELOW UNDER SECTON 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990, AS AMENDED BY THE PLANNING AND COMPENSATION ACT 1991, IN A FORM TO BE PREPARED BY THE BOROUGH SECRETARY AND SOLICITOR IN WHICH CASE HE SHALL BE AUTHORISED TO CONCLUDE SUCH AN AGREEMENT:

(1) To secure the payment of an agreed contribution towards the provision of youth and adult recreation open space.

(2) To secure the provision of the 8 flats in Block D as affordable housing in accordance with the Borough Council's policy.

(3) To pay the Council's reasonable legal costs for the preparation and completion of this agreement.

(II) IN THE EVENT OF SUCH AN AGREEMENT BEING MADE, THE PLANNING AND BUILDING CONTROL SERVICES MANAGER SHALL BE AUTHORISED TO GRANT PLANNING PERMISSION SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

(1) Standard detail YZ01.

(2) The development shall be carried out and retained using the materials and colour specified as part of the application except with the prior written approval of the local planning authority.
- REASON: To safeguard the character an appearance of the conservation area and listed buildings in the vicinity.

(3) Fencing the site D009.

(4) Level of development D019 < the character and appearance of the conservation area and the amenities of residential properties opposite the site in York Road >
(add at end of condition: " The ridge height of each building hereby approved shall be no higher than as shown on the approved site contact drawing No. 2.03 ").

(5) No window to be inserted in elevation D016
(omit: "the < > elevation of the building", insert " any elevations of the buildings").

(6) No windows to be inserted in roof D015
(omit "building", insert "buildings").


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(7) Control of external apparatus S003
(add after "externally", "including on any roof").

(8) Parking spaces V012.

(9) Provision of turning space H010.

(10) Works to prevent deposit of mud G033.

(11) Parking for operatives vehicles G014.

(12) During demolition and construction works hereby approved, no works shall take place on the site before 07.30 or after 18.00 hours on Mondays to Fridays, before 07.30 to 13.00 hours on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays or bank holidays.
- REASON: in order to protect the amenities of nearby residents.

(13) Landscape scheme to be approved L006
(add at end: "The details of the landscaping of the site shall include details of a scheme for the preservation and management of all communal external areas of the development").

(14) Landscape scheme to be implemented L001.

(15) Before any unit is occupied, provision shall be made for the storage of refuse in accordance with the details submitted as part of this application or as otherwise agreed in writing with the local planning authority. Details of means of enclosure/cover of the bin collection area shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority before any unit is occupied, and such area shall thereafter be kept available for such use.
- REASON: In the interests of visual and residential amenities.

(16) Details to be submitted D0120
< balconies parapet walls to Block A, and porches >.

(17) During the demolition and construction works, there shall be no vehicular access to the site from York Road.
- REASON: In the interests of residential amenities.



Informatives:

(1) Advice on landscape and trees X001.

(2) Works within highway X002.

(3) The applicant is advised that the local planning authority is unlikely to approve any additions to the roof area of the buildings in connection with condition 6 and 7 of this permission.


(III) IF THE APPLICANT SHALL FAIL TO ENTER INTO SUCH AN AGREEMENT, THE PLANNING AND BUILDING CONTROL SERVICES MANAGERS SHALL BE AUTHORISED TO REFUSE PLANNING PERMISSION FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

(1) The proposal does not accord with the provisions of Local Plan Policy R2 in that it does not contain any means of providing for adult/youth recreation space.

(2) The proposal does not accord with the provisions of Local Plan Policy H6 in that it does not contain any provision for affordable housing as part of the development.

The 2nd Planning Application for the Development of Telephone House in 2000 -
Layout of blocks in comparison: present, 1st and 2nd application

Memorandum by The Telephone House Neighbours Association for the Public Inquiry, May 2001

The Telephone House Neighbours Assocation
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the development on Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1