Statement of Case on behalf of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council -
Plannning and Building Control Services, Case Officer, Ruth Chambers, 16 January 2001

Appeal - Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells - Public Inquiry to be held in May 2001

Crest Nicholson Plc and BT's Southgate Developments Ltd versus Tunbridge Wells Borough Council




Appeal by
Crest Homes (South East) Ltd and Southgate Developments Ltd
against
Refusal of consent for demolition of existing building and erection of 43 flats with basement level parking
- Site of Telephone House, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent


TUNBRIDGE WELLS BOROUGH COUNCIL - 16 January 2001
Statement of case on behalf of the Borough Council


  1. INTRODUCTION

    1. This statement sets out the subject areas that the Council intends to cover in its proof. These will cover a description of the site and the appeal proposal, a summary of relevant policy and other considerations and an explanation of the reasons for refusal.


  2. THE SITE AND ITS CONTEXT

    1. The Council will describe the site and locality. Particular reference will be made to the character of the area, the form and variety of existing built development and related spaces, and views into the site, both from long distance and closer views.

    2. Listed buildings in the vicinity will be identified. The character and features of this part of the conservation area will be described.


  3. PLANNING POLICY BACKGROUND

    1. The Development Plan covering the site is the Kent Structure Plan 1996 and the Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan 1996.

    2. At the Inquiry, reference will be made to all relevant policies of the Development Plan in dealing with the application that is the subject of this appeal. These policies are as set out in the report to Committee. Copies have previously been forwarded with the completed appeal questionnaire.

    3. The appeal site lies in the heart of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area. The conservation area covering the appeal site was first designated in 1969. The original boundary has since been expanded. A Conservation Area Appraisal of the combined Tunbridge Wells Conservation Areas was carried out in the year 2000 and a draft report published in October 2000. This was adopted as a material consideration for development control purposes in November 2000. Planning Policy Guidance Note 15 deals with the impact of proposed development on listed buildings and conservation areas.

    4. The Borough Council has prepared Supplementary Planning Guidance to clarify and expand its policy in relation to the provision of recreation space in new development. This was a material consideration in dealing with the application that is the subject of this appeal.

    5. All the above documents will be referred to by the council at the Inquiry.


  4. PLANNING HISTORY

    1. The planning history of this site since the present building known as "Telephone House" was erected in the 1960 will be referred to. The application for Telephone House itself will be outlined. In addition, particular reference will be made to applications in 1980 and 1982 for extensions to the car park.

    2. An application for redevelopment of the site with 42 flats was made in 1999. This with its associated Conservation Area Consent application for demolition of the existing building, will be referred to. This reference will include a description of the proposals and the process by which these were dealt with.

    3. The appeal proposal
      The proposal will be described. The description will include the recent planning history of the site, a summary of pre-application discussions, details of the original submissions for this application, and discussions and subsequent amendments to the proposals prior to determination. The Council will explain how the application was reported to the Western Area Planning Committee for determination. This will cover Members' visit to the application site on the day of the committee, the presentation to the committee, and a summary of discussion at Committee leading to the decision to refuse consent.


  5. THE ISSUES AND COUNCIL'S REASONS FOR REFUSAL

    1. In relation to this first reason for refusal the Council will consider the effect of the proposal on this part of the conservation area in terms of the scale, massing, roofscape, form, spatial characteristics, elevational treatment and building lines. These aspects will be considered where appropriate in relation to the individual proposed "blocks" of building, and then in terms of the overall site and wider context.

    2. Block A - The overall height, footprint and depth of the structure will be referred to, particularly when viewed with other properties along Church Road. The proportion of void (glazing) to solid (masonry) will be discussed. The hierarchy of window proportions compared to existing properties will be examined.

    3. Block B - The fenestration of Block B facing York Road will be referred to. In particular, the proportion of floor to ceiling heights throughout the front elevation of the building and the sunken, semi-basement appearance of the ground floor windows in relation to the existing street level will be mentioned.

    4. Block C - The length and alignment of Block C and how this relates to existing patterns of development will be discussed. In particular, reference will be made to its close proximity to Block A and the perception that the two buildings will be visually fused together when viewed from York Road, looking down the mews access road. It will be argued that this view would be detrimental to the character of the conservation area.

    5. Site context - The spatial characteristics within the site will be examined. In particular the spaces and juxtaposition between the blocks A - D inclusive will be addressed.

    6. Long distance views outside the site itself, will be identified. These will include views from the town centre, nearby open spaces and view points and longer distance views from higher ground.

    7. The overall form and massing (including height) of the development will be assessed.

    8. Due to the height and length of Block B, the "tightness" of the proposed building line in relation to York Road will be mentioned. It will be maintained that this impact would more pronounced and unacceptable in conservation terms due to the relatively small gap formed by the access road into the site between blocks B and D. Consideration and scope for planting in front of Block B in particular will be raised.

    9. The second ground of refusal relates to the impact of the development on the setting of listed buildings in Church Road. The most marked impact would be in relation to numbers 20 - 22 Church Road and 16 - 18 Church Road, and Holy Trinity Church (Trinity Arts Centre). The reason for this concern will be expanded at the Inquiry.

    10. Due to the long, ranging building line and the overall height and "presence" of Block A, consideration for a split building line will be included which would relate more sympathetically to the setting of the listed buildings.

    11. The Council's evidence will discuss the question of how much weight should be accorded to the issue of the demolition of the existing building.


  6. CONCLUSION

    1. The Council will conclude that the application as amended is unacceptable for the reasons set out on the decision notice and the Inspector will be asked to dismiss the appeal.


  7. CONDITIONS

    1. Without prejudice to the Council's case, if the Inspector is minded to allow this appeal, he is asked to consider imposing conditions relating to the matters set out in Appendix 1 to this Statement. It will be noted that these largely follow the recommended conditions in the committee report with the following exception: Condition 17 should read
      "During all demolition and construction works, there shall be no vehicular access nor egress to the site from York Road".

    2. Without prejudice to the Council's case and in accordance with the Council's adopted policy and supplementary Planning Guidance, and planning consent granted for the appeal development should be subject to a planning agreement to cover the payment of a commuted sum in lieu of on-site recreational open space and to ensure the provision and retention of an element of affordable housing as part of the development.


  8. DOCUMENTS

    1. The documents referred to in this Statement may be inspected at the Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1RS during normal office hours, i.e. Mondays to Fridays 08.30 to 17.00 hours excluding public holidays.



APPENDIX 1.


LIST OF RECOMMENDED CONDITIONS SHOULD THE INSPECTOR BE MINDED TO ALLOW THE APPEAL.

  1. The development hereby permitted shall be begin before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.

    Reason: In pursuance of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

  2. The development shall be carried out and retained using the materials and colours specified as part of the application except with the prior written approval of he local planning authority.

    Reason: To safeguard the character and appearance of the conservation area and listed building in the vicinity.

  3. The treatment, including means of enclosure of the site boundaries shall be in accordance with details to be submitted to, and approved in writing by the local planning authority before and of the development is commenced. Such details are to be carried out to the satisfaction of the Authority before the occupation of the premises or the use commences and thereafter be retained to the satisfaction of the Authority.

    Reason: In the interests of visual amenity.

  4. The development shall be constructed at the levels indicated on the approved drawing. The ridge height of each building hereby approved shall be no higher than as shown on the approved site context drawing number 2.03.

    Reason: To enable the local planning authority to control the construction in the interests of the character and appearance of the conservation area and the interests of the character and appearance of the conservation area and the amenities of residential properties opposite the site in York Road.

  5. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 1995 (or any Order revoking and re-enacting that Order), no windows or similar openings shall be constructed in any elevations of the buildings other than hereby approved without the prior written consent of the local planning authority.

    Reason: To enable the local planning authority to regulate and control any further development in the interest of the amenity of adjoining property.

  6. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (or any Order revoking and re-enacting that Order), no windows or similar opening shall be constructed in the roof o the buildings, other than as hereby approved, without the prior written consent of the local planning authority.

    Reason: To enable the local planning authority to regulate and control any further development in the interests of the amenity of adjoining property.

  7. No fans, louvres, ducts, meter boxes or other similar apparatus shall be installed externally, including on any roof, without the prior written approval of the local planning authority.

    Reason: To protect the residential and visual amenities of the conservation area.

  8. The areas shown on the submitted plan as vehicle parking space shall be provided, surfaced and drained to the satisfaction of the local planning authority before the use is commended or the premises occupied, and shall be retained for the use of the occupiers of, and visitors to, the premises, and no permanent development whether or not permitted by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (or any Order revoking and re-enacting that Order), shall be carried out on that land or in such a position as to preclude vehicular access to the parking area.

    Reason: Development without provision of adequate accommodation for the parking of vehicles is likely to lead to parking inconvenient to other road users.

  9. Turning facilities shall be provided within the curtilage of the site before the use of each access is commenced and thereafter retained free from any obstruction to the satisfaction to the local planning authority.

    Reason: In order that a vehicle may enter and leave the site in a forward gear direction and in the interests of highway safety.

  10. As an initial operation on site, adequate precautions shall be taken during the progress of the works to guard against the deposit of mud and similar substances on the public highway in accordance with proposals to be submitted to, and agreed in writing by, the local planning authority. Such proposals shall include washing facilities by which vehicles will have their wheels, chassis and bodywork effectively cleaned and washed free of mud and similar substances.

    Reason: In the interests of amenity and road safety.

  11. Provision, to the satisfaction of the local planning authority, shall be made on the site for the parking of vehicles used by those engaged in carrying out the development hereby permitted.

    Reason: To ensure that vehicles are parked off the highway in the interests of road safety.

  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 o Sundays of Bank Holidays.

    Reason: In order to protect the amenities of nearby residents.

  13. Notwithstanding any details submitted as part of the application, no works or development shall take place until full details of both hard and soft landscape proposals have been submitted to and approved by the local planning authority. These details shall cover, as appropriate: Proposed finished levels or contours; Hard surfacing materials; Schedules of plants, noting species, planting sizes and proposed numbers / densities where appropriate; Implementation timetables; north point and scale and / or other information as agreed with the local planning authority. The details of the landscaping of the site shall also include details of a scheme for the preservation and management of all communal external areas of the development.

    Reason: Pursuant to Section 197 of the Town and County Planning Act 1990 and to protect and enhance the appearance and character of the site and locality.

  14. The proposals for landscaping shown on the approved layout shall be carried out prior to occupation of the buildings or the completion of the development, whichever is the earlier, or in accordance with a programme agreed with the local planning authority. All hard and soft landscape works shall be carried out in accordance with the appropriate British Standards or other recognised Codes of Good Practice. All new planting shall be adequately staked and tied. Any trees or plants which, within the five year period after planting, are removed, die or become, in the opinion of the local planning authority, seriously damaged or diseased shall be replaced in the next planting season with others of the same species, size and number as previously approved, unless the local planning authority gives written consent to any variation.

    Reason: Pursuant to Section 197 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and to protect and enhance the appearance and character of the site and locality.

  15. Before any unit is occupies, 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. Before any work commences, drawings at a scale of at least 1:20 to show the details of balconies, parapet walls to Block A, and porches shall be submitted to, and approved in writing by the local planning authority and the work shall be carried out in strict accordance with those details.

    Reason: To ensure a satisfactory appearance upon completion of the development.

  17. During all demolition and construction works, there shall be no vehicular access nor egress to the site from York Road.

    Reason: In the interests of residential amenities.


Tunbridge Wells Borough Council January 2001



The Appeal - Crest Nicholson Plc / Southgate Developments versus TWBC

The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells