[NOTE 1: The Planning Officer advised the Committee that four additional letters of objection had been received which mainly reiterated the comments already summarised within the representations section of the report.]
[NOTE 2: In accordance with the procedure for public speaking at Planning Committee, Mr Simon Ashall attended the meeting and spoke in objection to the application and Mr James Gellini spoke in support.]
The Committee considered an application for the erection of an apartment building containing seven flats following demolition of existing dwelling, with associated landscaping, parking and bin and cycle stores (amended plans rec'd 14.02.2023 and 15.02.2023).
Following a question about the chimneys, the Planning Officer confirmed that these had been added as a decorative feature at the request of the Planning Officer to add interest.
Some Members of the Committee commented that there were positive aspects about the application, however they also had concerns. These concerns related to the affect this development would have on the street scene due to the scale bulk and mass. It was also thought that it was contrary to Policy BE1 of the Hook Heath Neighbourhood Plan, which should be given considerable weight.
The Planning Officer commented that matters of bulk, mass and design were subjective and that Officers had looked at these in detail. Woodbank to the west and Hollywell to the south created a specific context to the site which was considered acceptable and in keeping. A Member commented that one of the nearby apartment buildings had been allowed on appeal due to it being sheltered accommodation and queried whether this would affect the acceptability of the proposed application. The Planning Officer commented that it was not obvious that Woodbank was a C2 scheme so in terms of character and appearance it was not possible to differentiate this view.
Following concerns raised regarding the amenity space, the Planning Officer commented that in their opinion this was considered acceptable and condition 21 covered this in detail.
Some Members thought that allowing this development would set a precedent and although it was not out of character within the immediate area, it was out of character for Hook Heath. This development could see a domino affect in Hook Heath and potential start to place change.
The Planning Officer commented that the application was a matter of planning judgement. There were currently apartment buildings on two sides of the site, which meant it did not appear out of character to the immediate area. That said, it was impossible to guarantee that approval of this application would not affect the North and East of the site. Planning Officers had come to the conclusion that they would be more likely to lose on appeal if this application was refused.
Councillor S Dorsett proposed, and it was duly seconded by Councillor J Brown that the application be refused on the grounds of scale, bulk and mass which was contrary to policy CS21.
In accordance with Standing Order 22.2, the Chairman deemed that a division should be taken on the motion to refuse the application. The votes for and against refusal of the application were recorded as follows.
In favour: Cllrs J Brown and S Dorsett.
Against: Cllrs A Boote, R Leach and T Spenser.
Present but not voting: Cllrs G Cosnahan, S Oades, L Morales (Chairman) and M Whitehand.
The application was therefore not refused.
In accordance with Standing Order 22.2, the Chairman deemed that a division should be taken on the recommendation in the report to approve the application. The votes for and against approval of the application were recorded as follows.
In favour: Cllrs A Boote, R Leach, S Oades and T Spenser.
Against: Cllrs J Brown and S Dorsett.
Present but not voting: Cllrs G Cosnahan, L Morales (Chairman) and M Whitehand.
The application was therefore approved subject to the recommendation set out within the report.
That authority be delegated to the Development Manager (or their authorised deputy) to Grant planning permission subject to:
(i) Prior submission of bat survey work confirming an absence of bat roosts from the existing building to be demolished, or any bat roosting compensation or mitigation measures (if required) being secured via planning condition(s) (and subject to no objections being raised by Surrey Wildlife Trust Ecology Planning Advice Service);
(ii) Planning conditions set out in the report (plus any additional condition(s) which may be required for bat roosting compensation or mitigation measures);
(iii) Prior completion of a Section 106 Legal Agreement to secure the required SAMM (TBH SPA) contribution.