We’ve just received the following letter from Coral, who have asked us to publish this on onlinefocus. We are happy to do this…
Also please remember we will stay impartial on any future planning application in advance of whatever development control meeting it goes to..
Dear residents and local interested parties,
Thank you once again for inviting us to the public meeting at St Nicholas Church last month and allowing us the opportunity to participate. We thought it was very worthwhile for my colleagues and I to hear the concerns of residents and those who have an interest in our application. As promised we would like to respond to the comments that were raised at the meeting in addition to those made on this blog. By using this media we hope to reach everyone who has an interest in the proposals and we believe it also allows us the opportunity to explain our position further and our plans for the revisions to the proposals as stated at the public meeting.
First of all, after due consideration of the views of both residents and Officers, we withdrew the planning application which was due to be heard at Committee at the end of August. Whilst we would still maintain our view that the four reasons for refusal recommended by Officers were ultimately resolvable, we feel the appropriate action is to withdraw to allow us time to alter the scheme and resubmit shortly. At present I have our architects working on revised plans which we feel will deliver a scheme which meets our objectives whilst meeting the aspirations expressed residents at our meeting.
Taking each of the reasons for refusal in turn, I can confirm we are looking into providing additional private amenity space for the proposed flats. Whilst this was a matter only raised by Officers, we hope this demonstrates our attempts to resolve all matters arising from our first planning application.
We also plan to reduce the number of flats from 19 to 16 which will reduce the overall size of the development, will reduce the number of vehicles on site and will create suitable space to provide amenity space for the properties.
The overall footprint of the building will be reduced and the number of ground floor units will be reduced from 6 to 5 to accommodate the ground floor amenity space. This is a significant concession as the previously approved, however we feel on balance the scheme is still workable. We have gone away and thought very hard about the composition of these 5 units and the issues of ?vagueness? in what would be provided and the concerns that ?pubs and takeways? would eventually dominate this group of shops. As I stated at the public meeting it is not our intention for such uses to be dominant and as part of our resubmission we will be providing a suitably worded condition providing the security that both the public and Officers hope for, whilst not being overly prescriptive and restrictive when we take the units to the market. We have experience at agreeing similar conditions with other Councils. Once again we would like to say that it has always been Project Coral?s intention to provide a scheme which will result in a vibrant shopping facility with no vacancies. It would benefit neither the developer nor the local public should an overly restrictive planning consent lead to units being unoccupied. As set out by our planning consultant the existing planning permission has been approved for a mixed use building with 7 ground floor units with no restrictive conditions. In this context I sincerely hope that you will see our revisions as a significant gesture of our commitment to seeking a balanced solution.
It was also evident at the public meeting and from other comments we have read, that the retention of a community use is an important matter for residents. We continue to support the possibility of a D1 use such as a dentist occupying one of the five units.
The reduction in the number of residential units also overcomes the recommended reason for refusal relating to the insufficient level of residential parking. ?Whilst we believe their request for 1.5 spaces to be unreasonable considering current sustainable objectives and national guidance, through providing at least 24 spaces in support of 16 units we will meet the maximum parking standard. We also took on board the resident?s comments relating to parking pressures locally and the concern that our scheme will lead to residents parking on surrounding roads.
The remaining reason for refusal relates to the provision of affordable residential units. Whilst many residents questioned the need to provide more affordable units, Cllr Oatham did make the point that there is a continued local need for such accommodation expressed in planning policy. Since submitting the application we have continually stated we would provide affordable units to meet the Council?s requirements. This will be clarified within a revised submission.
I would hope the content of this letter demonstrates our continued commitment to this scheme and the balance we are trying to strike to deliver a locally acceptable development.
Through the application process and the consideration of a scheme at Committee by Members local stakeholders have more control than they would have through the appeal process. The Asda scheme was approved at appeal and the Inspector decided it was unnecessary to attach any conditions restricting the use of the units. This consent has been implemented and is valid in perpetuity forms the basis for the current application. Considering this history and the existence of this unfettered consent, we believe that if we had let our first application be taken to Committee, and the Officers recommendation was endorsed, we would have had a very strong case at gaining approval through appealing the decision. However, this is not a route we wish to take and through the changes proposed and our willingness to agree a restrictive condition we hope we are showing considerable flexibility in our approach and our desire to address local concerns.
As was stated at the public meeting we have been in constant dialogue with Officers since submitting our proposals in June 2008. We met with them in late August and will look to continue this relationship in the future. As stated above we withdrew the application to undertake the appropriate revisions. We plan to resubmit an application in the short term and will endeavour to keep residents and local interested parties up to date with our progress.
Once again I would like to thank those who attended the public meeting and who have expressed their views. Should anyone have any questions at all our consultants at Planning Potential can be contacted on 0207 357 8000.