In summary we ask that the application be REFUSED or a DECISION DEFERRED until matters of concern to local residents are adequately addressed.
Consultation, Information and Objection
The premises occupy a part of the ground floor of the Empire, a Grade II listed apartment building, formerly a hotel, which is home to forty-three households most of whose members are elderly. Some of the apartments are immediately above the premises which are the subject of this application. An application for change of use to A3/A4 where a family restaurant is to be replaced by a ‘gastropub’ can, of course, lead to a considerable increase in disturbance from drinkers particularly where, as is the case here, there are likely to be higher numbers of customers and outside drinking areas are planned.
While the applicant has taken the trouble to present his proposals to Empire residents he does not appear to have responded to their concerns. Existing parasols and an enclosed conservatory which have afforded some protection to residents until now are to be removed and replaced by open verandas along the south elevation of the building where diners and drinkers can gather immediately below the apartments. To address this problem, the applicant proposes reinforced canvas awnings. However, from the drawings available (unfortunately sections through the verandas are incomplete) these awnings do not appear to cover the full width or depth of all the verandas. The applicant cites, in para 3 of the Design and Access Statement, ‘an acoustic analysis…that shows that the proposed open veranda arrangement will have no more detrimental acoustic effect than the current conservatory bearing in mind the ambient sound of Orange Grove’. The existing parasols are not referred to in this context and the acoustic analysis is not included among available documents.
The applicant does not seek to justify a change of use to A3/A4 in this sensitive location; he has not dealt satisfactorily with local residents concerns over amenity, nor does he discuss the application in the context of council policy. The council has various Retained Policies from the 2007 Local Plan which do address such concerns where planning applications are being considered. These include Policies S6, S7 and D2f which states: ‘Development will only be permitted if it will not cause significant harm to the amenities of existing or proposed occupiers of, or visitors to, residential or other sensitive premises by reason of loss of light or increased overlooking, noise, smell, traffic or other disturbances’.Conclusion
We conclude that it would be consistent with council policy to refuse or defer a decision on this application until the applicant is able to reassure local residents on issues of amenity. This could be done by fully enclosing the verandas, thus treating them as conservatories, or by enlarging the awnings to ensure that the verandas are fully covered above and to the sides. In any event the applicant needs to show in an acoustic and environmental analysis that the measures taken will ensure that noise and disturbance from diners and drinkers, and the nuisance caused by cigarette smoking, will be no worse than at present.
However, should the council be minded to grant consent on the basis of the application as presented we ask that a condition be imposed which would require the clearance of the verandas, except for arriving and departing customers, and the cessation of consumption of food and alcohol from 10.00 pm nightly.
Finally, although the applicant makes no reference in available documents to changes to current arrangements for cooking, ventilation, storage and removal of waste, etc, we ask that an additional condition be imposed that would provide that the premises may not come into use until proposals for ventilation including the elimination of cooking smells and for the storage and disposal of waste, especially bottles, have been submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority.