Monday, 3 February 2020

Planning application 20/00127/FUL 75 ROSEWELL COURT

Providing more than one hundred and twenty homes, mostly two-bedroom units in four to five storeys with balcony access, Rosewell Court makes an important contribution to the limited supply of affordable social housing in the city centre.  At number 75 the applicant seeks to provide three-bedroom accommodation with a single bathroom and no shared space of the type favoured by short lease renters, holiday renters and students, in our view an entirely inappropriate offer in this location.  If it set a precedent at Rosewell Court it would be likely to result in:
Loss of affordable single-family housing in a development that lacks any external shared facilities other than a public car park
Increased noise and disturbance 
Increased drug dealing and use, petty crime and anti-social behaviour in a location with a history of serious social problems
Increased fire risk
Increased pressure on local and emergency services

It was in order to avoid circumstances of this kind that, under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Local Planning Authorities were granted powers to require those seeking to transfer a property from C3 (dwelling house or flat) to C4 ( House in Multiple Occupation) which would previously have been designated as Permitted Development, to apply for planning consent, a requirement with which presumably the current applicant is now seeking to comply.

Under Policy H2 of its Core Strategy and Placemaking  Plan, the council confirms that the entire District is subject to Article 4 Directions and that as a result changes of use to HMO will not be supported if, among other factors

The HMO use is incompatible with the character and amenity of established adjacent uses
The HMO use significantly harms the amenity of adjoining residents through a loss of privacy, visual and noise intrusion
The HMO use results in the unacceptable loss of accommodation in a locality, in terms of mix, size and type
It is, therefore, both surprising and disappointing that, as principal landlords at Rosewell Court, neither Curo nor the Council has, so far as we are aware, elected to oppose the application.  It is therefore for TARA, in an attempt to defend the interests of existing residents at Rosewell Court, to oppose the granting of planning consent in this case.

We therefore ask for this application be REFUSED.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

THE MINERAL HOSPITAL Planning Application 19/04933/FUL

The applicant seeks consent for change of use from hospital (D1) to a 169 bedroom hotel (C1) with ancillary uses including a restaurant/cafĂ© (A3).  The proposal appears, in general, to be consistent with the Council’s Core Strategy Plan (2014) and Placemaking Plan (2017) and we have no objection in principle to the change of use.
However, the proposed disposition of buildings on the site is a different matter. We contend that the application be REFUSED on the following grounds
  • It fails adequately to take into account the potential loss of amenity currently enjoyed by residents living in the area.
  • It fails to take the opportunity provided by the removal of one of Bath’s most cherished institutions to provide benefits to the wider community
  • It would result in the removal of mature trees which should be permitted in a Conservation Area in a city centre only under exceptional circumstances
  • It proposes an extension at the rear of the existing hospital building in an area which is currently a Scheduled Ancient Monument with un-resolved archaeological issues.
  • It relies for vehicular access on surrounding streets including Upper Borough Walls and Westgate Street where the council is evaluating major changes to traffic management and the use of road space which are, as we understand it, still under review.
Our particular concern relates to the extension which would be positioned at the rear of the existing Grade II listed hospital buildings.  We contend that this four-storey block is over-bearing, encroaches too close to residential buildings to the south and, though the term escapes precise definition, represents over-development of the site.  As a result, local residents are likely to be confronted by
  • Substantial loss of amenity including daylight and sunlight
  • Overviewing from hotel rooms (the applicant shows more concern about the view from hotel windows than from the windows of neighbouring homes and the suggested angled louvres proposed in mitigation seem entirely unconvincing).
  • Risk of noise and disturbance from hotel rooms
  • Light pollution from hotel rooms at night
To date there have well over eighty objections to the application, most relating to the loss of trees and of amenity at the rear of the property and many from among the eighteen households that are the immediate neighbours of the hospital to the south and east. The consultation process entered into by the applicant, comprehensive as it may in some respects have appeared, seems to us to have been flawed in that while most households were leafletted and informed about the public presentation of the proposals, there is no evidence that the applicant has responded positively to any of the concerns raised.  As the principal residents’ group in the area, TARA should arguably have been invited to participate in the consultation process but was not.  To this extent the applicant failed to take account of the interests of residents living adjacent to the site, contrary to policies D.6.a and D.6.b of the council’s Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan which state respectively:  
Development must…allow existing and proposed development to achieve appropriate levels of privacy, outlook and natural light
 ‘Development…must 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, increased noise, smell, overlooking, traffic or other disturbances. 

We, therefore, contend that, unless it is withdrawn or reconsidered, the application as it stands should be REFUSED.  An alternative proposal which reduced the damaging impact of the proposals on local residents, particularly at the rear of the existing buildings, while providing a valuable resource to the wider community, funded if necessary by a Community Impact Levy, would be likely to receive the support of this association.