Agenda item

20 Church Road - 23251/APP/2022/477

Demolition of existing detached property and erection of a new build comprising of 5 self-contained flats.


Recommendation: Refusal


RESOLVED That the application be refused.


Demolition of existing detached property and erection of a new build comprising of 5 self-contained flats.


Officers introduced the application and made a recommendation for refusal. The proposed refusal reason 6 was highlighted as of particular concern to officers as there was a proposed basement level however no Basement Impact Assessment had been submitted in support of the application. Officers went on to summarise the remaining suggested reasons for refusal, particularly highlighting that the bulk of the proposed building would be larger than the previous structure, which was already sizeable, additionally highlighted was the loss of a tree to the front of the property.


A petition had been submitted objecting to the application; the lead petitioner was present and addressed the Committee. Key points of their address included:


·       It was noted that the application site was nearby to the Cowley Church Conservation Area and petitioners had raised an objection in order to protect the environmental integrity and heritage assets of the Cowley Village community;

·       The past few decades had seen a significant number of the detached properties on Church Road converted into multiple dwellings; this had an impact on the character and appearance of the street, also leading to increased crowding and the loss of many hedge and tree frontages;

·       Petitioners agreed with officers recommendations and highlighted concerns around the proposed excavation of a basement, most notably potentially endangering the structural integrity of neighbouring houses;

·       Petitioners supported the highways and parking concerns raised in the officer report, specifically referencing the bus stops opposite the site stating that any increase in the number of vehicles entering and exiting number 20 would present an additional highways safety risk.


Officers confirmed that they understood the concerns of petitioners on the impact of the development on the nearby heritage assets however it was deemed the distance between heritage assets and the site were significant enough not to warrant a reason for refusal.


The agent for the application was also present and addressed the Committee. Key points of their address included:


·       It was stated that the fall back of the development was less than 3 metres and could be achieved under permitted development rights;

·       In terms of overshadowing, the development respects the 45 degree angle rule on both the ground floor and first floor;

·       At no point during the pre-application had officers recommended that a Basement Impact Assessment was required, though they were happy to accept the need for a Basement Impact Assessment by way of condition should the Committee grant the application;

·       The proposals would provide well sized living space with sufficient headroom and amenity space;

·       The height of the original structure’s roof would be matched by the new development with the only roof additions being a double pitch and dormer window;

·       Regarding the front elevation, it was stated that the proposals would feature a more harmonious design with a symmetrical double frontage making the front façade slightly smaller than the existing building;

·       There was no risk to the surrounding properties should the excavation of a basement take place;

·       There were no TPOs on the trees to the front of the property and it was within the owner’s rights to remove the tree should they please;

·       In response to a question from the Committee, the agent confirmed that there would be 5 car parking spaces provided, one for each flat, meeting the Council’s criteria.


With regard to the permitted development fall back noted by the agent, officers highlighted that when considering this, it should be noted that no certificate of lawfulness had been submitted to establish that such works could take place without planning permission. Officers highlighted that explicit planning permission would not be required for the owner to simply demolish the existing building.


In relation to the Basement Impact Assessment, it was noted that it was a clear requirement for the application and Members echoed officers’ concerns that no Basement Impact Assessment had been submitted. The Committee queried whether officers knew of any other basement excavations in Church Road to which Members were informed that officers were not aware of any basement in the local vicinity, however this did not mean that basement excavations were unacceptable in principle.


Members stressed the importance of facilitating quality housing in the Borough and noted that the removal of the tree to the front of the property, only to have it replaced with a parking space had a tangible detrimental impact to the local street scene. It was also highlighted that the size of the front façade to the proposed building was acceptable, however the issues with bulk occurred as the property went further back.


The Committee agreed with the officer’s suggested reasons for refusal and were generally supportive of the recommendation to refuse the application in its current form.


The officer’s recommendation was moved, seconded, and when put to a vote, unanimously agreed.


RESOLVED That the application be refused as per the officer’s recommendation.

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