Agenda item

22 Fringewood Close, Northwood - 42066/APP/2022/3824 - Northwood

Erection of a single storey annexe for ancillary residential use with glazed link between the annexe and the existing house


Recommendations: Refusal


RESOLVED: That the application be deferred for a site visit


Erection of a single storey annexe for ancillary residential use with glazed link between the annexe and the existing house.


Officers introduced the application.


The petitioner organiser was in attendance and addressed the Committee in support of the application.


The petitioner was speaking on behalf of 25 people who had signed the petition, and who all knew the applicant and their family. Petitioners were aware that this application was based on health requirements. It was noted that the proposed annex would allow the resident to avoid the use of stairs in the home. The applicant was only trying to improve the quality of life of the resident. Most of the signatories of the petition were from Fringewood Close and six letters of support had been submitted. It was noted that the property directly next to the proposed annex were supportive of the proposals.


The petitioners all disagreed with each of the officers’ reasons for refusal:


Reason one – principle of development: the applicant could attest to the fact that the resident and their family had no intention for the annex to be used as an independent dwelling.


Reason two – character and appearance: following engagement with the planning officers and after an exercise of design auctioneering the design team had arrived at a solution of the smallest possible footprint of the development whilst retaining the functionality and accessibility and establishing an appropriate relationship with the host dwelling. Given the reduction in the scale, the visual impact on the street scene of Fringewood Close was minimal. The annex would be partially screened by trees. Residences on Ducks Hill Road would be screened by tall hedges. As the annex would be lower than these houses, the units would not be visible from the road scene.


Reason three – substandard living conditions: the existing garden in 22 Fringewood Close was 573 square meters. The gardens within the Close average from 150 to 200 square meters. The resulting garden once the annex had been built would be 440 square meters. The remaining garden area would be double the size of the largest garden within the Close, and so the annex would enjoy a large amenity space.


Reason four – neighbour amenity: petitioners disagreed that the proposed annex would cause harm to the living conditions of the existing neighbouring occupiers. The separation distance between the proposed one-storey annex and 20 Fringewood Close was 3.5 meters. The average separation distance between two-storey houses within the close was 1.5 meters. The annex would be considerably smaller than the houses in the Close and the separation distance would be twice the average. The proposed development would sit outside of the 45 degree line of sight from the nearest window to the habitable room of 20 Fringewood Close, which proved that there would be no loss of outlook, loss of privacy or overshadowing on this property. The hedge along the annex closest to 20 Fringewood Close was considerably taller than the annex would be. The visual impact and daylight impact would be the same, if not smaller than the impact from the existing hedge. Neighbours had been consulted and had not raised concerns.


Members asked if there had been a site visit carried out. Officers clarified that a site visit had been conducted, however this had not been recent.


Members asked the petitioner how close they lived to the application site. The petitioner confirmed that the lived in the next road but had known the applicant for 11 years. Members also asked the petitioner if the development would have any overview of their property and the petitioner confirmed it would not.


Members noted that application was for the erection of a single storey annex for ancillary residential use with glazed link between the annex and the existing house, and asked why the link would be glazed. It was clarified that if the extension was against the house, it would impact three rooms.


A representative on behalf of the applicant attended and addressed the Committee.


The application was made with the intention of assisting the living conditions of their 92 year old mother who had limited mobility and was a wheelchair user. 22 Fringewood Close was a two-storey house, meaning that the applicant’s mother had to negotiate stairs every day. The applicant’s mother could not use the garden any more as the garden was a meter higher than the level of the house. The applicant was seeking permission to build an annex for their mother to live in which would be fully accessible without stairs, and with access to the garden. The existing house was sunken and the garden was at a higher level. The planned annex would be on the same level as the garden.


An application has been submitted in November 2021 and was considered at the Borough Planning Committee, who accepted the special circumstances of the applicant and agreed with the need for the development. However, the application was refused and the Committee encouraged the applicant to revisit the proposal, reducing the scale and to engage with planning officers. A series of meetings were held with planning officers where different design options were considered, and officers advised that the annex would need to be fully attached to the host dwelling and that the scale would need to be substantially reduced. Whilst the applicant had been able to reduce the volume of the annex by 35%, it was not possible to fully attach the annex to the host dwelling because it would have a detrimental impact on the host dwelling by covering the two existing windows as well as resulting in having to reposition all the meters and services of the house. The annex currently being considered had the smallest possible footprint whilst retaining the functionality and accessibility. This development was 35% smaller than the original application both in footprint and in roof format.


Under permitted development rights the applicant would be able to build a free-standing room of similar dimensions and detached from the main house. The principle of allowing development of accessible housing in the garden as a special planning balance for a protected characteristic was not uncommon in Hillingdon. A development had been approved on appeal in 2017 for a bungalow with a rare garden. The current application was similar to this previous one, and The Equality Act 2010 protected people against discrimination, harassment or victimisation on nine protected characteristics. The proposal was for an annex for a disabled family member who had a protected characteristic. The applicant did not want the annex to be an independent dwelling.


Members noted that the intention was for an elderly family member to occupy the annex, and asked what the plan was in the longer term. The applicant noted that in the future, they would live in the annex with their wife, and their children would live in the main house.


Members referenced the site plan and asked the applicant to point out the hornbeam, as a protected tree. Officers pointed out the location of the hornbeam on the site plan.


Members noted that when the applicants had previously come to Committee, officers were asked to help, which the applicant confirmed they did. This application was the outcome of that help.


Prior planning advice was provided to the applicant on this proposal in principle. There were no objections to providing ancillary accommodation, only the form that was being proposed. It was presenting as a self-contained detached dwelling with all the functions of a detached dwelling and so that was how it was assessed. The expectation on an ancillary dwelling was that it would still remain partially dependent on the main house and so would not have the full kitchen, living area, facilities for a self-contained dwelling. Part of the reasons for refusal on the application were that it was not considered an annex, it was a detached dwelling and had been assessed as such.


Members sought some clarification as one of the proposed reasons for refusal was that the proposed annex would cause harm to the living conditions of the existing neighbouring occupiers at numbers 20 and 24. However, the petitioners in support were neighbours. It was clarified that whilst the current occupiers of neighbouring properties may be in support of the application, this may not extend to any future occupiers of those households.


Members noted that in terms of size and scale, the proposed development had been reduced by 35% in size, and asked whether this did not comply with what the Committee had asked the applicant to do. It was clarified that the applicant had complied with some of what was raised, but the main issue was that it was a separate dwelling.


Members referenced page 23 of the agenda where it was noted that “during the course of the current application the applicants were provided the opportunity to amend the scheme however they declined to make the relevant changes”. Members clarified if this had meant that the applicant had said that they would not make the changes, or if the new application did not reflect the proposed changes. Officers noted that there had been extensive pre-application discussions between the previous refusal and the current application. Officers noted that this application was a modest reduction in scale from the previous scheme. The ground floor area was similar and it was still fully self-contained and so the impact on neighbours still applied. There was also no separate amenity space for it.


Members asked how far the existing kitchen was from the current proposal. Officers clarified that the kitchen was one of the closest points of the existing house to where the annex would be.


The legal officer clarified that all the discussion points had been taken on board; the report was very detailed; officers had considered the policy and it was policy compliant for the application to be refused.


Officers clarified that there would be no fence to partition the garden, so the annex would have access to the whole garden. It was further clarified that the proposal was assessed as an independent dwelling and it would be expected that two separate dwellings would have their own amenity space. Members also asked what the distance was from the window to the neighbouring property, and whether it was under 14 meters. It was clarified that that window was not within the 45 degree line of the neighbouring property.


Officers clarified the use of the term annex within the report and discussion. The applicant had referred to the proposal as an annex, and the report had stated that this is what it had been called. Officers had recommended refusal because the proposed building was not considered as an annex, it was considered as a separate building.


Members also sought clarification over whether a site visit had been conducted. The Chairman clarified that Members could have a site visit if they wished to do so.


A proposal for a site visit was moved, seconded and when put to a vote, agreed.


RESOLVED: That the application be deferred for a site visit

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