Agenda item

Major App: Land at Yiewsley Library and Former Yiewsley Pool, Falling Lane and Otterfield Road - 76795/APP/2023/2503

Formal Description: Demolition of existing Yiewsley Library Building and the erection of a new residential building on the Yiewsley Library site (Falling Lane) and the erection of a new mixed use building on the former Yiewsley Swimming Pool site (Otterfield Road), with a replacement library at ground floor level, residential uses above and new pedestrian access off of the High Street.


Detailed Description: Demolition of existing Yiewsley Library Building and the erection of a 5-storey residential building, comprising 50 dwellings, with 28 undercroft parking spaces (13 for residential and 15 for use by Rabbsfarm Primary School). The Otterfield Road site proposes the erection of a 5-storey building, comprising 45 dwellings, with 25 car parking spaces (23 for residential and 2 for library users).


Recommendations: Approve + Sec 106


RESOLVED: That the application be approved


Formal Description: Demolition of existing Yiewsley Library Building and the erection of a new residential building on the Yiewsley Library site (Falling Lane) and the erection of a new mixed use building on the former Yiewsley Swimming Pool site (Otterfield Road), with a replacement library at ground floor level, residential uses above and new pedestrian access off of the High Street.


Detailed Description: Demolition of existing Yiewsley Library Building and the erection of a 5-storey residential building, comprising 50 dwellings, with 28 undercroft parking spaces (13 for residential and 15 for use by Rabbsfarm Primary School). The Otterfield Road site proposes the erection of a 5-storey building, comprising 45 dwellings, with 25 car parking spaces (23 for residential and 2 for library users).


Officers noted that there was an addendum on this item, which contained changes to two key conditions.


A written representation from the lead petitioner was read out:


Thank you for the opportunity to present this statement in support of the petition.


Where is the evidence of Yiewsley residents saying we want more flats?


The opposite is the case. We counted the residential developments in Yiewsley. Since 2008, we estimate that 1,525 residential units have been built. There may be more. Hillingdon Council does not appear to publish a site map with the number of new residential units that have been built by ward for Council Tax payers to assess.


For a long time, residents of Yiewsley have felt they are ignored by Hillingdon Council. For example, in 2017 we organised a paper petition which said: “We formally request that Hillingdon Council provides funds to build and run a new swimming pool at the site of the old Yiewsley pool off Otterfield Road.”


Currently, the Leisure Centre which Hillingdon Council decided to build in West Drayton, a waste of Council Taxpayers’ money, is sitting as an empty building site with the company that was building the Leisure Centre having gone into administration. If the Council had accepted that Yiewsley residents’ petition proposal, we would have had a compact pool on the Otterfield Road site. It would have withstood the economic risks that the Ukraine/ Russian war have caused in terms of energy costs to swimming pools up and down the country. Residents could leave their children swimming in a safe small local pool and go shopping, in Tesco, Aldi, Iceland and had a cup of coffee and a custard tart in Alma Lusa café down the High Street.


I had a stroke in 2019 and have not attended today’s Hillingdon Council Planning Committee in person owing to ongoing health issues.


Accessibility of the Planning Documents


Since my stroke, as a Disabled person, I have experienced difficulties reading documents. I used to enjoy reading, mainly sci fi books, but find it very difficult to read long documents, especially ones that are online.


Most residents do not understand the Planning documents that have been posted on Hillingdon Council’s website.


We counted the number pages of the proposed Planning Application being considered by the Planning Committee on Wednesday 6th December 2023. The number of pages came to 1,357. When we asked the Planning Officer which planning policies applied, he sent us a list and the number of pages in the policies came to 1,869. It is obviously impossible to read all these and to understand complex Planning Laws in such a short space of time.


We would formally request that the Committee remove this item from the Agenda of the December 2023 meeting to allow more time for residents to consider the proposals.


As far as I could see, the Planning Officer’s report did not include in his report the outcome of the so-called Consultation which occurred in October 2023 at Yiewsley Library. This said that the majority who attended were against these proposals. We found this out after a Freedom of Information Act request, which took longer than the correct timescale. The Borough Solicitor wrote:


“The reason for the delay is that in July 2023 the Council introduced a new ICT system for dealing with freedom of information requests. We had expected the new system to streamline the process but, unfortunately, it has had the opposite effect. It has proven very difficult to keep track of requests and it was for this reason that in September 2023 we reverted to using the old system which, although cumbersome, has helped improve performance significantly. Unfortunately, the glitches in our new system meant that it was not possible to deal with your request for Internal Review within our usual timescale.”


This maladministration means that information was not available in time for people to make effective responses to Planning Applications. Hillingdon is making this Application on its own behalf, yet the Planning Officer refused to disclose details of what the Pre-Application advice was. Hillingdon Council wants to mark its own homework. Nolan Principles require Openness and Accountability.


The Stroke Association leaflet called ‘What We think About Air Pollution’ published in 2019, says that “Air Pollution increases your risk of stroke….[I]t contributes to an estimated 21% of strokes worldwide and in England alone, experts predict it will contribute to around 106,000 strokes by 2035.” The report links the increased risk of a stroke to a footnote - A., Shah, et al Short Term exposure to air pollution and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ 2015



‘Air Quality in Hillingdon – A Guide for Public Health Professionals’ was published by the Greater London Assembly in 2022. This report shows that Yiewsley schools, including St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School, Rabbs Farm School, the Skills Hub, and Pride Academy are all listed has having pollution levels exceeding WHO guidelines at pages 51-53. In Yiewsley High Street the report shows it is a pollution hot spot page 30.


The prevalence of asthma within Yiewsley is 5.47%, which is lower than England, but higher than London, Hillingdon, and the locality – source Yiewsley ward profile.


The Chair noted that some of the submission was irrelevant to the planning application itself.


The applicant attended and addressed the Committee:


There were a number of benefits of this application. There would be 100% affordable housing, providing 95 new homes at London affordable rents. 20% were three-bed, 37% were two-bed and 43% were one-bed. A further 10% would be wheelchair accessible.


Extensive engagement with the community and stakeholders had resulted in significant design changes to address concerns. Specifically, the height of the development was reduced from seven stories to five as part of the consultation process.


Commitments had been made to enhance the recreation ground. This included plans for a new playground, a family-focused landscape garden, and extensive tree planting in the recreation ground area.


There are proposals to upgrade the public pedestrian access route to the library from the town centre. This will involve improvements such as new lighting, footpaths, and signage.


The development will provide spaces for the Rabbs Farm School parking, ensuring continuity of the existing facilities.


The usable area of the library has been increased by 20%, providing a modern and versatile space to accommodate a wide range of services. Additionally, there's a dedicated 75 square meters of community space included within the library.


The development takes measures to protect the ancient highway that runs along the boundary of the site.


Finally, the development is described as highly sustainable, utilising two Brownfield sites owned by the council to create a sustainable living space.


This information outlines the various aspects and commitments of the proposed development, emphasising community engagement, recreation enhancements, library space, parking, historical preservation, and sustainability measures.


Councillor Punja addressed the Committee as Yiewsley Ward Councillor:


Residents have been fighting against the residential development of Yiewsley recreation ground since 2011. This application has appropriated land gifted to the residents in 1926 which was protected by a covenant to remain forever recreational. The Local Plan has been cast aside for this planning application and it should be refused.


Quantity over quality: Clause three of the Local Plan says 70% are meant to be two and three-bedroom homes. Only 56% are so, when waiting lists for family homes are critical. Single aspect properties are a symbol of poor-quality housing. Section 7.9 of the Local Plan says that quantity will not be provided at the expense of quality. Nearly half of the properties have windows on only one side. Why is poor quality being recommended for planning approval?


Air quality: The air quality assessment records figures from 2019. More recent figures are needed to assess the pollution impact. The advantage of mechanical ventilation is it enables developers to build in areas of poor air quality where windows cannot be opened. The disadvantages are high energy consumption, high repair costs, noise and vibration, and moisture buildup leading to mould. These represented a burden on the Council budget. Hillingdon should not be asking people to live in areas where they cannot open a window because the air quality is so bad.


Healthy Street strategy: This application takes into consideration the Healthy Street strategy yet approves the removal of a library from its ideal High Street location where it is with an ease of public transport with a bus stop right outside on route home from school, a safe to access place for public amenities, an anchor for regeneration and a quiet space for rest. Yiewsley Library in its current location meets the Healthy Street strategy, the relocation will not.


Precedence: Previously a health centre, gym and residential dwelling was given planning permission. It is true precedence has been set but the health centre with gym brought untold value to the community. The need for a health centre was critical then and is critical now. The relocation of the library gives no additional needed facilities.


Environment: According to Hillingdon’s Open Space strategy 2011 Yiewsley was deficient in Green Space by 40 hectares. The population has grown but green spaces haven't increased so appropriating land donated for recreation is simply disingenuous. It was disappointing that Yiewsley residents have been ignored and local communities ruined by continuous poor planning decisions that blight Yiewsley.


Councillor Abby addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor:


The Council motto was ‘Putting Residents First’. It was hoped that the Committee would listen to the residents of Yiewsley and Cowley. It was vital that elected Members represent residents.


Having heard the representations, officers gave some clarifications:

  • The petitioner questioned the need for residential housing. Section 7.01 of the Committee report explained that the London Plan set challenging housing targets for all London Boroughs and for Hillingdon there was a 10-year housing target of 10,830 homes. The site was within the Heathrow Opportuity area which was defined as in the London Plan as an area with high potential for development growth. This area had an indicative capacity of 13,000 new homes and 11,000 new jobs. This scheme would deliver 95 affordable homes, 100% affordable homes and all 100% London affordable rent.
  • On accessibility of planning documents, the Council had carried out all of the statutory consultation in accordance with planning legislation. Where officers had been approached by residents requiring additional need, officers had accommodated to the best of their ability. Therefore, officers were satisfied that there had been a fair opportunity for resident to take part in the planning process.
  • The applicant had made reference to their own consultation from October 2022. There had been changes to the scheme following this and so as part of the planning process it was important that the Planning Authority carried out its own consultation, which it what had been done, and the planning decision was based on this.
  • A point had been raised about the pre-application process. It was commented that planning officers had not divulged comments that were made at pre-application stage. It was noted that pre-applications were submitted and dealt with in confidence. While the applicant was the Council, they had been treated, as applicant, in the same way as all other applicants.
  • On air pollution, the development as proposed was air quality neutral and there was mitigation measure proposed in the form of a contribution which would ensure that the development was then air quality positive. This was a requirement because of the designations for this particular site. There were sufficient mitigation measures provided in the form of a travel plan and additional tree planting which would help with air quality issues. The application sought to remove 10 trees and plant 30, giving a net increase of 20 trees. There was also an offset contribution which would go towards assisting with delivering the Council's air quality action plan. 
  • Covenants relating to land were not a planning matter and so it was not something that could be taken into consideration as part of the assessment. For Members’ information it was noted that there had been a separate legal process whereby there had been an appropriation of land for planning purposes, which in effect released it from the covenant.
  • On the relocation of the library, the relocated Library would still fall within the boundary of the Town Centre. The relocated library would also be of a higher accessibility standard and include an accessible community space and so this complied with planning policy.
  • On the quality of the build, it was suggested that the issue related to single aspect units. Section 7.9 of the Committee report outlined the number of single and triple aspect units. There were no single aspect units which would be north facing.
  • On open space, it had been documented in the appeal history on surrounding sites that the appeal inspector had not agreed with the Council’s provision for securing financial contributions towards open space. This scheme did not secure a financial obligation, it delivered an enhancement to the public open space. There was no development within the public open space.


It was noted that there was an addendum on this item. There were some amendments to conditions proposed which related to the landscaping condition for the two sites and an addition into the condition wording to include a requirement for pollution-absorbing plants to be included in the soft landscaping to improve air quality.


Members noted the positive of making use of an unused brownfield site; 100% affordable housing; a new playground; a bigger library.


Members noted that it had been suggested that the Local Plan had been cast aside. Members asked for clarification that this was not the case. Officers clarified that when an application was assessed against the development plan, there were a multitude of policies to look at and various criteria. It was required to assess the development as a whole. This meant that there may be minor conflicts but overall, officers were satisfied that the application complied with the development plan.


Members asked about the impact on nearby residential properties being acceptable and asked if this was based on an objective assessment of the subjective view of the case officer. Section 7.8 of the report detailed the assessment on neighbouring properties, including impacts on daylight, sunlight, overshadowing and overlooking, privacy and outlook. As the site was in excess of 21 meters (as per the Local Plan), these elements were not considered to be an issue. There had also been a daylight and sunlight report submitted by the applicant which had been robustly tested by an external consultant.


Members asked about the sufficiency of parking spaces for the elderly. Officers noted that the car park adjacent to the existing library, was not designated as a library car park. There were two spaces being provided, those were accessible spaces. The relocated library would be directly bounded by a Council car park which would provide adequate overflow provision within very reasonable distance to the site entrance.


Reference was made to a previous health centre, and officer noted that a health centre had been opened directly opposite the current site.


Members asked for clarification on green space. Officer noted that there had been a recent case where the Open Space strategy had been used as a reason for refusal. because no on-site provision of open space was provided and there was also a shortfall in private amenity space. The current scheme was different because there was adequate provision of private usable amenity space and community amenity space. The development plan allowed a financial contribution to be taken towards this. However, in the previous case, the appeal inspector did not agree with the Council's decision to refuse the application based on the lack of open space and saw fit to agree a financial contribution. In the current case, the applicant was providing an enhancement plan and they were actually to do the works as part of this planning application and that would be secured within the heads of terms.


Officers summarised that developments would be required to mitigate their own harm. The Council’s Air Quality Officer, within the report, stated that this application would mitigate its own harm through a travel plan, reduction in trips, and additional tree planting. All of those factors and a sustainable development made this development air quality neutral. Officers noted that there was a requirement to deliver an air quality positive scheme within this particular area. The cost contribution which was being sought and would be paid for by the applicant would help the Council to deliver their own action plan to prevent future issues of air quality within this area. The key point was that there would be no additional air quality harm generated by this development.


Members raised concerns about affordable housing being separate from other housing and fire safety. On affordable housing, the site was surrounded by a lot of what may be considered to be ‘market housing’. The new library would be available to everyone. The ambitious targets for affordable housing needed to be met and this site far exceeded other sites. On fire safety, the building to the top of the parapet was 17.5 meters and 18.5 meters to the top of the lift overrun and the plant room equipment. The scheme has been designed to adhere to the highest fire safety standards in accordance with policy D12 but there was a condition (condition 33) requiring a revised fire safety strategy to provide further details in accordance with that policy. Fire safety would also form part of building regulations application so more evidence and a more detailed assessment of fire safety would happen then.


Officers’ recommendations were moved, seconded and, when put to a vote, agreed.


RESOLVED: That the application be approved

Supporting documents: