See report by the Director of Planning (agenda item 7) and the Addendum Report.
With the permission of the Chair, Mr Qureshi, the applicant’s architect, advised that careful consideration had been given to the design of the proposals, which he felt respected the original architectural character of the building. He understood that any changes to a house in a conservation area would raise concerns amongst the residents. The mature trees were an important feature of the garden and all the elements of the garden had been brought together geometrically. Mr Qureshi felt that there was a strong diagonal symmetry to the building and the gardens and this had been identified and appreciated as part of the character of the property. The conservation officer had agreed that the proposals were a valid way to extend the house and that it was critical that the character was preserved and emphasised. The design had benefited from detailed discussions with the conservation officer and had complied with planning guidelines. It had been suggested that detailed design of the windows and eaves be conditioned, which Mr Qureshi felt demonstrated the quality of work expected by the officers. He hoped that Members would support the application.
In response to Member’s questions, Mr Qureshi advised that the sunken garden and all the flowerbeds, shrubs and trees, including those on the boundary, would be retained. There was no requirement for further off-street parking than that, which had already been provided.
With the permission of the Chair, Moira Newlan spoke in objection to the application on behalf of St Stephen’s Road Resident’s Association. She advised that the Association felt quite passionately about any development, however sensitively it was done. She noted that the site had already been extended and redeveloped, including the placement of three bungalows on the site. She noted that a previous planning application had been refused and felt that, in essence, the design had remained the same for the current application. She felt that the internal view from the bungalow at 70A showed that the proposed extension would cause a loss of light to that property. She felt that the original wall, which had been curved, had already been compromised. She noted that conservation status had been awarded because of landmark buildings, which 70 St Stephen’s Road was. She also noted that space was an important aspect of the conservation area. She felt that there should be a clear criterion to preserve conservation areas and that it was time to make a stand.
In response to questions from Members, Ms Newlan confirmed that she felt that there would still be an unacceptable loss to the front and rear garden if the proposals were to go ahead and that she feared that, if the development was allowed, further development would continue over the years, causing damage to the property and destroying the character. She acknowledged that the design may be sympathetic to the character of the property but felt that a line should be drawn. Councillor Oulds reminded Ms Newlan that the Committee had to consider the application before them on it’s own merits and could not judge what a future application might propose.
Mike Jordan, Director of Planning, advised that the site was a large detached house in very large grounds. It was a single dwelling on a corner site in the conservation area. The site and corner location was unique and he felt that it should be considered on it’s own merits.
The proposals were to extend the building, which would remain a single dwelling, to both frontages at the front and to the rear. The objector had reiterated the objections, as set out in the report. Mr Jordan summarised the objections as three strands; one around the alleged harm to the building itself and to the conservation area, secondly the impact on the neighbours and thirdly, a sense that the application was a pre-cursor to something else, which was an area of speculation that the Committee could not take into account, as mentioned earlier by Councillor Oulds.
The extensions were of a significant size and were larger than many other residential extensions. It was considered, however, that the site was large enough for the extensions to be built without causing harm to the site itself or the neighbouring properties.
He noted that the applicant’s architect had referred to the design rationale and confirmed that extensive discussions had taken place between officers and the applicant and had involved all of the conservation team. The proposals picked up the existing features of the building and Mr Jordan felt that it would be difficult for a passer-by to be able to discern the difference between the existing building and the new extensions, provided that they were built to the standard set out in the application. There were conditions attached to the proposals to ensure that this took place.
The building was well separated from the neighbouring properties, with the exception of the neighbouring bungalow, which had been built within the grounds of the original property. The extensions would not take the building line so far either forwards or backwards of the building line of the neighbours as to have an impact on the amenity of their property.
During her address to the Committee, Ms Newlan had mentioned that any development, however sensitively handled, would be of concern. Mr Jordan noted that the building was not listed but felt that the expectations of the residents concerning the development of the building were more in keeping with those normally associated with a listed building. He felt that, in this case, the proposed extensions had been appropriately handled.
Councillor Oulds noted that, one of the main issues was the effect on the conservation area and asked if the proposals would preserve and enhance the character of the conservation area. He also noted that Ms Newlan had referred to the property as being a key player in conservation area status being awarded and asked if the Committee could presume that there would be no detrimental effect from the proposals.
Mr Jordan advised that officers did not share Ms Newlan’s view that the site was the key behind the decision to declare the area as a conservation area. The conservation area statement drew upon the whole of the conservation area. The origins were as a Victorian settlement and the particular importance was the layout of that settlement as a whole. The building was unique and an atypical building in conservation area terms because most buildings were appreciably older. It was also located on an atypical site. Mr Jordan felt that it was nevertheless a charming building and its loss should not be contemplated. He reiterated that the alterations had been sensitively handled under the proposals and would not harm the site.
Councillor Reid asked about the difference between the current application and the one, which had been previously refused, in terms of the extent to which the current proposals would increase the size of the property. Mr Jordan displayed a site plan showing the previous extensions compared to those in the current application. He did not have the percentage increase figure, but did not feel that the figure was necessary in assessing whether the proposals would be too big because there was a generous garden space, in comparison to the footprint of the property.
Councillor Cooper noted that a previous application for the erection of detached 3-bedroom house had been refused in November 2004, and asked if the proposal had involved demolition of the property. Mr Jordan advised that the proposal had been for the erection of another property in the garden area and not for the demolition of the existing property. Councillor Cooper noted that a further application had been refused in January on the grounds that the design and bulk would be unsympathetic to the pattern of development within the area. He did not feel that a change to the previous application could be justified.
Councillor Dakers noted that the second condition in the application referred to the matching of construction materials to the existing building. He felt that it could take 15-10 years for the new materials to merge with the existing and asked to what extent the level of detail could be controlled. Mr Jordan advised that the conditions were necessary to ensure the right quality of finish and if the conditions were not met, the Council could enforce.
Councillor Vaught noted that one of the objections in the report had been concerned with the future loss of a family house. She also noted that the applicant had not applied to sub-divide, but asked what would stop them from applying in the future. Mr Jordan advised that there would be nothing to stop the applicant from applying, but there was also nothing to stop the Council from refusing an application. Most of the extensions enlarged the existing rooms and did not provide additional rooms. If applicant wanted to apply to convert the property, the application would be brought back to the Sustainable Development Committee for a decision.
Councillor B.Fisher referred to the footprint plan on page 65. He felt that it showed that the property at No.70A would lose their view if the extension was built at the back of No.70 and would affect the lighting to No.70A. He noted that the guidance on development in the St Stephen’s conservation area, which was under item 7.3 in the report, stated that the main objective of the conservation area was to preserve and enhance the character of mainly Victorian and Edwardian origin. He stated that the properties in St Stephen’s Road were of Victorian and Edwardian origin and felt that the word ‘origin’ had been overlooked. He felt that, just because the grounds were large, the property should not be extended by up to 50%.
Councillor B.Fisher moved refusal of the application.
Councillor Reid agreed that the proposals should be refused on the basis that the proposals would have a negative affect on the character of the conservation area, were an inappropriate development in a conservation area and would be detrimental to the conservation area.
Councillor Dakers agreed that it was a landmark and iconic building and felt that it was a shame that it was not locally listed. He suggested that listed building status for the building be revisited.
Members voted on Councillor B.Fishers proposal to refuse planning permission, as follows:
For - Councillors Barwood, Cooper, Dakers, Brad Fisher, Harmer, Harris, Hughes, O’Reilly, Reid and Vaught.
Against - Councillor Hibbs
Abstain - Councillors A.Dhillon, P.Hills, N.Malik and R.Oulds
That the erection of a two-storey extension to the front elevation, side elevation and rear elevation of 70 St Stephen’s Road, Hounslow be refused because the proposals would have a negative affect on the character of the conservation area, were an inappropriate development in a conservation area and would be detrimental to the conservation area.