Hounslow Council


Agenda item

Feltham Skills Centre

Decision:

It was recommended that consideration be given to the following issues:

 

a)         The colour scheme of building, which Councillors believed was inappropriate for the area.

b)         The proposed off site parking issue should be resolved and Councillors would like to see firm plans and agreement from officers. It was noted that there was absolutely no spare parking capacity on roads surrounding the site. The ratio of Bicycle to Scooter spaces was believed to be wrong.

c)         The usage of the roof terrace was still a concern for some Councillors, as was the fact that it overlooked gardens belonging to residents of New Chapel Square.

d)         The mortar mill was a concern and it was asked that a condition on hours of the mill’s use be considered. The mortar mill’s position was considered as it was suggested that it may resonate through the New Chapel Square underground car park.

e)         The limited width of the pavement on bridge over the Longford River was also a concern.

f)          The further enclosure of New Chapel Road could lead to anti-social behaviour becoming more of a problem.

g)         Light was considered to be an important issue and it was requested that light surveys be done in Flats 35,37,39, 90, 91 New Chapel Court to assess the light being lost.

h)         A confirmation that community events would regularly take place in the centre was requested.

i)            Councillors suggested that the applicant may have consulted more widely before bringing a planning application.

j)            Councillors spoke about signage and its importance to the look of the area. They felt that the issue should be included in the application which was considered by the Sustainable Development Committee.

k)            Councillors agreed to make further comments individually as much late information had been tabled and a fair amount of information was not available at the committee. Myfanwy Mcnally and other relevant officers in the planning department were to take these comments and pass them to the Sustainable Development Committee.

Minutes:

See report of the Director of Environment (Agenda Item 6).

 

Councillor Bowen made a statement that he had a personal interest in the item, as he was a keen advocate of skills training. However, he felt that he could separate this belief from his planning responsibilities and so would discuss the item. He would not, however, seek to guide the discussion or vote on any motions related to this application.

 

The meeting received a speech by Marjorie Semple, Principal of West Thames College. She stated that she was passionate about this application to build what would be, in her view, an outstanding skills centre for Feltham. The pupils at the existing centre were doing well and there was demand for the courses on offer, proving the need for a skills centre in the area. The current location the De Broome building was reaching the end of its life and the college needed to relocate the skills centre. She stated that this application was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the college had been working on the application since 2006 and had spent nearly £1 million on developing the application to this stage. There was a press report on the uncertainty of the funding for the new centre, however, Ms Semple said that without this application being granted there could certainly be no skills centre in Feltham.

 

The meeting received a further representation on behalf of West Thames College from Emma Andrews of Atisreal Development Consultants.

Ms Andrews believed that the application was excellent and that the students of the college would add to the town centre. There had been considerable changes to the design in order that it might be more suited to the area including lowering the height of the building to just one storey at the rear, and changing various aspects of the design. She commented that the travel to and from the site would be staggered and so traffic problems should not be created.

 

Councillor Cooper asked what provision had been made for off-site parking. The project manager replied that the College were having discussions with the Council and Bridge House Car Park was the most likely site. The college would have 70 places here.

 

Councillor Bowen asked if the percentage of West Area students could be increased when the new skills centre is built. He asked if this could be a condition. Ms Semple replied that the new centre would actively recruit from local schools. She said that courses would be advertised beyond the West Area but there would be closer working with partners based near the centre.

 

Cllr Williams asked whether the roof terrace could be removed, as she felt it was dangerous. She also asked if conditions could be placed on the times of operation of the mortar-mill. Myfanwy McNally said that the Sustainable Development Committee would be able to place conditions on the application. Councillor Williams asked whether the police were concerned about the application. Myfanwy McNally said that the police had been informed but had not expressed a view as yet.

 

Councillor Stewart said that car parking on site was insufficient, and that the proposed off-site parking was a poor alternative. She said that there was no parking in local roads, and that the access to the proposed Bridge House car park via the Longford River Bridge was not good enough as the pavement on the bridge was too narrow. She also commented that there were not enough scooter spaces at the site, whilst there was an excess of cycle parking. She asked for the percentage of the current students who lived in the West Area to be sent to Councillors. Councillor Stewart also said that she was unhappy with the colours on the front of the building, and she said that she didn’t want to see any coloured patches on the building. Councillors generally agreed with this.

 

Marjorie Semple replied that the colours had been toned down from the initial consultation, but they would be removed if the Committee wanted this. Ms Semple said that the roof terrace would no longer be used for games and would instead be a quiet area with garden furniture. It could not be removed as it was an access to the river board site and helped the development to blend with the local area. Emma Andrews said that a survey on parking had been undertaken and numbers of spaces were based on this.

 

Councillor Drew Morgan-Watts said that he liked the colours on the building, and also commented that he liked the idea of the skills centre.

Councillor Jabbal commented that there were only 28 parking spaces for staff in the new development, and asked how many had been available at De Broome. Emma Andrews said that the number of spaces being provided was based on the survey of current use. Councillor Jabbal asked what was being done about green travel plans for the new centre. Marjorie Semple said that a new cycle promotion contract had just been agreed and the site was much nearer to public transport links than the De Broome building and this would help with reducing car travel.

 

The meeting heard a speech by Mr Jeff Doble. He stated that he owned No.1 High Street, Feltham. He believed that if the development went ahead his unit would not be viable as a business site. He believed that people would mill around in the area outside the proposed skills centre and his property would suffer from this. Mr Doble said that he had not been consulted until 14 days ago. He said that he was not against a skills centre, in fact he said he liked the idea, however, he felt that the site was the wrong one for the centre. Mr Doble stated that community and education uses were different, and objected to the change of use. He believed that the building had not been designed with the site in mind, the proposed skills centre being 50,000 sq.ft. which Mr Doble stated was more than 100 times the size of his property.

 

Mr Doble stated that he thought the building was not ‘future proof’ and believed that officers were not being as thorough as they usually were, possibly because of the nature of the scheme. He went on to list reasons for previous refusals of planning applications on the site, and said that he saw no reason for the Council’s apparent change in policy. He posed the questions as to whether the loss of a community use building was acceptable, and whether the new use as an educational establishment was suitable for the site.

 

He believed that the situation and appearance of the building should reflect the attributes of the local area, particularly as it was a conservation area. He stated that the building was considered to be appealing playful and stimulating and asked whether these attributes were those needed in the conservation area. Mr Doble believed that the planning report should have mentioned the effect of the development on his property. He stated that he felt the development failed to meet the Council’s daylight standards.

 

Councillor Stewart said that it appeared that insufficient work had been done on the light impact of the building.

 

The meeting received a speech from Sylvia Panton-Chapman the representative of the New Chapel Square residents. Ms Panton-Chapman said that the applicants had not consulted the residents she represented. She stated that the light survey carried out by Council officers was not thorough enough visiting only one flat on one floor to assess the light impact. Ms Panton-Chapman also said that New Chapel Square was a four story building not a four and a half story building as the report stated. She objected to the roof terrace overlooking the gardens of New Chapel Square, which residents had only been given the preceding year. She felt that the proposed location of the mortar mill would mean that the sound it created would resonate through New Chapel Square’s underground car park and therefore through all of New Chapel Square. Ms Panton-Chapman was concerned about the enclosure the development would cause to New Chapel Road, particularly as the two local schools used the passage extensively. She was also concerned about the direction of the extractor fans which were to point directly over New Chapel Square.

 

Councillor Bowen asked Ms Panton-Chapman to elaborate on exactly how New Chapel Road would become more dangerous. Sylvia Panton-Chapman explained that anti-social behaviour would become more likely due to the enclosure. She said that the whole area was no-go in the afternoons due to the volume of students, and that this enclosure and 300 more students would make the problem worse.

Councillor Morgan-Watts was concerned at the alleged lack of consultation with new chapel square residents. Councillor Cooper asked whether the Council had contacted the residents. Sylvia Panton-Chapman confirmed that they had been contacted twice, once about the demolition of the People’s Centre and once about the development of the site. Myfanwy McNally said that the statutory consultation had begun but was still ongoing. A pre-application consultation had been taking place with Council officers for more than a year.

 

Councillor Hutchison asked which flats should have had a light assessment carried out. Sylvia Panton-Chapman replied that numbers 90, 91 35, 37 and 39 should be assessed and that she would confirm these addresses with Myfanwy McNally. Councillor Hutchison asked what changes the residents of New Chapel Square would like to see made to the scheme. Ms Panton-Chapman replied that she would like to see a proposal which was more in keeping with the area, and also mentioned that large vehicles would not be able to deliver to the new skills centre as the access was not good enough.

Councillor Stewart asked for clarification on what consultation had taken place and also asked that a light impact assessment be carried out before a decision was taken by the Sustainable Development Committee. A letter to Ms Panton-Chapman was displayed to the meeting which had been sent by the Council’s planning office, informing residents of the work proposed and of how to object to the application.

 

The meeting received a speech by John Dimond. Mr Dimond was concerned about the loss of the Peoples Centre, and felt that a large wide ranging consultation should take place. Mr Dimond stated that the peoples centre was ideal for providing services to local people. He said that he thought the traffic in Feltham would go from horrendous to impossible. Although he supported the Feltham Skills Centre in principal he felt that the location caused a waste of money. He felt that the People’s Centre was an important element in community infrastructure in the Borough and its loss would seriously damage community organisations in Feltham.

He believed that the proposed development was not what Feltham needed and therefore shouldn’t go ahead.

 

Councillor Stewart sought clarification that community activities would continue to take place at the site, and mentioned that most of the voluntary groups which used the Peoples Centre had already been re-housed with help from the Council. Myfanwy McNally confirmed that community space would be provided on the site. A restaurant would also be included in the new facility and so people could meet there.

 

Councillor Hills asked if the plans could be sent to Mr Dimond. Myfanwy McNally confirmed that they could, if the applicant agreed. The applicants agreed to this.

 

Councillor Andy Morgan-Watts asked Mr Dimond where he would put the skills centre. Mr Dimond replied that it should go on the outskirts not in the town centre.

 

Myfanwy McNally now summarised the application saying that planning officers considered it to be acceptable, and stated that she felt the existing building was no particular conservation merit to the area. She said that she would supply further information as requested and Councillor’s comments would be welcomed by e-mail.

 

Councillor Bowen said that the safety issue in New Chapel Road needed to be dealt with, and that any Section 106 agreement should consider this impact.  He further said that signage was an issue which should be considered prior to the report going to the Sustainable Development Committee.

 

Councillor Hutchison asked for light surveys to be done and for the results to be given to the residents.

 

There being no further questions Councillor Hills said that any further comments should be e-mailed to Myfanwy McNally, once further information on the application was received from the planning department.

 

It was recommended that consideration be given by the Sustainable Development Committee to the following issues:

 

a)         The colour scheme of building, which Councillors believed was inappropriate for the area.

b)         The proposed off site parking issue should be resolved and Councillors would like to see firm plans and agreement from officers. It was noted that there was absolutely no spare parking capacity on roads surrounding the site. The ratio of Bicycle to Scooter spaces was believed to be wrong.

c)         The usage of the roof terrace was still a concern for some Councillors, as was the fact that it overlooked gardens belonging to residents of New Chapel Square.

d)         The mortar mill was a concern and it was asked that a condition on hours of the mill’s use be considered. The mortar mill’s position should be reviewed as it was suggested that it may resonate through the New Chapel Square underground car park.

e)         The limited width of the pavement on bridge over the Longford River was also a concern.

f)          The further enclosure of New Chapel Road could lead to anti-social behaviour becoming more of a problem.

g)         Loss of light was considered to be an important issue and it was requested that light surveys be done in Flats 35,37,39, 90, 91 New Chapel Court to assess the amount of light being lost.

h)         A confirmation that the proposal would secure regular access for community events was requested.

i)          Councillors suggested that the applicant might have consulted more widely before bringing a planning application.

j)                    Councillors spoke about signage and its importance to the look of the area. They felt that the issue should be included in the application which was considered by the Sustainable Development Committee.

 

Councillors agreed to make further comments individually as much late information had been tabled and a fair amount of information was not available at the committee. Myfanwy Mcnally and other relevant officers in the planning department were to take these comments and pass them to the Sustainable Development Committee.

Supporting documents: