An Amendment Sheet was provided to the Committee in advance of the meeting, detailing changes since the publication of the original report.
The representative of the Head of Development Management made the following points by way of introduction:-
1. It was noted that application 17/06957/X had been withdrawn by the applicant;
2. It was noted that the published report contained some errors and the corrections were set out in the Amendment Sheet. In particular it was reported that the carbon offset contribution would be £13, 534 and not the figure as set out in the report;
3. This was a section 73 application which sought changes and revisions to an extant planning permission granted in 2016. The changes were as follows:-
Ø To change the appearance of the additional storey from a mansard style roof to a more modern flat-roofed storey;
Ø The approved renewable energy of Air Source Heat Pumps had proved problematical and the applicant therefore wished an array of PV panels to the roof of no. 40. Officers have assessed that a full array would cause harm to heritage assets so a reduction had been negotiated to cover one quarter of the roof. As this reduction would result in only a 5.5% reduction in carbon emissions and not the full 20% a carbon off-set contribution of £13, 534 had been secured with the applicant;
Ø The air conditioning plant was to be relocated from the basement to the front part of the roof facing Berkeley Square.
4. The application had attracted 22 objections mainly from residents of Berkeley House;
5. There was a close relationship between this building and its neighbour with a gap of only 9m at its closest. This was an existing situation and could not be changed;
6. Officers were satisfied with the appearance of the extension and that it would not cause harm within a Conservation Area;
6. A noise and daylight assessment had been carried out and officers were satisfied that the scheme met requirements. It was noted that properties 19-36 of Berkeley House would be affected but the impact was not sufficient to warrant refusal;
7. In summary, Officers recommended approval subject to a Planning Agreement.
The following points arose from questions and debate:-
1. It was the view of the Conservation Officer that PV panels presented a cluttered roof;
2. The Carbon off-set contribution would be spent on Council owned assets to achieve an overall reduction in CO2;
3. The gap between the buildings was already impacting residents but could not be addressed by this application;
4. The applicants had declined the installation of soundproofed glass around the roof terrace. Officers could not insist on this as Pollution Control Officers had advised that the noise would not create additional harm. A condition limiting the use of the roof terrace from 9am to 6pm weekdays and not at all on weekends and Bank Holidays provided some protection to residential amenity;
5. Officers perceived the reason for the roof terrace to be for small businesses occupying the building to interact within an amenity area;
6. Officers believed this application was better than the previous one as it provided greater control with the Management Statement making it clear how the roof was to be controlled. Residents’ recourse should noise be unacceptable was through enforcement action as this would amount to a breach of the Management Condition as well as statutory nuisance legislation;
7. There was a degree of harm with the PV panels being visible from afar within a Conservation Area but it was felt that this harm was outweighed by the benefit in CO2 reductions. The Committee was cautioned against imposing a planted screen as this changed the application and required maintenance and presented difficulties to ensure it was kept long term;
8. An acoustic barrier presented an impact on conservation grounds. Besides, a noise assessment had been carried out and found that a screen was not necessary;
At this point, Councillor Clough left the meeting. This left 9 Committee members to vote on this item.
9. The Chair welcomed the employment use of this development. The changes did not address all previous concerns but were nonetheless positive and provided greater control. He would support the officer recommendation;
10. Councillor Bradley supported the usage but wanted some protection for residents from overlooking and noise. She also believed the full array of PV panels should be restored in line with the sustainability policy. The representative of the Head of Development Management advised that the Committee could give delegated authority to officers to explore with the applicant an increase in the number of PV panels and that meant that there would be no carbon off-set contribution. Officers could also explore a man-made screen for the roof terrace. No matters which were at the fundamental core of the application could be revisited as the principle had already been established;
11. Councillor Sergeant advised against a hedge as it would be an unfair burden on the applicant and supported a glass screen;
12. Councillor Mead stated that a lack of screening was not sufficient reason to refuse the application. He was pleased the development would be to the benefit of city and its economy. He moved that officers be given delegated authority to explore an increase in the number of PV panels and a form of man-made screen for the roof terrace and this was seconded by Councillor Davies. On being put to the vote it was:-
Resolved (Unanimous) - That delegated authority be given to Officers to grant planning permission subject to:
1. The provision of an increase in the amount of PV panels negating the requirement for an unilateral undertaking for provision elsewhere in the city.
2. Consideration of provision of an alternate man made screen (designed to provide additional protection to neighbouring amenity) to the proposed roof terrace.