Officers referred to the applicant’s request for the Committee to consider a deferral of the application to allow a full analysis of a servicing bay. However, officers stated that they would address this issue as part of their presentation to enable the Committee to consider the matter at this meeting.
The case officer gave a presentation on the report and made the following comments:
· The location of the site was shown which was located in the Downs Conservation Area
· The Committee was reminded of the past history of the 2018 and 2020 applications. It was noted that the 2020 application for a 17 bed extension had been refused on the grounds of an unacceptable level of parking, highways and an overconcentration of care homes in the area
· An appeal for the 2020 application had been refused immediately prior to the Development Control meeting in March 2021. The Inspector had decided that the transport and highways implications were unacceptable but had not found the development unacceptable in terms of noise and disturbance or in respect of the mix of development
· Parking was already at a premium in the area and there were already issues with unsafe parking and conflict. The proposal for parking bays to address this would not be sufficient to overcome this problem
· The current application was for a reduction in bed spaces from 17 to 14, for a new parking survey, no rear roof extension and no smoking area for staff
· Detailed plans for each floor were shown
· The proposal for extra communal space and a lounge would improve the appearance of the front elevation
· There had been a total of 221 comments including both objectors and supporters of the scheme. The ward Councillor Martin Fodor had referred the matter to Committee
· On balance it was considered that the principle of the development was acceptable and in using the Housing Delivery Test, there was sufficient evidence to warrant a change of use
· The Inspectors did not believe that there was a harmful overconcentration of care homes in the area
· There was no parking on site. Parking surveys had been carried out by both residents and developers. It was noted that the site was just outside the Residents Parking Scheme. The Inspector had placed more weight on the evidence produced by neighbours from photos and logs. At the site visit, the Inspector had found that parking was heavily oversubscribed and that even a relatively low increase would worsen the situation. It was officers view that the proposed reduction in bed space in this application would not significantly reduce this situation
· Officers’ drew members attention to the different stages in the process for agreement to the installation of servicing bays. It was noted that at Step 1, officers had assessed this and considered that it was unacceptable in planning terms due to the loss of space prior to progressing to any further stages
· The proposed switching of the Traffic Regulation Order delivery and the servicing bay would not be possible as this would result in a permanent suspension. The question was purely an issue of whether or not bays would be acceptable in planning terms
In conclusion, officers believed that even a low increase in demand or the provision of parking bays would worsen the highway situation and street parking at the site and therefore they were recommending refusal on this basis. They did not believe it would be reasonable to refuse the application on the basis of residential amenity given the residential nature of the proposed care home.
In response to members’ questions, officers made the following comments:
· The applicant had proposed a reduction in the number of beds to redress the concerns from the 2020 application. However, the new application had been submitted before the outcome of the appeal had been known
· The applicant had tried to address problems caused by Anti-Social Behaviour from staff who urinated in the gardens by the creation of a breakout space. However, it was difficult to control behaviour. Officers indicated that, in the event that the application was successful, they could pursue this issue with the applicant
· Other issues, such as the possible banning of idling engines and making the street one-way were not part of the application. It was noted that the problem was parking on the site which would not be solved by making the street one way
· Whilst there were a large number of existing care homes in this road, this had not been planned. It was noted that both care homes were owned by the same person
· If the application were to be approved, there would need to be a separate condition requiring consent for the provision of parking bays
During discussion, Councillors made the following comments:
· There was a need for good quality care in this area and if the application was refused it would create problems elsewhere
· This application would be a step too far in terms of highways and highways safety and should be refused in accordance with officers’ recommendations
· If the highway situation continued to worsen, it could result in a serious accident. The Inspector gave a clear ruling on this issue and on that basis, the application should be refused
· It was noted that the role of the Committee to improve the applicant’s scheme which needed to be considered on its own merits. It could not be approved as it currently stood and due to the highway situation at the site it was unlikely to ever be able to be approved to enable any such application to be successful
· Whilst the need for care homes was clear, there seemed to be an overconcentration in this street. The application should be refused
· Air pollution in this area was also a problem. The application should be refused
· Whilst reservations about refusing this planning application could be understood, it was impossible to approve given the situation concerning highways safety and parking on the site.
Councillor Fabian Breckels moved, seconded by Councillor Chris Windows and upon being put to the vote, it was
RESOLVED (unanimously) – that the application be refused in accordance with the officers’ recommendation.