Thursday, July 19, 2007

Conservation Concerns

At last night's council planning committee meeting I challenged the plans to demolish the bungalow at 43 Ethlebert Square in Westgate and replace it with a new block of flats in the "Victorian" style.

All the Westgate ward councillors are worried by this application (refused once in 2005), as is the Residents Association and I was quite surprised at the level of support from residents, two of whom spoke against the planned development.

The planning committee have now agreed to a site visit before the make any final decision on the fate of the bungalow and the general impression was that the new building would compliment rather than detract from the Westgate Conservation Area.

What concerns me and my fellow ward councillors is the danger of a precedent being set with the possible demolition of a building in the Conservation Area. There are of course strict government guidelines that guide the decisions of the planning committee but there is a local sense of Westgate coming under attack from the developers.

In my own three minute speech, I said:

"I have counted over 100 planning applications involving Westgate over the past twelve months and in places dolls-house like building are being squeezed into impossibly tiny spaces and are making a mockery of the “conservation area” principle. This application represents one more step in the wrong direction and local people are, quite rightly concerned, over density of building effort which now affects every corner of Westgate, both inside and outside the conservation area.

There can be no half measures or half truths. We either have a conservation area and protect it from avaricious and unsightly development or we concede defeat in the face of planning and building pressures. Ethelbert Square is not a suitable position for more flats and it does not, in my opinion, satisfy:

1. Policy QL6 that advises that primary planning policy towards conservation area is to preserve and enhance their special character or appearance.

2. Policy TP19 on “Maximum” standards on respective parking policies

3. Policy TR16 on parking provision which is detrimental to the character."

Policies are of course open to interpretation and the planning committee receive the best possible advice on what they can and cannot approve under the straight-jacket of regulations that were imposed on us, here in the south by John Prescott's office. Regardless of their final decision, which will, I'm sure be absolutely correct in the circumstances, I'm keen to see the principle of a Conservation Area defended in a town, under pressure, like Westgate.

13 comments:

Mr Friday said...

Isn't it funny how the completely inappropriate development (of far more houses)at Westwood Cross was heralded with comments such as "well, I guess the Council were left with no choice or alternative" but when developments start to stack up on people's own doorsteps (inside and outside of any conservation area)then suddenly people get all indignant.

A touch of NIMBY-ism creeping in perhaps ?

Ken Gregory said...

Conservation areas are funny things. For instance, if you have a satellite dish on your property when it becomes listed, if you wish to remove it you need planning consent, as it was part of the listed building. If you own a listed building and want to put up a satallite dish, you need planning consent as it is not part of the listed building. Same applies to 'Plastic' windows.

Each way you pay

Anonymous said...

Unfair poke at the Doc, Mr Friday. Westwood Cross was not out of step with policy enforced on TDC but development in a conservation area is. The Doc's take on Westwood Cross was that to refuse the application would run up huge costs for TDC with council tax payers footing the bill; he has not expressed support for the Westwood Cross homes! I personally am rather glad that Westgate's Councillors are reflecting Westgate residents' concerns.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be built in a 'Victorian style'? The Victorian era ended in 1901, 106 years a go. Why aren't we heroic enough to design something in our own style?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Simon

Who are the developers?

I can't seem to access the UK Planning Website at the moment

DrMoores said...

It's a Canterbury company I believe!

worm said...

The applicant is Amberlay ltd of Woodford Green Essex and the agent is Lee Evans of Canterbury.
Application no:F/TH/07/0738

Anonymous said...

Mr Friday I have to agree.

Anonymous said...

So what has changed between 2005 and now that makes this application more acceptable?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the developer has had a couple of mates elected to the council.

DrMoores said...

I don't think 1:15 has any idea of the stringent checks and balances involved in public office these days. It's also why we have such things as planning committees represented by all sides of the political spectrum.

Anyway.. in answer to the earlier question:

The earlier application to build eleven “one bedroom” flats was refused in July 2005 for the following reasons among others:

1.A lack of satisfactory street parking and turning.
2.The substandard nature of the proposed vehicular access
3.The impact on adjoining properties through loss of sunlight and through the creation of a sense of enclosure
4.An unacceptable impact on neighbouring dwellings in sense of overlooking and subsequent privacy loss

The revised application now presents an “upgrading” of the standard of accommodation with the plans now changed to three two bedroom and two one bedroom flats with:

1.A communal shared entrance
2.A reduction of the proposed built form in terms of the depth of the building and its projection
3.A turning area in the application site
4.It adds the footnotes that “The new building has been designed incorporating the Victorian influence, prevalent in the adjoining vernacular and typical of Westgate on Sea”

Anonymous said...

I FIND IT VERY STRANGE THAT THERE WAS ONLY ONE OTHER WESTGATE COUNCILOR THERE THAT NIGHT AND HE DID SPEAK AGAINST THIS, STRANGE THERE WAS NO CLLR TOM KING AT THE MEETING NOR MEMBERS FROM THE SO CALLED W.W.R.A. I WONDER WHY.
THE VOICE OF THE W.W.R.A. IS RUN BY AND IND CLLR ???? OR LABOUR SO THE WILL BE AGAINST ANY THING TO INPROVE WESTGATE

DrMoores said...

4:55 using CAPS is the equivalent of shouting where internet etiquette is concerned.

Tom King was at the meeting and added his support but after conferring it was decided that only I should speak to avoid duplication. Cllr Goodwin is on the planning committee and entered his objection.

I hope that helps?