To consider report PES/326c of the Head of Economy and Planning.
RECOMMENDATION to REFUSE
The Committee considered report PES/326c of the Head of Economy and Planning which proposed as follows:
Outline application (access and layout to be determined with appearance, landscaping and scale reserved) for the erection of a part 3 and part 4 storey building comprising of 5 x 1no. Bedroom flats and 15 x 2no. Bedroom flats, following the demolition of existing semi-detached dwellings, the creation of a new vehicular access from Stonefield Close and associated works and landscaping (amended plans received).
Councillors A Belben, Hart, Irvine, Jaggard and Purdy declared they had visited the site.
The Principal Planning Officer (MR) provided a verbal summation of the application. The Committee heard that the positioning, access and parking of the proposed development were deemed acceptable but there had been a failure to meet both the target threshold of 40% affordable housing as set out in the Crawley Borough Local Plan 2015-2030, and the minimum threshold of 10% affordable housing as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
James Brill spoke in objection to the application. Concerns were raised regarding the size, parking, access, drainage, and general design and positioning of the development. The objector referred to the requirement for a minimum of a 21 metre gap between properties, and requested that Officers note that a town planning consultant had calculated that there would be a 15.74 gap metre to Alexandra Court. Concerns were also raised regarding disturbance to elderly residents of Stonefield Close and Alexandra Court.
Chris Maunders, on behalf of the applicant, spoke in support of the application and stated that the application had been submitted alongside a financial viability assessment, which had concluded that no affordable housing would be financially viable at the site. This assessment was reported as having stood up to further scrutiny. The negotiations that had occurred between the applicant and the LPA had been unsuccessful, and the Committee was informed that the applicant proposed to defend their position at appeal.
The Committee then considered the application. Committee members asked Officers to confirm the size of the gap between the proposed development and 26 Stonefield Close, which was noted at 28 metres to the side of the house. The Officer also advised that the Urban Design SPD distances between facing elevations apply to rear elevations and that an intervening road would be a different context to a rear-to-rear relationship, as there would already be a lower level of privacy due to existing public views of the side elevation of the neighbouring building.
The importance of affordable housing was discussed; Officers confirmed that Council policy requires affordable housing provision or a contribution to affordable housing in all residential dwellings where one or more unit is created.
Following discussion regarding the negotiation history between the applicant and the LPA, the Committee noted that the 40% requirement sought by policy H4 would not be viable, but Officers considered that the 10% threshold as set out in the NPPF should be provided as a minimum. The potential of the site to be developed was recognised if it was able to provide affordable housing.
Councillor Thomas moved that a recorded vote be taken on the recommendation, and in so doing the names of the Committee members voting for and against the recommendation (to refuse the application), along with any abstentions, were recorded as set out below:
For the recommendation to refuse: Councillors A Belben, Hart, Irvine, Jaggard, Malik, McAleney, Mwagale, Purdy, P C Smith, Thomas (10).
Against the recommendation to refuse: None.
The proposal was moved by Councillor P C Smith and seconded by Councillor Thomas.
Refuse subject to reasons set out in report PES/326c.