Agenda and minutes
Venue: Town Hall
Contact: Ian Smith Email: email@example.com
Conduct of the meeting
Prior to the start of the meeting agenda, the Chair explained the procedure for the virtual meeting and the method he would employ to ensure the voting was accurately completed. The Chair also ensured that all participants were introduced
Apologies for absence
There was a change of membership for this meeting; Councillor Hastrick replaced Councillor Watkin.
Disclosure of interests
Councillor Pattinson disclosed that her partner’s cousin was employed by the applicant for agenda item 425 - 445 St Albans Road. However, he had not been involved in with the application.
The Chair disclosed that he had visited the Monmouth Road site and had spoken briefly with Mr Tom Harper, who was addressing the committee on this application. The Chair added that he had not offered any views on the application.
Councillor Bell disclosed that he had also spoken with Mr Harper on the telephone, but had not expressed any views on the application.
The minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2020 to be submitted and signed.
The committee agreed the minutes and would be signed once members and officers returned to the Town Hall.
The Chair introduced the item to the committee, explaining that he felt this development had to face two ways; towards the commercial buildings in Clarendon Road and the town centre and also towards the residential houses within Monmouth Road. He felt that the stepping up from the modest three storeys at one end, rising to five, then seven storeys achieved that.
The Development Management Team Leader summarised his report to the meeting, including the relevant planning history of the site. He also made reference to the update sheet. This had been supplied to all participants prior to the meeting.
The Chair invited Mr Tom Harper, of the Watford Central Town Residents’ Association, to speak.
Mr Harper stated that, in his opinion, the development was poor quality and not in keeping with the residential houses in the area. The Victorian houses in Monmouth Road, were two storey, red brick and the proposed development was up to seven storeys with an entirely different palate of materials and colours. He specifically mentioned the aluminium cladding as jarring.
He continued that the application was suggesting that the building needed to relate to the taller commercial buildings towards Clarendon Road. But he was firmly of the opinion that this was the wrong approach; the building was in Monmouth Road and therefore needed to relate to the buildings in that road and not the office blocks.
Mr Harper mentioned that the Planning Officer originally expressed the opinion that the development was unsuitable to the area. He went on to say that this development would breach the minimum required distances to its neighbouring buildings (paragraph 124 of the National Planning Policy Framework). He also pointed out that the only vehicular access to the proposed development was a single lane residential road, that the proposal was excessively dense with 271 buildings per hectare and offered little affordable housing.
The Chair thanked Mr Harper and highlighted two particular points that he had raised: the officer’s change of opinion regarding the development and that the scheme infringed minimum distances to neighbouring buildings. He invited the Development Management Team Leader to comment on those matters.
The Development Management Team Leader explained that the initial opinion that the scheme was unsuitable was some two years ago and for a very different design to the one before the committee. He added that the pre-application process is often lengthy and it was common for recommendations to change, when significantly modified designs are submitted.
The Development Management Team Leader then explained the shortfall in the privacy distance to Fisk House, which was fully discussed in the officer’s report.
The Chair then invited Richard Henley of HGH Consulting to address the committee.
Mr Henley introduced the proposal, explaining how the design process had been developed in collaboration with the officers, resulting in a high quality scheme. Monmouth Road was dramatically altered in the 1960s, when the ring road was built, making it into an urban edge road. He added that whilst design was a subjective ... view the full minutes text for item 72.
The Development Management Team Leader summarised his report to the meeting, including the relevant planning history of the site.
The Chair invited Mr Don Messenger of DP9, the agent for London Square to address the meeting. Mr Messenger introduced the design and his client, London Square, an established developer committed to building this development, despite the current recession.
The approach from the outset had been to align this scheme with local and national policy. Working closely with the council and in consultation with residents via two local public exhibitions, achieving an overall attendance of over 600 people.
He commented that affordable housing was a priority, but also a challenge for developers and the viability study had resulted in there being none in this development. However, the developers had committed to make a commuted sum payment of £500,000 to the council to allow them to commission their own development of affordable housing.
The Chair then invited Councillor Richard Smith, councillor for Leggatts ward, to address the committee.
Councillor Smith explained that he had spoken with local residents and the developers, but felt that this was not the right scheme for this area, which really needed three-bed units. He expressed surprise that there were no three bed units as he felt family style units would be appropriate, especially with a school nearby.
He added that the overall height and the blocking of light, lack of communal areas coupled with the likelihood of traffic issues in an already busy area, made it an unsuitable development.
The Chair commented that he felt the scale was resolved well, but that there was not the right mix of accommodation.
There followed a discussion where the committee expressed their disapproval about the lack of affordable housing within the application; the lack of space in the units for small families and the lack of car parking spaces.
The Development Management Team Leader commented that all units met the internal space standards and this was addressed in his report from paragraph 6.10 onwards. Forty-six of the units were two bed, four person units. Whilst the surrounding area was predominantly three bedroom houses with gardens, most young families could not afford such a property, but needed to start with a smaller apartment, such as was offered here.
Councillor Bell expressed his opinion regarding the ‘huge size’ of the development.
It was pointed out that the scheme was policy compliant, despite the high density of dwellings and lack of affordable housing. Councillor Johnson expressed his concern that the developer had no requirement to agree to a late stage review.
Councillor Sharpe commented that whilst he deplored the lack of affordable housing, the scheme was entirely policy compliant and therefore there were no grounds to refuse.
Councillor Bell proposed a motion to refuse the application, based on the large scale of the building not matching the surrounding area.
In accordance with Standing Committee Procedure Rules, paragraph 4.2, Councillor Peter Jeffree requested that it be recorded in the minutes how Members cast ... view the full minutes text for item 73.