Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall

Contact: Ian Smith  Email:


No. Item

Conduct of the meeting pdf icon PDF 556 KB

Prior to the start of the meeting, the Chair explained the procedure for the meeting.  The Chair also ensured that all participants were introduced. 



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Apologies for absence


    There was a change of membership for this meeting: Councillor Khan replaced Councillor Bell. 



Disclosure of interests


    Councillor Nigel Bell, having declared an interest in item 4 on the agenda prior to the meeting, was replaced by Councillor Asif Khan. 




    The minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2021 to be submitted and signed.


    The minutes from the meeting on 8 June 2021 were approved and signed.



20/00671/FULM Exchange House 60 Exchange Road pdf icon PDF 770 KB

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    The Principal Planning Officer delivered her report and the committee noted that an update sheet had been provided to them and also published to the wider public on the council’s website.  


    The Chair then invited Mr Peter Jeffery, of Sphere 25 to address the committee. 


    Mr Jeffery explained that this application followed extensive consultation that had taken place since 2018.  A great deal of hard work had been put into it to ensure that this was a worthy application.  The High Street North and Cultural Hub plan identified this as a suitable brownfield site for development.  It had been identified that complete redevelopment of this building was required. 


    Mr Jeffery went on to describe the design improvements that had been made to the original application. All these improvements had been made in consultation with council officers. However, even after these discussions, the process of improvement had continued with the Place Shaping Panel, which had produced a more sensitive design, with the taller elements of the design being reduced and the massing being reapportioned.  He asserted that this reduced the visual impact, whilst retaining the important aspects of the design.


    Mr Jeffery assured the members that the company was committed to affordable housing and had offered considerably more affordable housing than the viability report, which indicated that no affordable housing was viable.  Mr Jeffery also identified that the scheme was more beneficial than the Prior Approval scheme approved as Permitted Development, which had 126 under-sized flats, none of which were affordable housing. 


    Mr Jeffery went on to list some of the other positive statistics of the scheme, such as the proportion of social rental units, the CPZ payments, the car club and the CIL contribution and commended the application to the committee. 


    The Chair thanked Mr Jeffery and invited Councillor Aga Dychton, a Ward Councillor for Central Ward to address the committee. 


    Councillor Dychton explained that she was speaking on behalf of the residents of Central Ward who were firmly against the proposed development which included a 16 storey tower block.  She stated that the proposal would not be appropriate for the area and the significant massing and height would not be a notable addition to the skyline.


    The councillor voiced her disagreement that the revised development avoided harm to the surrounding neighbourhood, with a consequential loss of light to nearby properties.  She pointed out that the council’s own policy sated that schemes should be of high quality and should respect and enhance the character of the area and again expressed her opinion that this development was not in accord with the policy goals. 


    The proposal would also impact on nearby Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings, with the total loss of the locally listed Exchange House.  The loss could only be justified if the replacement provided a significant architectural improvement. 


    Councillor Dychton acknowledged the importance of new housing, then summed up her arguments and urged the committee to refuse the application. 


    The Chair thanked Councillor Dychton and expressed his  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


21/00753/VARM 8 Oxhey Road, Watford, WD19 4QE pdf icon PDF 378 KB

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    The Principal Planning Officer delivered her report.


    The Chair then invited Councillor Clarke-Taylor, the Ward Councillor for Oxhey Ward to address the committee. 


    Councillor Clarke-Taylor explained that she had conducted a site visit with residents and was speaking on their behalf.  She thanked the officer for her recommendation to refuse and pointed out that the hard landscaping was highly inappropriate for the area; it was hard and cold and would have an adverse visual impact on residents.  The area, in contrast, was characterised by soft and impeccable green gardens. 


    The tall fences were overbearing and residents had suggested that neat hedging would be far more suited to the area.  The lack of trees was also noticeable because of its stark contrast to the surrounding area.  Trees subject to Tree Preservation Orders had been removed to make way for the building and the applicant was proposing not to replace them, despite a condition to do so.  She went on to describe the issues in more detail and also commented on the importance of retaining as much biodiversity and green space as possible, in a borough that was so built up.  The councillor summed up and urged the committee to align with the officer’s recommendation and refuse the application. 


    The Chair thanked Councillor Clarke-Taylor and invited comment from the committee.


    There was general assent that the application was flawed and unsuitable for the area, but a question was raised as to the consequence of refusal.  If refused, it was queried whether the hard landscaping currently would be allowed to remain in place.


    The Head of Planning and Development explained that the matter had been reported for enforcement and therefore was subject to a current enforcement investigation.  Accordingly, it would be inappropriate to comment further. 


    The Chair moved the officer’s recommendation to refuse section 73 application for the variation of condition 8 of planning permission 19/01411/VAR.




    That the application be refused as the proposed landscaping scheme would be of a poor quality that would not positively contribute towards the character and appearance of the site, the development or the surrounding area and would not provide good amenity for residents. The scheme fails to include appropriate tree planting to replace trees lost to allow for the development, it has poor boundary treatments, inadequate ground cover and planting and insufficient detail in respect of hedging planting. As such, the landscaping scheme would fail to accord with policy UD1 of the Watford Local Plan Core Strategy and saved policy SE37 of the Watford District Plan.



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