Agenda and minutes
Venue: Town Hall
Contact: Ian Smith Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The committee will take items in the following order:
1. All items where people wish to speak and have registered with Democratic Services.
2. Any remaining items the committee agrees can be determined without further debate.
3. Those applications which the committee wishes to discuss in detail.
Please note that the following update documents were supplied to the Committee prior to the hearing.
· Officer’s presentation
· Update sheet
· Summary of NPPF
Apologies for absence
There was a change of membership for this meeting: Councillor Watling replaced Councillor Smith.
Disclosure of interests
Councillors Nigel Bell and Peter Jeffree declared that they had independently carried out site visits to King Georges Avenue and spoken with Mrs Wilkinson. Neither had expressed any views.
Councillor Pattinson stated that she was a member of the stakeholder reference group for the West Herts Hospitals Trust building works, but had no influence on the planning application, but did have sight of the plans prior to this meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 6 July 2021 to be submitted and signed.
The minutes from the meeting on 6 July 2021 were approved and signed.
The Principal Planning Officer delivered her report and the committee noted that an update sheet had been provided to them and also published on the council’s website.
The Chair then invited Dr Philip Aylett to address the committee.
Dr Aylett explained his concerns regarding potential flooding at the site of the proposed development, citing Hertfordshire County Council experts’ submissions over the failure to take into account the increase in surface water. Although there was a planned 75% reduction in the rate of discharge, this did not take climate change into account. Dr Aylett pointed out that part of the site was already classified as high risk in relation to flooding and asked officers to explain why this important risk assessment was not included in the report.
Turning to the flood risk assessment, Dr Aylett pointed out that the southern corner should not be built upon, but the proposal is for the main entrance to be sited in that area.
Dr Aylett expressed his concern regarding the potential wind tunnel effect with such tall buildings, the small amount of green landscaping and the lack of privacy with the triple towers being sited directly opposite each other and only 17 metres apart.
He pointed out that the five years of construction works would have a significant adverse effect on the patients in the existing hospital, especially as many windows needed to be open, resulting in exposure to dust, pollution and noise.
Dr Aylett pointed out that at 82 metres, the proposed scheme would be the fourth highest NHS building in the country. He concluded by urging the committee to reject the application as it would not provide the promised healing environment.
The Chair thanked Dr Aylett and asked the Principal Planning Officer to comment on the issue of flooding. She commented that according to the Environment Agency, the site was in flood zone 1, the lowest risk of flooding. As regards surface water flooding, the council consulted with the flood water team at Hertfordshire County Council. Because the scheme was only an outline at this stage, it was not possible for the design team to provide full solutions as this was part of the outline reserve matters process. Condition 4 provided various strategies and requirements to address this issue.
The Chair then invited Mr Duane Passman, the Acute Hospital Programme Director for West Hertfordshire NHS Trust to address the committee.
Mr Passman explained how the Trust had been pursuing improvements to its estate for over twenty years, with two thirds below the minimum required standard. He went on to list various statistics concerning the poor state of Watford Hospital and described the submission in 2015, highlighting that the redevelopment of the existing site together with improvements at Hemel Hempstead and St Albans was the quickest and most effective route to provide new facilities.
Mr Passman described how the approval of the outline planning permission, was an essential step in the process to secure the necessary funds. He went on to describe ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
The Principal Planning Officer delivered her report.
The Chair then invited Mrs June Wilkinson to address the committee. Mrs Wilkinson explained that she lived adjacent to the proposed site and that her and sixty local residents had written to the council to voice their disapproval of the scheme. She also voiced her disappointment at the lack of consultation.
Mrs Wilkinson went on to detail the concerns with the proposal:
· The proposal was bulky and would result in overlooking. The local area was predominantly two storey and this scheme would be out of character with the area. She also commented adversely on the flat roof design. The balconies would overlook residential gardens. And the distances from neighbouring properties was less than the design guide recommended and contrary to Watford’s planning guidance.
· The applicant had not undertaken an ecology survey. The residents commissioned such a survey which revealed bat activity on the site. The report recommended an emergence study be carried out together with a study on nesting birds. Watford’s core strategy policy, GI3 required proposals to conserve and enhance biodiversity and habitats and the application was contrary to this policy.
· There were no replacement spaces for the six private garages, which would be demolished to make way for the development. The parking assessment failed to take account of this and there would be a possible resulting increase in street parking. There were no disabled spaces.
· The red line boundary included Hanover Court, but did not serve notices on these addresses, as required by law.
· The bin store appeared to be insufficient in size as it would serve two blocks of flats.
Mrs Wilkinson acknowledged the need for more housing in the area, but the provision of new housing should not be at the expense of existing residents’ amenities or the environment.
The Chair thanked Mrs Wilkinson and asked the Principal Planning Officer to comment of some of the issues she had raised.
· Screening – the site would be protected by hoarding and therefore screened during the construction works. Long term there would be a boundary fence, usually six feet high. This must all be approved by Planning under conditions.
· Overlooking – the balconies were now solid on the side to prevent overlooking onto number 95. Regarding back to back distances, the distance was 27.5 metres. It was felt that because of the existence of Hanover Court, there would be no worsening of the situation and therefore the distance was considered to be reasonable.
· Ecology – it was a legal requirement that bats are not disturbed, but this was outside of planning. An ecology survey and bat survey had both been requested prior to any development taking place.
· Parking and existing garages – the garages were not included in the transport assessment, due to their limited impact on parking. Most garages were used for storage and not for parking. However, Watford’s parking standards were maximums. The maximum for this development would be nineteen and nine spaces for nine flats was considered reasonable. ... view the full minutes text for item 15.