There are four issues which trouble me following the above meeting where the Holly Parade planning application (Ref 2016/2185) was approved by 6 votes to 2 with one abstention for forwarding to Full Planning Committee next month:
- It appears that the saved policies such as CS1, CS10, CS17 and DM2 relating to such areas as design, enhancing public realm, integrating sensitively with the local distinctive landscape and enhancing local character carry no weight with Bristol Inspectors and are therefore hardly worth the paper they are written on. If this is a correct assessment, some important rethinking is necessary.
- That the in excess of 450 objections most of which appeared to have been individually and carefully crafted representing between 6%and 7% of dwellings in KT11 could be tossed aside at the stroke of a pen. This is particularly in the context that questions were raised at the meeting with the developers as to how effective the advertising of their consultations in reaching out to the community had been.
- That the Localism Act of 2011 of allowing the wishes of local people to be given more weight in the decision making process seems not to have percolated down to the planning process.
- That the whole subject of air pollution hangs over this application like a toxic cloud. Whilst I believe all parties now accept that this redevelopment is in one of the worst parts of Cobham for persistent poor air quality and that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality, the way forward remains opaque. If I heard her correctly, Elmbridge’s legal adviser proffered that air quality was an issue for Public Health and not for Planning; thus, no condition requiring the non-opening of fenestration, access to balconies or communal terraces overlooking the High Street could be made.
Whatever the legal advice, it seems to me morally reprehensible for Elmbridge BC (for which I have the highest regard and have said so publicly) to knowingly put vulnerable members of the community at risk by allowing such a development without such conditions to go ahead.
Equally McCarthy and Stone who are rightly renowned as a class act in their field of accommodation for the elderly surely, on reflection, would not want to put vulnerable people at risk. Indeed, they would be risking their own high reputation; this takes years to gain but can be lost in an instant.
Thus, I hope that between now and the full planning meeting in January 2017, this application will be reconsidered by all parties and either the vulnerable residents are to be protected from harmful effects of poor air quality or this application is withdrawn.
G Acher 13th December 2016
The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust has analysed the case officer's report which is recommending approval for the planning application 2016/2185 - 1-7 Holly Parade, High Street, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EE.
We strongly object and have included the main letter below sent to South Area Planning Sub-committee stating why we believe the application should be refused.
Please come and support us at the South Area Planning Sub-Committee on Monday 12th December at 7.45pm at the Civic Centre in Esher.
8th December 2016
Application no.2016/2185 - 1-7 Holly Parade, High Street, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EE
The Trust writes on this application, due for consideration by the South Area Planning Sub-Committee next Monday (12th December). The Trust is asking that the application be refused.
We are fully aware that Councillors may find it difficult to consider long letters close to the hearing date but the case officer’s report has only been available to us for a less than a week and the issues arising are so serious that it is not possible to condense our comments. We would ask you to bear with us in this instance.
The case officer’s report
The Trust cannot accept that the case officer can consider this proposal “in accordance with the development plan”. It is noted that while she refers by title to various policies, she does not go on to recite those in her report. The Trust will do that. This lack of detail is of concern. It can be seen from Paragraph 19 of the report that the Council’s Planning Department gave pre-application advice including on “…..impact on the character of the area……. ” following which “the application was encouraged.” Thus the developers were encouraged to proceed with their model on a major application before any proper engagement with the Cobham community as to what the community would like to see and would be appropriate for this site. The Trust deals with the overall lack of taking into account the views of the community later in this letter under “Unsound Consultation”.
The Trust would also comment here that the case officer looks to have the concept of 4 storeys accepted by saying that the fourth storey will not be “obvious when viewed from street level”. This is simply not true. The applicant’s own view from down the High Street shows the fourth storey (repeated in the inset montage in the addendum to the Design and Access statement). This view and the harmful view from Riverhill (footnote 1) does also show how the new building would tower abruptly and brutally above the Lloyds chemist building next door. The building would be overpowering and out of symmetry with neighbouring buildings and its jarring nature can be seen from the front elevation appended at the end of the case officer’s report.
Apart from saying that the fourth floor will be set back and therefore not visible there is still no justification of why a four storey building should be allowed here. Here is the first opportunity since the Design and Character SPD for Cobham Guide was consulted on and published in 2012 for the redevelopment of a significant site in the centre of Cobham. The applicants (and the case officer in recommending permission) are looking to completely ignore that and other basic guidelines in both the Core Strategy and the Development Management Plan.
The most important local policies are set out below with the Trust’s comments
Read more: Letter from Cobham Heritage to South Area Planning Sub-committee Ref: 1-7 Holly Parade