Design and Townscape Guide - Refresh 2009 (Consultation Draft)

Representation ID: 165

Received: 05/06/2009

Respondent: The Society for the Protection of Undercliff Gardens

Representation Summary:

We strongly support the intention that 'all new development will have to demonstrate (our emphasis) that the proposed scheme is a high design or it will not be considered acceptable' Again our experience is that this may prove to be problematical but it is clearly better 'in than out'.

Full text:

There may be some confusion in this paragraph - this is an SPD Guide and is 'one of the documents that form the planning policy of the town'. It is therefore policy, it is not guidance, or advice or negotiable and is an approved document. However this paragraph then confuses the issue by stating that 'the purpose of the guide is to provide guidance for developers...' An open invitation to lodge an appeal against a refusal perhaps?
We support the definition of good design although our experience is that this is an elusive commodity.
We strongly support the intention that 'all new development will have to demonstrate (our emphasis) that the proposed scheme is a high design or it will not be considered acceptable' Again our experience is that this may prove to be problematical but it is clearly better 'in than out'.
We support this commitment to good design.
This checklist appers to be based on a traditional housing estate model with vehicular access to the front of the property. Undercliff Gardens does not fall into this category - it is a unique area where access is restricted to pedestrians. We would like to see a small amendment to this paragraph to include such non-conforming areas and developments.
This seems a potentially dangerous exception - a planning weakness can be a developer's strength. Who is to decide?
We suggest that there should be presumptions against conversion to so called chalet bungalows that include the use of dormer windows.
This paragraph is of fundamental importance to this Society. We suggest that there should be a modest adjustment so that the 3rd sentence reads 'Generally new buildings should respect the established building frontage lines, or line of building, however...'

We are pleased to see that the Guide reinforces the importance of this policy (not guideline) in Para by stating 'building frontage lines should be respected'.

Again in Para there is more reference to building frontage lines being respected in order to protect the established street pattern.

However there appears to be no reason why the traditional 'building line' has been changed in this Guide to 'building frontage line'. for the avoidance of doubt we understand the two phrases to have the same meaning which is established in law 'an imaginary line drawn parallel to the highway at a specified distance from the back of the footpath, the dimensions being specified by the local planning authority as part of their overall responsibility for development control. No building or part of a building may be erected between the building line and back of footpath'. This view is supported by the fact that para includes both phrases in a single sentence. We also rely on the Council's own BLP policy document C12 which states 'the preservation of Undercliff Gardens south of the building line as an area free of vehicular traffic and parking' it does not say 'south of the building frontage line'. We therefore suggest that 'building line' should be used throughout to avoid confusion.
This is an important restriction on conversions. We should like to see clarity on percentages of family homes to be retained - lack of clarity has been used on appeal in some cases (including Undercliff Gardens)
Permitted development was changed on the 1st October 2008 by the introduction of Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(Amendment)(No 2)(England)Order 2008. We presume Article 4 Directions will reflect this in due course, although it should remain as policy that there is a permanent restriction on permitted development in Undercliff Gardens.
We suggest that all materials should be permanent and short term poor quality materials not used.
We suggest that the 3rd paragraph should be change to '...where new balconies are does not extend in front of the building line, and that the privacy of neighbours is not compromised'
In our opinion many planning applications fall short of an acceptable standard, and yet they are frequently accepted in the interests of speed. We suggest that details of all proposals should be clearly shown and that all planning applications include:
a. New and existing ground levels on all elevation and sections
b. Partial elevations of all adjoining properties.
3. Sufficient details to enable a decision to be made.
We would like to see a design brief, reflecting this Guide, prepared for Undercliff Gardens in view of the importance attached to its protection.
A. Grand Parade
Most of the above comments relate to the impact of this document on Undercliff Gardens.
However all plots extend to the north of Undercliff Gardens so that they front Grand Parade. In other words each plot possesses two frontages. It is obvious that clauses. i and ii of policy C12 were drafted with the Grand Parade frontage in mind, whereas clauses iii, iv and v relate to Undercliff Gardens. We suggest that this conflict needs addressing. Policy C12 is out of date in other respects and we have offered to discuss a revised policy document with the council (see our letter dated 9 July 2008). We are aware that it is the council's intention to eventually prepare and adopt a more up to date policy C12 (see your letter dated 7 June 2006).
Appendix A3.19 to C12 addressed many of the design problems referred to above but it has not been saved. We suggest that it might be re-visited in due course when C12 is up-dated.
B. Programme and Policy
As you are aware, this Guide has been under discussion for a very long time. Our understanding is that it is a policy document and therefore it is vital that applicants and residents alike have confidence that all planning matters will be covered by this important document as soon as possible.
C. Patio's and terraces
Hard landscaping is an essential element in any development but in Undercliff Gardens it makes a significant impact on the environment. The use of retaining walls, paving materials to be used, levels and relationships to buildings all need considering - Part 5.1.3/272 - 275 is very brief and could be expanded in this direction to advantage.
D. Planning Applications Generally
It would seem that the Council have recently adopted a more flexible attitude towards applications. It is not uncommon for an application to include the briefest of information which is then approved in principle, subject to details being approved. As we are not consulted when an application for approval of conditions is lodged (e.g 09/0455/ad - 102 Undercliff Gardens) it follows that approval of important details is a matter for negotiation by officers without consultation. Hopefully this Guide will remove the need for such procedures.