Note: The meeting reconvened at 8:30pm and a full roll call confirmed all Members present.
The Chairman introduced the next application of the evening, application number 141128 to demolish existing main building and replace with 1no. dwelling including landscaping, ancillary works and installation of solar panels to existing garage on land adjacent to 19 Brook Street, Hemswell. The Development Management Officer explained there had been one further response from the Lincolnshire Bat Group who would endorse the recommendations in section 4.2 of the survey.
The Chairman invited the only registered speaker to address the Committee.
My Andrew Ryley, agent for the applicant, made the following statement.
“I am Andrew Ryley, Director of Planning a DLBP, and I am instructed by the applicant Alan Morris to address you this evening.
I want to start first by saying that Mr Morris is not a property developer. He is now retired, having been an engineer who ran his own business in the north east. Mr Morris and his wife would like to settle down in this area to be near their sons and grandchildren who have moved to Lincolnshire.
Mr Morris bought this property in the knowledge that it had planning permission to be converted into a family dwelling, and this was his intention. But before commissioning builders to start work, he instructed a Structural Engineer to survey the property.
The Structural Engineer’s report confirms unequivocally that the building is in a significant state of disrepair and is not structurally sound and capable of being converted. The conclusions of the report are clear that demolition of the existing building is the only option for it.
This conclusion is shared by the Council’s own building control officer, Mr Rob Berry, who visited the site earlier this year and inspected the inside of the building. He advised Mr Morris that, and I quote: “the existing building is in a very bad state of repair and the best option for you would be the take it down and rebuild it.”
We acknowledge that the Conservation Officer has raised concerns with the demolition of the building. However, it is important to consider that the building is not statutorily listed by Historic England. Rather, it is a non-designated heritage asset and whilst this is still important, it is the lowest level of heritage protection.
The site is in the Hemswell Conservation Area. This does not mean that it is inherently inappropriate to seek to demolish an existing building within it. The key is whether the proposed development, including the replacement building, enhances or preserves the character and appearance of the area.
Preservation does not equate to automatic retention, as one must consider what is proposed in its place. Mr Morris’ proposal is for a modest replacement building. It will be smaller in terms of footprint that the consented scheme, and will be lower in height that the adjacent building at 19 Brook Street. The proposal is to use reclaimed Ancaster stone - sourced from the existing building - and heritage clay pan tiles. The new building will enhance the streetscene, especially in the context of the large modern development on the adjacent plot at 17 Brook Street, and also the modern garage that has been built in place of the demolished shoe house.
The 1985 Conservation Area Appraisal identifies the key features of Brook Street as being: “dominated by more natural features including the stud paddocks, the stone property walls, the wide grass verge and the fine trees and hedgerows”. Our proposal will not result in any loss or harm to the features that the Appraisal identifies as being important. Rather, the scheme will preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.
As you are aware, a neighbourhood plan is being prepared for the area. The Government consistently highlights the importance of neighbourhood planning, with the Planning Practice Guidance saying that: “…such plans can put in place policies that will grant planning permission for the development local people want to see.” Policy 8 of the Hemswell Neighbourhood Plan states: “Planning Permission will be supported for the redevelopment - I repeat, redevelopment - of one dwelling on the site.” The neighbourhood plan goes onto to say that: “The site scored ‘Green’ in the AECOM site assessment report and was very well received by the local residents during the public consultation events in 2018. 36 out of 36 local residents voted yes to seeing a sympathetic redevelopment and restoration of the site.”
In response to the public consultation carried out by the Council for the current application, not one single objection has been made by residents of Hemswell. Rather, the one representation that has been made is from the resident that lives closest and supports the redevelopment proposed. Ward councillor Howitt-Cowan has stated in his consultation response that the decision is a finely balanced one, implying that it is equally appropriate that permission could be refused or be granted.
In our view, the proposed scheme is wholly in accordance with the policies of the development plan in terms of LP4, residential amenity, highway safety, ecology, landscape and sustainability - and that is a position the planning officer agrees with as set out in the report before you - and also we say with the Council’s heritage policy. The scheme is planning policy compliant and the neighbourhood plan allocation is a material consideration that weighs strongly in support of the scheme, such that the balance falls firmly in favour of granting permission in our view.
I hope you agree with this contention and grant planning permission this evening. However, we do recognise that this is a professional judgement informed by ones own subjective view on the design of the scheme. Mr Morris has been and remains very open to any suggestions for improvements to the design of the scheme, be it the type of windows, location within the site etc, and so if councillors were minded to defer making a decision to enable those discussions to take place, we would be very happy to undertake such discussions. Thank you.”
The Chairman thanked Mr Ryley and enquired if there was any further Officer comment. It was highlighted that Building Control were not a statutory consultee and did not give planning advice.
Note: Councillor J. Milne stated to the Chairman she had lost internet connection for a period of time and as such would not partake in discussions of the vote.
Members of the Committee sought clarification as to which of the buildings in the shown photographs was to be demolished and there was overall consternation that the building had been left to fall into such a state of disrepair. It was suggested that there could be some level of amendment to the design, for example to retain the front elevation or incorporate elements of the building that were salvageable rather than simply demolishing the entire building. The Officer reiterated that no other alternative had been considered aside from the proposal being considered presently.
A Member of Committee proposed that the application be deferred, in order for further discussions to take place with the applicant to look at what of the existing building could be retained in the new design. This was duly seconded. The Chairman suggested that the decision could be delegated to Officers if such discussions came up with a proposal which could be agreed. That was not to say the application would not return to Committee, but that if there was an agreeable design and proposal it was not required to return to Committee.
With these details clarified and voted upon, it was agreed that the application be DEFERRED for further discussion regarding design and retention of the original building [or elements of].