UPDATE: This application was refused.
5.3.16…..It is an awkward site to try to redevelop. And neither the gap nor the backs of this Kingsway terrace are pretty! Developers want to make money out of it and the council needs maximum housing increases. Something suitable and nicer than these garages must be possible….surely? Lets look at both the latest proposal and the failed 2014 proposal. Neither sought to ‘fit in’. Both seek to squeeze maximum profit from this site using every inch of the footprint. The applicant in both cases is Mr. Deol (one of the Sackville Hotel site owners). The architects last time were Yelo. This time it is Turner Associates.
This newly registered application seeks to put two x two-bed houses in the space occupied by six garages facing Sackville Gardens and the application claims to address reasons for refusal of their 2014 application. The design resembles a long, low hut with two entrances. Most odd.
Umm…Let’s look at the BACK view, shall we? Maybe its better….. *sigh*
The back wall is hard up against 185/187 Kingsway’s low brick garden wall, same as in 2014. Lower, but its not pretty and repeats a contentious issue from last time.
It is worth looking at this photo of the existing garden area of 187 Kingsway and its view of the backs of the garages to get a sense of how the drawing would translate to reality. The 2016 revised building height would fill the sky area, as shown here. Still a wall behind the wall, end to end.
Refused previous application BH2014/01990
1-6 Garages behind 187 Kingsway (formerly part of its garden area)
This application was refused in December 2014 under delegated powers and refused again in October 2015 on Appeal. An obvious overdevelopment, it sought to provide four x one-bed flats and two x two-bed flats, over four storeys.
A look at the Planning Inspector’s Appeal report for the above example is instructive (they always are). The idea that ANY newbuild could be created for this site which would “reflect the established pattern of development in the area” is a difficulty. Architects say ‘don’t try; go the other way’.
At point 13 it states:
“Due to the scale of the proposed building, particularly in relation to its height and its close proximity to neighbouring properties, the development would result in a dominating, overbearing and enclosing effect on the outlook of the occupiers of these and other neighbouring dwellings. It would appear as a large oppressive and imposing structure which would be exacerbated by the large expanse of solid brick wall forming the rear elevation…..”
The 2016 application now seeks to address this issue by taking height down to single storey level (with a basement); but it STILL provides a “large expanse of solid brick wall forming the rear elevation” with no mediating distance from it to the boundary. None is possible, due to the car-length depth of the site for proposed housing.
The comment at point 9 is salient on the Conservation Area issue according to the requirements of Government planning policy.
“The National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework) recognises that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource that should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance. Great weight should be given to the conservation of designated heritage assets, including any harm or loss of significance through development within their setting. The Framework also places great importance on development being of good design and responding to local character to ensure the integration of new development into the existing environment.”
Architects and developers push hard against this restraint, aided and abetted sometimes by planning departments keen to avoid “pastiche”. Quite lovely designs get binned because they reference the past too closely. But equally, so-called ‘contemporary’ (harsh, featureless) designs can see refusals too if they hit a planning committee the wrong way (not nearly often enough) or insult the street scene enough.
Plot-sized areas behind corner buildings and just into side streets are being targeted more and more by those seeking profit from redevelopment of brownfield spaces. Such spaces can appear to offer potentially adequate square metre space until onsite and neighbour amenity, privacy, building lines, Conservation, planning issues, etc. are taken into consideration to consequently reduce footprints to unviable levels.This newly registered application seeks to address the planning inspector’s “open aspect” value by complying/repeating the very low height of the garages; but is that ugly back wall view a Conservation Area asset? Really? Is the proposed development back wall either? And doesn’t the long, low, ‘hut’ look draw attention to those crummy Kingsway back walls? Make a feature of a visual flaw?
So what would work on this challenging site?
How about a single, one-bed, 1 1/2 storey house with a basement and a patio or enclosed verandah/porch at one end, a pointed roof like its Sackville Gdns neighbours and permeable open views either end to prevent a sense of enclosure and a wedged-in look? Hmmm?