BSCF's Comments on Oxford House Redevelopment Application
Second Letter from BSCF Chairman
|Head of Development Control
East Herts Council
|20 March 2008
Your ref: 3/08/0170/FP
OXFORD HOUSE, BISHOP’S STORTFORD
FAO: Francesca Hill
I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation in response to this planning application, although I note that a previous application in respect of the same site has not yet had its appeal determined.
My comments are chiefly concerned with the nature of the application for which permission is being sought, since this is unclear from the documents which I have inspected at the Bishop's Stortford Town Council Offices. The lack of clarity relates to the following:
- The application in your letter describes the proposal as being for 18 2 bedroom flats and 2 1 bedroom flats with parking for 23 cars (5 disabled) and 6 motorcycles and 20 bicycles. The transport statement accompanying the application assumes provision of 15 2 bedroom flats and 6 3 bedroom flats with parking for 23 cars (2 disabled) 6 motorcycles and 13 bicycles. The transport assessment therefore appears to relate to a different proposal.
- The design and access statement (figure 8) shows a development with a four storey tower and four storey elevations with the top storey within a pitched roof. The detailed plans and elevations show a proposal with no tower and no elevation rising above three storeys plus a pitched roof.
It is therefore unclear what proposal is being sought for planning permission, and I suggest that the Local Planning Authority therefore has no option but to reject this application.
If, notwithstanding the comments above, your letter and the detailed plans and elevations represent a proposal which the Local Planning Authority may choose to consider, I would like to suggest the following issues which should influence your judgment:
- The Local Plan, adopted only a year ago, does not contemplate the use of this site for housing, and the grant of permission would therefore be contrary to the provisions of that Plan. If the NHS does not wish to retain the site for its current use, an alternative medical facility, such as a GP surgery (the South Street surgery for example is on a constricted site and has no convenient parking for users) would be more appropriate and convenient for the existing population than additional residential accommodation.
- The town has a surplus of unwanted one and two bedroom flats which appear to be unsaleable in present market conditions, and are unsuitable as starter homes for young families hoping to make their life in the town. If a development of this kind were to be permitted, it should include no one bedroom flats and three bedrooms should predominate over two. We would not expect to see the built envelope (plans and elevations) exceed the three storeys plus pitched roofs shown in the detailed drawings accompanying the application. If a requirement for larger flats combined within the existing proposed built envelope would lead to a smaller total number of units, then that would certainly improve the quality of the development and quite possibly its saleability.
- The present Oxford House is on an elevated site with the building furthest from London Road and car parking in front. It has only a two storey elevation. The proposal would be less intrusive if it were to follow the present pattern with the buildings as far away as possible from London Road and the car parking and landscaping in front. The site is open at the moment. It does not require an architectural statement, particularly one as routine as this (though I acknowledge that it is less offensive than the proposal which is the subject of an appeal).