BSCF's objection to planning application for extension to the rear of 4-6 South Street New!

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4-6 South Street
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Links :
This planning application: 3/15/0020/FP on East Herts District Council's Planning website
Design Criteria document
Design and Access Criteria document
The Planning Department
East Herts District Council
Wallfields
Pegs Lane
Hertford
SG13 8EQ
22 February 2015

Dear Sirs/p>

3/15/0020/FP – Rear of 4-6 South Street, Bishop’s Stortford

I write on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation in response to the above application.

Planning Documents

The documents available at the Town Council offices do not include the Design & Access Statement. The application online states ‘New 3 no. 2 bed flats’. In addition, two contradictory documents suggest proposals for both 4 and 5 one-bedroom units on the site. An email to the relevant planning officer, Stephen Emery, requesting clarification remains unanswered to date.

Conservation Area

This site is in the heart of the Bishop’s Stortford Conservation Area (‘CA’) and is visible from Apton Road. It requires as much careful attention to the rear elevation as to the front elevation. The Conservation Area Appraisal states ‘Local Planning Authorities should look for opportunitiesfor new development within Conservation Areas to enhance or better reveal their significance and proposals that preserve such elements should be approved’ (Conservation Area Appraisal clause 2.11).

We do not believe the proposals satisfy this requirement.

Policy BH6: ""New developments in or adjacent to the CA will be permitted where (a) they are sympathetic in terms of scale, height, proportion, form, materials and siting in relation to the general character and appearance of the area or are otherwise of such quality as to be highly likely to enhance the character and appearance of the area".

Policy ENV1: ""The Council will expect high standard of design and layout to reflect local distinctiveness, effective connection and complementary with the surrounding environment ...""

Policy HSG7: " ... (a) it is well sited in relation to the remaining surrounding buildings and will not appear obtrusive or over intensive ... (b) the design complements the character of the local built environment and has regard to local distinctiveness ..."

We note the response on conservation marked ‘Internal Consultation’ from Valerie Scott of BEAMS (an external organisation based in Hertford) who comments that ‘the contemporary style is appropriate for the peculiar site’ and the ‘work constitutes an enhancement of a part of the CA which lacks positive features’. With respect, we believe neither of these statements fulfils the requirements of the above policies and CA Appraisal. Moreover, Ms Scott does not state the date of her site visit. We cannot be certain she speaks from any experience of either the site or the town as she was not responsible for formulating the CA Appraisal.

We do not believe the proposals satisfy the requirements of BH6, ENV1 or HSG7.

Parking

Parking is stated to be for 5 vehicles, yet this appears impossible from a site visit. One space is stated to be provided several hundred metres away in Apton Road2 cannot comply with policy TR7.

Traffic

We are concerned that the commercial units will generate vehicle traffic which cannot be accommodated in the parking area. In particular, there would not be sufficient room for delivery vehicles to turn around causing them to reverse out of the development into South Street, which would be hazardous to pedestrians and passing traffic.

Retail Units

Whilst this development proposes major re-development of the rear of the premises, it does nothing to address the empty retail unit to the front. Introducing new commercial units may prevent older units being let. Alternatively, they may just add to the town’s stock of unlet units.

Conclusion

BSCF supports the proposal to improve a visually unappealing area to the rear of the town’s main shopping street, which has been allowed to deteriorate. However, these proposals represent over-development of a small site and incorporate building materials which are not appropriate in the Conservation Area. We oppose the inclusion of commercial units as being unnecessary, having inappropriate access and undeliverable parking arrangements.

BSCF would be prepared to support a scaled-back version of the proposals (no more than 4 one- bedroom units) which used more appropriate cladding such as timber, reduced the height of any extension to the ridge height of the existing building and eliminated the commercial units. This would provide outside space and improved amenity for residents to store bins, hang washing, sit outdoors, landscaping to soften the view from Apton Road and parking for all units on site.

BSCF therefore opposes the application in its current form and respectfully suggests refusal.

Yours faithfully

Jill Wade
on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation