The sad demolition by McCarthy and Stone of a Victorian villa in Brough, Yorkshire. www.save54.com
The national builder, McCarthy and Stone applied last year to Brighton and Hove Council to demolish 5 family homes in Old London Road Patcham and replace them and their gardens with a large block of 44 flats providing ‘assisted living’ for the
frail elderly. They are already advertising these flats for sale: 2 bedroom flats from £453,000 and one bedroom flats from £339,000, which will bring them revenue of £18 million. In January the Council's Planning Committee
unanimously turned down the planning application. The developer appealed to the Planning Inspectorate for a decision which resulted in the Inquiry at Brighton Town Hall,
Bartholomew Square, Brighton BN1 1JA over 2 and a half days from 13 to 15 June 2017.
Every Councillor at the Council's Planning Committee meeting in January spoke in
support of the Planning Officer's recommendations that the planning application was turned down because:
- The development has not adequately taken
the flood risk into account, and it would add vulnerable people to an area with a significant history of groundwater flooding
- The development is considered to detract from the character
and appearance of the street scene
- It has not been demonstrated that the future occupants of the development would be protected from sources of noise on the site such as the sub-station,
kitchen and plant rooms
- The developer has not committed to paying the requested developer contributions towards outstanding issues.
You can see the debate on-line: https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=118&MId=6123&Ver=4 (look for the Planning Committee on 11 January and click 'watch' next
to agenda item 96A).
See press coverage: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/01/11/brighton-and-hove-planners-highlight-flood-risk-on-site-of-proposed-care-home/
One by one the Councillors explained why they were voting against the application and reflected the variety of concerns that local people have been expressing ever since the developer put forward their
application. No Councillor spoke in favour of the development. Our own ward councillor Lee Wares led the assault, saying that the "flat pack design" would ''rip the soul out of the look of the village" and would be a "travesty". He also noted
that the developer did not even bother turning up to speak in support of their application. Instead a representative of the developer sat at the back of the room by the door looking very embarrassed and making lots of notes.
A number of Councillors noted that the developer had not bothered to have any pre-application discussions with Council officers before putting in their application which caused extra work for the Council, and one
Councillor referred to the developer's "arrogance". Another Councillor reflected many people's views that we do need more social care for the elderly but that this particular development is just a money machine for the developer with no social
housing and no offer of a financial contribution from the developer. One Councillor summed it up by saying this is a major development in the wrong place.
The decision on the
application is now down to the Planning Inspectorate which is a government body to which developers can appeal if they do not agree with the decision of the local Council. In this case the basis of the appeal is that the Council has 'failed to give notice
of its decision within the appropriate period'. As one Councillor commented in the debate, the reasons for the delay were largely down to the developer not having pre-application discussions with the Council and making mistakes that required a second consultation
(Back in 2005, McCarthy and Stone appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over their last application in Old London Road after it was turned down by the Council
in January 2005. An appeal date was set for February 2006 but McCarthy and Stone withdrew their appeal in September 2005.)
Our MP Caroline Lucas has also made
strong representations to the Council about the flood risk ‘If there is any uncertainty about whether the development might increase the flood risk in the area, I think it would be appropriate to refuse the application until a time when it’s clear
that it will not. When Patcham village last experienced flooding in 2014, I visited the area on a number of occasions and spoke to many residents about the problems they experienced as a result. Damage to property and belongings due to flood is extremely distressing,
therefore I believe it is up to the developer to prove beyond doubt that there will be no increased flood risk before the go-ahead is given on this occasion, in this location.’
We detail below some of the objections people have made about the application.
- Scale of the Development
- The location is unsuitable for this type and scale of development. The development by way of its height, bulk, scale and plan form is both dominant and overbearing, shows a total lack of respect for the existing village setting and represents an
overdevelopment of the site. In addition, there are already 5 types of this accommodation within 1 mile of this proposal and it subsequently upsets the housing mix. Also the proposal permanently destroys 5 family homes which the Council acknowledge are in
- Increased Traffic Congestion and Parking problems - The area already has high levels of traffic arising from Patcham House School, Patcham
Memorial Hall, Scouts Hall, bus routes and the local shops as well as being a ‘rat run’ in peak hours. The additional traffic created by the development’s residents, social and medical visitors, staff, tradesmen and delivery vehicles will
increase existing traffic congestion and pollution. The limited number of parking spaces on the site will exacerbate existing parking problems at peak times.
- Pedestrian Safety –
There is no pedestrian crossing in the village.Safety of the frail elderly is an issue as there is no pavement on the development’s roadside. Subsequently there is no access to the local shops or southbound buses without crossing the road back
and forth with no pedestrian crossing facility.
- Flooding / Sewage – The winters appear to becoming wetter with flooding risks increasing. The proposal has the potential
to increase the population on this site by in excess of 50 people resulting in increased pressure on the drainage system. This area has a history of serious groundwater flooding resulting in raw sewage overflows into the surrounding roads, gardens and basements,
with residents in 2000 being unable to use their toilets for weeks.
- Trees / Green Space / Wildlife - The proposal will remove up to 51 trees and will concrete over a large
area. The removal of this habitat will have a detrimental effect on wildlife from the loss of these trees and gardens.
Here are some of the reasons why people have told us they are opposed to the development and the relevant policies:
Scale of the Development - The location is unsuitable for this type and scale of development. The development by way of its height, bulk, scale and plan form is both dominant and overbearing, shows a total lack
of respect for the existing village setting and represents an overdevelopment of the site. The Council’s Local plan states ‘design is critical as to whether a new development fits in visually and functionally with its surroundings...Higher
densities may not be achievable in those parts of suburban and village neighbourhoods where existing low density development contributes to a positive sense of place and community.’ We believe this is the wrong development in the wrong place.
Housing Mix - There are already 5 buildings providing specialist accommodation for the elderly within 1 mile of the Old London Road. Another retirement complex upsets the housing mix. The Council’s City Plan
highlights ‘a lack of ‘choice’ across the housing market in terms of property types and sizes available to current and future households and this is particularly so in terms of the availability of larger family sized types of dwellings’.
This development would lead to the permanent loss of 5 family homes.
Increased Traffic Congestion and Parking problems - The area already has high levels of traffic arising from Patcham
House School, Patcham Memorial Hall, Scouts Hall, bus routes and the local shops as well as being a ‘rat run’ in peak hours. The additional traffic created by the development’s residents, social and medical visitors, staff, tradesmen
and delivery vehicles will increase and exacerbate existing traffic congestion and pollution. The Local plan states ‘Road transport is one of the main pollution and nuisance generators and any air quality 'hot spots' in Brighton & Hove are
likely to be the result of motor vehicle pollution. The planning authority will expect, therefore, the impact from traffic to be included with any assessment of pollution and nuisance.’
Pedestrian Safety –
There is no pedestrian crossing in the village.Safety of the vulnerable elderly is an issue as there is no pavement on the development’s roadside. Subsequently there is no access to the local shops without crossing
the road back and forth with no pedestrian crossing facility. The Council’s Local plan states ‘Most development sites can be designed to provide safe access for all highway users but occasionally the location of a use may cause serious safety problems
for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. In such cases planning permission may be refused unless a satisfactory design solution can be found.’
Flooding / Sewage – The winters
appear to becoming wetter with flooding risks increasing. The development has the potential to increase the population on this site by well in excess of 50 people resulting in increased pressure on the drainage system. Old London Road has a history of serious
groundwater flooding resulting in raw sewage overflows into the surrounding roads, gardens and basements, with residents in 2000 being unable to use their toilets for weeks. What would happen to the elderly residents if this was to happen again? It is also
very stressful when there is the prospect of flooding. The National Planning Policy Framework states that ‘Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk, but where development
is necessary, making it safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere.’ The impact on both the residents of proposed flats and neighbouring properties need to be considered.
Trees / Green Space / Wildlife - The
development will remove many trees and a number of hedges and will concrete over a large area. The removal of this habitat will have a detrimental effect on wildlife from the loss of these trees and gardens. The City Plan states that new developments
should ‘conserve existing biodiversity, protecting it from the negative indirect effects of development’
You may well have other concerns and you should express these.
Previous McCarthy and
Stone applications turned down
Other proposed MaS developments have been turned down, including their 2 previous attempts to acquire this site, in 2003 and 2004. A recent proposed McCarthy and Stone development in Horsham was turned
down by the local council. One of the reasons quoted is: 'The proposed building, by reason of its excessive height, length, scale, mass and external appearance will create an undesirable, over prominent, over-bearing and oppressive feature in the streetscene,
dominating its surroundings, at odds and out of character with the established built form in the locality. The front elevation would include large areas of clad paneling, presenting a bland and uninspiring principal facade in what is a very important, prominent
location, further detracting from the visual amenity of the locality. The flat roof would present a largely unbroken and abrupt feature in the skyline, to the detriment of the character and visual amenity of the locality. The development is, therefore, unacceptable
in design terms'. MaS appealed to the Planning Inspectorate who upheld the Council's decision. This underlines how important it is that we all tell the Council what we think of MaS's plans for Old London Road.
McCarthy and Stone have previously
made similar applications in 2003 and 2004 which were refused for many of the reasons which give cause for concern with their current plans. For example the Council said ‘The proposal, by way of its height, bulk, scale, plan
form, excessive site coverage, choice of materials, poor quality of detailed design, lack of good quality usable amenity space, lack of respect for the prevailing townscape, represents overdevelopment of the site leading to town cramming, is out of character
with the surrounding area, and fails to make a positive contribution to the quality of the visual environment.’
These earlier applications and the reasons for refusing permission are on the Council website:
If you share our views and want to keep Patcham special and locally
owned, then be ready to write to the Council when McCarthy and Stone submit their plans.
For more guidelines from the charity Planning Aid on the planning process and how to object effectively see below: