Recommendation: Conditional approval
Proposal: Full application for the proposed change of use from HMO (Use Class C4) to supported living (Use Class C2), plus erection of two storey rear extension with 3 no. rooflights and solar panels and erection of detached rear outbuilding to form a meeting room following demolition of existing outbuilding, with associated parking, cycle and bin storage.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 159 to 184.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· Clarification of the floor areas;
· Clarification that Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) purchased this property as a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) in 2017, and had been vacant since;
· Clarification that notification Letters were sent on 8 April 2020. However, in response to objections received from neighbours and in the interest of openness, a site notice was also posted by the applicant on 30 April 2020;
· Clarification that on agenda page 170, paragraph 22, R23 of the Borough Design Guide refers to alterations and extensions to buildings;
· Since publication of the report, 5 additional public letters of objection had been received. The points raised by these letter have been addressed within the officer report;
· Clarification that the applicant had provided details of the proposed surface water drainage strategy. The WBC Drainage Officer was satisfied with these details, and so has determined that Condition (10) is no longer necessary.
In line with the given deadlines, one public written submission was received for this item. This submissions was circulated to Members in advance, and noted on the evening. The submission as provided can be found below.
Maria Gee, Ward Member, provided the following submission in objection to the application. “I wish to object to the application in its current form (revised). I objected initially to the extent of the new build on site, the parking and access to London Road, and to the building in the garden, while acknowledging the need for local accommodation for care leavers. It is also good that measures have been taken for sustainability and that the building will be brought back into use.
In my original objection I observed that three parking spaces did not allow safe access to and from the site on a bend in a very busy road. I suggested that reducing the size of the accommodation proposed would solve this problem because fewer parking spaces would be required. I am very pleased to see that the number of parking spaces has been reduced and reserved for residents or visitors with disability permits. However, reducing the car parking spaces does not overcome the problem that led to the need for the original proposal to have three spaces. That problem is that the application is overdevelopment of the site. The application almost doubles the footprint of the main dwelling and the percentage of the site occupied by buildings has more than doubled from 25% to 53%.
I cannot see the need for a very sizeable meeting room separated from the main building. The meeting room would be better placed within the footprint of the main building; this would also avoid any problems with noise, especially at night, from residents travelling to and fro between the meeting room and the main building. Perhaps the sitting room/staff sleep-in area could be reconfigured to put the meeting room on the ground floor and the staff sleep-in on the first floor? Relocation of the meeting room would also preserve the green corridor of back gardens. If that is not possible, then some form of restriction on hours of usage would seem appropriate.
I therefore recommend to the committee that they reject this application. If that is the outcome, then the council, as developer, could engage more with the local community. So far there has been no community involvement other than an informal chat with the residents at number 77. It is better that the council take residents with them when developing its own sites.”
Members were asked in turn for any comments or queries on this application. Specific comments or queries are summarised below.
Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey asked for officer clarification regarding any overlooking and massing as a result of proposals. Adriana Gonzalez, case officer, stated that the neighbouring property had no 1st floor windows except non-habitable rooms, which were high level windows. The sunlight and daylight assessment had determined that there would be no loss of light in the neighbouring dwellings as a result of proposals.
Angus Ross queried whether a bat survey should be required prior to the application being determined, and sought clarification regarding the harvester within the plans. Adriana Gonzalez clarified that the site was not located within a bat survey area, and it was therefore not required to be completed within the validation period. Justin Turvey, Operational Manager – Development Management, clarified that the harvester was likely a rain water collector located underneath the grass.
Angus Ross asked for clarification regarding the parking at the front of the property, which appeared constrained. Angus added whether there would be sufficient provision for deliveries, and queried whether the proposals would be intrusive towards the garden amenity of property number 71. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, stated that there were two existing dropped curbs, which allowed quite a wide area at the front for deliveries. Adriana Gonzalez stated that there would be no adverse impact on number 71 in terms of overshadowing, and there was a separation distance of 2.7m along the side boundary which was policy compliant.
Malcolm Richards queried whether the disabled space at the front of the property could be used by another resident, should no disabled residents be present at the property. Simon Weeks clarified that the space was designated to be used as a disabled space, however as it was not on a highway it was not a legal requirement.
Andrew Mickleburgh queried whether the parking on site was sufficient, being only 1 space, when there were already on-street parking issues. Judy Kelly stated that the property parking was suitable given the demographic in this case. Judy added that there was a bus stop with a good service nearby.
Andrew Mickleburgh asked for clarification regarding the proposed meeting room. Justin Turvey stated that the meeting room was of ancillary usage, and therefore its hours should not be restricted.
Abdul Loyes queried whether there would be any additional trees planted, as the site was located on a green route. Adriana Gonzalez stated that there would be no loss of trees, and further landscaping details were to be submitted via condition.
Pauline Jorgensen sought clarification regarding the rear boundary. Adriana Gonzalez stated that there would be 16.1m of the rear garden remaining, which was policy compliant. Pauline reiterated other Member concerns regarding parking, and stated that she was minded to refuse the application on those grounds.
Carl Doran commented that agenda page 169 noted that extension would be subservient. Carl was of the opinion that this could be seen as a case of overdevelopment. Simon Weeks stated that WBC could rent out the property as a HMO immediately, with 8 occupants and 8 cars with no modernisations to the property. This application gave more control to the management of the site and allowed a staff member on sit to manage the property.
Gary Cowan asked how many car parking spaces would be required for an eight bedroom house. Judy Kelly stated that a maximum of 2.3 spaces, plus an additional 0.2 visitor spaces, would be required for an eight bedroom house. Gary added that he would not support this application until the parking provided was equivalent to that of an equivalent private application. Judy reiterated that parking was policy compliant, given the sustainable location, proximity to town centre car parks and the specific usage of the property.
Stephen Conway commented that the highways officer had made a clear judgement with regards to this application, and Members would need a clear technical reason to oppose the application on these grounds. On balance, Stephen stated that he was minded to approve the application.
Chris Bowring queried whether a change of use and change of parking standards would be required should the property be sold to a private family. Justin Turvey confirmed this to be correct. Chris Bowring added that in his opinion the parking on the Easthampstead Road was sufficient, the proposals were not out of keeping with other houses in the area and the extension could not be seen from the front of the property.
RESOLVED That application number 200863 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 160 to 163, and removal of condition 10 as set out in the Members’ Update.