Recommendation: Conditional approval
Proposal: Full application for the erection of an activity centre, with activity hall, changing facilities, classroom facility, ancillary offices and café, landscaping and parking following demolition of the existing Dinton Activity Centre.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council (WBC)
The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 59 to 106.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· Amended condition 2, to now include the relevant drawing numbers;
· Amended condition 14;
· Replacement of informative 3, and new informative 4;
· Amended condition 19;
· Removal of paragraph 60 of the officer report;
· Correction that the floor space is 622 square meters, however an employment skills plan was still triggered as the site was over 1 hectare and this application was therefore a major application;
· Confirmation that the proposals would create 3 additional permanent jobs, and other more variable seasonal jobs during the summer months.
In line with the given deadlines, one public written submission was received for this item. This submission was circulated to Members in advance, and noted on the evening. The submission as provided can be found below.
The following statement in support of the application was provided on behalf of the applicant:
“The proposals presented here this evening are to replace and expand existing important community uses that are offered on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council. The existing Dinton Activity Centre has seen better days and the proposals presented here are to provide modern, high-quality and sustainable buildings, to allow the Council to continue offering a range of outdoor activities, along with important Council run courses.
The improved facilities, whilst not expanding the day-to-day offering of the centre during the peak season, will allow the centre to operate through a larger portion of the year, providing important facilities to children and adults. This is largely thanks to the proposed new activity hall and improved indoor classroom area that can be opened up to provide additional lecture theatre style space.
The proposals are a result of extensive pre-application discussions with the Council’s officers, presentations to members of the public and careful review of potential impacts that the proposed development may have on the locality. It is considered that the resultant development has been carefully considered and will improve the offer at the site, whilst having no impact on neighbouring properties.
Whilst not a specific requirement of this proposal, due to its scale, a number of sustainable technologies will be utilised in the building to ensure it reduces its energy consumption needs and lowers its CO2 output.
Members, the scheme presented here this evening has been carefully considered, accords with relevant planning policy and provides a valuable and much needed contribution to local community services provided by the Council. As such, the Council’s Officer has recommended approval of the application and I request members support the positive recommendation and approve this application.”
Members were asked in turn for any comments or queries on this application. Specific comments or queries are summarised below.
Simon Weeks commented that the buildings at the existing activity centre were tired in appearance, and this application was an opportunity to improve the existing offering.
Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried what would happen to the existing tenants during the construction phase. Stefan Fludger, case officer, stated that it was up to WBC as to who would use the buildings, however it was conditioned to allow for the retention of the existing buildings during the construction phase to allow existing activities to continue. Rachelle queried whether there were any other sustainable transport routes planned to access the site. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, stated that the proposed travel plan would look at sustainable travel to and from the site, including cycle storage.
Angus Ross sought clarification that the elevated walkway to the Emmbrook had in fact been removed from the scheme. Stefan Fludger confirmed this to be correct, and added that reference to the elevated walkway in paragraph 43 of the officer report was incorrect.
Malcolm Richards queried whether sprinklers would be installed in the training room, as it had an educational function. Justin Turvey, Operational Manager – Development Management, stated that sprinklers were covered under building regulations and were not a material planning consideration.
Andrew Mickleburch queried why the proposal was not aiming for excellent or outstanding on the BREEAM standard for sustainable developments. Justin Turvey stated that there were no requirements for an excellent or outstanding BREEAM rating, and going above the recommended ‘very good’ rating required a policy justification. Justin added that an excellent rating added an additional significant cost to the development.
Pauline Jorgensen queried whether consideration had been given to restricting the regular hire of the hall for events such as music. Stefan Fludger stated that the nearest dwelling was approximately 42 metres away, and the proposal was for an activity centre with other ancillary uses which came with restrictions.
A number of Members sought clarification as to whether photovoltaic panels would be present on the proposed building. Stefan Fludger confirmed this to be correct.
RESOLVED That application number 200378 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 60 to 68, amended conditions 2, 4 and 19 as set out in the Members’ Update, replacement of informative 3 and addition of informative 4 as set out in the Members’ Update.