To receive and consider the attached report of the Chief Planning Officer regarding an application for a two storey side extension
The report of the Chief Planning Officer presented an application for a two storey side extension at Albert House, 3 Monk Bridge Road, Meanwood, Leeds.
Members visited the site prior to the meeting and site plans and photographs were displayed and referred to throughout the discussion of the application.
Further issues highlighted in relation to the application included the following:
· The application had been referred to the Panel at the request of a local Ward Councillor due to the contemporary design and its impact on the conservation area. There was also concern about the use of the property as a short term holiday let.
· The property was a large stone built villa in a large landscaped plot.
· The proposed extension was of a contemporary design with stone render and zinc panelling to the front. It would be lower than the existing roof height. The extension would contain a pool, sauna, gym and games room. There would also be two screened balconies.
· The side of the extension would have a rendered finish.
· A previous application had been refused. This had been larger in scale and had a higher roof. Following an appeal the Inspector had agreed that the side garden was suitable for an extension.
· The proposals had been submitted following consultation with design and conservation officers and it was felt that they would not result in harm to the conservation area.
· There were adequate distances to neighbouring properties and there would not be any loss of trees or adverse impact on the highway.
· The applicant had removed the use of the property as a short term let from the Airbnb website. Should there be a future use in this way, the Council did have enforcement powers.
· The application was recommended for approval.
A local resident addressed the Panel with concerns and objections to the application. These included the following:
· It was not felt that the size of neighbouring residents’ (small) gardens had been taken into consideration with the impacts due to overlooking and the new driveway.
· The area was a long established family neighbourhood and any proposals should be of benefit to this. It was not felt that these plans would be.
· The impact of the property being used as a commercial business has changed the character of the area with late night disruption. There were concerns that commercial use of the property was what was intended again in the long-term.
· The property is currently up for sale and there was conflicting information on the proposals for the long term future of the property.
· The proposals do not seem significantly smaller compared to the application that was previously refused.
· Local residents were not adverse to any development taking place at the property, but would be happier to see a smaller development, with a lessened impact on neighbouring properties, and the use of the property as a family home.
· It was not felt that the proposals would enhance the conservation area due to visual and social impacts.
The applicant addressed the Panel. The following was highlighted:
· The property had previously had permission to be converted into 9 apartments, as now reflected in the recently-adopted Site Allocation Plan.
· The applicant had restored the property to a family home, resulting in what had been described as the finest example of a restored Victorian villa still in single occupation in the area.
· A prior application had been rejected and a further application made that had the support of the Far Headingley Village Society. The applicant was advised to withdraw this application which was primarily of a stone finish. This application was then brought following further input from the Council’s design and conservation officers, which had resulted in the more contemporary design approach proposed.
· The applicant understood the concerns of residents and advised that he would have preferred the use of stone and other more traditional materials.
· In response to questions, the applicant reported that both conservation and design officers felt that the proposals were in keeping with the conservation area but that he would be happy to comply if the Panel chose to condition that stone materials were used.
· He also informed the Panel that he would accept a condition or planning obligation preventing the use as an Airbnb.
· The applicant informed the Panel that the property didn’t fit his needs in its current format and would be likely to sell or possibly return to the permission for 9 apartments if the application was not approved.
In response to comments and questions from the Panel, the following was discussed:
· The Panel was advised that to change the materials to stone would likely mean a revised application would have to be submitted and that a unilateral agreement would have to be made to prevent the use as an Airbnb.
· Obscure glazing at the rear was not necessary as the windows did not overlook neighbouring properties.
· The side and rear windows here did not require an outlook to ensure suitable amenity due to the uses that were being proposed for the rooms therein: i.e. swimming pool, sauna, gym etc.
· The proposals were felt to enhance the conservation area as they were sustainable and the architecture was of a high quality. A pastiche style extension could be harmful due to the high quality of the existing building. A number of pastiche-style extensions have previously been completed in surrounding streets and have actually had the effect of detracting from (rather than enhancing) the conservation area.
· Although there were concerns about the white rendered finish, it was noted that buildings to the rear were finished with a white render. Members discussed the possibility of alterations to break up the render finish with the use of other materials/designs.
· It would be very difficult to reproduce the quality of the existing building with a stone extension.
· The reduced footprint was welcomed by Members.
· The principle of development on the site is clearly acceptable, as confirmed in the Site Allocation Plan and decision from the Planning Inspectorate. Members’ focus is therefore on ensuring that a development proceeds which works with the high-quality and historic nature of the existing building. There would be limited planning grounds on which the current application could be refused.
· It was moved that the application be approved with the additional agreement/unilateral agreement to prevent the use as an Airbnb. Further advice on how this could be achieved was outlined.
RESOLVED – That the application be approved in principle and the decision be delegated to the Chief Planning Officer subject to detailed alterations to the side elevation facing properties on Moor Park Villas to reduce the amount of white render and to create interest / ‘warmth’ using the existing pallet of materials (final details to be discussed with the Chair). In addition attachment of a suitable condition or unilateral undertaking to prevent the use of the whole property as an Airbnb establishment.
(Councillor Finnigan left the meeting at the conclusion of this item)