(Councillor Groogan re-joined the meeting again at this point.)
(Councillors Hussey and Murphy re-joined the meeting halfway through
the presentation of the item and so did not participate in the vote.)
The case officer provided the Committee with the principal aspects of the application. She explained the key issues in the assessment of the proposed development.
The Committee was advised that, having regard to the development plan, relevant planning policies and other material considerations, the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the character of the area and, due to the overdevelopment and intensification of the site, it would result in unacceptable visual damage to the appearance of the area.
The case officer explained that officers felt that the proposal would create an undesirable living environment for prospective residents due to unacceptable form, layout, density and inadequate provision of amenity space.
She outlined that the development did not respect the character and topography of the site and, if permitted, would result in the loss of around 21 mature trees which contributed to the amenity of the immediate and wider areas. The Committee noted that, since the report had been published, a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) had been confirmed at the site.
The Committee was also advised that the proposal was zoned within a local landscape policy area and that it would have an unacceptable adverse impact on bats and priority habitats/natural features worthy of protection.
The case officer highlighted that the applicant had failed to submit sufficient information to address concerns in respect of flooding/drainage and roads, access and parking.
The Members were advised that the proposals did not comply with policy in SPPS, PPS2, PPS3, PPS7, the addendum to PPS7, PPS15 and therefore was recommended for refusal.
The case officer drew the Committee’s attention to the Late Items Pack, where thirteen additional pro forma letters of support had been received, which brought the total number of supportive letters to 64. She advised the Members that 332 letters of objection had been received, generally, from the local community, whereas the letters of support had been received from outside the city.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr P. Lee, the architect, to the meeting. He raised a number of concerns, including that:
· there had been a significant delay in certain papers having been uploaded to the Planning Portal, including tree surveys, tree protection plans, design concept report, travel plans and site location data;
· the documents were uploaded 4.5 months after the application had been lodged and 3.5 months after statutory agencies had been consulted;
· planning officers had repeatedly refused to meet with him to discuss his concerns and to review the progress of the application;
· he had only been advised that the proposal was going before committee, with a recommendation of a refusal, on 1st October;
· the case officer’s report had only been available to the applicant over the past few days;
· he firmly believed that most of the issues raised by Planning officers could be addressed through further information and discussion, with possible amendments made if required;
· he advised that a bat report had since been undertaken with no roosting detected;
· the site was on unzoned white land within BUAP and Draft BMAP;
· the density was comparable with the new Northview apartments directly opposite the site, with a density of 52 dwellings/hectare, and the older Mount Royal Apartment scheme to the rear, at 58 dwellings/hectare;
· Policy LC1 of PPS7 did not apply as the site was adjacent to a main transport corridor where policy seeks to increase in densities;
· that a detailed tree survey, tree protection plan and detailed landscaping plan and that he disagreed with the figures provided by the case officer;
· DfI Roads Service had raised no safety issues with access or layout, contrary to the report;
· the existing building was three storeys at the front, not two as stated in the report;
· the proposal was a highly sustainable development in a sustainable location; and
· he was requesting additional time to address the issues.
In response to a Member’s question regarding Mr. Lee’s statement regarding the timeframe and the delay, the case officer explained that there had been technical issues with the uploading of some drawings around the time that the application had been lodged, but that these had been corrected and that an apology had been given to the applicant.
In response to a further Member’s question, as to why the applicants request for a meeting with Planning officers had been refused, the case officer explained that the application was not subject to Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) and that there was such a significant amount of information missing from the application that a meeting would not have addressed the numerous issues. She added that the proposals were ill-conceived and that not enough consideration had been given at the outset to merit the Planning Service engaging further.
The Committee agreed the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application, with delegated authority granted to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the refusal reasons.