(The Chairperson, Councillor Hussey, having declared an interest in this item, did not participate in the vote on the item and indicated that he would leave the meeting after he had spoken on it.)
(Councillor McKeown in the Chair)
The Principal Planning officer provided the Committee with the details of the retrospective application for an extension to the front of an existing single storey garage.
She explained that the key issues which had been considered by officers included:
· scale, massing and design
· impact on the surrounding character
· impact on the Malone Conservation Area; and
· impact on amenity.
She drew the Committee’s attention to the Late Items pack and clarified that no petition had been received, but that five objections had been received. The objections raised issues including inaccuracies in PHD form, that it was contrary to policy and legislation, the retrospective nature of the application and issues surrounding the building lines. She advised the Members that the issues raised in the objections had been considered in the Case officer’s report.
She advised the Members that, on balance, having taken into account the relevant planning policy legislation, representations received and other material considerations, it was considered that the proposal would integrate well with the existing dwelling and would not detract or harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area in accordance with Policy EXT1 of PPS7 (Addendum): Residential Extensions and Alterations, PPS6 and the SPPS. It was considered that the proposal would preserve the character and appearance of the Malone Conservation Area and was in line with ‘A Design Guide for the Malone Conservation Area’.
The Committee was advised that the Council’s Conservation and Heritage Team had been consulted and had offered no objection to the proposal
In response to a Member’s question regarding a previous application for the house, which had been rejected, the Principal Planning officer drew the Committee’s attention to the site history. She advised the Members that the previous application had been for a much larger extension to the first floor of the property. She emphasised to the Members that a property being within a Conservation Area did not mean that works could not take place, but rather that they had to be sensitive to the surrounding area. She explained that the application was for a 1.8 metre extension to the garage and that it would not impact on the wider Conservation Area.
The Chairperson invited Councillor Hussey to address the Committee.
Councillor Hussey advised the Committee that he felt that the application should be refused on the basis that:
· a larger scale application had previously been submitted by the applicant, including an extension to the garage and the first floor, which had been refused by the Committee and that decision had been upheld by the PAC;
· the applicant had started the construction of the garage extension and had then been contacted by Planning enforcement in respect of the unauthorised works;
· it should be noted that the applicant had then quickly finished the garage extension before submitting the retrospective application seeking permission for it;
· Policy 5.2.32 in the Design Guide in respect of the Malone Conservation Area determined that no side extensions and no front extensions were permitted, and that the applicant was well aware of the rule; and
· the Broomhill area was one of the first developments in Belfast to have integrated garages.
(Councillor Hussey left the meeting at this point in proceedings)
The Deputy Chairperson then welcomed Mr. C. Bryson, who was speaking on behalf of an objector, Mr. B. Johnston. Mr Bryson stated that the Committee should refuse the retrospective application as:
· the applicant would have been well aware of the need to obtain demolition consent and planning permission for the works and it seemed that the applicant had total disregard for, and was hoping to circumvent, the planning process;
· the work progressed even when the applicant had been contacted by officers from the enforcement section;
· the site was within the Malone Conservation Area and thus planning control should be applied more rigorously;
· Planning policy BH12 of PPS6 required that work must conform with the relevant design guidance, not “should broadly conform with”;
· the extension to the garage constituted a 55% increase in length, which brought the front line closer to the street and thereby increased its visibility and prominence;
· Policy 5.2.32 of the Design Guide stated that any extension should be to the rear wall of the existing building and nowhere did it state that extensions to the front were permissible;
· the proposal changed the 3D form of the dwelling and therefore the character and interrelation of spaces in Broomhill;
· in relation to the previous application for the same house, the PAC decision stated that stated that any extension affected a buildings 3D form;
· permitting that type of front extension would set a dangerous precedent for the Malone Conservation Area;
· the extension also breeched the established building line along that section of Broomhill Park, the design guide makes clear that building lines could apply to side boundaries on corner plots and that was the case for Nos 8 and 14, and, when considered alongside Nos 10 and 12, they formed strong building line; and
· the proposal affected the residential amenity of 12 Broomhill Park, with the extension of a long gable wall which further exacerbated the feeling of enclosure, which was contrary to Policy EST1 of the Addendum to PPS7, as it resulted in undue dominance.
(Councillor McCullough left the meeting at this point in proceedings)
A Member asked the Principal Planning officer to clarify why they were recommending an approval, if Section 5 of the Design Guide for the Malone Conservation Area did not permit front extensions. In response, the officer drew the Committee’s attention to Paragraph 9.7 of the Case officer’s report, whereby it stated that “In terms of the original single storey attached garages at an Inter-War Residence, paragraph 5.2.47 [of the Design Guide] states that it would not be appropriate to add another storey but does not state that extending the existing ground floor garage to the front would be inappropriate. Therefore, it is important that the extension is assessed against the key legislative test which is whether the proposal preserves the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.”
A number of Members stated that, while they were disappointed that it was a retrospective application, they did not feel that the extension was out of character for the area. Further Members stated that a site visit might be appropriate.
Moved by Councillor Garrett
Seconded by Councillor Collins,
That the Committee grants approval to the application, subject to the imposing of the conditions set out within the case officer’s report and delegates power to the Director of Planning and Building Control for the final wording of the conditions.
On a vote, eight Members voted for the proposal, two against and two no votes and it was accordingly declared carried.
(The Chairperson, Councillor Hussey, re-joined the meeting at this point)