Opposition to the 1-7 Holly Parade Planning Application 2016/2185
At the Elmbridge Borough Council South Area Planning meeting on the 12th December 2016, the 1-7 Holly Parade planning application (Ref 2016/2185) was approved by 6 votes to 2 with one abstention for forwarding to the Full Planning Committee next month.
Gerry Acher spoke on behalf of Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust to oppose the application. For those who were unable to attend, the details of what was said is shown below:-
Councillors and Officers, good evening and thank you for affording me the opportunity to speak. As Chairman of Cobham Heritage I speak for our 1,100 members who represent approaching 15% of the households in in KT11.
First, I apologise for bombarding you with a long report just before the weekend. We had less than a week to consider the planning officer’s report and felt the conclusions so deeply flawed - and I use these words advisedly and not emotionally - it was just not possible to summarise it.
Of course, we want to see this site developed – the current buildings are an eyesore and the empty shops are damaging our high street but this application is wrong for Cobham. Sadly,in three minutes I can only deal with two of the many issues.
But this application went off the rails at the start. Pre-planning advice covered impact on the character of the area and encouraged the developer to submit the application. The die was cast and in our view the officer’s report tries to justify that advice rather than provide an objective critique.
This development with its size, bulk and contemporary design has been imposed on the community driving a coach and horses through CS1, CS10, CS17, DM2 and the local Design and Character document. This development does not enhance the Public Realm, does not integrate sensitively with the local distinctive landscape does not enhance the local character; it is out of scale, the height excessive and the mass represents over 400% of the current building.
The officer asserts that the fourth floor will not be visible from street level. That is wrong and it will be clearly visible coming from the direction of Riverhill into the High Street and is shown as such in the developer’s own submissions.
How the Officer can conclude in paragraph 34 and I Quote “in terms of its appearance, particularly its scale and design together with siting and layout …the proposed development would integrate into the surrounding area in a sympathetic manner” This is beyond belief. As John Mc Enroe would say “you cannot be serious”
I now turn to air quality. The Council’s environmental health officer challenges the developer’s air quality assessment. No account has been taken of the increase in traffic volumes since the assessment. No assessment has been carried out by the applicant to see how the pollution levels are impacted with height. Indeed, the officer’s report rightly says that far from being lower at higher elevations they could be even higher. It reports that conventional ventilation through windows and balconies fronting on the high street may not be appropriate. But there is no air conditioning. So, what are residents going to do when it is 30C and above? They will go out on to the cooler balconies and roof terrace overlooking the High Street. And what will happen when pollution levels are high? Will oxygen masks drop miraculously from the sky like in an aeroplane when it is about to crash? Why is this important? Because you are encouraging some of the most vulnerable sectors of our society to occupy these dwellings. Policy CS10 may encourage dwellings in Cobham for the elderly but surely not at the expense of their health.
So, in summary, high streets which will survive the internet revolution will be those that are visited for their attractiveness. This development if allowed would set a dangerous precedent for further inappropriate development which would tear the heart out of Cobham as a visitor attraction and render the High Street unsustainable in the decades to come. Cobham Heritage’s QC – Matthew Horton - recites, “to inflict on the local community a design which has provoked so much criticism would be entirely incompatible following the Localism Act of 2011 of allowing the wishes of local people to be given more weight in the decision-making process and over 450 people have written articulate letters of objection – from nearly 7% of the dwellings in KT11. But this apart, in my view and I hasten to add I am not a lawyer, the breaching of your own policies in the Case Officer’s recommendation renders any decision to approve as being unsound. I ask you to think of the people of Cobham; this application is not just about shops. Please reject this application.