Councillor accuses developer of trying to get 'square peg in round hole' as Fenland planners reject homes plan for second time - but appeal is on the way
PUBLISHED: 13:04 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:01 29 April 2019
A derelict asbestos ridden bungalow once lived in by an elderly widow is centre stage in the battle for homes in part of March.
James Development Ltd say it is riddled with asbestos and both the property and the garden is in a “significant state of repair” and want to replace it with a block of one-bed flats.
Fenland District Council Planning Committee has, for the second time, refused permission although James Development, an Essex based company, has already lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on their earlier application.
The site is at 20 Deerfield, March where James Development wants to build four two-storey, one-bedroom flats which will require the demolition of the existing property and outbuildings.
The application was originally refused in March 2018 on the basis that it was not in line with the current street scene and there were no amenities for bin storage or bin collection of any kind provided for, that the dwellings would be very small and in the wrong location with additional concerns over access and parking.
Planning officer Alison Hoffman said: “The site has a single vacant house with outbuildings currently on it. The new build would provide four one-bed dwellings over two storeys in a single building block, with single parking spaces provided at the rear for each of the four dwellings.
“However, none of the issues that led to refusal over a year ago have been addressed or changed, and so it is our recommendation that the committee refuse this application again.”
Agent for the developers Robert Wickham, said: “This is a derelict site ridden with asbestos that would be demolished, cleaned up and four low-cost, two-storey apartments built in its place.
“These homes, while not quite falling into the 'affordable' category, are low-cost for first-time buyers to consider, and very attractive to the current market.
“There are similar homes to that being proposed nearby, so we are very disappointed that the council has chosen in its report to criticize the detrimental impact on light to the neighbours when the exact same 4m gap appears several times in similar properties in the street.
“Additionally, the privacy issues concerning the windows confused us because several similar properties in adjoining streets have the same windows – they are not 'small office' windows, but designed to restrict overlooking of other property.
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“Perhaps the most disappointing matter was the concerns over the parking spaces provided to the rear of the proposed build, when this is what we were advised to do by your officers.
“We do not believe that the building is 'too small' or that it is 'out of character' with the other houses in this street or surrounding streets all of which have various, varied designs.
“The developers believe that all of these issues could be ironed out through discussion so that four much needed apartments with market appeal could be built in an area which desperately needs them.”
But Cllr Anne Hay (Conservative, The Mills Ward Chatteris) said: “This proposal is a square peg in round hole as far as I am concerned.
“It would be far better to have two houses on this site instead of the four tiny apartments which are being proposed.
“Disappointingly, the developers chose not to consult with either council planners or locals as to what was required for this area, and so it is hardly surprising that nothing has changed in respect of their application from that which was refused in March 2018.
“I cannot see how you believe Mr Wickham that you have provided your potential buyers with a 'better street scene' as you put it in your application, when they would have to sit in their front gardens just meters from a main road.
“There were no amenity provisions for either a bin storage area or collection place, and the revised application which we received very late only addresses this as an afterthought; while the parking spaces at the rear of the building are simply too small and inappropriately positioned.”
Cllr Sarah Bligh (LibDem, Wisbech St Mary & Parson Drove Wards) said: “This proposal is simply too intense for four tiny apartments, the little garden area, bin storage and collection area and small parking spaces to all fit in to the same small site.
“I cannot imagine anything worse than wanting to sit in my garden and having to look out onto a bin storage area, just a few meters away from a main road.”
This application was unanimously refused.