Committee Report NSC



North Somerset Council


REPORT TO THE Planning AND Regulatory Committee


Date of Meeting: 30 January 2013


Subject of Report: Planning application ref no 12/P/1053/F Sub division of existing properties and alterations to the roofs to form 19no self-contained flats comprising 13no 2 bed and 6no 1 bed units. Erection of 4 no additional new dwellings to rear comprising 2no 2 bed and 2no 3 bed dwellings AT 85 - 91 Bristol Road Lower, Weston-super-Mare


Town or parish: Weston-super-Mare


Officer/Member presenting: head of development management


Key Decision: No





The application is APPROVED subject to the completion of a S106 Agreement to require:


a)                 the provision of an acceptable level of S106 contributions from a 100% affordable housing scheme, subject to site viability;

b)                 the provision of an acceptable level of S106 contributions from a mixed open market and affordable housing scheme.


And the planning conditions set out in the South Area Committee report dated

20 September 2012 (See Appendix 1) and with the following additional condition:



Prior to the commencement of the development hereby approved written details of a scheme to mitigate the impact of the proposed development on protected species and which shall accord with the principles of the “Bat Mitigation Strategy version 2, by Michael Woods Associates dated September 2012”  shall be submitted to and agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  The approved scheme shall be fully implemented unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.



Reason: To protect Biodiversity and protected species in accordance with Policy ECH/11 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and CS4 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.



1.                Summary of Report


This application proposes a high quality affordable housing development which would retain the two existing large Victorian villas on site in a beneficial use and thus help preserve the character of the area. Officers initially recommended this application for approval at the South Area Committee on 20 September subject to the provision of a revised site layout plan which should propose acceptable on site parking provision and an acceptable and satisfactory outcome to the required bat surveys.


Prior to the South Area committee the applicants submitted a revised layout plan (rev E) which provided the 28 parking spaces required to meet the Council’s minimum adopted standards and made improvements to the garden space design and layout. The Transportation Officers objections were withdrawn on this basis. Additional bat surveys were undertaken and submitted which found some evidence of a small number of bats roosting on site. Therefore the three tests under the Habitat Regulations (European Protected Species) were applied. It was concluded that with the suitable mitigation which includes the provision of accommodation for bats in the roof spaces of the villas, the proposed development is acceptable. The requirement remains that a licence is required from Natural England to undertake the development.


The application was reported to the Planning and Regulatory Committee on 31 October with a recommendation of approval. It was deferred for a member site inspection and for negotiations with the applicant to seek amendments to address issues raised by the South Area Committee regarding the density of the development, lack of integration with the surrounding neighbourhood and the failure to meet the newly emerging parking standards.


The site inspection took place on 12 November. Since then discussions have taken place with the agent to assess different options for the site and a meeting with ward members and officers also occurred. The resulting scheme now under consideration has not changed the number flats proposed in the two villas. It has redesigned the layout and reduced the numbers of new houses to the rear from 6 to 4. The number of off street parking spaces accommodated within the site has increased from 28 to 37. Neighbours and local members have been reconsulted on the revised plans and given 14 days to comment. Any comments received after the print deadline will be reported via the committee update sheet.  


2.                Policy


Refer to the South Area Committee Report in Appendix 1.


3.                Details


The full details of the application are set out in Appendix 1.


This application would provide a much needed affordable housing development and would retain the two large Victorian villas in a beneficial use. Retaining the villas preserves the visual character of the street scene. The front stone boundary wall would be retained and the missing gate piers reinstated. The design and detailing of the conversion is good quality. The property was formerly and most recently used for commercial purposes as a residential care home with ancillary teaching facilities. A very large two storey rear extension has been removed from the easternmost villa. The application proposes sufficient on site car parking spaces to comply with the Council’s new standards and far exceed the adopted standards.


The South Area Committee resolved that an earlier scheme with less parking and two more units at the rear be refused for the following reasons:


1.    The proposal represents an inappropriate form of development which, by reason of its design and density would detract from the established spacious character of the neighbourhood, contrary to policy GDP/3 of the adopted North Somerset Local Plan and policy CS12 of the adopted North Somerset Core Strategy.


2.    The proposal, by creating a substantial community within the plots of two former dwellings would fail to integrate the development within the surrounding neighbourhood, contrary to policy CS15 of the adopted North Somerset Core Strategy.


3.    The proposed scheme fails to provide adequate off-street parking in accordance with the policy and standards of provision adopted on by the Council on 21 November 2011 as the emerging standard for the adopted Core Strategy.


The South Area Committee also requested that the Planning and Regulatory Committee be invited to consider an extension to the Conservation Area as a matter of urgency, to incorporate this part of Lower Bristol Road. This is being followed up and additional resources are being sought to assist with this.


Since the previous Planning and Regulatory Committee the main revision to the plans has been to remove two houses from the rear and therefore reduce the number of houses at the rear to four. The external materials have also been revised to include additional use of reconstituted stone and make the houses more in character with the existing villas. The revisions have created more space around the villas which has been utilised to provide additional off street car parking and additional garden space for the villas occupants. The development remains a relatively high density at approximately 63 units per hectare. The surrounding area varies between 54 and 22 units per hectare. Policy CS14 of the Core Strategy states that residential density will be determined primarily by local character and good quality design. The target net density across North Somerset is 40 dwellings per hectare although this may be higher at highly accessible locations and less in sensitive areas or where lower density development is positively encouraged. Policy CS 12 sets out the Council’s commitment to achieving high quality buildings and place and states that proposals of all scales will be required to demonstrate sensitivity to the existing local character and take opportunities to enhance the sense of place and local identity in a well thought out design.


The proposed development resembles the footprint of existing developments in the area closely. The majority of the Victorian villas fronting Bristol Road Lower have had later residential developments in their large rear gardens and the layout of two pairs of semi-detached houses retains this appearance. The figure of 40 houses per hectare is a net figure for the whole of North Somerset. It is not an overarching limit set on the density of all new developments. This development exceeds that figure but it is considered that due to the major benefit to the character of the area from the retention and useful reuse of the villas; the high quality of the proposed design; the provision of essential and much needed affordable housing and the close proximity of bus services the development complies with policy requirements. It is also considered that the development will not cause any unacceptable harm to the living conditions of neighbours. Windows are more than the minimum requirements to prevent overlooking and the new buildings and roof alterations are sufficiently far from existing properties not to result in overshadowing or loss of direct sunlight. Impacts on trees within the site will be addressed through the landscaping scheme.


The revised plans have enlarged and improved the design of the garden space to the rear of units 1 – 10 (the eastern villa). The garden is now separated from adjacent neighbours at the east by the relocated clothes drying area.  


The third refusal reason has been addressed by increasing the numbers of car parking spaces to 37. This is 9 spaces more than are required under the adopted standards. The amount of spaces required for full compliance with the Council’s new standards is 38. However the Council’s new parking standards do not form part of the adopted local plan. They are a basis for officers to seek to negotiate improved off street parking facilities and are a material consideration. They do not carry as much weight as the adopted standards set out in the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan. The parking provision is therefore considered acceptable.


4.                Consultation


Details of consultation responses are set out in Appendix 1.


Following neighbour notifications on the revised plans two additional letters have been received at the time of writing the report. One supports the reuse of the villas, objects to the removal of the trees which has already taken place and any increase in the height of the villas. Another objects to the impact of the development on the basis of it being high density, impacting on a quiet neighbourhood; being an over intensive use of the site; changing and damaging the character of the neighbourhood and containing an excessive number of affordable housing units.


These issues are addressed in the ’Details’ section of this report.


5.                Financial Implications


The Council is at risk of an award of costs against it if it cannot justify its decision on the basis of development plan policy or other material considerations. Members are advised that although the Executive Members Decision updating parking standards and parking space requirements are a material consideration, they are not adopted local plan policy and therefore do not have the same material weight as the policies in the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and Core Strategy. 



6.                Equality Implications


Equality issues are taken into account in all planning decisions.


7.                Corporate Implications


As set out in the Committee report.


8.                Options considered


Planning applications can either be approved or refused.




Sally Evans, Principal Planning Officer – Development and Environment


Background Papers

Appendix 1: South Area Committee report 20 September 2012 and update sheet

Planning and Regulatory Committee Report 31 October 2012 and update sheet.