Latest planning application for Southover Close refused

August 01 2018
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THE LATEST planning application submitted for flats to be built on Southover Close has been refused by Bristol City Council planning officers.

The application was the latest in a series of appeals by the applicant to develop a dwelling on the site of 12 Southover Close in Westbury-on-Trym with one (which planned to demolish the house and replace it with four semi-detached dwellings) turned down by Bristol City Council in December 2016 after much local opposition. Following this, an appeal against refusal was also subsequently dismissed.

More recently, in October 2017 an application for side and rear extensions to the current property (plus a new two-berth garage) was granted, and a Lawful Development Certificate for a four-berth single-storey detached garage was issued in December 2017.

An application for seven flats to built with reference 18/00317/F was then submitted on January 19 this year, and subsequently refused over concerns about an increased number of vehicles using a road which already has parking issues, and the closure of the public footpath which is located close to the site and is regularly used by children walking to and from school. In addition, there were also fears that the new dwellings would be detrimental to the character of the area, and that they would also overlook neighbouring properties.

Following this, the applicant made another appeal and resubmitted the application, which contained plans to reduce the number of flats from seven to six. Following another public consultation, where 48 responses were received in rejection, the latest application was refused by planning officers on June 27. 

Among the reasons for refusal that were mentioned within the decision report, it was stated that: “Specifically, the overly intensive form of development comprising demolition of the existing house and replacement building comprising six flats would fail to reflect the proportions, scale, bulk and massing of existing dwellings which would result in a discordant and incongruous appearance in relation to adjacent houses. 

“In this regard, the proposed development fails to account for local patterns of scale and proportion, contrary to local policy. Furthermore, the development includes unduly dominant and uncharacteristic works to facilitate access and parking including levelling, retaining walls and significant hard surfacing which would be in opposition to the layout and appearance of existing adjacent sites.”

Commenting on the latest outcome, Councillor Geoff Gollop commented: "I always feel that planning applications need to be appropriate to the area and the existing community. Much of our area is made up of residential housing that is traditional family properties. Those families are key to the unique area that is Westbury and Henleaze. If, however you take family houses and convert them to flats, you immediately change the need of the area, with fewer school places and parks, different shopping, parking and social needs. 

“If you demolish those houses and replace them with much larger buildings that are purpose-built flats, you alter the nature of the whole road, building line and street parking. This is the reason why I have supported local residents in opposing these applications and why I asked that any decision to approve should be considered by a planning committee."

Adding to this, Councillor Liz Radford said: “If an appeal is lodged against the decision within six months, all residents who commented on the original planning application should receive notification of the appeal from the council. Any resident has five weeks after the start date of the appeal to make comment on the appeal.  

“If you receive a notification letter from the council, I would recommend you tell your neighbours, particularly if this is during the holiday period, when some letters get less attention and the deadline could get missed.”

Speaking on behalf of the Westbury-on-Trym Society, Chair Hiliary Long said: “All the previous re-development applications for this site have proposed buildings that are over-sized and totally out of keeping with the surrounding domestic architectural styles and proportions. This is an avenue of individual homes that represent the better examples of a distinctive decade of development in Westbury-on-Trym and as such deserves to retain its character. 

“Hopefully, this time, the planners have this in mind and will be willing to accept a more modest proposal for enlargement eventually, or the owner will sell the property on the open market for a marginal profit upon what he paid for it several years ago!"