Outcry over bid to add two storeys to block of flats

September 29 2020

The three-storey block in Grange Court Road, where the site owners intend to extend upwards

The three-storey block in Grange Court Road, where the site owners intend to extend upwards

An application to build two extra storeys on top of an existing three storey block of flats in Henleaze has outraged those living there as they weren’t even consulted before the application was submitted.
Flat owner Nigel Sara said: “We’re incensed. To us, the owners, it is a mean trick. We weren't given any notice of it - they didn’t consult us beforehand at all.
“There will be building work all round us which will make our lives a misery.”
A mix of retired folk, single people in their 50s and 60s and families live in the flats on Grange Court Road. They found out about the application on reading the details of a notice posted on a lamppost.
The site owner of Grange Court flats, ERE LLP, is seeking confirmation whether prior approval is required for a proposed development of a two- storey upward extension of the building on Grange Court Road, which will add 14 new three-bed dwellings on to the detached block of 21 two-bed flats, making it by far the highest building in the area.
New planning regulations came into effect at the beginning of August which introduced permitted development rights allowing the construction of new dwellings on existing blocks of flats. This particular development is one of the first proposals to be made under the legislation.
Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze councillors, Geoff Gollop, Liz Radford and Steve Smith are supporting the homeowners in opposing this application and, as well as extending the date for comments, have asked for it to be decided by committee.
In their Council Referral form they state that the prior approval application should be refused on three of the grounds available to the council under the new legislation. These are: the appearance, as this would create a huge, monolithic five-storey block in an area which is predominantly low-rise residential buildings; the impact on highways as there is no provision for additional parking; and the amenity of existing residents, including the noise and disturbance from many additional people coming and going through the same common areas, competition and congestion for parking, fire safety, overcrowding of common areas and the removal of privacy in the homes and gardens of nearby houses.
Nigel and his wife Heddy are in their 70s and moved to the property two years ago. Recovering from a recent heart operation, Nigel believes the news has impacted his health: “I’ve been set back a little. It’s a bit of a bombshell and this is causing so much distress to everyone,” he said.
“We’re concerned about the traffic, the height of the building and our tranquillity being shattered.
“The House of Lords are disputing this law but it may be that the company gets this built before the law is reversed. It gives property developers a licence to print money. It doesn’t seem possible that this was the intention of the legislation.”
Many comments have already been made about the application citing the proximity to Redmaids’ High Junior School and St Ursula’s Academy, claiming that the inevitable, additional parking on Grange Court Road generated by the 14 extra flats would cause congestion and compromise the safety of children travelling to school. Parking issues are frequently mentioned as there is no provision for any new spaces on site - just provision for cycles. There are concerns about the height of the building reducing light in gardens, and the lack of privacy as nearby properties will be overlooked.  One person commented: “Two additional storeys on this property will make it monstrous, an eyesore and not in keeping with the local area.”
Details of the scheme are at planningonline.bristol.gov.uk with the reference 20/03831/ND. The final date for comments is 1 October and a decision will be made on 15 October.