Friday 1 January 2016

Planning Committee and officers in tussle over Lycee swimming pool and Red House

The proposed swimming pool building - the bus stop is currently in front of the rectangular proposed entrance
The planning application by Lycee International De Londres Winston Churchill to build a basement swimming pool on the Grade Two listed former Brent Town Hall site is coming up again at Brent Planning Committee on January 13th. LINK

In a surprise move the Planning Committee turned down the application  at its last meeting but must now give reasons for its decision that could withstand appeal to the Planning Committee. Planning Officers stand by their decision and warn:
In making this resolution [minded to refuse permission], Members raised concerns about the development related to reasons highlighted below. No additional material or information has been submitted by the applicant for Officers to comment on. Members are reminded that any appeals are assessed by the Planning Inspectorate and that appeal performance is a planning ‘quality’ indicator. Appeals also involve costs in terms of staff time and legal advice and the appellant’s costs can be awarded if an Inspector considers that a reason for refusal to be unreasonable. The test of unreasonableness is different from not agreeing with the Council’s decision.
The Committee is reminded that both Heritage England and the 20th Century Society were consulted about the plans before officers recommended approval. Officers stand by their original recommendation to grant planning permission but give a formulation to justify refusal if the Committee decides to maintain their position.

The Committee refused planning permission on two counts - one regarding the impact on the view of the building and the other on the impact of repositioning of the bus stop that is currently adjacent to the steps up to the building.

These would be examined by the Planning Inspectorate if the application goes to appeal:

The proposed pool building, by reason of its design, size and siting and, in particular, its location within the principal frontage of the Grade II listed former Brent Town Hall, results in a detrimental impact on the setting of a Grade II listed building, reducing the visibility of the listed building when viewed from the immediate frontage of the property. This is contrary to Policy 7.8 of the London Plan (consolidated with further alterations since 2011) and the National Planning Policy Framework. 

In the absence of specific details of the proposed relocation of the bus stop and shelter, the proposal is likely to result in conditions prejudicial to the free and safe flow of traffic on a distributor road in terms of the proximity of the bus cage to the traffic signals. This is contrary to saved policies TRN3 and TRN4 of the Brent Unitary Development Plan 2004. 
The Planning Committee's less publicised rejection of the much higher value Red House planning application is subject to the same process.  This is the former Wembley Conservative Party Club close to Wembley Stadium station which was sold off  by the Tories and currently occupied by a commercial play facility. LINK

Situated between the station and the London Designer Outlet this is clearly a valuable plot and the Conservatives may be kicking themselves over the original disposal. The plans are for two buildings, one yet another hotel, 13 storeys with 312 beds, restaurant, bar, gym and offices and another of 4 storeys for A1-4 and D2 use. The development would involve realignment of the route between South Way and the Wembley Park Boulevard.

The Officers again maintain their original recommendation to approve the application, warn about the risks attached to it going to the Planning Inspectorate but give possible reasons for refusal:
1) Design,siting, scale and massing in relation to adjoining buildings
The report and supplementary discussed the relationship to existing buildings, the current masterplan and proposed future changes. Officers consider that the siting and scale issues are generally appropriate to development within the wider growth area and recognise the change in the applicant's ownership. However, if Members are minded to refuse on similar grounds then the following is a possible reason for refusal which concentrates on design issues and the corner location:
The proposal provides an unacceptable response in terms of its design, detailing (including materials) and siting to its prominent corner location and to its relationship to the primary pedestrian route from the High Road, including the legibility of the London Designer Outlet centre, and in the context of the wider masterplan and other development proposals. The proposal is accordingly detrimental to the character and appearance of the area, contrary to saved policies BE2, BE3, BE7, BE9, BE10 of the Brent Unitary Development Plan 2004, policy CP5 of the Brent LDF Core Strategy 2010 and Policies WEM1, WEM2, WEM5 of the Wembley Area Action Plan 2015.
(2) Impact on Wembley Park Boulevard in terms of its width during construction and its future alignment to Stadium Station Square
The report explained the reasons for the realignment of the original route of the "boulevard" to link with Stadium Station Square to the south of South Way. Amendments were sought to the layout of the building to respond to this change and, on balance, the principle issue is the legibility of the route and its attractiveness and design for the function intended. If Members are minded to refuse on this ground then the following is a possible reason for refusal;
The proposal, by reason of the reduced width of the interim “boulevard” during construction, fails to demonstrate that the proposal will not result in conditions prejudicial to pedestrian safety during Major Events at Wembley Stadium. This is contrary to saved policy TRN10 of the Brent Unitary Development Plan 2004.
 As often stated here the Planning Committee has statutory independence from the Council and it is interesting to see how that will be maintained, particularly in the new era following the departure of Andy Donald, previously in charge of planning along with regeneration and major projects.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The planning committee will go along with the plan simply to appease the planning officers. They'll then claim that this will deliver (boom boom!)
'Piscine Our Time'