Luton and Wayfield
An extension to provide two additional one bedroom living units for this residential complex; alterations and a covered walkway to the existing undercroft garaging (to be converted to rooms), new steps up to Magpie Hall Road and new boundary fencing and railings, relocation of public footpath and associated works.
The Planning Manager outlined the planning application and reminded the Committee that consideration of this application had been deferred on 31 March 2021 to allow for a meeting to take place involving the Ward Councillor, a member of the Planning Committee, the case officer and the applicant. This meeting had taken place on 10 May 2021 where the concerns of the Planning Committee had been discussed along with the comments made by Kent Fire and Rescue and Kent Police.
The Committee was reminded that use of the site for housing young adults would be a lawful use for which a lawful development certificate had been granted. The current planning application proposed two further units of accommodation and it was only the provision of the two additional units and associated works that was the issue for consideration by the Committee and not the use of the wider site.
It was confirmed that Kent Fire and Rescue would be granted fob access to the car park which would allow access to the existing properties and the proposed properties.
Whilst the application did not meet all of the requirements requested by Kent Police, proposed conditions would require the installation of approved lighting and use of railings as boundary treatment at the application site to ensure natural surveillance for the majority of the alleyway. The Planning Manager advised that Kent Police had been reconsulted upon this amendment to the scheme but the Police had advised that it was unable to find any updated/amended drawings and therefore maintained its objection.
With the agreement of the Committee, Councillor Howcroft-Scott addressed the Committee as Ward Councillor and set out the following concerns:
· Russell House is located in an area that suffers from high crime rates and levels of anti-social behaviour and whilst the concept of a foyer for young people is supported, it is not considered that this is a suitable environment in which to house vulnerable young people.
· The applicants have done very little to address issues of anti-social behaviour in the past.
· The concerns of Kent Police have not been fully addressed.
· The application has generated much opposition from local residents including 60 individual letters of objection and a petition.
The Committee discussed the application and the concerns expressed by the Ward Councillor. During the debate, concern was expressed that the Community Safety Partnership did not support the provision of this facility at this location. In addition, it was reported that the area in which Russell House was located had been the identified as the priority area for targeted work by the Medway Taskforce based on the crime and anti-social behaviour statistics and levels of identified deprivation. For these reasons, there was concern as to the applicant’s proposals to house vulnerable young people at this location.
The Head of Planning reminded the Committee of the basis of the planning application placed before the Committee for determination and stressed that the current application did not include the specified use of the building as the applicants already had permission to use the building for the purpose intended. He confirmed that such approval did not include any age restrictions on the occupiers of the units.
The Committee expressed concern that Kent Police had not withdrawn its objection, claiming that it had not been able to find the amended plans, but in response, the Head of Planning advised that having reviewed the Police objections and the revised plans, officers were satisfied that their concerns had been addressed. The Planning Manager also advised that the case officer had sent several follow up emails to the Police seeking a response, but the Police had refused to supply any comments.
a) Approved with conditions 1 – 15 as set out in the report for the reasons stated in the report.
b) The applicant be advised of the concerns expressed during the debate on this application.