Agenda item

Planning application - MC/21/3671 Former Trafalgar Centre & Multi Storey Car Park, High Street/Rhode Street/Whittaker Street, Chatham ME4 4AL

River Ward


Outline application with some matters reserved (appearance, landscaping and layout) for a proposed mixed-use development comprising up to 175 residential apartments (1 and 2 bedrooms in 3 buildings), circa 1990 sq ft of creative arts studios, circa 2100sq ft of co-working space/offices (Class E), circa 1800 sq ft of flexible co-working space (Class E) and 152 car parking spaces with associated access, landscaping, cycle storage, dedicated storage for residential units and refuse storage. The development incorporates the demolition of the former Trafalgar Centre (High Street) and partial demolition of the multi-storey car park (Rhode Street), Chatham.




The Head of Planning outlined the application in detail and explained why the application was deferred at the previous meeting.  Members had also attended a presentation regarding the application where some of their questions and points of clarification had been answered.


The application was for outline planning permission for a mixed-use development comprised of up to 175 residential apartments, 1990 sq ft of creative arts studios, 2100 sq ft of co-working offices, 1800 sq ft of flexible co-working space, 152 carparking spaces, landscaping, storage and refuse facilities.  This included demolition of the former Trafalgar Centre and partial demolition of the multi-storey car park.  


The Head of Planning explained to the Committee they would determine only the scale and access of the application at the meeting.  The appearance, internal and external layout and landscaping would be dealt with later for approval under reserved matters and would come back to this Committee.


The Head of Planning informed the Committee that an additional condition was recommended to be added to include a travel plan to promote the use of a car club scheme within the site or linking to a car club being provided within a nearby development.


The scheme had been amended from the original application to reduce the impact of the development.


The Senior Urban Design Officer explained to the Committee how officers produced 3D model comparisons of the indicative plans.  The Planning Team engaged with the applicant and presented the 3D model to them, following which the developers had been willing to amend the scheme in line with the officers’ recommendations.


The Head of Planning and the Senior Urban Design Officer showed strategic, like for like, views of the impact that the first application had on the surrounding area and then the updated views following the amendments which included views of the Great Lines, Rochester Castle and Cathedral.  Historic England were satisfied with the revised plans. 


The Head of Planning stated the Section 106 contributions would go towards improvements to the local area, community infrastructure, enhancing the high street and health improvements. 


The Committee considered the application and noted that it was an outline planning application.  Members would have the opportunity to consider the exact design details for the development once submitted and brought forward in the reserved matters application.


Members recognised that the Trafalgar Centre site needed to be developed but it should be the right application for the area.


Members expressed concern with the lack of affordable housing.  The Head of Planning explained the viability issues that related to development on brownfield sites, particularly when there was demolition and contamination issues to address.  He advised that the application had been accompanied by a viability assessment that had been independently assessed by the Council’s appointed expert.  This meant that the choice was to either provide affordable housing with no community infrastructure contributions or vice versa but the development could not provide both.  Officers had balanced that the need to deliver public realm/health/community infrastructure and open space within the town centre were more important for prospective occupiers than affordable housing in this instance.


Members recognised that the development would result in improvements to green spaces and more tree planting in Chatham, while the application was not just for residents but included creative arts studios and the co-working areas. 


The Head of Planning confirmed that due to the sensitivity of the site and the importance of getting detailing and materials right, that any Reserved Matters application would be reported to the Committee for a decision. 




Approved subject to:


a)    Section 106 agreement to secure the following:


i.         Up to £220,293.25 green space/public realm contribution towards

improvements to the local area including Paddock and Chatham Waterfront.

ii.        Up to £105,896 towards community infrastructure in Chatham Centre including libraries and public realm.

iii.       Up to £114,390.50 towards health improvements in primary care networks in the local area.

iv.       Up to £20,000 towards transport improvements relating to Chatham Centre.

v.        Up to £44,420.25 towards strategic measures in respect of the coastal North Kent Special Protection Areas (SPAs)/Ramsar sites.


Conditions 1 to 36 as set out in the report for the reasons stated in the report with the addition of a Travel Plan condition, with reference to car club.

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