Agenda and minutes

Planning Panel - Thursday, 26th February, 2009 7.30 pm

Venue: The Gladys Child Theatre, Southgate College, High Street, London, N14 6BS

Contact: Jane Creer 020 8379 4093 email:  jane.creer@enfield.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1112.

OPENING

(i)            Purpose of the meeting

 

(ii)            Introduction of Applicant’s representatives and Officers of the Council

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed all attendees to the Planning Panel meeting. He explained that the purpose of this meeting was a fact-finding exercise for the Planning Committee, seven representatives of which were here tonight. The Panel Members, the applicant and agents, and the officers from the Council’s Planning Department introduced themselves.

1113.

OFFICER'S SUMMARY OF THE PLANNING ISSUES

Minutes:

Julian Jackson, Head of Development Control, clarified that the purpose of a Planning Panel meeting was not to determine the application. A decision on the application would be made by the full Planning Committee at a later date. This Planning Panel would give local residents and interested parties the opportunity to raise questions directly with the applicant and agents. Planning Panel meetings were held in relation to complex major planning applications in the borough, and the Council welcomed attendees’ feedback on the process and appreciated it if people could take the time to fill in a short evaluation form and hand it to officers at the end of the meeting.

1114.

PRESENTATION BY THE APPLICANT / AGENT

Minutes:

3.1  David Byrne, Southgate College Principal, advised that the current accommodation was holding back the college. The buildings were inefficient for a modern learning environment, not just for 16-19 year-olds but also for older students and evening class participants. The college also needed to be able to compete. Plans had been drawn up with a design team and he believed they had proposed a scheme that worked.

 

3.2  Further details were provided by Stephen Blowers, the main design architect, illustrated by projected plans and drawings, including:

  It would be important to build the new campus while keeping the old campus running, so it would be done in phases, with a restricted amount of demolition at the beginning.

  The college was looking to take ownership of the land occupied currently by the public library. During construction, the library facilities could be moved temporarily. A replacement public library was included in the scheme, but if the Council found alternative accommodation for a library in Southgate, that element would be removed.

  The college wanted a greater presence in the High Street and ability for the public to enter and to access the hair and beauty salons and the restaurant.

  Phase 1 would be a building next to the Post Office with a public library on the ground floor. This would be completed before the construction of the rest of the college.

  The main tall block in the college would be retained but clad with more modern materials and made more sustainable.

  Public consultation had taken place in December 2008 and concerns raised had been picked up and changes made to the scheme. The block nearest the High Street cottages had been reduced in height and the building line had been moved so as to be in line with the cottages.

  English Heritage had also made similar comments and the mass and height of the buildings close to the cottages had been amended to soften the college appearance at that location.

  Access was a key issue. The aim was to facilitate a dispersal strategy to remove the pressure at the junctions. Advice from highway consultants was that there was plenty of capacity, but the applicant wanted a solution that would work for everybody so a number of options were being looked at.

  The majority of staff arrived at the college between 7.00 to 9.00 am and they could be permitted to enter via Ashfield Parade during those hours.

  Three options relating to access would be included in the application put to the Planning Committee to allow them to decide which was best.

  Green space within the college was proposed to be increased from 1900 m² to 1975 m² plus an 800 m² public square and there would be greenery from the High Street to the front doors.

 

3.3  In summary, David Byrne reported that the present college buildings were very costly to maintain and needed to be more sustainable and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1114.

1115.

QUESTIONS BY PANEL MEMBERS

Minutes:

4.1  Councillor Pipe asked about the relationship between the proposed development and the houses and listed buildings in High Street,  and how it would be ensured that visual intrusion would be kept to a minimum.

 

Stephen Blowers advised that the library block would be brought back to the building line of the cottages, and at 2 storeys would not be much higher than the cottages. Also, once the trees were mature they would add to the frontage.

 

4.2  Councillor Constantinides asked about the adequacy of solutions to manage traffic movements and about sufficient car parking for staff.

 

Tim Smith confirmed that the college currently provided 272 car parking spaces and it was proposed to reduce the number of spaces, which would reduce the total traffic generated by the site. The college was preparing a travel plan to make itself more sustainable and that would also reduce the numbers travelling by car. The college redevelopment would not generate more traffic but the cars would be dispersed through more entrances.

 

4.3  Councillor Hall asked about timescales for the construction and what reassurance could be given to local residents about resulting disruption.

 

Mary Power clarified that the scheme would be done in phases and would be fully complete in 2013. During the construction, the college must stay open and teach normally. It was unavoidable there would be some impact, but the Council would impose strict conditions to limit hours when construction work would be allowed, and agree a construction methodology plan. The college wanted to maintain a good working relationship with the local community and would ensure there were contact points for people to raise any concerns directly with them.

1116.

QUESTIONS BY WARD COUNCILLORS AND MPs

Minutes:

5.1  Councillor E Smith commented on the local consensus that Southgate College had not always been considered a good neighbour in the past and asked if this development would improve the behaviour or calibre of students likely to come to the college in the future.

 

David Byrne responded that a great deal of good work went on in the college, and particularly since he had become the new Principal he and his management team had made efforts to meet individuals with concerns and would continue to do so. He believed that Southgate College students had not always felt welcomed in the local area, and that there was little for students within the college at the moment. This development would raise standards of accommodation and by improving the internal environment students would be kept engaged throughout the day. Entry requirements would be on a par with other beacon colleges. Students causing anti-social behaviour were dealt with, and in some cases expelled. He also wanted to work with other authorities, including Ashmole School and the local police, to agree a Southgate plan.

 

5.2  Councillor R Hayward read a statement from David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, who sent his apologies for late arrival at the meeting. The MP had been contacted by a number of constituents about the application. He did support the principle of redevelopment; however there was a need to be sensitive to nearby properties. New buildings should be appropriate in size, and in keeping with the character of Southgate. He was pleased that revisions had been made to the plans in recognition of many of the concerns raised.

 

5.3  Councillor R Hayward commented that he hoped that the Planning Committee would take the decision that Blagdens Lane should not be used as an access to the college. He also wished to raise concerns that the car parking provision would be inadequate, that students would be coming in from outside Enfield, that students gathered to smoke in Blagdens Lane and the surrounding area, disappointment that a public library was proposed within the college rather than in Chase Side, and worries that it would take a long time for the site to look good and mature trees should be put in at the beginning.

 

David Byrne stated that since his arrival in January, residents would have seen a dedicated officer patrolling and a decrease in numbers of students loitering in the area. Littering was not purely linked to Southgate College students and he wanted to meet with local businesses etc to come up with wider litter plans. He would also be happy to meet with anyone concerned about anti-social behaviour, and he had forums ongoing with residents. Car parking provision was being deliberately reduced and he was looking at charging policies and introducing a cycling policy. He explained that the funding methodology was capping student recruitment and there would be only moderate increases in student numbers; no more than a 2% increase year on year. He would pass the comments regarding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1116.

1117.

OPEN SESSION - QUESTIONS AND VIEWS FROM THE FLOOR

Minutes:

6.1  The Chairman invited attendees to put forward their comments and questions, but these should please be kept to planning issues. Andy Higham explained that issues material to the consideration of the planning application included: intensification of use, impact on the amenities of neighbouring homes and setting of listed buildings, access and traffic issues, etc.

 

The comments and questions and responses received are grouped into themes below.

 

6.2  Size and Scale and Appearance of the Development

 

a.  A number of residents supported the principle of redevelopment of the college, but questioned the scale and height of buildings, particularly the proposed 4 and 6-storey blocks. It was also understood that English Heritage had concerns about the looming nature of the development.

 

b.  Mary Power confirmed that the front block would not be as high as first proposed, as a compromise on the High Street. The rear building behind the listed cottages was no nearer to them than present buildings. The proposals were considered the most appropriate and efficient use of the site. If an alternative location was found for the public library there may be an opportunity to look at reducing the scale of the buildings to the rear of the site.

 

c.  A resident of Burleigh Gardens and member of the Southgate Community Anchor Group raised concerns about the aesthetics and looming scale of the proposed development. He wished the buildings could be more attractive to look at, and more cutting edge architecturally.

 

d.  Stephen Blowers responded that this was an outline application only at this stage, regarding general layout and massing, and the team were still developing the architecture detail, materials, etc.

 

e.  A resident of a listed building next to Southgate College felt that the proposed development would have a massive effect. The front 2-storey building would also have plant machinery on the roof and would be quite imposing and close, while the rear buildings would be increased in mass and height so that his cottage would feel surrounded. This was not the right form of redevelopment and the design should be more sympathetic to Southgate.

 

f.  A resident highlighted that the college was close to two Conservation Areas and to a number of listed buildings. She felt the proposed buildings would be overbearing and would overlook private gardens and houses, and would not be in keeping with the area. She also had concerns about how the front part would be kept secure at night and possibilities that young people could gather there after dark and make the area feel unsafe for people coming back from the Tube station in the evening.

 

g.  Mary Power reiterated that new buildings would be no closer to residents than currently, though they would be higher. The existing 6-storey building would remain and it was considered that proposed developments would have no greater impact.

 

h.  David Byrne welcomed the open space provision in front of the college and wanted to work with the local community to make the best use of it.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1117.

1118.

CLOSE OF MEETING

Minutes:

7.1     The Chairman reminded attendees that the consultation period for this application ran until 6/3/09 and comments should be sent to the Council Planning Department, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, EN1 3XE or email address: Development.control@enfield.gov.uk.

 

7.2  Andy Higham confirmed that all who wrote in would be notified of the Planning Committee date and any consultation on revised access proposals.

 

7.3  The Chairman thanked David Byrne for his offer to meet with anyone concerned about behaviour of students on or off campus.

 

7.4  The Chairman thanked everyone for their comments and questions: these would be fed back into the system. It was likely that the application would be determined at the Planning Committee meeting scheduled for 30/4/09, 7.30 pm at Enfield Civic Centre.