NOTED the following statements and questions from Southgate Ward Councillors.
1. Councillor Derek Levy advised that he had been gathering representations made by constituents in respect of this application, and listening to their views. He emphasized that Southgate residents should benefit from any planning gain if planning permission was granted: as much CIL money as possible should be redeployed in Southgate ward.
2. Councillor Stephanos Ioannou advised that he had attended the public consultation but had considered it not a true representation of the proposal. The affordable housing issue was not a relevant argument to be made by the developers. The office village commercial estate was an asset to the area and offices were an important part of the locality. He understood the environmental targets and wish to reduce car parking spaces, but future residents could have cars and would park elsewhere. He understood there had been Fire Brigade objections originally. There were potential safeguarding issues around overlooking the school playground. The developers should show compassion for the character of Southgate.
3. Councillor Charith Gunawardena highlighted the median income of local households and that the deposits for this housing would be out of reach for most. There would be no homes available at social rents. There would be an influx of people from outside who would not contribute to the local economy. He questioned how many people locally would really benefit from this development.
It would be ensured that the proportion of affordable housing was met and that developer contributions went towards local needs. These issues would be covered within the officers’ report to the Planning Committee.
Objections to the application were currently being collated and would be set out in the report. They were not visible on the online portal due to GDPR restrictions on data in the public domain.
Current rules allowed change from office to residential use under permitted development, by-passing Local Authority controls.
In respect of overlooking and safeguarding, there were many examples of schools in urban areas which were part of mixed development. There was no protected space as such, but the aim was to achieve a good balance.
There had been a full viability assessment, and the developer had to prove they were offering the maximum amount of affordable housing. A viable maximum had been offered at the beginning, and more affordable housing now being offered showed them at a loss.
There was a need for employment and there were also offices in this scheme. A scheme under permitted development to change the existing building to residential would result in a loss of all offices on site.
The viewpoint of the current office occupiers was being taken into consideration. A community was being built up to enable alternative office accommodation to be offered until they could move back into the new development if they wished to do so. If a permitted development scheme went ahead instead the alternative office offer would be lost.
The aim was to try to offer housing and jobs and to support the town centre. More details were available to read online.