Agenda item

OPEN SESSION - QUESTIONS AND VIEWS FROM THE FLOOR

Minutes:

NOTED the following questions and comments from attendees.

 

1.    Residents of Hillside Grove had concerns about the appearance from their rear gardens and the impact of the development on them, particularly on their privacy due to overlooking. From the new development there would be views directly into their kitchens and bedrooms. There would also be loss of daylight and sunlight, and problems of artificial light at night. They urged councillors to make a site visit to 41/47 Hillside Grove see the impact for themselves.

 

Response: The Head of Development Management advised that a member site visit would be arranged as part of the process, and the contact would be Kevin Tohill (Strategic Development Manager).

 

2.    A resident highlighted the reaction of many attendees to the computer generated images and the strong negative feelings. The blocks high on the hill would be very visible. There was not a good record in Enfield of respect for surroundings in previous planning decisions. There was 2 storey artisan housing and school buildings next to this site. The development would be visible from Grovelands Park despite the illustrations shown which included the full tree canopy.

 

3.    An attendee, and patient of the local mental health trust, raised that the mental health of people in the area should be taken into account when assessing this planning proposal. It had caused anxiety and there was emotional impact over what would be a massive change that would alter the face of Southgate forever.

 

4.    On behalf of Southgate District Civic Trust, it was raised that the Government’s national design guide had been launched last year, but these proposals did not meet its requirements. This important application should be considered carefully: it would be the most significant change to Southgate since the extension of the Piccadilly Line. Good design basic principles had not been followed. This design was contentious and did not relate to the site and its wider context. It did not respect the area’s history or culture and would have a negative impact on the locality in its scale, form and appearance. The opportunity for a well-designed building, sensitive to the site, had been ignored. This development could be anywhere in the UK: it did not relate specifically to this site. It would not be valued as tomorrow’s heritage. There would be an environmental impact, and the loss of light had not been resolved. It had not been shown how the shadow was going to fall and the impact on those further down the hill, or the winter sunlight. The local community had been excluded from the design process. The developers were purely interested in the creation of income from the development. The proposal should be refused for poor design. There would be benefits, but these would be limited and not for the local community. He questioned the £820k contribution and how much would be Community Infrastructure Levy and how much Section 106, commenting that CIL was likely to go to supporting Meridian Water and not to the local area.

 

Response:  In respect of overshadowing, privacy and overlooking the distance requirement in policy was 21m and in parts of London was 18m. The applicants had undertaken a full light report: all the work had been done and there was a plan of overshadowing. Daylight and sunlight had been assessed under BRE guidance and national guidelines in relation to reductions and retained daylight values in properties. There were recommended retained values in urban settings and the calculations throughout the area indicated that all properties would be BRE compliant. In Hillside Grove in accordance with the national guidelines of 18%, the daylight reductions would be no more than 17% and would not be noticeable. There would be no additional impact.

 

The view from Grovelands Park had been verified, including in winter. The proposed height had been reduced by 4m and where the top could previously have been seen from the park it now would not. English Heritage had withdrawn its objection on the basis of that work.

 

It was accepted that opinions on design were subjective, but the GLA agreed this was a well-designed scheme, and it was about provision of homes that were needed. It would be a Council decision where any CIL money was used, but the developer would pay the contribution they were asked to make.

 

5.    On behalf of Civic Voice, it was advised they had organised an independently facilitated community view workshop regarding the proposals as there was concern there had not been adequate consultation or discussion given the importance of the site. An independent survey had shown that 45% of local residents had not known about the proposed development beforehand. 100 people attended the workshop. Developers should engage with local communities, but it was felt this had not happened in this case. The overwhelming view was that this would be overdevelopment, and that any proposal should retain Southgate’s village feel and be in proportionate scale, and sensitive to the listed station. A height of 6 to 8 storeys would be more acceptable. Grant of this application would set an unwelcome precedent in the area. The proposal had little architectural merit and would be seen from miles around. The traffic assessment was considered unrealistic: there would be exacerbation of existing traffic congestion problems. Local GP services and schools would not cope with the increased population. The workshop findings had been shared with Enfield Council, and had been included in their 2019 annual review shared with 250 civic societies across England and with the Government Minister.

 

6.    On behalf of Enfield’s Conservation Advisory Group, there was concern this was a developer-led proposal, and that changes to the borough should be set rather by Enfield Council. The Council had not yet concluded its new Local Plan: that document would lead on to defining which areas of the borough were suitable for accommodation of more people and for high rise development. As an attendee at the Enfield design panel, he disputed the appraisal of the proposal was as comfortable as made to appear in the applicant’s presentation.

 

Response:  The developer did undertake public consultation, however it was acknowledged that the right image had not been used on the front of documents. It was not a statutory requirement for the applicants to be at this meeting, but they had come to answer the residents’ questions. They had to take into account the views of a lot of people, including in respect of economics, politics, and statutory consultees. Any proposal in London had to achieve viability and to deliver affordable housing that was required. This was the right sort of area to develop housing: such sites with low parking and close to public transport had to be brought forward. The Underground station must have also looked incongruous in Southgate at the time of its construction. It was acknowledged the general consensus was that the development would be too tall, but it could not be made viable at a lower level and deliver the housing requirements of the London Plan.

 

The local traffic situation would not be exacerbated. The current 140 parking spaces would be reduced to 23, which would be a positive change. There would be a reduction in traffic movements from the site as a result.

 

7.    An attendee raised that the aesthetics and colour of the development were a great concern to residents, and they would like to see a proper coloured model to be able to make an assessment. Previous development, such as The Grange in High Street were cited as unsuitably coloured.

 

8.    Concerns were expressed that once planning permission was obtained, the site would be flipped to a developer for financial gain.

 

9.    A parent asked for more consideration of the children at the local toddler group who could be affected by fumes and traffic from the development.

 

10. A commuter questioned the effect on the viability of the Underground station which was already under pressure and getting busier every year.

 

Response:  The GLA toolkit indicated 417 people would be housed in the development, with 63 children. This would not have a noticeable effect on the Underground. Transport for London did not have objections to the scheme.

 

11. The evidence base for tall buildings was questioned. Other sites in High Street and Chase Road had been identified as inappropriate for higher development so why should this site be appropriate.

 

12. The description as ‘affordable housing’ was seen as deceptive as it would be out of the reach of many local people.

 

13. It was questioned whether other major developments in the area had been taken into account, including at Cat Hill, Cockfosters Station, and East Barnet gas site. All these would affect the traffic, schools, etc.

 

Response:  The impact on local services had been discussed with the Local Authority. Certain schools were more popular than others, but the Council did not have a shortage of school places in the borough.

 

14. The 17 storey tower had been focused on, but the heights of the second and third buildings were also queried.

 

Response:  The three buildings were 8, 13 and 17 storeys.

 

15. An attendee remarked that the Underground station had made the area, but this development would destroy it, and he would like to know what was the developers’ profit.

 

16. It was questioned whether the borough did in fact have a shortfall in housing, as there was an understanding it had a 5 year land supply. It was also questioned why planners felt that Southgate needed a new landmark.

 

Response:  The Head of Development Management confirmed that the Council was required to demonstrate a 5 year land supply, but it was still not meeting targets, and that this was a live issue. He clarified the control able to be exercised by planners and highlighted the policy frameworks and the need for balance, and the challenges faced, particularly the targets for delivery of more housing.

 

17. Though residents’ parking was minimal, it was raised that there would still be deliveries by road to the commercial and residential parts, which should be taken into account by the Highways Team. Traffic queues were a regular problem on Chase Road, and gridlock was likely.

 

18. Further comments were received that the development would be too dominant and too high, and out of character for Southgate, and that a precedent would be set if permission was granted. Also that the proposal was ugly and would be widely visible from the surrounding area.