Agenda item

Discussion of Planning Applications and Other Planning Policies

To note the details of how to raise an item for discussion on planning applications and other planning policies. 


To consider any applications put forward for discussion. 


1.            Planning Applications


Members noted the procedure for referring items for discussion at the forum, as attached to the agenda. 


2.            100 Church Street


The forum received a presentation from the applicants on the proposals for 100 Church Street.


2.1       Presentation


The following information was highlighted in the presentation:


·         There were significant pressures on land in Enfield to build more housing and it was important to make sensitive, efficient use of sites that were available. To regenerate the High Street, it was necessary to have more people living nearby. 


·         These proposals had been developed collaboratively, taking account of strategic frameworks and with input from planning and conservation officers. 


·         What was proposed would replace the not particularly attractive 1980’s office building, which had a poor relationship with its surroundings and did not add to the character of the area.


·         The site was situated in the middle of a swathe of green running through the middle of a built-up area, from Town Park, along the New River to Chase Green, within the Gentleman’s Row Conservation Area.  It was close to Enfield Town Centre and next to several landmark buildings, including the two grey stone churches. 


·         In London, between 1870 and 1912, there had been significant developments of mansion block type housing, which reflected the style of contemporary houses of the time, including bay windows and detailing on elevations, taken from domestic architecture. These buildings had used space more economically. They were able to hide their density with the use of interior courtyards, well planted green areas, that flowed into the public realm, clear front doors, integrated balconies, and crumbly massing. 


·         The new proposals for the site included two buildings: one of 5 stories another of 7 stories set-back with a roof garden.  There were to be two main entrances, in Church Street and off the New River Path behind so that the building could be seen in the round facing both ways.


·         Pale grey brick work with a white band around the top had been chosen to blend in with the surroundings and compliment the two stone churches nearby.  Traditional red brick had been considered but it had been felt that this would be too overpowering. 


·         The green areas would be managed by the block to ensure that they would merge with surroundings.  Vehicle access would be through the church car park. 


·         Views from neighbouring areas, including Gentleman’s Row, showed that the building would fit unobtrusively into its setting and would be further masked by existing mature trees, even in winter. 


2.2         Questions/Comments


·         Members were pleased that the buildings were not as high as some others recently proposed in the area. 


·         Concern about the environmental impact of flats with two bathrooms.  Members were assured that the proposals conformed to current regulations to ensure water usage was kept as low as possible. 


·         The building was divided up equally between one and two-bedroom flats.  Thirty five percent of these would be classed as affordable.  This was based on the needs of the area. 


·         Concern about the number of flats in relation to the number of disabled parking spaces.  It was confirmed that 3% of the flats were for disabled people with three parking spaces. 


·         The buildings were to be mainly car free except for the provision of three disabled car parking spaces in the main courtyard. The flats would be  close to Enfield Chase station and so car ownership should not be necessary.  The suggestion was made that the Council should consider creating nearby park and ride facilities or strengthen the controlled parking zones to avoid local streets becoming full of parked cars arising from the development. 


·         Access to waste disposal facilities and deliveries would be at the back of the building through the church carpark.  Delivery vehicles would be able to drive into the courtyard.  It should not affect traffic flow in Church Street. 


·         A consultation process had been undertaken over the last 6 months through online events, interactive forums with information on websites, consultation with local resident and conservation groups, the Council’s design panel and residents living nearby had been contacted.  The formal consultation process had ended on the preceding week. All the responses were still to be considered. Gentleman’s Row Residents Association and Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group had not been consulted on the proposals. 


·         The planning application was likely to be heard at Planning Committee at the end of November or some time in December. 


·         The view that the building was well articulated and blended well with the surroundings, but still had the appearance of a 70’s office block.  The white detailing was not thought to stand out enough. 


·         Most of the original old London mansion blocks had been built in red brick.  Some thought that a red brick building would fit in better matching the nearby former magistrates court building. Others felt that red brick would be too heavy and imposing. The applicants had thought that paler brick would be lighter, more enjoyable and provide good contrast in tone and texture to fit in better with the grey stone of the nearby churches.  This company had won awards for its brick work.  The white top was designed to fade into the sky. 


·         Concern about one of the bay windowed flats, almost touching the boundary of the site, the interior of which would be visible to those walking along the New River Path.  This could result in residents putting up heavily shuttered windows and barred doors which were unattractive.  Having the green areas within the management of the site would mean that the landscape would be protected and should merge with the public realm areas along the river.  The boundary was 5-6 metres from the river. 


·         The request for more designs showing what the rear of the building with the service areas would look like.  The response that the rear of the building would look very similar to the front with the same treatments and materials.  Flats at the back would also have balconies and bay windows.  The buildings were meant to be seen in the round. 


·         The ivy on one of the trees in front of the building needed to be removed to protect the tree. 


·         Preference for the northern block which worked well but concern about the southern block which was felt to be to two stories too tall, too blocky, significantly taller that than the building it replaced and too close to the New River.  This would tower above the nearby bowling green, churches and appear to be very dominant and overpowering particularly from the southern approach to Enfield Town. 


·         The view that the Council should do more to provide information about where taller buildings would be acceptable.  Development in Enfield was too developer led.


·         The need to prevent residents putting up satellite dishes. 


·         The views had been verified with the Council’s conservation officer.  The view from Silver Street had been considered, but the buildings could not be seen from there. 


·         Stepping back the upper layers of the buildings could be considered but there was a need to avoid the design becoming too fussy.  A concern of planning officers.  There could be some flexibility in the design at the top of the building, dropping the parapets and giving the buildings a greener edge.  This would be considered. 


·         The architect agreed to relook at the design of the bay window block closest to the New River. 


Councillor Chibah thanked the applicants’ representatives for their presentation and the members of the forum for their questions. 


The applicants’ representatives left the meeting at this point. 


Councillor Chibah summed up the view of the forum as follows: 


Although there was some support for the proposals, which were felt to be better than many others that had been put forward in Enfield recently and a feeling that it was a reasonably designed scheme, there were some concerns. 


There concerns were: 


·         The lack of parking, the impact this would have on surrounding streets and traffic in the area.  The need to strengthen local controlled parking zones. 

·         The lack of affordable family housing (3 and 4 bedrooms)

·         The lack of consultation with some conservation and residents’ groups.

·         The preference of some for red brick rather than grey.  Although other members were happy with grey.

·         The close proximity of the bay windows, in the rear block, to the boundary of the site and the New River Path. 

·         That the development was too blocky, the southern block too tall which would impact on the views from the south and the entrance to the town.    

·         That the detailing on and articulation of the southern and western faces of the block was inferior to that of the northern block. 

·         The waste disposal proposals and the absence of detailed designs showing the service areas to the rear. 

·         The environmental impact of the two bathrooms. 

·         The proximity to the bowling green. 


The view of the forum, as summed up above, would be submitted for the attention of the planning officers for use when putting together the report on the planning application for consideration at Planning Committee.

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