RECOMMENDATION: That subject to the completion of a S106 legal agreement, the Head of Development Management / Planning Decisions Manager be authorised to Grant conditional planning permission.
WARD: Bush Hill Park
1. The introduction by Claire Williams, Planning Decisions Manager, clarifying the proposals.
2. A scheme of this nature would normally be dealt with under delegated authority however the application is being reported to planning committee because it was called in by Councillor Clare De Silva.
3. The application was considered by the Planning Committee on 22 June 2021. The application was deferred by Members in order to obtain more information regarding the justification for the loss of the tennis courts and how the money from the development will be invested in the facilities by the club. There was also a request for improved visuals to better understand the relationship of the development to the street scene which have been received.
4. The application site is an area of open space that comprises two tennis courts located between 23 and 35 Abbey Road, located within the Bush Hill Park Conservation Area.
5. The proposal would result in the loss of two existing tennis courts currently used by the Bush Hill Park Tennis and Social Club to accommodate the proposed sub-division and development of the application site to provide two buildings consisting of 8 residential units. An access road would provide access to the rear of the site.
6. Members were advised that the existing and proposed plans had been updated to show the existing streetlight column located along Abbey Road which is proposed to remain. The Traffic and Transportation and Street Lighting teams have raised no concerns with the positioning of the streetlight column and the proposed development.
7. The original committee report refers to the supporting information that was provided by the applicant and sets out that 2 of the courts have been sporadically used over the past 5 years, are only able to be used 6 months of the year and require constant maintenance and watering; 5 courts are disused at present, 5 of the courts are proposed to be upgraded and the revenue for the sale of the tennis courts will be used to pay for improvements to the remaining tennis courts. The Lawn Tennis Association raised no objection to the scheme and Sport England recognise that although the loss of the two courts is not ideal, the improvements to the remaining facilities would meet Sport England’s enhance principles to support improvements to existing sport and physical activity provision where they are needed. No adverse noise implications will be generated by the proposed development and this is supported by the Environmental Health Officer. Improvements to the courts on the application site and adjacent to the site are identified within the council’s Enfield Playing Pitch Strategy.
8. Following the June planning committee, an updated written representation from the Bush Hill Park Bowls Tennis and Social Club was circulated to members which included information on membership numbers. It identified that the highest proportion of tennis members were under the age of 11. The document sets out that they work closely with the local community to encourage membership of the Club as a whole, and for tennis they have links with local primary schools and promote Lawn Tennis Association supported tennis courses.
9. The scheme is a form of enabling development to help secure the future operation of the tennis club as it has been explained by the applicant that the club has no other means to generate the required funds.
10. The loss of two disused tennis courts and the sale of the land would generate money for reinvestment and a residential flat to generate an additional income to support the club facilities and upkeep. It will enable the club to obtain sufficient funds to:
· Carry out immediate remedial works to the club
· Modernise existing facilities
· Erect additional facilities for accessible use
· Reinstate the disused courts
· Enable the club to generate continuous additional revenue, through rent obtained from the flat that they will obtain as part of this development.
11. In terms of the impact on the Conservation Area, the properties along the street comprise of established semi-detached two storey pairs of dwellings with a regular pattern and rhythm. The scheme had been amended taking into account the comments received through the consultation process and comments from key consultees including the Conservation Officer and the Urban Design Officer who raise no objection to the scheme subject to conditions. It was acknowledged that both the Bush Hill Park Conservation Study Group and the Bush Hill Park Residents Association have concerns with the proposed development and there is a preference for the development to come forward as houses rather than flats. However, it is not against adopted planning policy for flats to come forward within a Conservation Area and family homes can be in the form of flats as well as houses. The scheme has been sensitively designed and the loss of the tennis courts and the erection of the new buildings would result in less than substantial harm to the Bush Hill Park Conservation Area and any harm is outweighed through the public benefits the scheme will provide in the form of housing and family housing for the borough. Although there are differing opinions on the acceptability of the scheme, on balance the LPA consider the scheme acceptable in terms of heritage impacts.
12. The council falls into the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” category which means the LPA should grant planning permission unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against relevant adopted planning policies. The site has been optimised to provide eight new dwellings for the borough including family homes and would not result in any adverse harm to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, neighbouring residential amenity or highway safety. The scheme will also result in improvements to the facilities of the tennis club which will be a betterment for the local community.
13. Members debate and questions responded to by officers.
14. Officers’ noted the committee’s concerns and comments including that the CGI photo’s demonstrate that this was an overdevelopment, this was a flatted development in a Conservation area which could set a precedent if approved, the original proposal of 4 semi-detached properties was accepted by neighbouring residents, design issues, out of character with properties in the road, on-street parking issues, not benefiting Enfield residents with affordability, loss of 2 tennis courts, difference of opinion within the report with the study group and officers heritage aspect, why the original application was not progressed, why the 3 remaining un-used courts were not being improved and smaller outside amenity space for each flat.
15. A motion to defer the application, by Councillor Taylor, was withdrawn.
16. A motion to refuse the application, by Councillor Rye, was seconded by Councillor Anderson.
17. The support of the majority of the committee to refuse the application with 9 votes for and 2 abstentions.
AGREED that the application be refused for the following reasons, which have since been shared and agreed with the Chair and Opposition lead:
1. The proposed development, due to the loss of sports pitches without clarity on the purpose for which funds would be obtained to support the improvements to all remaining eight pitches on the site would fail to provide a good quality supply of sports and recreational facilities and fail to facilitate health, wellbeing and social cohesion. This would fail to accord with the National Planning Policy Framework (2021), Policy S5 of the London Plan (2021), Policy CP34 of the Core Strategy (2010), Policy DMD74 of the Development Management Document (2014) and the Enfield Playing Pitch Strategy (April 2018 – March 2023).
2. The proposed development, by virtue of its scale and massing through the provision of accommodation over three floors would result in a scale and form of development that is incongruous and detrimental to the character and appearance of the Bush Hill Park Conservation Area. This would be contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (2021), Policies D4 and HC1 of the London Plan (2021), Policy CP30 of the Core Strategy (2010), Policies DMD37 and DMD44 of the Development Management Document (2014) and the Bush Hill Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal (2015).