Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wainstones & South View

Planning committee this afternoon, with huge public interest. Yesterday afternoon several members of the committee had been on a site visit to Wainstones in Leven Road in our neighbouring ward of Yarm. The owners want to demolish the house and build 5 detached houses in the grounds. It became clear on the site visit that, yes - 5 houses will fit, but with such tiny gardens that children will have insufficient space to play and let off steam, that there'd be a temptation to chop down hedges and trees in years to come because they would cast huge shadows over the gardens and that generally it wouldn't be within the character of the area. Reading the inspector's report on the previous failed appeal it was obvious that the developer, and sadly our planning officers, thought the objections had been overcome but actually they hadn't. When the objectors spoke, clearly and concisely, they won over almost the whole committee.
The latest in a series of applications relating to 1 South View in Eaglescliffe was later on the agenda. This site already has 2 permissions granted, both involving demolition - one for a huge 6 bedroomed house and one in outline for 2 houses. Now they wanted to build 7 apartments. The only thing to be said in its favour was that the design wasn't the bog-standard apparently mass-produced design of many applications. It had some character. Sadly it was far too big and involved losing almost all of the amenity space in the garden. We were told by officers that because there wasn't enough amenity space a sum of money would be paid towards improvement of amenity space elsewhere. As I pointed out, this wouldn't help the people living in the flats. The agent had said that the flats weren't designed for families but for upwardly mobile young singles or perhaps mature couples. I couldn't see them walking up Butts Lane to St Margaret's to enjoy a barbecue for Saturday evening, or a pre-dinner drink on a summer Sunday. I'm getting really fed up with applications like this where flats are built which mean people don't have anywhere to enjoy a bit of green space. In a city centre they may be acceptable because it's a different life style. But in a suburb bordering on a village - enough's enough in my opinion.
More importantly, road safety issues are present. Calculations based on the available data and using the software recommended for these things say that the access would be safe. But a resident of the new houses behind the site described how he and his family have been involved in one accident and numerous near misses coming out of their access. This one would be even nearer the junction. I don't know how we convince the powers that be that the software doesn't work in these cases. Part of the problem is that the hedge would need to be removed to give the correct visibility splay and it is still there. What's more, the residents don't want it removed.
No doubt there'll be an appeal or another application for something else, but everyone will remain vigilant.

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