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Development Control - TrustNews Sept 2004

The first scheme for the Royal Observer Corps HQ, Abbotts Road, has been refused, while the developments at Osborne School, Andover Road, and behind 3-9 Park Road have been granted.

The panels had a busy time at the beginning of August, with no less than four major developments appearing on the same list! One was a revised scheme for 22 units at the ROC HQ, Abbotts Road, with a layout respecting the Listed Building's diagonal siting (an improvement) and a quasi-Georgian style for the new buildings, to which we objected, feeling it was inappropriate for the area. Another was a new scheme for Enniskerry, Sleepers Hill, which has been sold on with planning permission to build 14 units, and although there are now only to be 12 units, with four storeys instead of three the buildings seemed more massive and bulkier, so we objected to this scheme, feeling the one with permission was preferable. At St Cross Lodge, St Cross Road we opposed a plan to build a block of 14 flats, which had pretentious detailing and a somewhat institutional flavour. (Stop press: proposal refused) The fourth scheme was on chilbolton avenue, where it is proposed Nos 41 & 43 should be replaced by a mixed development of 15 units. Architecturally this seemed alright, but with all the other proposals that are currently under consideration for the road, we did wonder how the area was going to be able to cope with yet another 43 possible residents.

It might be worth taking stock of what is going on along this beleaguered road. At present there are only two sites on the townside of the road that are likely to be developed: at 46 Chilbolton Avenue the scheme to demolish two 1960-70s houses for a ponderous block of 14 flats has just been refused but it seems certain that Banner Homes will eventually get permission for something there, and the same is true of the land behind 8-22 Chilbolton Avenue, where Linden Homes has a second scheme for 50 units going through the planning system while they go to appeal on their first one for 54 units. On the other side of the road two schemes include the conversion of the existing dwellings: for 8 units at 11 Chilbolton Avenue, now virtually completed, and for 12 units at 15 Chilbolton Avenue, where the application has just been refused.

All the rest involve the demolition of the existing house, of whatever character or period. The first was 19 Chilbolton Avenue, which was replaced by four houses - granted in 1998, before the demands of PPG3 so we are lucky it was not worse. Colten Developments want to build 13 units instead of 55 Chilbolton Avenue (on which they are going to appeal, having been refused permission), and another 14 unit in place of Pipers Field, 67 Chilboiton Avenue, a scheme that has been withdrawn - although no doubt only pro tem.

The latest proposal is to demolish Lang House, 27 Chilbolton Avenue, to make way for a contemporary development of 13 units. The existing house is a typical example of the original flavour of the road, an Arts & Crafts style house set, in common with some other houses on this side of the road, slightly at a slant with the road boundary, which is something that helps to give the road its informal feeling. The somewhat institutional block proposed to replace it would straighten the frontage, which the Trust feels would be detrimental to the character of the neighbourhood, although a courtyard development behind would be acceptable. We are objecting to this scheme, urging that unless it is impossible to convert the house to residential use, it should be retained - it is at present being used as a guest house, so presumably is structurally sound.

These nine developments are virtually bound to happen, in some form or other. They would not only totally change the visual character of the road (and it is stressed in the guidelines that the implementation of PPG3 should respect the local environment), but they would add about another 140 dwellings and their 360 or so residents, and their cars, to the local infrastructure - and this is not including the 41 units and possible 96 residents of Chilbolton Court, the development nearing completion at the junction with Romsey Road.

It is worrying that these developments - and those on other similar roads - are happening in such a haphazard way, without the guidance of a considered overall planning brief for future development in the suburbs. It is stated in PPG3 that studies should be made and local residents consulted about its implementation in their neighbourhood, and the Trust is urging the Local Authorities to fulfil this requirement, which would surely be welcomed by both residents and developers alike.

Shione Carden