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Planning Appraisal Group - TrustNews Jun 05

Refusals for schemes to which we have objected include the development at the Pumping Station, Romsey Road and the consequent demolition of the wall in Mews Lane, the demolition of 18 Bereweeke Road for a block of flats, the outline application to demolish four houses adjacent to Orchard Cottage, St Cross Road, for a high density residential development, and we understand the demolition of 2-4 Chilbolton Avenues and West Hayes Lodge, Sarum Road, for 40 flats has also been refused.

There are also several sites with ongoing proposals, either in amended form or as new schemes. These include 98-102 Sussex Street, where the first proposal to replace the existing buildings with a pseudo Georgian block went to appeal and was dismissed, the Inspector stating that the structurally-sound Edwardian terrace houses contributed to the street-scene. There are two current applications for this site, one to demolish and replace with a building we felt would give contemporary architecture a bad name (to which we objected), and another to convert and add rear extensions to the existing houses, which we found acceptable, as we understand the planners also do.

Another site with continuing applications is 1-3 Westley Close, for which two schemes are at appeal and another is currently being considered by the Planning Office. This would retain the house at No 1, and build what were described as two terraces, although the incoherent design of the structure facing onto the close bore no resemblance to the description. There has been much local concern about the detrimental effect the 3-storey building on the Stockbridge Road boundary would have on the street scene, and on the ecology of Weeke Pond because of over-shadowing. The Trust has objected to all three schemes.

The proposed residential development of the Royal Observer Corps HQ, Abbotts Road, also has a long and convoluted planning history. It was originally proposed to convert the HQ (a building listed for its historical importance rather than its beauty) and build 23 new dwellings, which we felt were too many for this location. This scheme was withdrawn last July, and a development with 17 new dwellings of unsuitable design was proposed. The reduced number of units was welcomed, but we still felt the density of 52.4dph was too high, and reiterated our view that retaining the Listed Building (LB) compromised successful development on the site because of its diagonal siting in the centre of the plot. While this was being considered, another scheme involving the demolition of the LB was presented, but English Heritage refused to allow its destruction, and now yet another scheme retaining the building, this time with 9 new dwellings, is under consideration.

Plans for the Police HQ, Romsey Road, have a similarly tortuous history. It was first proposed to reclad the present tower and build a new office block in May 2003, a scheme we were not convinced would be practical. We objected, the planners refused it and the scheme went to appeal in June 2004. While this was awaiting a decision, a second scheme was presented; this still involved re-cladding the tower but attached the new office block to its foot, which seemed an improvement. This scheme was refused in February, and an appeal against this has just been made, with the appeal on the first scheme being withdrawn. Meanwhile, in March 2005, another scheme was put forward, this time to demolish the tower and build a residential development of 300 units. This would mean a density of over 128dph and a possible 505 new residents, which the Trust felt would overload the local infrastructure. We also felt the density proposed would result in buildings that would be too tall and bulky for the neighbourhood, an aspect unfortunately exacerbated by the otherwise welcome underground parking that was also proposed. We disliked the architectural style and the formal layout of the development, as well as the telecommunications mast on the Romsey Road boundary, and strongly objected, as did many local residents.

Another scheme causing much local angst is the proposal to demolish The Chimneys, 1 Burnett Close, and build an Aldi store in its place. We objected, feeling the scale of the building and its large parking area would be very unsympathetic to the residential character of the area, as well as being visually detrimental to this important route into the city and adding to the traffic on the already busy Stockbridge Road.

We have also objected to a proposal to convert Kingsmead, Kingsgate Road, a Victorian house of considerable presence, into five flats, and build an attached block of three flats and a terrace of three 3-bedroom houses. We felt the design of the attached block failed to relate to the existing house or to make a stimulating contemporary addition, and that the appearance of the terrace would do nothing to enhance this part of the Conservation Area. The Trust has commented on the Development Brief prepared by the Hampshire County Council (in conjunction with the City's Planning Department) for prospective purchasers of their land on Andover Road, on the Winton House site, and on the Greenacres Special School site on the opposite side of the road. We were concerned at the lack of information about land levels (very important in such a hilly area) and the prescriptive style of the layouts and type of buildings given in the Master plans, because we feared these could be used to get a swift approval instead of encouraging the developers' architects to use their skill and imagination to design the most appropriate scheme for each of these interesting, and very different sites.

Shione Carden