City of Winchester Trust
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Planning Appraisal Group - TrustNews Jun 18

As you may have seen already, the proposed Hotel at 9-11 High Street has been granted planning permission after amended plans were submitted. We felt that the revised elevations, while inoffensive and acceptable in any ordinary town, were not as interesting as Winchester deserves, particularly on the Market Street elevation.

In February the City Council published its Summary of Appeals against refusals of planning permission for April to December 2017. Four were dismissed (land to the rear of 24 St Catherine's Road; 25 Sussex Street; 93 Wavell Way; Wessex Skin Clinic, 9-10 Norman Road), one was withdrawn (land at Vale Farm, Romsey Road, Pitt) and one was allowed (64 Chilbolton Avenue). Currently there seems to be something of a backlog of appeals at the Planning Inspectorate so that there is a long interval between receiving notice that an appeal has been lodged and details of the appeal appearing on the City's planning website. The hold-up is not the City Councilís fault. We continue to see a mixture of very routine applications mixed with others that have been quite tricky to assess and some which have the potential to be quite controversial. We are grateful to our reviewing panels for the way in which they endeavour to come to an objective assessment, but the subjective element cannot be entirely eliminated when it come to matters of design, style and fit with the surroundings (6 West End Terrace, and 10 Compton Road might be cases in point). We do try to ensure that potentially controversial applications are reviewed by two separate panels.

Some extensions have been on recently built houses. It would be interesting to know what is driving this trend and whether, for example, estate agents are suggesting people buy with a view to extending, whether people with families are wanting to be nearer the City centre, or whether this is just a consequence of the desire to live in larger spaces. The City is responding. At the Planning Committee meeting on 26 April there were a couple of instances in which a condition was imposed on a new build restricting the right to permitted development extensions. This is welcome as it makes no sense to evaluate plans which may make what is considered to be maximum acceptable use of a site only to find that shortly after construction an application for extension is made under permitted development. Ad hoc extensions on recently built properties can also disrupt whatever design or rhythm there was to the development. We also see developers acquiring properties on large plots, knocking down the original dwelling and redeveloping, at higher density, or acquiring land and that used to be part of a large garden and building on that often at maximal density. The net result is that over time the City, as a built up area, is gradually being developed to a higher density, with some new smaller houses or flats, but at the same time some once modest, mostly older, houses being being significantly extended.

In addition our panels have become increasingly annoyed by the scale, size and poor design of developments (particularly roof extensions) being permitted under the LDP (Legal Development Permit) process, which is treated simply as a legal matter (deciding whether it is or is not permitted development) on which there is no ability to offer comments. What counts as permitted development is determined by central government, not by WCC. It is thus more a matter for Civic Voice to take up, rather than the Trust on its own, especially as there are noises suggesting that the government wishes to further Iiberalise the rules to permit whole storeys to be added to buildings.

There are three instances of some of the worst cases seen recently (and allowed) on the Trust's web site and referred to in the May PAG report. In the PAG reports on the web site you can also find details of all the recent planning applications to which we have objected as well as updates giving the decisions on those to which we previously objected.

Mary Tiles

John Stott retires from PAG panel duties

As the person who in the 1990s inveigled John into becoming a panel member on the Development Control Committee (as PAG was then known), l want to thank him personally for the unstinting duty and support to say nothing of the invariably good company - he has given us all over the past 20 years and more. Unfortunately my records of the early years no longer exist, so it's not possible to say exactly when he joined us, but l know it was very near the beginning of setting up the weekly panels.

Thank you, John, for all you have done for us - enjoy your retirement!

Shione Carden