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Planning Appraisal Group - TrustNews Sep 18

For the past couple of months we have been reviewing fewer applications than usual. As you may have noticed, the Hampshire Chronicle has not been publishing its list of planning applications in the pipeline. Both these issues are a result of the City's failure to produce the weekly lists that we have relied on in the past. We have been told that the old system for doing this can no longer be supported. While the City is looking for some alternative we have been told to use the on line weekly list search. Unfortunately his mostly brings up tree preservation orders. We have now worked out how to do more effective searches and are catching up with reviewing a backlog of applications; it does also seem that the number of planning applications being made or processed has dropped over the past month or so. But this does not resolve the issue of the need to keep the public informed about, potentially controversial, recently lodged planning applications.

One such application of which people will be aware is that for the Leisure Centre at Bar End, on which comments were due by 18 July. Two of our panels looked at it and details were circulated to Trust members who normally attend presentations, together with information of the exhibition at the Guildhall. Comments were collected and used as the basis for an initial Trust comment entered by 18 July. In the following week the Trust received a presentation from the architect and this resulted in a comment sent directly to the case officer. The building itself is very complex internally. Externally it is a very large box and the whole is not easy to assess as it involves over a hundred documents. The meeting with the architect proved useful as he could explain all the constraints on this rather difficult site not the least of which was how to overcome the fact that it has three underground streams running through it. This explains why the building is sited back from the road with the parking in front (not aesthetically ideal); it needed to be on the highest ground available to allow for the depth of the swimming pool. The materials specifications are high and so long as these are retained the Trust was content with the design. It was acknowledged that given what has to go in the building and given budgetary constraints it really could not but be a large box. The car parking itself has permeable surfaces plus drainage swales running through it. Many people feel that access issues have not been adequately addressed in the Transport Assessment that was submitted as part of the planning application. However, it is not clear whether these will be considered as part of the application. Details on pedestrian, cycle and public transport access seem unrealistic and too much traffic of all kinds seems to end up on the already congested City Bridge.

Some recent appeal decisions have seemed to pull in different directions when it comes to presentation of the character of a neighbourhood; being in a Conservation Area does it seems make a difference here. Those for 30 Clifton Terrace and 18 Egbert Road were dismissed because the inspector thought the character or appearance of the Conservation Area would not be preserved. On the other hand that for 15 Bereweeke Close (not in the Conservation Area), was allowed finding that there would be no negative impact on the neighbourhood.

One trend we noticed before the weekly list system broke down wa/ submission of two simultaneous applications for extensions; one for single storey and one for two storeys. I suppose the idea is that two storeys would be preferred, but a single storey might be more likely to get approval. One recent case in point was 80 Canon Street - a very complex application which would have required on site access from the rear to fully understand. In the event the two storey extension was refused but the one storey extension allowed.

Mary Tiles