Save Our Sidmouth

Knowle plans: EDDC officers’ report points out departure from Local Plan , and a flood of ‘additional issues’ , but recommends approval.

1 Comment

The illustration below, sent to SOS, is based on the developers’ drawings of plans for the  Knowle site, but with the covering ivy  removed, giving an idea of why ‘massing’ is one of the many planning contravention issues the DMC will have to consider when reaching their decision on 6th December (meeting starts 10.30 a.m. , in the Council Chamber, Knowle. Public welcome).


EDDC’s officers recommendation, just made public, is acceptance of Pegasus Life’s planning application, subject to a S106 payment. Details are on page 15 of the agenda,
The text is copied below, along with the Flood Team’s report:

(SIDMOUTH) 16/0872/MFUL Target Date: 02.08.2016
RECOMMENDATION: Approve with Conditions – subject to a S106 agreement
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The application seeks permission for the redevelopment of the existing Council Office buildings and the construction on both the site of the existing buildings and the accompanying middle and upper car parks of 113 apartments with associated wellness suite, restaurant and accompanying facilities. The main issues in considering the application relate to the principle of development and an associated assessment of use. In addition issues including that of design, landscape and impact on the character and appearance of the area as well as heritage, landscape, neighbour amenity, access and parking also need to be considered. Importantly the site is allocated within the adopted Local Plan for the delivery of 50 houses while separate policies indicate that extra care can be appropriate on sites allocated for housing. In terms of use and recognising that on site personal care would be given to future residents within a framework of supported independent living, it is recognised that the use as proposed would represent a C2 use. This assessment is important as it establishes that while the numbers of apartments proposed exceed the allocation and must therefore be considered as a departure from the Local Plan, the use itself is policy compliant. It also results in a conclusion that no affordable housing or CIL charge would be payable.
Design and landscape impact have been an area of significant concern through the consideration of the application – not least because of the increase in the scale, height and mass of the buildings when compared with the character and domestic nature of the surrounding area. However an assessment by the Devon Design Review Panel found the scheme to be a very good example of modern architecture that was considered appropriate for its context. It is certainly recognised that the attractive use of materials and design devices break up the elevations of the respective buildings resulting in this issue being considered balanced. Of greater concern however is the forward projection of the building across the upper terraces of the formal gardens to the south of the existing office buildings. Although this has been amended during the consideration of the proposal, the projection still reduces the spaciousness around the Grade II listed summerhouse the setting of which has remained intact for most of its existence. In so doing the proposal results in harm to its setting (considered as “less than substantial”). The legislation relating to listed buildings requires planning authorities when considering applications to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings. Accordingly this impact although limited needs to be given considerable importance and weight due to the importance of protecting heritage assets. Where less than substantial harm is identified to a heritage asset then alternatives must be considered and where the harm cannot be avoided the public benefits from the development must be considered to see whether these outweigh the identified harm. Alternative options for the design and layout of the part of the development that impacts on the setting of the summerhouse have been considered and found to be harmful to the scheme and unviable. The development can therefore only be approved if it is concluded that the proposal carries public benefits that outweigh the harm to the setting of the listed building.
Impacts on amenity have been raised as serious concerns by a range of the immediate neighbours and it is recognised that as a result of the revised plan form of the building and the increased height there would be a perception of dominance and some overlooking. While not particularly neighbourly it is not considered that such harm arises which cannot be suitably addressed by appropriate use of conditions. In addition the access and parking is also considered as a reasonable approach maintaining the entrance onto Station Road as the sole access to the site other than for emergency and refuse collection purposes. Issues associated with trees, ecology (the site supports a regionally significant bat roost), lighting and drainage have also been raised and considered although none have such an impact that they result in such harm that the application should be refused on the basis of these concerns. It is therefore a case of applying the statutory test in relation to listed buildings by giving considerable importance and weight to the harm caused to the setting of the listing building when balancing this harm against the public benefits of the development. Although the scheme is a departure from the Local Plan providing apartments with extra care in excess of the allocation or requirements of the plan it therefore makes a meaningful contribution to housing delivery on a largely brownfield site. Together with the other public benefits identified in the report it is considered that the public benefits outweigh the harm to the listed building, notwithstanding the considerable importance and weight that this harm has been given. As such the application is recommended for approval subject to a legal agreement and conditions.

The flood team report, also copied here, apparently takes no account of the impact of the switch in distribution from the Dell to the Plateau:

DCC Flood and Coastal Management Team Recommendation: Assuming that the documents referred to below are formally submitted to the Planning Case Officer and registered with the above planning application, our objection is withdrawn and we have no in-principle objections to the proposals at this stage. Observations: Following my previous consultation response (FRM/ED/0872/2016, dated 11th November 2016), the applicant has provided some additional information in relation to the surface water drainage aspects of the above planning application, in an e-mail dated 16th November 2016, for which I am grateful. The applicant has provided a Drainage Strategy (Report Ref. J01488 Rev K, Rev. K, dated November 2016), sections 4.0 and 4.1 of which clarify that a 50% betterment to the existing peak off-site discharge rate will be provided for the entire site. Currently, the maximum off-site discharge rate is 147 l/s, but post-development, this rate will be 73.5 l/s. I am also satisfied that long term storage does not need to be accounted for in the proposed surface water drainage management system because this development provides betterment to the site’s impermeable area, reducing it by 269m2 compared to the present day, as noted in sections 2.2.1 and 3.0.2 of the aforementioned document. Furthermore, the applicant has provided Appendix 6 and Appendix 10 of the aforementioned document, which includes a variety of MicroDrainage model outputs (dated 14th November 2016). These demonstrate that both Networks 1 and 2 do not flood in the 1 in 100 year (+30% allowance for climate change) rainfall event, and that Network 1 does not flood in the 1 in 1000 year (+30% allowance for climate change) rainfall event, which is far in excess of the required standards. The applicant has also provided Appendix 8 of the aforementioned document which demonstrates that infiltration is not a viable means of surface water drainage on this site, which is acceptable. 37 Additionally, an acceptable operation and maintenance schedule for the proposed surface water drainage management system has now been provided in Appendix 9 of the aforementioned document. As mentioned in my previous consultation response, I note the public representations in relation to the risk of surface water flooding to the south-west of the site. However, given the level of betterment being provided by the proposed surface water drainage management system, the development of this site will significantly reduce the rates of surface water runoff.

One thought on “Knowle plans: EDDC officers’ report points out departure from Local Plan , and a flood of ‘additional issues’ , but recommends approval.

  1. You have to wonder whether Officers would recommend approval for any other similar development with the same issues that wasn’t going to benefit the council directly.

    This definitely has the appearance that the officers’ recommendations have been biased by this being an essential approval in order to meet the council’s goals of selling the Knowle and moving to new vanity-project offices in Honiton.

    This needs to be added to the list of previous planning applications where officers have made illogical recommendations for approval (like the King Alfred Way development in Newton Poppleford).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s