RESIDENTIAL AMENITIES and VISUAL AMENITIES
The policies and planning guidance which should protect residents' amenities, are listed in
the TUNBRIDGE WELLS BOROUGH COUNCIL LOCAL PLAN and
the KENT DESIGN.
Why were Local Plan policies and planning guidelines not followed for Telephone House,
Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells ?
ever thought about amenities to compensate for their high density development on Telephone House site, Tunbridge Wells ? [ Cramming : 43 flats including 8 social housing onto 0.7 acres ]
TUNBRIDGE WELLS BOROUGH LOCAL PLAN REVIEW 2001-2011 - ENVIRONMENT
(First Deposit Copy May 2001 / Second Deposit Copy October 2002)
- The environment, and our interaction with it, has a major impact on the quality of life both now and in the future. Within the Borough, the exceptional combination of buildings, open space and landscape contributes significantly to the quality of life for those living and working here, and also attracts visitors and tourists alike.
- This Plan aims to ensure that the unique character and appearance of the Borough's towns, villages and countryside is maintained and enhanced for future generations.
- Balancing development needs and aspirations of the local community with the protection of the environment and natural resources is the essence of sustainable development. The strategy therefore sets out to encourage development which is sustainable at the local level, whilst also contributing to wider national and global targets of combating climatic change, pollution, resource depletion and loss of biodiversity.
- The environmental strategy has been divided into three sub-sections. The first s sets out general policies which seek to encourage quality, locally distinctive design that are efficient in their use of natural resources as well as establishing a range of criteria against which all new development proposals will be assessed. The second section concentrates on policies relating to the built up areas of the towns and villages, whilst the third section relates to development outside the built up areas, establishing criteria against which any potential impact on the intrinsic landscape character and other features of the countryside will be assessed.
- The principles of sustainable development established within this strategy are reflected in all the policies and proposals throughout the Plan. They are designed to provide a framework within which natural assets and environmental resources of all types are effectively protected and prudently managed through the mix, scale and spatial pattern of ail development proposals.
- To promote the regeneration, renewal and enhancement of parts of the built fabric.
- To minimise the loss of greenfield sites to irreversible development, and to maximise the development potential of previously-developed sites within existing built up areas.
- To protect and enhance the designated buildings and areas of historic or environmental importance.
- To protect the overall populations and ranges of native species, and the quality and range of habitats.
- To protect the quality and potential yield of groundwater resources and surface water features, and minimise aquatic pollution.
- To prevent or minimise development within active flood plains.
- To ensure that effective measures are taken to treat, contain or remove any contamination from potential development sites.
- To protect individual trees, groups of trees (particularly ancient woodland) and other vegetation which are important to the character of the towns, villages and countryside.
- To conserve or enhance the character and appearance of the countryside for its own sake, particularly within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the High and Low Weald Special Landscape Areas.
- To protect the best and most versatile agricultural land and to recognise the unique High Weald horticultural area.
- Where development is acceptable, to encourage the creation of high quality, accessible, safe and locally distinctive new environments, and to ensure that all new development is well designed and respects the architectural, historic and landscape quality of the towns, villages and countryside.
- To ensure that development is compatible with neighbouring uses and to protect residential amenity.
- To encourage energy efficiency and the conservation of finite or non-renewable energy resources, and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases through the location, layout, materials and design of development.
DESIGN AND OTHER DEVELOPMENT CONTROL CRITERIA
- The Plan area contains a unique heritage of high-quality buildings, townscapes and countryside and it is essential that new proposals respect the immediate context of the site. Control of external appearance is of great importance in this environmentally sensitive area and strong emphasis will be placed on the design of all development. In the case of major or sensitive sites, it will be appropriate for the Local Planning Authority to approve a development brief based on the policies and objectives contained in this Plan as they would apply to the development site in order to provide detailed guidance. Where a brief has not been approved, applicants should provide a written statement setting out the design principles adopted including reference to the wider context of the site beyond the immediately adjacent buildings and spaces.
- Government guidance indicates that design and the potential impact that a proposal may have on its surroundings, in terms of visual amenity and the amenity of adjoining occupiers, are material planning considerations. Supplementary Planning Guidance, Kent Design - a guide to sustainable development (2000), gives advice on this aspect of design.
- All proposals for development will be considered in relation to their setting and against a range of other criteria, as well as specific policies which apply to the particular proposal.
POLICY EN1 will apply throughout the Plan area.
All proposals for development within the Plan area will be required to satisfy all of the following criteria:
- The nature and intensity of the proposed use would be compatible with neighbouring uses and would not cause significant harm to the amentities of the area in terms of noise, vibration, smell, safety or health impacts, or excessive taffic generation.
- The proposal would not cause significant harm to the residential amenities of adjoining occupiers, and would provide adequate residential amenities for future occupiers of the development, when assesssed in terms of daylight, sunlight and privacy;
- The design of the proposal, encompassing scale, layout and orientation of buildings, site coverage by buildings, external appearance, roofscape, materials and landscaping, would respect the context of the site and take account of the efficient use of energy;
- The proposal would not result in the loss of significant buildings, related spaces, trees, shrubs, hedges, or other features important to the character of the built up area or landscape.
- There would be no significant adverse effect on any features of nature conservation importance which could not be prevented by conditions or agreements;
- The design, layout and landscaping of all development should take account of the security of people and property and incorporate measures to reduce or eliminate crime; and
- The design of public spaces and pedestrian routes to all new development proposals should provide safe and easy access for perople with disabilities and people with particular access requirements.
Notes for Guidance on the Implementation of POLICY EN1
Suitability of Use and Effect on Amenity
The nature and type of a proposed use, currently defined within the 1987 Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order (as amended), will be an important determining factor when assessing its suitability in a given iocation. A proposal that would not be compatible with either existing or planned neighbouring uses will not be acceptable in that location. Particular regard will be given to certain proposals, such as housing, hospitals and schools regarding their proximity to exisitng or proposed noise-generating locations and vice versa. The impact of noise, vibration and other forms of pollution associated with a given use will be carefully assessed, including the potential for attenuation and control.
The extent to which the intensity of the proposed development would impact on the character or amenities of the area and the amenity of nearby occupiers will be taken into consideration. Particular attention will be paid to the effects of increased vehicular, cyclist and pedestrian movements in relation to the existing highway usage and the effect on residential amenity of additional parking.
Development will not be permitted if it would result in a significant loss of privacy or would have an otherwise unreasonable impact on the amenity of adjoining or future occupiers. In considering the amenity of existing or future occupiers, privacy, daylight and sunlight will be important considerations. In judging privacy the overlooking of principal rooms or of private garden areas will be a particularly important consideration. Imaginative and innovative design solutions can overcome concerns with regard to overlooking, through, for example, the positioning of windows and the careful use of boundary treatments.
Applicants will wish to take advice from the Supplementary Planning Guidance adopted by the Local Planning Authority concerning Alterations and Extensions, and Kent Design - a guide to sustainable development (2000).
Design, encompassing scale, layout and orientation of buildings, site coverage by buildings, external appearance, roofscape, and materials in relation to site context and energy efficiency.
Government guidance in PPG1 emphasises the importance of achieving good design through the development process. Good design can help promote sustainable development, improve the quality of the existing environment, attract business and investment and reinforce civic pride and a sense of place.
The Borough has an exceptional combination of built form, open space and landscape. Consequently the Local Planning Authority will expect development to be of a high-quality design which contributes to the character of the surrounding environment and will reject poor designs.
The scale of development, site coverage by buildings and roofscape should respect the context of the site having regard to the character and function of the surrounding townscape. Particular attention will be paid to the proportion of site coverage by buildings. In built up locations, where there is no conflict with the character of the locality, or where a conservation area can be preserved or enhanced, the planning strategy is to maximise the use of development sites. However, proposals which are substantially taller or bulkier than existing development in the locality will not be acceptable other than where this would be desirable for reasons of townscape, or where it would contribute to local distinctiveness and character, for example, through the introduction of a landmark building in an appropriate location. Building styles and materials should also respect the local context.
The Local Planning Authority will seek to ensure that larger development proposals are well designed and make a positive contribution to the surrounding environment. Schemes should fit the context of the area by respecting the layout, scale and character of local street patterns. Innovative and original design solutions may be appropriate in certain situations.
One way of making a positive contribution to the character of development, particularly larger, visually prominent schemes or public buildings, is through the inclusion of an element of public art. Art becomes public when it is freely accessible within the public realm, being sited in the built or natural environment. Works of public art are unique features which can be integral to a place or building, such as a sculpture, mural or other design feature which forms part of the development, or provides a focal point. Examples can include the design and production of unique metalwork, stonework, signage, stained glass, tiling and paving, or could involve the inclusion of textiles, murals, photographs or sculpture within the development. Public art can:
Reference is made to the inclusion of public art into large-scale, prominent developments allocated in the Local Plan.
It is important that public art is taken into account at an early stage in the preparation of a development proposal. Kent Design - a guide to sustainable development (2000) provides guidance on incorporating detailed design features into a scheme ensuring it contributes to, or creates, a sense of place.
Wherever possible, the location, orientation, design and materials of buildings should seek to reduce energy consumption. This Local Plan aims to reduce energy demand for heating and lighting by orientating development schemes to maximise natural light and passive solar heat gain from the sun, and minimise heat loss caused by local wind conditions, through design and landscape features. Further detailed guidance on energy-efficient design and development is contained in Kent Design - a guide to sustainable development (2000).
Quality, energy-efficient designs can be distinctive and, in appropriate locations, can contribute to the visual interest and character of an area. However, in some situations it may not be possible to maximise energy efficiency through building design without compromising other aims of the Plan, such as ensuring that development proposals maintain the character and appearance of areas of special interest. Where such conflicts arise the Local Planning Authority will seek to conserve the local character and appearance and, as far as reasonably possible, maximise energy efficiency. Resource-efficient design will not in itself be regarded as a reason to override other planning objectives.
- enhance the character, interest and local distinctiveness of new and existing development, and their related spaces;
- provide local landmarks and smaller features that can help residents and visitors orientate around, and identify with, towns and villages; and
- contribute towards regeneration through enhancement schemes and community involvement.
The location of a development proposal and the design of all associated surrounding spaces are regarded as an integral part of the acceptability of a scheme.
A poorly located or designed scheme will not be made acceptable through the inclusion of a high quality landscaping scheme.
Development proposals should ensure that existing site features, such as individual, or groups of, trees, hedges, shrubs, field patterns, ponds or watercourses, are not only retained as part of the overall landscaping scheme but are supplemented, where appropriate, by additional planting. This will offer opportunities for habitat creation, and will also add considerable value to the appearance of the development. The Local Planning Authority will have regard to the latest British Standards Advice on Trees in Relation to Construction when assessing the proximity of trees in relation to new buildings and surroundings, and their potential effect, including long-term impact, on future occupiers. The felling or lopping of trees following occupation of a new building will be strongly resisted.
Many settlements within the Plan area are well framed by dense landscape belts. Such landscaping provides a distinct framework to built development and softens its appearance when viewed from the countryside. It is the Local Planning Authority's intention to seek substantial planting of native tree and shrub species as part of all development proposals at the edge of the built up area, or in countryside locations, which have woodland as part of the established landscape character.
Landscape schemes are particularly important for economic development sites. Given the high quality of the general environment and the proximity of many sites to the
countryside, it is important that every opportunity is taken to create attractive and substantial landscaping within and surrounding the development which will, over time, break up roof lines and reduce any visual impact.
Planting, in particular tree planting, has an additional beneficial role by filtering pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2), from the atmosphere thereby improving air quality. Trees also provide additional benefits such as shading and shelter from prevailing winds.
Sites of national, county and local nature conservation importance are identified in the Local Plan in order to ensure that they are protected and enhanced. However, as the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan and Borough-wide Habitat Survey indicate, the natural wildlife of the Borough is not just confined to designated sites. Many other areas are also important in terms of their habitat and nature conservation interest. Furthermore, many designated and non-designated sites are dependent upon adjoining areas to supply, for example, groundwater as well as links to other open spaces, habitats and the countryside. Full account will be taken of nature conservation issues, including the wider impact of any development proposals, as part of the assessment of planning applications. Where required, the effective long-term management of a particular site will be secured by way of a planning condition or agreement.
The Council has a duty, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, to ensure that appropriate and reasonable measures are taken within all development proposals to deter crime and provide a more secure and welcoming environment. Regard will be had to the design, layout and landscaping of new development proposals to reduce not only the likelihood of vandalism but also to reduce the risk of personal attack or damage to property through, for example, increased public surveillance and a clear definition of the areas to which the general public can have access.
Government guidance indicates that the needs of people with particular access requirements, such as people with disabilities or people with pushchairs, should be considered at an early stage in the design process. Physical access into, and within, all new buildings, including dwellings, is dealt with under Part M of the Building Regulations (as amended). However, matters external to the building, including the provision of suitable pathways, ramps and car parking spaces, are material planning considerations. In addition, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, service providers have a duty to ensure that all people can make use of that service regardless of their access requirements. Measures which allow for safe and convenient access should be incorporated into all development proposals.
The Plan area contains over 3,000 buildings of architectural or historic interest which make a significant contribution to the quality of the environment. They represent a finite resource and an irreplaceable asset. As listed buildings they are protected under the provisions contained in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This Local Planning Authority aims to preserve the character of buildings of architectural or historic interest, and their setting, and to actively encourage and promote their sensitive repair by giving grants also under the provision of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
Paul Huxley’s speech at the Public Inquiry May 2001
Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells
Cllr Leonard Price's speech at the Public Inquiry May 2001
Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells
February 2000 - How big was the influence of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council officers, Alan Legg, Planning Strategy Officer and David Prentis, Development Control Manager ?
Architect Trevor Sutters, London, filed Notes in his Proof of Evidence submitted for the Appeal by Crest Nicholson Plc and Southgate Developments Ltd (Telephone House - Public Inquiry, May 2001)
The notes reveal that civil servants took a leading role in the disastrous design of the Telephone House Development.
27.10.2002 / 10.11.2002 - Resident's letter to Planning Department, TWBC
All the points (in the TWBC leaflet "Making your opinion count" - "What are Planning Issues?") were taken up a long time ago by residents and very often elaborated on. These issues were obviously not taken into account for the development and it is astonishing how many are still valid for CALA Homes Scheme of Works.
February 2003 - CALA Homes move in - the demolition of Telephone House
Whom are we dealing with ? - The developers of Telephone House
The Telephone House Neighbours Association informs on CALA Homes (South) Development:
CALA Group acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1, Kent.