Councillors met this week to determine a series of planning applications in Northampton.
The borough council’s planning committee convened at The Guildhall on Tuesday evening (December 18), and here are the applications they discussed.
Ground and first floor extensions - 93-95 St Leonard’s Road, Far Cotton - APPROVED
The first application of the evening to be discussed was on St Leonard's Road in Far Cotton. The proposal, by Mr Yogesh Patel, was to convert Empress dry cleaners into two separate retail units, and provide three flats through a first-floor extension above the shops.
Councillor Julie Davenport had 'referred' the decision to the panel over parking concerns, saying: “We're very concerned about the access road because it's decaying, and will deteriorate further. And Highways are right to point out that three spaces is substandard, it will be really tight to back out."
Planning committee member Arthur McCutcheon said he was 'satisfied' following a site visit on Monday that there was sufficient room for the parking spaces, and chair Brian Oldham says he doesn't believe the application will 'add' to parking problems on St Leonard's Road.
The application was approved unanimously.
First floor extension - 46 Barn Owl Close, East Hunsbury - APPROVED
The first floor extension to a home in Barn Owl Close had been referred back to the planning committee by deputy leader Councillor Phil Larratt, who objected to the loss of a bungalow and the impact on residential amenities. The loss of bungalow is not a planning consideration though, and the application was recommended for approval.
The homeowner says that the extension won't block light or overlook any properties. She added that Cllr Phil Larratt was using his position on the council to influence people's opinions. Brian Oldham told the homeowner that if Cllr Larratt was trying to influence East Hunsbury Parish Council then he didn't succeed, because they haven't raised any objections.
In the end, it didn’t matter for the homeowner, who saw the application approved unanimously.
Change of uses to Houses of Multiple Occupancies (HMOs) - ALL APPROVED
Three of these applications were approved. The first to be discussed was for five occupants at 169 Adnitt Road, Abington. Despite parking concerns raised by Councillor Zoe Smith, it was approved unanimously.
The next application was for three occupants in 144 Southampton Road, Far Cotton. A previous application for four occupants was refused on highways grounds earlier in the year. Cllr Julie Davenport raised an objection to the recommendation for approval on the basis that Southampton Road is a very busy street where parking and fly-tipping are already an issue. Owner Andrew Meadows says the property was being targeted towards students, and believes parking concerns are 'unfounded' as 'most students don't have vehicles'. The committee sided with Mr Meadows, and approved it unanimously.
The final HMO application was for four occupants at 6 Holly Road, Abington. Cllr Danielle Stone objected on the grounds of parking. A resident, Alison Chapman, told the committee that it has led to double parking and that the street is 'overcrowded'. Pat Dooley, for agents Architectural Solutions, says the amount of HMOs in the area is below the 15 percent threshold. Cllr Jane Birch says that there is five showers for four residents, and raises concerns that the living room might be utilised for a fifth person. Brian Oldham, however, says there is a planning condition if given approval that the room must not be used as a bedroom. It was granted with five councillors in favour, with one (Councillor Arthur McCutcheon) voting against.
Change of use from Sure Start centre to community cafe - 16 Park Square, Kings Heath - APPROVED
The committee hears that the Sure Start has been relocated according to county council leader Matt Golby, who also sits on NBC’s planning committee.
He says: "I'm pleased to support this, and if it's been done in response to a consultation then it's a good piece of work and we should support it."
Gary Owens, of applicants Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), says the scheme is part of a wider investment in the Kings Heath area.
A very quick unanimous approval was given to the scheme.
Demolition of garages and construction of two homes - Keswick Drive, Boothville - DEFERRED
This is what the majority of the public gallery turned out for. Two members of the public outlined how they felt the applicants, once again NPH, had failed to consult them properly, and that the loss of the garages would be distressing for residents, especially as they feel the replacement ones they have been offered are too far away. NPH's Gary Owens disputed the residents’ testimony, saying they held two consultation events that helped shape changes to the plans. The residents were backed up by Councillor Paul Joyce.
During the debate, the fire alarm went off, with everyone asked to leave the building. After a ten-minute delay, due to a ‘faulty system’, the debate resumed minus Councillor Matt Golby, who has failed to return after the fire alarm. He arrives just as the vote is about to take place, but is told he cannot participate as he missed some of the debate.
Councillor Brian Oldham proposes that the application is approved, but is unable to find a councillor to second his motion, to the delight of the public gallery. The scheme will go back to the drawing board but remains a live application. Read more on this decision here.
Demolition of existing community centre and construction of three new bungalows (resubmission) - 110 Nene Drive, Kings Heath - APPROVED
The very last item of the meeting was passed through unanimously with very little comment, and was a lot smoother ride for applicants NPH. The scheme had already been approved back in June, with the community centre having already been demolished and the foundations laid for the dwellings. This application was submitted to allow for a minor change in the elevational details, and approved unanimously.