10/1636/FUL - 36 CAMBRIDGE PARK, TWICKENHAM (Gary Brown)
Conversion of six self contained flats into single family house.
Officer’s recommendation: REFUSAL
The Development Control Officer introduced the item and reported the following additional information:
Additional information: A copy of LBRuT 2006 Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA) was provided by the applicant for consideration on 19/08/2010.
Response to the additional information: With respect to the LHNA, the applicant refers specifically to a table on page 4 of the executive summary titled ‘Minimum property prices/rent in Richmond upon Thames’. Based on the rents the applicant charges for the existing residential units within the building, the applicant states that in comparison to the borough wide minimum property prices, rental prices at 36 Cambridge Park are substantially higher and are not therefore an ‘affordable place to live’ nor suitable for ‘young and transient groups’.
Whilst the rents charged by the applicant are not supported by evidence it is noted, that two of the units the applicant is renting out as one bedroom units, the Council maintains should be non self contained bedsit accommodation (and has issued an enforcement notice required reinstatement). Should the lawful use of the building be reinstated, it is likely that the rents applicable for such units would be considerable reduced allowing them to be more affordable and accessible to ‘young and transient groups’. Notwithstanding, even if the rents in these units could be proven to be considerably higher than the borough wide average, they still provide a cheaper and more affordable option than owner-occupation and also contribute toward the borough’s stock of small units, which as outlined in policy Core Strategy policy CP14 (e) there is an identified need.
The applicant also comments within his supporting statement that the proposal would, despite current planning policies, contribute to meeting a local housing need. The applicant bases this comment on a table extracted again from the LHNA (pp. 9) titled ‘Total shortfall (or surplus)’.
This table is based on preference not necessarily reality, and the content should not be extrapolated as proof of demand/supply to determine a planning application.
The supporting text to the table (which has not been included in the applicants Statement) sets out the broader conclusions that can be taken from this information. Regarding the owner-occupied sector, it notes that household projections indicate that there will be an increasing proportion of one person households in the borough in the next fifteen years. Households may prefer larger homes but can only afford smaller homes. This has driven the policy requirement for small units in the private sector. Based on expected number of bedrooms the 4+ bed houses shortfall is lower. The conclusion in the report also notes that all dwelling sizes in the private rented sector show a surplus since many households view this sector as an undesirable long term solution whilst the supply of private rented housing is likely to be large due to the temporary nature of the tenure.
This assessment was used to inform policies in the Council’s Local Development Framework, forming one part of the bigger picture, with policies setting out a borough-wide strategic approach to housing provision. No new evidence has been identified with this application to alter the Council’s strategic approach and justify an exception to policy in this case.
Recent appeal decision
An appeal decision was released on the 24/08/2010 in relation to no. 24 Castelnau which is of particular relevance to the current application (appeal ref. APP/L5810/A/10/2122057). This application was for the conversion of a 3 bedroom duplex and 4 two-bedroom flats into a five bedroom family house. The appellant in this case attempted to use similar arguments to those put forward in relation to the current application, based upon the Local Housing Need Assessment and evidence provided from local estate agents, to demonstrate that there was a local market for the proposed development. The appeal was dismissed by the Inspector who made the following pertinent comments:
- While national guidance on housing seeks to ensure that new developments offer a range of housing choices, in terms of the mix of housing sizes and types, this proposal it seems to me, would result in a reduction in choice as 5 flats, which appear from the submitted drawings to range in size from 2 to 3 bedrooms, would be replaced by a singe house. Accordingly, I consider the proposal would represent an unacceptable depletion of the local housing stock, contrary to saved UDP policy HSG4 and CS policy CP1.
- For the reasons given above, and having considered all other matters raised, including the letters in support of the proposal and the appellant’s arguments that there is no conflict with CS policy CP14, the Council is meeting its housing targets and the existing 1 bedroom flats could become 2 bedroom flats without the need for planning permission, I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.
The Committee heard representations from Mr G Brown and Councillor Salvoni who spoke as an interested councillor.
The Committee RESOLVED that the application be REFUSED for the reasons set out in the officer's report .