The consultation procedure undertaken was outlined in the report together with background information in respect of the site.
Since the publication of the agenda Officers provided updates with regards to: further letters of objection received including one from a Ward Councillor; that the development was considered to comply with Section 16 of the National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF) in relation to conserving and enhancing the historic environment; improvements made to certain design issues which would be secured by condition; and issues relating to site levels and accessibility in accordance with the Equality Act.
The Committee was addressed by Mr Campbell who represented a community group called Friends of Halton Village objecting to the scheme. He presented several pictures of the existing 10 bedroomed HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) development built by the applicant, highlighting the poor condition bin storage area and difference in brick colour. He argued that the development would be in the heart of a conservation area and therefore would add no character to the Village; that the ‘flats’(rather than apartments) which were one bedroomed, would be rented on a week by week basis; and that the exit from the site was impaired. He also stated that if this backland application was approved it would set a dangerous president for the Council.
Councillor Howard then addressed Members of the Committee, who spoke in objection to the proposal on behalf of himself and Ward Councillor E. Cargill. It was noted that the third Halton Castle Ward Member was a Member of the Development Control Committee and therefore was unable to make (and had not made) any representation regarding the application.
Councillor Howard spoke in support of the objectors and made reference to several policies and clauses within the Halton Borough Council Unitary Development Plan (UDP), where he considered the application did not comply. In particular, he stated that this was a ‘backland’ development and the building would be completely out of character with the other properties of Halton Village, which was within a conservation area. He also argued that there would be increased traffic congestion; insufficient parking; and an obscured exit from the site. He disputed the Highways Department’s opinions and recommendations as they differed from those made on a previous application in 2009 for the same site. Councillor Howard also made reference to two other previous backland applications submitted to the Council, one of which was in Main Street, and both were refused by the Committee and dismissed on appeal.
In response to the comments made by speakers Officers advised Members:
· that there was no difference in planning terms with regard to whether the word ‘flat’ or ‘apartment’ was used;
· the introduction of four one bedroomed flats into the Village would have very little impact on the traffic;
· the bin storage area would be extended;
· the type of bricks and other materials to be used would be conditioned;
· the previous backland applications referred to could not be compared to this one as there were no similarities;
· the Highways guidance used for a previous application made on the site in 2009 was a different document; this had now been superseded by the one referred to for this application; and
· how the building related to the area was a consideration but the type of potential tenants was irrelevant.
The Committee discussed the application in detail and received clarity from Officers on the term ‘backlanding’. They had sympathy for the speakers’ argument that the development would be out of character for Halton Village, especially considering that this was a conservation area. One Member moved that the application be deferred, so that further clarification could be provided on the impacts of this development to the conservation area and, in particular, whether the proposal would be out of character in the conservation area. The motion was seconded and the Committee agreed that the motion be carried so the application was deferred to the next meeting of the Committee.
RESOLVED: That the application be deferred, so that further information and clarification could be provided on the impacts of the development in the Halton Village conservation area and, in particular, whether the proposal would be out of character in the conservation area.