The Vale of Glamorgan Council has over-ruled objections from six residents of Plymouth Road, Penarth and given planning consent to a major re-development a 1960s detached house – No 84 Plymouth Rd – which stands within the Penarth Conservation Area.
The house is one of a group of four detached homes built in the 1960s which are surrounded by classic Victorian and Edwardian-era houses.
The plan is to construct a two-storey side-extension (including an integral “garage”) to replace the existing utility area, garage and car port. A “canopy style porch area with tiled
roof “ would be built over the existing front entrance door. A single storey workshop will be removed.
When the plan to extend No 84 Plymouth Rd was first submitted, Penarth Town Council’s planning committee had made no objections – but it later became clear that a number of local residents were very concerned about the scheme and the impact it would have on the Penarth Conservation Area.
Almost all Labour planning committee members representing Penarth wards were absent from last night’s Vale Council planning meeting, including Cllr Janice Birch (Stanwell), Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Cornerswell), Cllr Mark Wilson (Stanwell).
One surprise appearance though was that of Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustine’s) who has not been a member of the planning committee until now – but has apparently taken the place of Cllr Pam Drake (Labour Castleland Barry) on the Vale Planning Committee.
The 84 Plymouth Road application had been “called-in” for discussion by the full committee by Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) following concerns expressed to him by local people.
The Vale’s Operational Manager Development Management, Victoria Robinson, said the development was in what she called “the heart of the conservation area” but what was proposed was what she described as “a relatively straightforward two storey side extension set down and set back from the frontage so that it’s subordinate in scale to the original house.”
Ms Robinson said there had been a number of objections from neighbouring properties raising concerns in terms of “the impact on the conservation area and particular concerns in respect of a yew tree on adjoining neighbouring land” which had been recognised as “an important Conservation Area tree” .
She said the “tree officer” had been satisfied that the necessary conditions could be attached to protect the tree and that the planning officers had recommended the planning committee should approve the planning application.
Next door neighbours Judith and Anthony Cousins – on whose land the yew tree stands – then addressed the committee. Anthony Cousins said that the extension to No 84 Plymouth Rd would be built within half a metre of the trunk of the yew tree in his rear garden – and he thought damage to the tree would be inevitable. The regulations, he said, called for a 7.2 metre radius around the tree in which contractors could not operate. He thought contractors would have to remove at least 30% of the tree. Mr Cousins also queried the impact on residential amenities . He said “two storey infill buildings did not exist in Plymouth Rd” permission for such a development had never been granted before.
He said the plans meant that a 8-metre-high – and 8-metre-wide wall would now face the main entrance to his next door property just 3.85 metres from his front door and front sitting room (His main entrance is at the side of his house). It was – he said “not a pleasant prospect”. He said building should not be allowed closer that 14 metres away from a building with a side elevation, front door and living rooms .
Mr Cousins said this was not just an extension, – it was actually going to be “a completely new white modern-building slap-bang in the middle of the Conservation Area. It should not be built “
His wife, Mrs Judith Cousins, pointed out that 84 Plymouth Road was one of a pair of detached 1960s built properties . The remodelling involved would it no longer matching its twin at No 82 . It would “stand out as being unique in a road of over a 100 houses of which only 4 are not Victorian or Edwardian”. She said the application was “very un-neighbourly”.
Planning Manager Victoria Robinson said that as far as neighbourhood impact was concerned, planning officers had decided it would be what she described as “an acceptable degree of impact” .
Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Cymru Dinas Powys) said he found it difficult to believe that the building work would not adversely affect the yew tree and doubted whether the tree could survive such dramatic engineering work. Officer Robinson re-iterated her previous assurances. and said officers would not be recommending approval to the committee unless they were satisfied that the tree could be protected.
Cllr Audrey Preston (Conservative St Brides Major) queried the proximity of the wall to the neighbour’s front door. She thought it was extremely un-neighbourly to have “a wall right across people”. The neighbours would lose not only a view but a lot of things at the front of their house – she said. “It seems very close“, she said.
Planning Manager Robinson said “It is no doubt closer than the existing house – and these matters are a matter of subjective judgment.” But she claimed that “this is not an uncommon form of extension to a semi-detached house”
[PDN Note In fact No 84 Victoria Rd is a detached house – not a “semi-detached house” but the Operational Manager Development Management, Victoria Robinson, seemed not to be aware of this] .
Planning Manager Robinson went on to say “It is unfortunate when people’s outlook changes – then that obviously has an adverse impact on them to a degree. We have to judge whether that adverse impact is so severe as to warrant refusal of planning permission – and we judged that in this case it is not.”
Cllr Nic Hodges (Plaid Baruc) said the application included a “car port and garage” but then he saw that elsewhere in the application it was stated that the “integral garage proposed is not considered large enough to park a car based on current standards”.
He asked whether this “integral garage” – which did not seem to be of any use as a garage – might be later converted into a “living space”.
He said that under the scheme a car port and garage were being removed – to be replaced with an “integral garage” of limited use.
Planning Manager Robinson said the planning officers’ report was quite explicit in stating that the integral garage would not be a parking space. The assessment was that there would still be room for two vehicles to park off-road at the front of the house . It did not matter to the council whether the garage was used or not.
Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent Sully) wanted to know why – as this building would be in the Conservation Area – the applicants had not submitted details of the colour of the render of the completed building.
Victoria Robinson said this was a matter normally left to the officers to consider at a delegated level. Cllr Penrose said councillors needed to know what the building was going to look like and whether it would be incongruous with the rest of the area
Cllr Andrew Parker said “I’m looking at a garage which is not a garage.” He asked Officer Robinson whether she was happy that two parking places were enough for a four-bedroom property. Officer Robinson said two places was satisfactory.
Cllr Clive Williams ( Conservative Plymouth Ward) who had called in the application said – he felt every sympathy for the objectors because their objections had been well laid out and very valid. They had lived in their home for many years and it was now totally affected by the proposed alterations to the adjacent property.
Cllr Williams, speaking as a Plymouth Ward councillor, formally moved that the Vale planning committee should refuse the application .
Seven councillors voted for refusal, but eight – mostly Labour – councillors including the chairman (Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan Cllr Fred Johnson) voted in favour of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning officers’ recommendation that planning permission should be given.