Penarth Town council’s planning committee is recommending refusal of an application to redevelop and extend the classic Penarth Conservation Area mansion, Ashdene Manor in Bridgeman Road, as a complex of 9 apartments.
Planning committee members carried out a site visit to the location and last night resumed an adjourned planning committee meeting at which consideration of the planning application was continued.
The Town Clerk Emma Smith reported that the intention was to convert the existing house into 3 apartments and add three-storey wings on either side – each with 3 apartments – creating a total of 9 apartments. The application documentation declared that the new development’s “large areas of glazing” will have “a pronounced vertical emphasis to reflect the Victorian surrounds”.
The proposed development would be larger than a previous two-storey 7-apartment proposal which had received planning consent but which had subsequently been withdrawn.
Planning committee chairman Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) said “there are some issues in that the plans don’t fully reflect what’s going on there because Number 11 [ the house next door] has built an extension closer to their boundary than is shown in the [Ashdene] plan ” .
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he had “called in” the application so that it would be considered by Penarth Council and the full planning committee of the Vale of Glamorgan Council because he did not think the plans which had been submitted were correct. He said the new Ashdene plans did not show the proximity of an extension which had been built at 11 Bridgeman Road alongside the boundary wall of the two properties .
Cllr Williams pointed out that there is a 20-foot drop from the ground level of No 11 Bridgeman Road to the ground level of Ashdene.
He said it had cost the owners of No 11, £20,000 to stabilise the boundary wall . The proposed new southern wing to be built onto Ashdene would come so close to the boundary that Cllr Williams said he did not want to see a repeat of “what had happened at Clinton Road” [where a house collapsed last month after having a basement excavated] .
Cllr Williams said the previous (approved but withdrawn) application had featured 2-storey wings either side of Ashdene – but the new design proposed apartment wings either side which would be 3-storeys in height .
He said the original application with two-storey wings with opaque windows to the side had been acceptable to the neighbours and to the Vale planners ; it was the new enlarged 3-storey wings with “extras” which was what local residents were against.
Cllr Neil Thomas said that “no matter what we decide we should advise the Vale that we are aware of certain structural problems on either side ” [ i.e. on both the boundary with No 11 and the boundary on the other side of Ashdene with the derelict mansion “Normandy” where there is also a steep drop]
Cllr Clive Williams moved that the new Ashdene application should be refused.
Cllr Anthony Ernest noted that the proposed new wings of Ashdene would come right up to the boundary walls of the site on either side. However, he said, the whole concept of the houses in Bridgeman Road was that they were “large buildings within large grounds”. The other thing to be looked at, he said, was the “gap between properties” which provided for views between houses. The three storey height of the proposed wings meant there would be “a strong degree of looking down into everyday living quarters”
Cllr Ernest said “There has been so much development in this area of the Penarth Conservation Area that we have to be very careful. We should turn this down. We are looking at the increase in the size and bulk of the proposed development, the increase in the height of the wings [ compared with the previous design]. Cllr Ernest also noted, as a subsidiary point, the increase in the number of properties – which would create “additional vehicle movement .”
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) – who is a twin-hatted member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee as well as Penarth Council’s – said “I support that we should object to it“. Any application in a conservation area was, he said, required to “protect or enhance it”.
He said the architects’ report – in his opinion – showed that the architects were “better wordsmiths than they are architects”. The earlier design had featured apartment wings which were subsidiary to the main building but “these aren’t“. “They look most uncomfortable. It completely destroys the character of the house. I think we should also not support it on the grounds that it is visually disturbing to the Conservation Area and is an overcrowded development and causes detriment to the Conservation Area.”.
Cllr Williams said he had requested the site visit because the committee had not got access to the right information. The previous 7- apartment design, he said, had been submitted so that the property could be sold-on to a developer for completion “which is fine – that’s what business is all about” but he was concerned the new applicant now wanted 9 apartments and his understanding was that planning permission was being applied-for so that the property “could be passed on to a big developer”, which might give rise to further problems.
Cllr Neil Thomas – in the chair- said “We don’t know that to be the case. I think we have sufficient grounds to object. It is overly large. It is too close to the boundary and the plans do not accurately reflect the situation as is ”
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said “We would like to see something developed there because it’s one of the sites tied up in Penarth. We would like to see something happening there”
Cllr Thomas said “Normandy” [ the derelict property to the North of Ashdene] ” is already a serious eyesore and this [ Ashdene] is already heading that way rapidly”. The previous Ashdene plan – which had been supported bythe council – had not come as close to the boundary as in the present application.
Cllr Ernest said a developer could command a much higher price with a lesser number of flats that by “cramming them all in which devalues the overall property”.
Cllr Thomas said: “One worries about greed” .
Cllr Williams said the owners of No 11 Bridgeman Road – the house next door to Ashdene – wanted the Vale Council to look at the differences between the previous development design for Ashdene and the current design.
Penarth Council’s recommendation to reject the development will now be considered by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee .