(Service Manager – Planning Policy & Implementation) To consider the attached report for the redevelopment of the former school buildings and depot. Demolition of five buildings and the retention of three locally listed buildings. Development to comprise erection of new apartment buildings and the conversion, extension and change of use of the existing locally listed Centrepoint building and Cookery School to provide a mix of residential units (Use Class C3) and ancillary communal amenity areas. Extension and refurbishment of two existing locally listed semi-detached caretaker cottages. Revised vehicular and pedestrian access from St Johns Road and new pedestrian access from High Street, all associated car and cycle parking, servicing, hard and soft landscaping and associated works.
The Planning Officer, E Holton-Walsh, presented a report for the redevelopment of the former school buildings and depot, including the demolition of five buildings and the retention of three locally listed buildings. The development would comprise the erection of new apartment buildings and the conversion, extension and change of use of the existing locally listed Centrepoint building and Cookery School to provide a mix of residential units (Use Class C3) and ancillary communal amenity areas; the extension and refurbishment of two existing locally listed semi-detached caretaker cottages; revised vehicular and pedestrian access from St Johns Road and new pedestrian access from High Street; all associated car and cycle parking; as well as the servicing, hard and soft landscaping and associated works.
The key issues of Design and Heritage, Neighbouring Amenity, Parking and Sustainability for the application were detailed to the Committee. Planning Officers had concluded that:
· the application site had been proposed for allocation (ref: EPP.R4) in the Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version (LPSV) to provide new residential accommodation. The proposal would provide additional housing which was a benefit that should be afforded significant weight in the planning balance, particularly in light of the acute housing shortage within the District. The scheme would also provide a significant amount of affordable housing;
· the proposals would integrate satisfactorily with the surrounding townscape in terms of scale, massing and overall design. Less than substantial harm to the conservation area and locally listed buildings had been identified, but, as per the guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework, this harm was outweighed by the significant benefit of bringing the buildings back into long-term viable uses, and the public benefit resulting from the provision of new and affordable homes;
· the proposals would have an acceptable impact on the living conditions of neighbouring properties in terms of light, privacy and outlook;
· In terms of transport, the extent of car and cycle parking was acceptable and, in combination with the submitted Travel Plan, would help reduce reliance on the private car and the transition to sustainable modes of travel;
· the sustainability aspects of the proposal complied with the current policy; and
· overall, the proposed development was compliant with the requirements of the Development Plan and the LPSV.
The Committee noted the summary of representations that had been received in relation to this application. The Committee heard from Epping Town Council and the applicant before proceeding to debate the application.
Cllr C C Pond commented that he could not form a view of the heritage value of the buildings to be retained as part of the development, as there had not been a planning site visit to the location; however, the Council Depot land used to be a diary which had utilised electric vehicles.
Cllr H Brady had concerns that only 53 parking spaces were being provided for 180 plus new dwellings, and that the majority if the new residents would have cars and they would be forced to park in other locations across Epping. In addition, there were very few facilities locally for cycling, and provision should be made for cyclists in Epping.
Cllr H Whitbread welcomed the retention of some of the existing buildings on this key heritage site in Epping, and enquired if a condition could be added to the Section 106 legal agreement in respect of the Lower Swaines playground? N Richardson stated that Section 106 Legal Agreements were not normally that prescriptive, and the playground was within the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and it would be progressed. Therefore, it did not need a specific condition within the Legal Agreement, but the Council could add an informative to the Decision Notice in respect of the Playground.
Cllr J Lea commented that the owners of the proposed new dwellings should not be compelled to pay maintenance charges on their properties. N Finney explained that the ‘build-to-rent’ properties would be administered by property management companies so the management charges would be included in the rental charge.
(1) That planning application EPF/0917/21 at the former School, Centrepoint Building and Council Depot Land in Epping be granted planning permission, subject to:
(a) the thirty-eight planning conditions listed in Appendix 1 of the report on pages 307 – 331 of the agenda; and
(b) the completion of a Section 106 Legal Agreement to secure the planning obligations and financial contributions outlined on pages 227 – 229 of the agenda.