Agenda item - BH2019/03091- Lace House, Flats 1-9, 39-40 Old Steine, Brighton- Full Planning

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Agenda item

BH2019/03091- Lace House, Flats 1-9, 39-40 Old Steine, Brighton- Full Planning


              Replacement of existing aluminium framed double glazed windows with aluminium framed double-glazed windows (retrospective). Replacement of existing aluminium framed double glazed windows with aluminium framed double-glazed windows (retrospective).


              Officer Presentation


(1)          The Principal Planning Officer, Liz Arnold, introduced the application and gave a detailed presentation by reference to plans and photographs showing the site from locations in the neighbouring street scene. The application site was a stand-alone five storey building divided into self-contained flats located at the southern end of the Valley Gardens Conservation Area and was highly visible. It was adjacent to the Grade II* Listed Royal Albion Hotel and the Grade II Listed Royal York Buildings. It was considered that the replacement windows, as a result of their incongruity with the building’s style and the surrounding historic context had clearly harmed the appearance of the conservation area and the settings of the nearby listed buildings. Although the works carried out represented less than substantial harm great weight needed to be given to the fact that any harm to, or loss of, the significance of a designated heritage asset required clear and convincing justification. The test for the local planning authority was whether the public benefit from the use of these windows would outweigh that harm.


(2)          The applicants had indicated that the window design used was necessary to comply with Building Control Regulation requirements relating to protection against falls and means of escape. It had not however been demonstrated that a more appropriate sash window design could not have been made to meet these criteria, it was therefore considered no public benefit had been demonstrated to outweigh the identified harm and refusal was therefore recommended.


              Public Speakers


(3)          Councillor Druitt spoke in his capacity as a Local Ward Councillor stating that he did not agree that the window treatment provided was detrimental to the character of the Valley Gardens Conservation Area nor to the adjacent listed buildings. The building was set well back from its neighbours and the works carried out had significantly improved the appearance not only of the building itself which had been unused and in a poor state of repair for some time but the immediate vicinity. The building itself had been much altered over the years and at one time had operated as a car showroom at ground floor level, original features were not therefore being lost. The windows provided were far safer than those which had had originally been in-situ, and of better quality. The manner in which these windows opened met building control requirements in that as there was only one internal staircase meant that whilst it was not possible to fall out of them they could be used as a means of escape by emergency services in the event of a fire.


(4)          The applicant’s agent spoke on behalf of the applicants in support of their application accompanied by Ms Mitchell to assist in responding to questions. It was confirmed that the windows currently in situ had been provided in order to meet fire safety regulations, that they were an important safety feature and it was not considered that they were detrimental to the appearance of the building itself, the conservation area or the neighbouring listed buildings. The host building had been much altered over the years the window treatment provided was not considered at variance with its external appearance. If changes were required the replacement windows would be a retrograde step.


(5)          Councillor Miller sought clarification of the applicant’s representative regarding the safety aspects referred to. It was explained that the windows which had been installed opened from the top to provide ventilation but that the “gap” was insufficient for anyone to fall through them.


(6)          Councillor Yates noted the information provided by the applicant’s representative but considered that other options could have been considered and asked whether/why they had not been. Those present did not have that information.


(7)          Councillor Childs enquired why planning permission had not been requested for these works and it was explained that the applicant’s had not been aware initially that permission was required, planning permission had been sought as soon as they were.


              Questions of Officers


(8)          In response to questions, the Planning Manager, Nicola Hurley confirmed that building control regulations were separate from planning and that the application needed to considered on its planning merits. The cost of any replacement/reinstatement works was also not a planning consideration.


(9)          Councillor Shanks sought clarification regarding whether the type of window treatment required had been stipulated when the permission for change of use from B1 office use to residential had been given.


(10)       Councillor Miller enquired regarding when the building had been erected and regarding its former uses. It was confirmed that it had been erected circa 1860 and had, had various uses until the 1970’s when it had been converted for use as a car showroom following which it had been in use as office space.


              Debate and Decision Making Process


(11)       Councillor Fishleigh stated that in her view the street lighting provided was at far greater variance with the neighbouring streetscene and had a greater detrimental impact. The building was well set back from its neighbours, the host building had been much altered over time and its current appearance represented an improvement.


(13)       Councillor Miller considered that overall as the architectural styles in the Steine differed greatly and this building at apart on its own island he did not agree that the works carried out had resulted in any significant harm.


(14)       Councillor Littman stated that he did not consider that impact of the windows provided was such that it warranted refusal. The building’s current external appearance was much improved.


(15)       Councillor Shanks agreed considering the windows provided were acceptable.


(16)       Councillor Bagaeen considered that the windows were acceptable. They were not detrimental to its symmetry and reflected the building as it was now. It was a stand-alone building and the improvements made to it provided a positive rather than negative contribution to the neighbouring street scene.


(17)       Councillor Childs concurred stating that the works carried out to the building had improved it and brought it back into use and were not detrimental to its appearance or to the character of the conservation area or neighbouring listed buildings.


(18)       Councillor Yates stated that he concurred with the officer recommendation considering that other more acceptable safe window treatments could have been pursued. Incrementally changes made to conservation areas could result in them being nibbled away at to the point where their special character became nullified.


(19)       The Chair, Councillor Hill, stated that she was also in agreement with the officer recommendation, considering that it was important to maintain the standards set when works were carried out in a conservation area particularly when in close proximity to listed buildings. It was not appropriate for developers to make the changes they wanted and to then “hope for the best.”


(20)       A vote was taken on the officer recommendation to refuse the application, with 8 members of the Committee present when the vote was taken and this was lost on a vote of 2 to 6. Councillor Miller then proposed that that the application be granted on the grounds that the existing windows were not contrary to policies CP12 and CP15 of the Brighton & Hove City Plan Part One and policies QD14, HE3 and HE6 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan (retained policies March 2016). The proposal was seconded by Councillor Littman and it was agreed that the final wording of the proposed reasons for grant be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with Councillors Childs and Littman.


(21)       A recorded vote was then taken and Councillors Bagaeen, Childs, Fishleigh, Littman, Miller and Shanks voted that planning permission be granted. Councillors Hill and Yates voted that planning permission be refused. Therefore planning permission was granted on a vote of 6 to 2.


75.5       RESOLVED – That the Committee has taken into account the report recommendations but resolves to GRANT planning permission on the grounds proposed by Councillor Miller. The final wording to be used in the decision letter to be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with the proposer and seconder.


              Note: Having declared a prejudicial interest in the above application and having spoken in support of the application in his capacity as a Local Ward Councillor, Councillor Druitt withdrew from the meeting and took no part in the debate or decision making process.

Supporting documents:


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