Plans to replace workshop and garage with apartments in Millfield rejected

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A planning application for two, one-bed apartments on land next to Highbury House, Millfield, Peterborough, has been refused by the city council as no residential parking has been provided.

Speaking to members of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee at their meeting, council head of development and construction Nick Harding said: “As you are aware the council has a statutory obligation to provide all new-build dwellings with parking spaces appropriate to the level of occupation at the property.

The proposed site which would see the existing buildings demolished

The proposed site which would see the existing buildings demolished

“This application is listed as two, one-bed apartments each with a study room requiring a minimum of two parking spaces, neither of which have been designed into the plans.

“However, that study room could easily be converted into a second bedroom. Then there would be two, two-bed apartments requiring a minimum of four spaces.

“As there is no provision shown in the design for any parking spaces at all it is the recommendation of planning officers that the committee refuse this application.”

Speaking on behalf of the application, the agent John Dadge said: “This application would see the demolition of an old workshop and garage and the erection of two much needed single bedroom apartments, of which there are very few in this area.

“The owner has already stipulated that he will only rent these apartments to people who work locally in the area and therefore wouldn’t need a car.

“This is exactly the kind of proposal that landlords in Cambridge use when letting properties to students who are precluded from having a motor vehicle in many parts of that city because of the lack of parking space.

“It is true that these apartments have a study room which has been designed to appeal to the student population exactly as it does in Cambridge, but it’s not intended to be or considered as a second bedroom, nor would it be configured as such.”

Cllr Aasiyah Joseph spoke in support of the application. She said: “This application will provide much needed low-cost accommodation in the area, and as members have heard the owner has made an undertaking to only rent to non-car users.”

Cllr Yasin Ikra also supporting the application said: “The site is located close to Millfield local centre and easily accessed by a variety of travel modes other than motor vehicles, such as cycling or walking.”

But Cllr Peter Hiller had concerns and said: “Do you not see that if we pass this application and forego the statutory obligation that this committee has to provide a parking space equivalent to the level of occupancy of these flats – which, as the planning officer has alluded, may well be as high as four parking spaces – that we will be creating a dangerous precedent for every similar application in the future?

“I cannot see any way around this issue; the design has made no consideration for either two, one-bed apartments or, as the case may well be, two, two-bedroom apartments requiring at least four parking spaces.”

Cllr Graham Casey had other concerns. He said: “I’m worried that these two flats will overlook gardens and properties adjacent to them, tucked away on what is a very small and congested plot at the corner of two streets.”

But Mr Dadge replied: “There are only two tiny north facing windows that overlook the adjacent property and that has no windows on that wall face.

“In respect of the garden next door, it is 77 feet long, and very narrow, and I suspect that use of that garden is confined to the area nearest the house which is well away from any overlooking gaze of the proposed flats. All other windows would be opaque as a matter of course.”

Mr Harding added: “There is no mechanism that I know of where a landlord can ensure to engage a non-car owning tenant. They do this in Cambridge to prevent cars being parked in residential streets, which is not what is being challenged here – quite the opposite in fact. The issue here is that parking spaces are not being provided at all.”

Cllr Christian Hogg said: “I think this application was doomed from the start quite frankly. There is nothing to prevent the owner from selling these two flats in the future and advertising them as two-bedroom apartments.

“That aside, to expect us to permit this application and go against every provision of the planning rules to provide parking spaces equivalent to the level of occupancy of these flats would be to create a dangerous precedent for every similar application in the future.

“On that basis I will supporting the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse the application.”

A vote was taken, and by a majority the application was refused.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service