Objection to Brake Shear House development (September 2018)

PLANNING APPLICATION 18/4700/FUL : BRAKE SHEAR HOUSE

This is an objection on behalf of Barnet Residents Association.

There are several aspects to this application which we consider to be unsatisfactory, being in conflict with the site Planning Brief, Development Management Policies and principles established when the previous 2016 application was approved.

HEIGHT AND MASS

The Planning Brief (7.5/8.5) was negative about the provision of large urban blocks which would fail to reflect the existing urban grain of the site and the nearby Monken Hadley Conservation Area, and flatted development alone would not be considered appropriate. It was stated that a mews style development would be most appropriate but a combination of mews style housing and flatted development may be considered with the flats in the centre of the site. That was precisely how the previous proposal was structured. Yet what is proposed now is a dense development of four large residential blocks spread across the whole site, precisely what the Planning Brief regarded as unacceptable.

The Planning Brief also said (8.6) that existing building on the site and adjoining were 2/3 storeys and proposal would be expected to reflect these parameters, with, as we have noted above, any proposed increase located at the centre of the site. The previous proposal did just this, but the current proposal clearly violates this principle.

SKYLINE

On the previous application London Borough of Barnet feedback highlighted the importance of the view from King George’s Fields and this in part influenced the reduction in height of one storey from the initial proposal. The block of flats was partially visible but remained below the skyline. Block D of this new proposal at 5 storeys will protrude above the existing skyline, and by virtue of its bulk and materials used, less restrained than the previous application. It will become THE dominant feature of the view from King George’s Fields. We consider it an imperative that the existing historic skyline should not be violated by this unsympathetic proposal.

IMPACT ON HYDE CLOSE

As above, the height of the previous proposal was carefully assessed for its impact on houses in Hyde Close. The same assessment has not been made but we would expect the overlooking aspect to be reflected by the elevations being the same as the previous proposal. Though difficult to assess, it does appear that this proposal does result in the block being closer to Hyde Close and also higher. The elevations as they impact on Hyde Close should be no more negative than those of the previous scheme.

IMPACT ON BELGRAVIA CLOSE

The building line does appear to be 21 metres window to window as required, but height is also an issue. Block C at 5 storeys will tower over the Close and in particular the balcony on the top floor has the potential to be particularly intrusive with noise and overlooking.

NOVIA HOUSE

The developer has cited Novia House at 4 storeys as a precedent to justify the height of this development. But when viewed from King George’s Fields Novia House is, regrettably, far more prominent than it should be, even though the materials are more restrained than this proposal, and as such should not be regarded as an acceptable precedent. Indeed in the previous application the section facing the houses in Hyde Close was reduced to three storeys to prevent overlooking and, most importantly, the four storey section did not rise above the High St skyline behind. The limitations placed on Novia House should be the precedent for similar limitations on the site of the current application.

HOUSING MIX

The previous proposal consisted of 8x3 bed houses, 20x2 bed flats and 12x1 bed flats. This new proposal offers only two 3 bed flats with the remaining 66 being 1 or 2 bedrooms. The immediate area has experienced considerable numbers of proposals for small flats above shops and as infill developments, with very little by way of additional family homes. This site offers a rare opportunity to correct the imbalance that the area is experiencing and provide a significant number of family homes. Policy DM08 is clear on the need to prioritise larger dwellings and that developments should provide where appropriate a mix of dwelling types and sizes. Many sites are incapable of providing this kind of mix. But the previous application did indeed offer such a mix so clearly it can, and should, be done here.

PARKING

Policy DM17 identifies that developments such as the one proposed here should have a minimum of one space per unit. This requirement may be relaxed if there is sufficient on street capacity but this is certainly not the case for this location, where the surrounding area is covered by a CPZ with occupancy levels already stressed. So the 43 spaces proposed are clearly inadequate for 68 flats. Novia House has 21 spaces for 16 flats.

DESIGN AND MATERIALS

This planning application is not well informed on materials or details of the design but we are struck by what appears to be a corrugated steel finish to the walls at roof level, and a surfeit of glass and strong brick colouring to the lower floors does not indicate the kind of quality design that should be expected. The previous application included stone, brick colouring and details to the fenestration that sought to duly respect the adjacent conservation area and the prevailing materials used in the area.

G. Massey
Barnet Residents Association