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Creed Court Hotel

Report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Chief Planning Officer and Development Director concerning an application under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to vary condition 49 (approved drawings) of planning permission dated 6 October 2017 to enable (i) removal of third basement level; (ii) internal reconfiguration to create 152 hotel rooms and associated alterations to the fenestration on Ludgate Square, Creed Lane and to the internal courtyard; (iii) relocation of the UKPN sub-station from basement to ground floor level; (iv) reduction in A3 (restaurant) floor area from 1,028sq.m to 466sq.m and relocation of the restaurant entrance door to Creed Lane; (v) reconfiguration of the waste storage facilities and service area; and (vi) other minor internal and external alterations.

 

The Assistant Director, Planning Development, introduced the application and presented the officer’s report, informing the Committee about the details of the scheme and its wider implications. Photographs of residential amenity in the existing courtyard were tabled at the meeting. The application was recommended for approval in accordance with the details set out in the report.

 

The Chairman highlighted that there were three objectors who wished to address the Committee as well as a speaker on behalf of the applicant. In response to a question, the Chairman clarified that all those addressing the Committee had been made aware of the Protocol on Public Speaking and to limit their speech to planning matters only.

 

Sir Brian Langstaff, a local resident, addressed the Committee in objection to the application. Sir Langstaff spoke with concern about the principle of securing planning permission for one scheme and then altering this in ways which may be perceived as non-material but will, in reality, make a substantial difference to the scheme overall. Consent had been given, in 2017, for construction of what was thought to be an upmarket hotel in keeping with the St Paul’s conservation area. The modified plans now seemed to be for a more ‘downmarket’ offering with a greater number of smaller bedroom spaces, a smaller restaurant space and no spa facilities. He went on to state that he was strongly of the view that any changes should not adversely affect the amenity of neighbouring residents over the consented scheme. However, the revised plans would result in some loss of light, cause inevitable problems by seeking to roughly double the number of windows looking on to the courtyard (onto which residents’ bedrooms also face) and also run a real risk of noise from both the courtyard below where guest access no longer appeared to be restricted as it had been in the consented plan and the combined effect of noise/overlooking from guest use of the roof terrace.

 

Sir Langstaff concluded by suggesting that, in order to safeguard against these concerns, either the plans required modification and should be rejected for the time being, or sufficient and suitable conditions needed to be imposed to ensure that the revisions do not affect neighbouring amenity further than the present plans already do.

 

Matthew Rimmer, also a local resident, addressed the Committee in objection to the application. Mr Rimmer stated that, although the revised plans sought to relocate the Hotel’s sub-station from basement to ground floor level, the depth of the construction was to remain the same as on the consented plans. To his mind, this represented an opportunity for the developer to carry out less intrusive ground works and the fact that they had not taken this opportunity was ‘lazy’ on their part.

 

Jeremy Stein addressed the Committee on behalf of his client (a local resident) in objection to the application. He reported that, at present, his client enjoyed clear, peaceful views of St Paul’s Cathedral from their top floor residence and they were of the view that this must remain. He went on to state that his client’s primary concerns were around use of the rooftop and courtyard areas. The consented plans were for a green rooftop area where access would be restricted to maintenance only. The reference to this restriction appeared to have been removed for both the rooftop and the courtyard area in the modified plans. Mr Stein made a plea for the condition around this to remain and for an additional condition to be added requiring the developer to fund the installation of a CCTV system which would use motion alerts to inform them of any unauthorised use of the rooftop and courtyard areas.

 

Mr Stein added that his client also had concerns around the proposed new bedroom layouts which represented a more downmarket offering with many of the proposed new rooms being behind fixed shut opaque windows.

 

Mr Stein informed the Committee that demolition had already begun on site and asked that residents be provided with a full programme of anticipated works throughout the development period in addition to the monthly newsletters already in circulation. He added that the fact that demolition had already commenced underlined that it was not necessary for the Committee to take a decision on the revised plan this morning as it would not cause any undue delay to the planned works.

 

Mr Stein concluded by stating that the hotel’s future revenue was not dependent on the number of bedrooms offered. He suggested that the modified plans needed revisiting and that, whilst residents accepted that a hotel was to be constructed on this site, it was hoped that it would be a high class offering in keeping with the area and not the ‘downmarket’ version that was now being presented.

 

Richard Ward, Director of DP9 Limited, address the Committee on behalf of the applicant, in support of the application. He was accompanied by Paul Wells of Dexter Moren Architects and Gordon Ingram of Gordon Ingram Associates. Mr Ward underlined that the proposals brought with them a number of benefits whereby a redundant office building would be replaced with a 4* plus hotel and frontage in keeping with the area. Its construction would contribute towards creating jobs both during and after construction. He added that the proposed amendments represented an exciting new scheme that the applicant was keen to deliver as quickly as possible.

 

A Member asked the applicant’s agent why they had taken the decision to submit revised proposals given that the original proposals consented to only last year had been 3-4 years in the making. She also sought confirmation as to whether demolition work had already started on site and, if it had, was it in accordance with the conditions attached to the consent granted in 2017.

 

The Applicant confirmed that new proposals were being submitted following the appointment of a new architect who had brought a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to the process and produced what Officers agreed was an enhanced version of the proposals consented to by this Committee last year. He went on to confirm that demolition had commenced on site and that this had been done in accordance with the conditions discharged.

 

In response to further questions from Members, the applicant reported that it had always been the intention that the finished hotel would constitute a four star plus offering. They were strongly of the view that what was now being proposed was an enhanced offer as opposed to a downgrading of any sort. In response to questions around the overlooking of residential properties and associated light pollution, the applicant reiterated that the windows looking on to the courtyard area were fixed glaze windows.

 

Finally, the applicant confirmed that they would be happy to commit to the provision of CCTV as proposed by the objector and would also undertake to provide residents with a full schedule of anticipated works.

 

Members went on to debate the application before them. A Member questioned the information provided within the daylight/sunlight assessment and how this translated to an overall improvement when compared to the already approved scheme. The Assistant Director, Planning Development, clarified that whilst there would be some impacts on the daylight and sunlight received by neighbouring properties, the majority of these impacts would be minor in nature.

 

A Member commented that she was disappointed to see revised proposals submitted to the Committee so soon after it had originally been deliberated on. She reminded the Committee that concerns around the fact that this was a residential site and around the impact of things such as servicing were aired when the application had originally been considered but that Members had been reassured at the time that what was being proposed was a high class hotel offering in a prime position. She stated that it was her view that, had these amendments featured in the original scheme, it may not have been consented to. Another Member supported this view and stated that he objected to what he saw as major amendments to the original proposals being submitted to the Committee so soon particularly given the sensitivity of the site. He also referred to the fact that a number of the newly proposed bedrooms would seemingly be without any natural light – something which he felt was unreasonable.

 

Another Member disagreed with these points and stated that he felt that the speed with which the plans had been amended and resubmitted was reflective of an active market and was arguably a normal part of the development process. He added that he did not perceive the proposed changes as significant and therefore saw no reason not to support the application on purely planning issues.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman, the Comptroller and City Solicitor stated that in considering the application Members should focus on the proposed amendments. The Town Clerk highlighted that the list of proposed amendments in full could be found on the opening page of the report and were a helpful aid in terms of focusing discussion.

 

A Member commented that the proposed relocation of the sub-station from basement to ground floor level did not seem to be an improvement and questioned the reasoning behind this. The Assistant Director, Planning Development, stated that he understood that this was for ease of access and stated that it was often the case that sub-stations were situated at ground floor level and that appropriate conditions would be attached to this.

 

In response to questions from the Chairman, Officers clarified that residents’ concerns around the installation of a CCTV system to monitor rooftop and courtyard usage and blackout blinds to certain windows could be addressed by incorporating reference to these within the conditions. A condition requiring adequate liaison between the developer and residents could also be incorporated.

 

A Member stated that she was pleased to see that Creed Archway would be retained within the amended proposals.

 

The Chairman underlined that it was the developers right to be able to return to the Committee with amendments and that it was not for Members to get in to the commerciality of the proposals.

 

The application was put to the vote amongst eligible Committee Members, with 16 voting for and 3 voting against the application, with no abstentions.

 

 

RESOLVED – That, Planning permission be granted for the above proposal in accordance with details set out in the attached schedule, subject to:

 

(i)            Planning obligations being entered into as set out in the body of this report, the decision not being issued until such obligations have been executed;

(ii)           That Officers be instructed to negotiate and execute obligations respect of those matters set out in “Planning Obligations” under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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