Planning Manager Suzanne White presented the details of the application to members and noted that the application site was within the Culverley Green Conservation Area. Suzanne White also explained that the planning history at the property includes an application for seven rooflights to be installed in the front and rear roof slopes that was refused and dismissed at appeal and enforcement action against the conversion of the property to a HMO. It was also noted that discussions with officers had resulted in a revision to the proposal to include a gable window in place of a rooflight.
Councillor Rathbone asked for clarification regarding permitted development rights relating to HMOs. Suzanne White explained that the conversion of a property to a HMO for 6 people or less would be permitted development. Councillor Paschoud asked whether the property was currently in use as a HMO. Suzanne White replied that she did not know if the property is currently a HMO but noted that the Council has not received any enforcement complaints. Councillor Rathbone asked whether members could require an inspection of the property as a condition. Councillor Clarke stated that members can only consider the application being presented. Suzanne White commented that the application must be decided on its merits. Councillor Rathbone stated that there is historic enforcement action at the property so this issue is pertinent. Planning Lawyer Kheng Chau stated that members can not consider the potential future use of the property.
Members then received a verbal presentation from Eric Kently representing the Culverley Green Residents Association. Mr Kently stated that he shared members concern regarding potential conversion to a HMO but explained that the proposed front gable window is also a concern. Mr Kently explained that he was not against loft conversions and conceded that rooflights are a necessary evil but stated that a window in the gable would be the worst option. Mr Kently observed that the properties on Bargery Road are symmetrical pairs and that introducing a window would destroy this symmetry and ruin the triangular apex that had been well preserved. Mr Kently also objected to the loss of historic brickwork that could never be reversed and concluded by questioning why the Council are encouraging gable windows.
Councillor Rathbone requested clarification of what was originally proposed. Suzanne White replied that a front rooflight was originally proposed and it was determined that a gable window would be a less harmful alteration. Councillor Paschoud questioned why a gable window is considered preferable. Eric Kently responded to confirm that the Culverley Green Resident’s Association were not clear why the Council had taken this position. Councillor Clarke asked if the Culverley Green Resident’s Association would have an objection to a rooflight. Eric Kently commented that a rooflight would be preferable given that they can be temporary. Suzanne White stated that the Council’s position is that rooflight is a modern intrusion to the roofscape and commented that she did not agree that rooflights are temporary.
Councillor Paschoud commented that the applicant had been persuaded to revise the proposal to something more objectionable and asked whether it was possible to defer the application to get the revision reversed. Suzanne White confirmed that the committee could defer the application to allow the applicant to make amendments. Kheng Chau stated that members had the option to defer or refuse the application.
Councillor Paschoud moved a motion to defer the application. The motion was seconded by Councillor Muldoon.
FOR DEFERAL: Councillors Clarke, Copley, Anwar, Bourne, Johnston-Franklin, Paschoud, Muldoon & Rathbone.
Resolved: That application DC/18/105821 be deferred.