Officers reported that further comments had been received, as detailed in the published Update Report, copies of which were provided to Members and the public gallery prior to the commencement of the meeting.
Officers gave a detailed presentation of the application and in doing so informed the Committee that the proposed site was located within the local centre of Cofton Hackett and had been previously occupied by a former prestige car and motorcycle dealership and showroom.
The proposed development was for the redevelopment of the site to provide a 72 bedroom care home and associated works. The proposed development would consist of a 3-4 storey building with a parking area providing 30 car parking spaces. The existing building on site was a 2-3 storey vacant building.
The proposed building would be a dominant feature in the street scene and therefore thought had been incorporated into the design to address the slope in land level. Although this would be a large building and was greater in height than the existing building, the use of broken frontage, dormer windows and stepped height would soften its overall appearance.
At this stage in the meeting, the Chairman took the opportunity to remind Members that Planning Committee meetings were quasi-judicial meetings and he would ask Committee Members to avoid leaving the meeting room whilst Officers were presenting their report. Members were required to be fully conversant with the matter being presented in order to make an informed decision.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr S. Smart and Mrs. J. Fay addressed the Committee in objection to the Application. Mr. A. Smith and Mr. M. Johnson, the Applicant’s architects also addressed the Committee.
The Committee then considered the application, which had been recommended for approval by Officers. Members commented that whilst they were not against the principle of the proposed development, they did however have some concerns with regard to the height of the proposed building compared to the height of the existing building. Members commented that the proposed building would be bulky and overpowering and questioned if the proposed development represented high quality design in accordance with the Development Plan. Some Members were of the view that the proposed development was not in keeping with the existing street scene. Members further referred to the comments made by the Council’s Urban Designer, that the building was unimaginative. Members also questioned if 30 car parking spaces were sufficient.
In response, Officers clarified both the height of the existing building and the proposed development and that the Council’s Urban Designer had not objected to the size of the building. The Council’s Urban Designer had suggested a number of elements that could improve the scheme which had included the use of breaks in the front elevation and some interest at pedestrian level; which the Applicant had responded to. It was considered that the proposed building was of relatively good design for its dominance within the street scene.
Officers responded to further questions from Members with regard to the ongoing management and maintenance of the woodland area and the energy performance rating of the proposed development.
Officers from Worcestershire County Council, Highways Authority highlighted that a care home was typically a low trip generating use and that those trips were normally off peak, therefore the proposed development would generate fewer trips than when the site was used as a prestige car and motorcycle dealership and showroom.
In response to questions with regard to the ingress to the proposed development and highway safety, Officers from Worcestershire County Council, Highways Authority explained that zig zag yellow box markings were not appropriate. However, he was happy to relate Members concerns to Officers and scope providing keep clear road markings.
Councillor M. Thompson proposed an alternative recommendation that Planning Permission be refused on the basis of poor design and that the proposed height of the building would be out of keeping with the existing street scene.
On being put to the vote, the vote was lost and the Chairman went back to the original Officer recommendation.
Having considered the Officer’s report, the information provided by all public speakers and clarification from Officers with regards to the concerns raised by Members; Members were minded to approve the application.
1. authority be delegated to the Head of Planning and Regeneration to determine the Planning Application, following;
a) the satisfactory completion of a S106 planning obligation ensuring that:
i) £11,362 capital contribution for NHS Primary Care Commission to mitigate the primary care impacts arising from the development which would be used for medical infrastructure. The funds to be used to resolve the existing shortfall of space at New Road and Cornhill Surgeries in Rubery;
ii) £11,000 contributions to Worcestershire County Council for community travel to serve the Rubery area to maximise the opportunities for residents to travel to and from outside the immediate community; and
b) subject to the Conditions and Informatives as detailed on pages 28 to 34 of the main agenda report.