Local Planning Issues of Concern
Changed Regulations: Permitted development
To alleviate the national housing shortage, former Housing Minister Robert Jenrick introduced major changes to the country’s planning system by extending ‘Permitted Development’ rights. Permitted Development allows applicants to change the use of commercial buildings to residential buildings and to increase the height of residential buildings without the need to submit a full planning application. The outcome of these Permitted Development applications is determined by the local borough Planning Officers within very strict time limits set by the government.
Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for Housing, is currently reviewing planning issues. It remains to be seen whether there will be significant changes to the current planning system, including these new Permitted Development rules.
Impact on Weybridge: Additional storeys on existing blocks of flats
Owners of existing purpose-built blocks of flats can now apply under Permitted Development rights to add a further two storeys on top of existing buildings.
Below are just two examples where these changes could have significant implications for existing residents.
2021/0395, Two Oaks, Castleview Road, at the top of Monument Hill.
Prior Approval – permission that is issued without a detailed application and given on principle – has been given under Permitted Development rights to add two floors to the existing building to create a further 12 dwellings with no additional parking provision. The neighbouring house is also significantly overlooked. Although there were 26 objections to the proposed scheme, due to the application for Prior Approval, it was approved by the Planning Officer without referral to the Planning Committee.
2021/3585, Beechcroft Manor, in Oatlands.
In this case, Prior Approval was sought for an additional storey on each of the four blocks of flats to create a further 11 dwellings. There were 112 objections, many from existing residents who had only recently paid out significant sums for major roof works. We can report that this proposal has recently been withdrawn by the applicants. We will be alert to any further applications.
Impact on Weybridge: Conversion of commercial premises to residential
Applications to convert office accommodation into residential dwellings can be granted under Permitted Development.
In Weybridge we have seen several applications in the town centre, as well as head office style corporate buildings located in the Brooklands area. Of major concern are the proposals relating to the buildings at Benchmark House on the corner of Brooklands Road and Locke King Road.
Benchmark House – In a chaotic series of submissions and withdrawals by the developer, Prior Approval has now been given to convert three buildings from office accommodation to residential dwellings, while subsequent amendments involving the same buildings have been withdrawn.
The Society’s Planning Panel is paying particular attention to these proposals in light of the LEOS DEVELOPMENTS hoardings around the site. The company’s website (www.leosuk.com) reveals plans to create St GEORGES GARDENS in this location, a huge development comprising some 500 homes.
The concern is the impact that such a large-scale development will have on our already congested roads, oversubscribed schools and full doctors’ surgeries. None of the buildings at Brooklands are within reasonable walking distance of these amenities, meaning that for most people who would live there, a car journey would be a necessity. This would massively increasing parking stress and traffic in the town centre. We will be keeping a close watch on further applications involving these proposals.