Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

10 Orangery Lane, Eltham, London. SE9 1HN - 17/3843/F

The Board is requested to grant full planning permission for the demolition of existing building and construction of a part 3 / part 7 storey mixed use development comprising a flexible B1 (Business) / D1(Non Residential Institution) use at ground floor level and 42 self-contained flats above.


Resolved to refuse full planning permission for the demolition of existing building and construction of a part 4 / part 8 storey mixed use development comprising a flexible B1 (Business) / D1(Non Residential Institution) use at ground floor level and 42 self-contained flats above.


Members noted the officer’s addendum reports, circulated on a supplementary agenda and a number of public documents submitted to them in advance of the meeting.


The Planning Case Officer gave an illustrative presentation and advised that the proposal included two disability parking spaces off of Orangery Lane and at an even level to entry to the block.  The affordable housing offer had been increased to 21%, which equated to 9 units.  The tallest element of the proposal had been reduced and officers felt that the changes to the application addressed the previous reasons for refusal.


Members sought further clarification as to how officers saw the reasons for refusal, of the previous application, had been overcome.  To which the Planning Case Officer advised that the height had been reduced; the density reduced as a result of fewer units and the provision of two disabled parking spaces on site. 


In response to Members questions the Planning Case Officer confirmed that the provision of two disabled parking spaces in an otherwise car free development was acceptable.  The site had a high PTAL rating of 4 to 6a, with good public transport links.  As the site was located within a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) it was also recommended that new occupants be restrict from applying for CPZ permits for the area.


Further, the Planning Case Officer confirmed that the questions as to whether provision of two disabled bays was sufficient had been passed to the Councils Occupational Therapist who supported this as sufficient numbers.  Also, all floors would be serviced by a lift and the units would be of ‘design for life’ standard.


The Planning Case Officer clarified that the podium area was set further back from existing properties.  That the tallest element had been reduced by 1 floor and the lower elements to 3 to 4, due to the slope of the site. 


In respect of the lack of social housing and only affordable shared provision the Planning Case officer state that the original offer was of 15% shared ownership, which was agreed independently.  However, the applicant felt that it currently viable to offer 21% and whilst not policy compliant was considered satisfactory.


Members questioned how, given the reduction in units, the applicant felt that it was now viably possible to increase the affordable offer and questioned the validity of the original viability assessment.


The Planning Case Officer confirmed that the commercial let to local business at competitive rate was being offered on the revised application.


The Planning Board Accepted an address from the Old Page Estate Residents Association (OPERA) representative speaking in objection to the application who commented that the application was still at direct odds with the Eltham Masterplan and Core Strategy, which sought buildings in and adjacent to the Eltham High Street be restrained to 4 stories, maximum.  That there were still issues of overlooking to existing residents and be overbearing to the Orangery, which was to be at the forefront of an orangery square on the site.


She continued that there was a need for social rented not ‘affordable’ shared ownership, which was of little use as it the cost was too high for many local people.


In response to Members questions the representative from OPERA confirmed that there were a number of references, within the Eltham Master plan to the restriction to 3 and 4 stories.  Further, that Eltham was not an area allocated for high buildings.


The Planning Board accepted addresses from two residents speaking in objection to the application who raised concerns that the developers had provided inaccurate and misleading information and drew the Planning Boards attention to a written representation, outlining the inaccuracies and concerns. Concern was raised that there was no mention of a bat survey nor any proposals to protect any roosts found.


They noted that the proposed building would be 8 stories for 45% of its length, which was not reflected in the drawings.    That the maximum height element was to be reduced by 4 meters, but with other changes in the build was very likely to result in no height reduction.  There was no affordable housing element.  The Masterplan set that new build should be to the scale of existing town centre buildings.  The height of the proposed development was completely out of keeping with the Masterplan and it was unacceptable to have such a tall building by a listed building. 


The speakers asked that the application be rejected on the principle of excessive height, scale, not in line with the Eltham Masterplan or Core Strategy and as an oversized eyesore.


The Planning Board accepted an address from the Chair of Governors and head teacher at Eltham Church of England School who stated that they were the largest and closest neighbour to the development and were concerned that they had not be consulted on the development by the applicant or the Council.


They raised concerns at the impact of the construction work and the safety of children going to and from school as Archery Road was already heavily congested and they feared an accident with contract vehicle.  Further, the school was already heavily oversubscribed and, taking a minimal approach, there was the potential for an additional 29 children within the catchment area from the development and they were struggling to admit children in Roper Street nearest school entrance.  Further, the development would increase pressure on all the schools and public play areas in the local vicinity.


It was noted that there would be a lack of privacy to the 4 classrooms within the school as well as sports ground and play areas due to overlooking by the proposed building, which was of concern.


The Planning Board accepted an address from Councillor Linda Bird, speaking as a Ward Councillor.  She referred to core strategy which she believed the application contravened as this was not a 2-3 story block, with social rent housing.  She concurred with Mr Scott’s written comments on the application, which raised all the salient points, in respect of this development.  She continued that she was astonished that the developers had come forward with this application which included a play area on the 4th floor, which she believed was neither safe nor attractive.  Whilst supporting the Council travel plan there appeared to be too many cycle bays with only 2 disabled bays and the actuality of things was these bays were unlikely to ever be full.


The Planning Board accepted an address from Clive Efford MP for Eltham who commented that the it was not appropriate to ‘hop on and hop off’ the Eltham Masterplan as it is either a significant document or it isn’t.  He noted that the plan for the site was for a town square with the Orangery as the main focus and this development would completely remove that possibility in the future.  In addition the development would overpower the heritage site of the Orangery.


He continued that parking in the area was a significant issue and the continuation of developments with insufficient parking had been proven to cause tremendous problems in the area.  Further, public transport could not always bear the load.  He felt that the parking plan for the development was totally inadequate, noting the high demand for parking in Eltham High Street and the inevitable conflict and demands for parking permits to park in neighbouring roads.   He welcomed the offer of affordable housing but felt that this did not solve the housing issues faced by the area as the real need was for social rented accommodation and he could not support any housing development that pays no attention to that what-so-ever.


Clive Efford MP then drew the Boards attention to the Council Core Strategy re-iterating the comments of the other speakers that the development did not enhance or retain the character of Eltham, and was in an area not listed as a suitable location for tall buildings.  He concurred that tall buildings were inappropriate in this area with a negative visual relationship to designated heritage areas as this will be directly overbearing the Orangery.   He noted that this was not a brownfield site and felt that an opportunity to develop business premises and, affordable retail outlets, and as the Greenwich Enterprise Board were only ever offered the business elements at market rates there was no offer of social gain through the business element.  Overall he felt that this was a dreadful development and strongly urged the Planning Board to reject it. 


The Planning Board accepted an address from the applicant’s architect who stated that the application before Members was a revision of the previous scheme retaining the aspects that Members were happy with, including the principle of residential use, commercial use, design, car free and the level of affordable housing.  He noted that Members had felt the building was too large, questioned the relationship with the Orangery and wanted to see some car parking for disabled people and these comments were taken on board.  He advised that the building had been reduced in height, with an overall breakdown of the massing; the number of apartments had been decreased from 46 to 42; two disabled parking spaces had been provided and the affordable housing element had been increased to 21%.  He also noted that the Council Planning Officers were recommending planning permission was granted.


The applicants architect advised that no objections had been received from statutory consultees or the Council internal consultees. In planning policy terms, Eltham was identified in the London Plan as a major town centre and the application site was an area identified as a development opportunity.


He continued that the massing of the building had been broken down and the top floor of the southern element removed, reducing the height also resulted in a reduction in units and density whilst the level of affordable housing had been increased to 21% and Councils independent assessment concluded that this was acceptable.  Non-retail commercial units would be provided at ground level for either office or community use, adding an active frontage to the street.  The design and relationship with nearby listed buildings was looked at and amendments had been made although the previous scheme had been considered acceptable by the Councils conservation officer and historic England had raised no objection.


The applicants architect also drew Members attention to the change in distance from the rear of the properties in Dobels Road, to address residents’ concerns, with the development being 55 metres at the closest point and 00 metres to the top corner of the highest element.  Further, change in distance between the orangery building and the extension would result in views into rear gardens being screened and the visual impact assessment demonstrated that in visual and massing terms the building was acceptable and in line with other tall town centre buildings.


He continued that two disabled parking bays were added to the scheme and existing residents parking provision would be protected by ensuring that residents of the scheme could not apply for parking permits.   He noted that the development had regard to the town centre location as well as surrounding commercial properties and it was hoped that the changes made addressed Members concerns.  He noted that a review of objections received indicated a number of comments of concern from people outside of the Borough being encouraged to write in to object to the proposal, which was evident by some of the comments received, and lesser weight should be given to these objections.   He believed the scheme would provide smaller units within the town centre aimed at those who could not afford or have access to the 3 bedroom semi-detached houses characteristic of the area.


In response to Members questions the applicants architect stated that shared ownerships rather than social rented units were being provided as it was possible to provide more units.


The applicant’s agent added that the previous proposal offered affordable commercial space with residential above but in order to increase the level of shared ownership it was no longer possible to offer affordable commercial units.  He was unable to say if the viability assessment addressed the possibility of social rented accommodation.  He continued that there was a shortage of housing in Eltham and this development provided a mix of larger 3 bed units to smaller units and the shared ownership would require a joint income of £45K and would be advertised to local residents.


He responded that the design and height reflected that of the BT Tower and other new buildings in the area.  Also that the proximity to good public transport links lended itself to a higher density.  Further, all the flats would be design to meet lifetime standards and have level wheel chair access which was supported by the installation of two lifts.


With regard to the height of the tallest element it was noted that the reduction was from 8 floors to seven, but the height of the new proposal, taking into account the commercial element of 26 metres from ground, was 8 floors and sought clarification as to the actual height of the building.  To which the applicants architect responded that the tower would be ground plus 7 residential floors and reflected the steep slope of the site. 


In considering the application before them Members commented that it was felt the proposal could not be supported on the basis of height, scale, massing, density and the failure to complement the area.  That the development continued to overpower the Orangery as well as the negative impact on the local school and residents and it appeared that there was little in actual change from the original proposal rather than responding to the concerns raised by the local community.   That it was accepted that there was a need for residential units but not by way of 7 stories on this site.  There were concerns that no social rented element was being offered as shared ownership was not affordable and it was considered important to respond to residents’ concerns. 


Members considered that the application was not in accordance with the Eltham Masterplan or the Councils Core Strategy, or their intentions, on the biases of height and character in relation to the area, as well as overdevelopment and no affordable housing offer.


Councillor Hyland proposed that the application be rejected on the basis height, scale, massing and density; failure to reflect the character and appearance of the area; negative impact on the Grade 11 listed Orangery building or met the requirements of the Councils Core Strategy.  The motion to reject was seconded by Councillor Offord. 


The Chair noted that the issue of disabled parking had been addressed, that there had been a reduction in density, by the removal of 4 units and concerns around parking would be addressed by Conditions.


Before moving to the vote the Chair advised that Councillor Brighty would be unable to vote on the application as he was not present at the meeting for the entirety of the presentation and debate.


The Chair put the proposed motion to reject the application to the vote with 12 Members for rejections, 0 against and 0 abstentions.



Resolved –


That it be agreed to refuse full planning permission for the demolition of existing building and construction of a part 4 / part 8 storey mixed use development comprising a flexible B1 (Business) / D1(Non Residential Institution) use at ground floor level and 42 self-contained flats above for the following reasons.


That the proposed development represented and overdevelopment of the site by reason of its density, height, scale and massing, and would fail to complement the character and appearance of the street scene, surrounding area, and the setting of the adjacent Grade II* listed building. As such the proposal is contrary to the NPPF, policies 7.4, 7.6, and 7.8 of the London Plan (2016) and policies H5, DH1, DH3, and DH(I) of the Council’s Core Strategy (2014).

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