In May we reported that a revised planning application for Compass House – the office block on the A30 – had been submitted. The new application proposed that the building be converted to forty five flats, rather than the originally intended forty one.
At the time, we expressed concern about the relatively small number of parking spaces to be provided. (We calculated that the intention was to provide 0.73 spaces per flat.)
Well, a further application has now been submitted. This proposes to add a further floor to the building, and thus create a total of fifty one flats. The scheme includes just twenty five parking spaces, including one for disabled drivers.
Now, we’re no expert in planning matters. But our understanding is that there aren’t any national ‘rules’ on the provision of on-site parking. The county council. though, has produced guidelines, and these suggest one space per small flat. However, they are only guidelines, and fewer spaces may be acceptable where there is good public transport. As parking in the Atrium car park is an option on those occasions when the provision is inadequate, perhaps half a space per flat is sufficient. Though, as many people are reluctant to pay for parking, we have our doubts!
Two other factors strike us. Firstly, as far as we can see the planning application makes no provision for social housing. (Perhaps we’ve missed it – there’s a lot of documentation to plough through.) Secondly, new housing is expected to provide sufficient ‘amenity space’. The application does propose some rather unexciting green space for the ground floor flats, but the majority of occupants would have to do without. We’re not sure that that’s acceptable.
But we’re frustrated by the borough council. In an official public notice, the council states “the … application does not accord with the ..development plan…” (the full text is typical gobbledegook: “The following application does not accord with the provisions of the development plan in force in the area in which the land in which the application relates is situated.”) However, the official notice does not say in what way the application fails to comply. Why?? Is it a secret? What’s the point of a public notice that lacks key information? We despair. We really do.