Thursday, 16 April 2015

PLEASE ACT NOW: OBJECT TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION

WE NEED YOUR HELP! PLEASE WRITE AND OBJECT TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION!

Braywick Court School and their backers BPET have finally submitted their planning application. All the (complicated) files can be read on the RBWM website CLICK HERE. 

Objections need to be submitted to the council by 31st May.

Please email your objections (include your postal address in the email) to planning.maidenhead@rbwm.gov.uk - include reference: 15/00801/FULL

You can also send your objection letter to RBWM Planning, Town Hall, St. Ives Rd, Maidenhead, SL6 1RF - include reference: 15/00801/FULL

Please write your letter in your own words & don't just copy and paste exact wording from this site.

Please note that some objections are invalid such as: "The development adversely affects my view / would have an adverse effect on property values / the construction would cause disturbance."

We have put together some detailed notes on specific points which you may find helpful when making your representation to the Council regarding the application (luckily some of us know about planning laws!). 

Apologies for the length of the article, but there are just so many issues with the planning application that are completely contrary to planning policy, and factual errors in there too - that it's important to point them out and fight this!

Most importantly write about the issues that you care about most.

Valid planning objections include the following:

1.     The proposed development is contrary to national or local planning policy etc.;
         Below, various objections are listed together with the policy reference from either the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) or the saved policies from RBWM's Local Plan (LP).  The parking standards in the Local Plan have been superseded by Parking Strategy, 2004.

2.     The proposed development adversely affects the openness of the Green Belt.
     -   NPPF states in para. 79: 'The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.' 

     - LP Policy GB2 states that new development will not be permitted if it has a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than existing development on the site,
 
   -     The openness of the green belt would be adversely affected due to:
* the massing and height of the proposed development and its position close to the boundary wall;
* the need to replace the Nature Centre with a new building within the formal gardens;
* the proposed enclosure of the school site with 1.8 metre high weld mesh fencing

     - The proposed development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy.
        
         The proposed development is an inappropriate development within the green belt;

     -   The NPPF in para. 90 states that the construction of new buildings is inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this include:
Provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
The extension or alterations of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
The replacement of a building, provided that the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
Limited infilling or the partial complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development”.

     -   Similarly LP Policy GB2 states: Permission will not be granted for new development or the redevelopment, change of use, or replacement of existing buildings within the green belt if it would:
A) have a greater impact on the openness of the green belt or the purposes of including land in it than an existing development on the site;
B) harm the character of the countryside because of:
1) the scale, siting or design of the development or the materials employed; or
2) a material intensification in the level of activity on the site; or
3) a material increase in the scale of development on the site; or
5) harm to residential amenities in the locality; or
6) conflict with any other policies of the plan.
 
 -       In the Planning Statement, the applicant makes the following extraordinary comment:
         'The NPPF confirms that the re-use of buildings (paragraph 90), the infill of brownfield sites, appropriate extension or alterations of a building and provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor recreation (paragraph 89) are not inappropriate development. For these elements, there is no need to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ for planning permission to be granted.'
        
     -   These comments clearly disregard the caveats that any extension should not be disproportionately bigger than the original building, the replacement building should not be materially larger than the one it replaces, and the limited infilling would not have a greater impact on the openness of the green belt.   The new school development is almost 10 times bigger in terms of overall floorspace and the footprint is 7 times larger, and the building is over 2 metres higher than either the Nature Centre or the school buildings and is very close to the road.  The bulk and massing of the proposed development therefore has a significant adverse impact on the openness of the green belt.   

     -   The proposed new development is clearly inappropriate development in the green belt.  In terms of the very special circumstances set out by the applicant, it is stated that there is an educational need for the school and cites the Council's 10 Year School Expansion Programme.  The applicant also stated that there was a demand for places at Braywick Court School for 2015/2016.  The applicant also set out a number of alternative sites that had been considered but the preferred location was the Hibbert Road site.  

     -   However, no need has been put forward for the school for 210 pupils to be specifically located on the Hibbert Road site.  The school could be located anywhere in the Maidenhead area (though why 7 of the 11 sites looked at were in Slough is not explained…).   The applicant did not consider the possibility of a split site which has been advocated by local residents.  The fact that DFE (or EFA) can basically take control of any former educational site is considered the sole factor in the selection of this site.

     -   Para. 87 of the NPPF states:  'As with previous Green Belt policy, inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.'  And para. 88 states:  'When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. ‘Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.'

    -    It is not considered that very special circumstances exist which outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by reason of the inappropriateness of the development and other harm.  

    - The proposed development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy.       

3.     The proposed development is likely to cause traffic problems such as increased traffic generation, access or safety problems;

     -   Para. 35 of the NPPF states that 'developments should be located and designed where practical to:
accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and supplies;
give priority to pedestrian and cycle movements, and have access to high quality public transport facilities;
create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians, avoiding street clutter and where appropriate establishing home zones;
consider the needs of people with disabilities by all modes of transport.'
    
     -   RBWM LP Policy DG1 (Design Guidelines) states inter alia:
7) developments should provide adequate off street parking for vehicles and cycles in
     accordance with the Borough Council's adopted standards as set out in appendix 7. Such
     provision should be well landscaped and lend itself to a reasonable degree of surveillance;
8) development should provide adequate vehicle access, (including access for refuse collection and emergency vehicles), loading and unloading facilities and circulation space within the site as appropriate;
9) the traffic generated by the proposed development should not have an unacceptable effect on the local road network and the environment of the locality.

     -   RBWM's Parking Strategy 2004 states in para. 9.10.2:  Bus/coach loading and waiting areas either on the premises or on the highway will be required for most new schools and tertiary education facilities. Sufficient space should be reserved to allow buses to enter and leave the site safely.

  -      The Transport Assessment and the School Travel Plan (as well as the Planning Statement) all totally ignore the fact that Park and Stride is not working with just 30 pupils and will certainly not work with 210 pupils.  The Kiss and Drop scheme works at the moment but will become progressively more problematic as pupil numbers increase gradually to 210.  There is no information regarding the impact of increased traffic generation on Hibbert Road, the possibility of queuing out onto Hibbert Road, and concomitant road safety matters.    However, the intensification in the level of activity on the site and the substantial increase in traffic generation on Hibbert Road would have an unacceptable effect on the local road network and the environment of the area, giving serious concerns for road safety.  

     -   The application site itself cannot accommodate the delivery of goods and services - vehicles would be required to drive through the public car park to gain access to the school.  This would increase conflict between traffic and pedestrians in a well used public car park and would cause noise and disturbance to users of the formal gardens.

     -   Refuse collection is carried out on the public highway as there is no access into the site. The bin is left on the kerb so I suspect the Grundon Waste Management vehicle empties there.  Has anyone seen the bin emptied to confirm this? Collection is on a Wednesday I think.
        
     -   There is no mention in the Transport Assessment of where the occasional bus/coach parking will take place. 

     - The proposed development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy. 

4.    The proposed development is not in keeping with the scale or character of the local area; The layout and density of the proposed development is inappropriate;






     -   The NPPF in para. 58 states that developments should “respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation.”  

     -   LP Policy DG 1 (Design Guidelines) states inter alia:  '
         3)the design of new buildings should be compatible with the established street fa├žade having regard to the scale, height and building lines of adjacent properties….
         11) harm should not be caused to the character of the surrounding area through development which is cramped, or which results in the loss of important features which contribute to that character.'
 
   -     It is proposed to demolish a building with a footprint of 71m2 and replace it with one of 514m2.    The footprint of the proposed development is therefore over 7 times bigger than that of the existing building.     
        
     -   The total floorpsace within the new building is 762m2 which is 10 times bigger than the one it replaces.

     -   The height of the existing school building to be retained is approximately 8 metres and the ridge line is located well over 25 metres from the boundary wall.  The height of the school building to be demolished is 5.7 metres and the ridge line is approximately 18 metres from the boundary wall. 
        
     -   The ridge of the Nature Centre roof is 5.77 metres, and height to the eaves is just over 3 metres.  
        
     -   The proposed new building is 9.77 metres to the ridge and a little over 6 metres to the eaves.  The ridge line is about 5.5 metres from the boundary wall, and the southern facade of the building is just 2 metres from the boundary wall at its closest point (which is near the Nature Centre). 

     -   Clearly the proposed new building is not compatible with the scale of existing buildings on the site (the school building or the Nature Centre) or in the vicinity of the application site.    
         As the proposed new development is far closer to the street, it will be overpowering in terms of mass and height.

     -   The development is extremely cramped which again is out of character on Hibbert Road.  (Note that the proposed north and south elevations and Hibbert Road elevation are not accurate.)

     -   In terms of design, the Nature Centre dates back to Victorian times  whilst the school is early 1800's; the height, massing, and design of the proposed building  are not in keeping with the style/character of these buildings.

     - The development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy. 

5.     The proposed development will have negative impact on the amenity of another property, through noise, overlooking, overshadowing, loss of privacy, etc.

     -   The NPPF in para. 59 states: Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

     -   LP Policy GB2 states: Permission will not be granted for new development or the redevelopment, change of use, or replacement of existing buildings within the green belt if it would:
B) harm the character of the countryside because of: (inter alia)  
5) harm to residential amenities in the locality;
 
     -   There are clearly issues of noise, overlooking and loss of privacy, particularly with respect to the Well House, Malvern House, Braywick Lodge, The Coach House, and  xx.  Please write your objections from your point of view.

     -   The proposed development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy. 

6.     The proposed development provides insufficient parking/reduces the amount of car parking available;

     - LP Policy P4 states: The Borough Council will require all development proposals to provide car parking in accordance with the adopted standards as set out in appendix 7. (This has been superseded by Parking Strategy 2004 which states that the maximum required is 1 space per 1 full time equivalent.)

         LP POLICY P5 states: …… In all cases, on site operational car parking will be required.

     - The planning application site contains three distinct  areas, one of which is within the car park (the other two are the school site itself and the new area for the Nature Centre).  This site can accommodate only 8 cars which is not adequate for 8 teachers and 16 part time staff (full time equivalent is not provided on the planning application form.)    If the 'dedicated car parking' by the Maidenhead Target Shooting Club is a key part of the school's Travel Plan, then it should be included in the application site.

     - The lease of 8 car parking spaces to the school reduces the number of spaces available for the general public. 
        
     -   From the notes of the March Travel Working Party, the Head Teacher is trying to work out whether staff could use the Emperor of India car park or whether they would use the 'dedicated car park' by Maidenhead Target Shooting Club.  This matter is not addressed in the Transport Assessment or the School Travel Plan. 

     -   It is considered that given the lack of car parking on site, the failure of the Park and Stride scheme after only 3 months, the need for delivery vehicles and waste collection vehicles to travel through the car park, etc. there are firm grounds on which to speculate that the Hibbert Road car park would eventually be taken over by the school, were the development permitted.    This would represent a significant loss for members of the public who currently use and enjoy Braywick Park. 

     -   The proposed development is therefore contrary to local planning policy. 

7      The proposed development would impact the setting of listed buildings;

     -   The terrace of five cottages opposite the school building are Grade 2 Listed Buildings.
        
     -   The NPPF states in para 129: Local planning authorities should identify and assess the particular significance of any heritage asset that may be affected by a proposal (including by development affecting the setting of a heritage asset) taking account of the available evidence and any necessary expertise. They should take this assessment into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset, to avoid or minimise conflict between the heritage asset’s conservation and any aspect of the proposal.  

 -       LP Policy LB2 states: The Borough Council will have special regard to the reservation of listed buildings and their settings and will (inter alia):
         5) ensure that development proposals do not adversely affect the grounds and/or setting of listed buildings.

   -     There is no site section showing the impact of the new development on the listed cottages.  The closest representation is the modelled view from The Causeway immediately adjacent to Rose Cottage.    Mike Alcock had requested a site section back in October/November but it was never provided and does not form part of the planning application.
   
 -       The proposed development is therefore contrary to national and local planning policy. 

8.     The proposed development includes insufficient landscaping and will result in significant loss of trees;

         The NPPF in para. 58 states that planning decisions 'should aim to ensure that developments (inter alia):
·  are visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping.'

     -   LP Policy N6 states: The Borough Council will, where appropriate, require applications for new development to:
1) submit a detailed tree survey as part of a planning application wherever existing trees are a feature of the site. Plans for new development should, wherever practicable, allow for the retention of existing suitable trees;
3) include an appropriate tree planting and landscaping scheme where the amenity value of trees outweighs the justification for development, planning permission may be refused.
    
     - The plans show a plethora of proposed new trees on site; however, it is very doubtful that 37 'large ornamental structure trees' would be planted on the school site, together with 12 fruit trees and three Scots pines of equivalent size to the existing yew trees.   A realistic landscaping scheme should be submitted so that the impact on the adjacent formal gardens can be assessed.

     -   The development involves the loss of the three yew trees plus two field maples and the two apple trees in the 'orchard'.    The yew trees would be replaced with an equivalent number and size of pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine).     The landscaping plans suggest that there will be 'proposed large ornamental structure trees' - 21 along the northern and western boundary and a further 16 on the southeastern boundary.   The plans show that the yew tree just outside the application site by the notice board would need to be pruned.  In addition, it is likely that the two holly trees by the northern boundary would also need to be pruned in order to get construction vehicles (tipper lorries, cement mixers, etc.) into the site. 

     -  The proposed development is contrary to national and local planning policy.

9.     The proposed development would damage the natural environment

         The NPPF in para. 109 states: The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by:
·  protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, geological conservation interests and soils;
·  recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services;
·  minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible

         LP Policy N9 states:  In considering development proposals affecting local nature reserves and wildlife heritage sites, the council will have particular regard to the need to protect natural features and the availability of mitigation measures. Measures will be required to safeguard and enhance wildlife heritage sites included within any development proposals.

     - The application site is virtually adjacent to the Dell which forms part of the Local Nature Reserve, a statutory designation; the Dell is also a Local Wildlife Site though this does not have statutory designation.    The impact of noise and disturbance from 210 pupils may be addressed in the Ecology report but that is not available on the Council's website. (At least I haven't found it.)

     -   The application does not address where the pupils will play.  This past year, the pupils have been seen playing in the Dell.  Whilst the possibility of future impacts is not a valid planning objection, it is considered that there are legitimate concerns that an increasing number of children would  use the Dell; this would have an adverse impact on the LNR through noise and disturbance.   

     - There is no information on where the pupils would play other than in the insufficient spaces outside the classrooms.  RBWM stated in the Educational Case and Site Options Assessment May 2013 that the Building Bulletin 99 (2nd Edition) - Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects provides guidance on the number, type and size of spaces required for new school buildings and outdoor space.  For a primary school with an intake of 30 pupils (total 210 pupils), the likely site size is 9,592m2 .   The site area of the proposed school is 2653m2 , which is  only 28% of the recommended size.  Free schools however do not need to meet the standards expected of local authority controlled schools.    

     - It is considered that given the lack of open space, there are legitimate concerns that there will be pressure on the formal gardens for play space which would have an adverse impact on the environmental quality of these gardens which are well used by members of the public - and not just by dog walkers. 

     -   The proposed development is contrary to national and local planning policy.

10.  The proposed development would result in the loss of open space in Braywick Park which is important to the visual and environmental quality of the area.

     -   LP Policy R1 states: The Council will not approve proposals which would result in the loss of existing areas of important urban open land identified on the proposals map, and other areas of open space which are important to the visual and environmental quality of urban areas unless:
         1) they are replaced by new provision which is at least comparable in terms of facilities, amenity and location; or
         2) they can best be retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site.
         The above exceptions will not apply to land which is considered by the council to be of irreplaceable amenity value and, in any other case, the council will expect to be satisfied that a retention of the entire site for recreation or community use is not feasible.

     - The development involves the loss of open space around the Nature Centre which is to be taken over by the school and the loss of open space where the replacement Nature Centre is proposed to be located.   The formal gardens are well used by the public (not just dog walkers).  The visual and environmental quality of the formal gardens would be adversely affected by the massing and height of the new school development together with the 1.8 metres high weld mesh fence along the northern boundary, as well as by the proposed log cabin structure for the replacement Nature Centre.   The existing buildings on the site (with the exception of the single story school hall) date back to the 19th century.

     - It is considered that given the lack of play space within the application for the school, there are legitimate concerns that there will be pressure on the formal gardens for play space which would have an adverse impact on the environmental quality of these gardens which are well used by members of the public - and not just by dog walkers. 

     -   The proposed development is contrary to local planning policy.

11.  The proposed development would have an adverse impact on the Green Way recreational route

     - LP Policy R14 states: The Borough Council will safeguard and enhance the public rights of way network and recreational cycle routes. In particular the Borough Council will:
         2) support the establishment of the Green Way recreational route between Cookham and Bray as shown on the Proposals Map, through:
         (i) signposting and promoting the use of the green way for walkers and, where appropriate, cyclists;
         (ii) making the route accessible to the elderly, disabled and people with prams or pushchairs by removing steps and stiles;   
         (iii) resisting proposals which would prejudice the route or detract from users' enjoyment of it;
         (iv) encouraging improved access and landscape enhancement to areas adjoining the route.
         3) support the development of circular walks especially where these enhance the recreational value of the Green Way and/or the Thames Path.

     -   The following aspects of the proposed development would detract from users's enjoyment of the Green Way:
*  increased pedestrian/vehicular conflict due to an increase in vehicular movements (cars and delivery lorries) within the Hibbert Road car park through which the Green Way passes;
*  increased pedestrian/vehicular conflict due to an increase in vehicular movements (delivery vehicles and possibly waste collection vehicles) along the Green Way itself where it runs along the northern boundary of the school site to the entrance to the school;
* increased traffic generation on Hibbert Road alongside which the Green Way follows from the Hibbert Road car park to The Causeway;
* noise and disturbance from a 210 pupil school immediately adjacent to the Green Way (as compared to a school with 90 to 100 pupils);
     -   Whereas the Council seeks landscape enhancement to areas adjoining the Green Way, the proposed development involves the removal of the 3 yew trees and the two field maples which are in the garden area to the north of the Nature Centre and the addition of 1.8 metre weld mesh fencing  along the northern boundary.   The proposed new landscaping is rather questionable; it is difficult to see how 21 large ornamental structural trees can be accommodated along the northern boundary together with 12 fruit trees in the vicinity of the former Nature Centre.  Therefore it is difficult to assess the impact of the development in terms of landscaping unless a realistic landscaping scheme is submitted so that the impact on the adjacent formal gardens can be assessed.

     -   The proposed development is contrary to local planning policy.

12.  The proposed development involves the loss of the Nature Centre for use by the general public

     -   LP Policy CF1 states:  The Borough Council will not permit the loss of existing community facilities and buildings unless it is satisfied that:
         1. There is no longer a need for them; or
         2. An acceptable alternative provision is to be made elsewhere.         

     - The proposed development involves the loss of the Nature Centre, an attractive building with character dating back to the 19th century, together with its open space for use by the public, including schools, other user groups, and the general public.  It is not considered that the proposed log cabin development is an acceptable alternative provision.

     -   The proposed development is contrary to local planning policy.

* Note regarding the invalid objection that the construction of the building would cause disturbance: 
       In this case, the Transport Statement does not address construction impacts other than to say that Hibbert Road may need to be closed in order to crane in certain building materials.  Clearly the construction compound will not fit on the application site and therefore it seems inevitable that the Hibbert Road car park will be taken over completely during the construction process which will be a matter of many months.   There will be lorries taking away excavated material, cement lorries, and many lorry loads of building materials which will all have to go into the Hibbert Road car park.  There will be no room to store the materials within the application site for the school or the replacement Nature Centre.  Therefore, as there will be construction impacts - disturbance etc - outside of the application site, I think this matter should be raised as an objection, particularly for residents living opposite the car park.