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Richmond House 2014 Appeal

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Round Hill residents acted together to save Richmond House (now used by Pavilions Partnership fulfilling one of our city's important social needs) from demolition. We prevented a proposal for a 5-storey building comprising 138 student units from plugging long views out of The Round Hill conservation area at the north end of D'Aubigny Road and the east end of Richmond Road.

Richmond House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeal dismissed - 6th June 2014

Matsim's appeal against refusal of their proposed scheme for 138 student units immediately adjoining the Round Hill conservation area (and the junction of Hughes Rd with the Sainsbury supermarket service road) has been dismissed by planning inspector Sukie Tamplin.

She concluded that the proposed development would seriously harm the environment and the setting of the Round Hill Conservation Area in particular and would fail to improve the quality of the historic environment. The inspector also found that the economic re-use of the site, or policy compliant alternatives have not been fully explored.

See her appeal decision

Thank you to those who fought the campaign

Following much energetic campaigning by Round Hill residents, an appeal decision ensured that the current Richmond House building remained a 2-storey building and was not turned into a 5-storey 138 student unit. The panoramic views across the Lewes Road valley from the upper floor and car park/garden are still with us.

Thank you to Annie Rimington, Gina Citroni and other 'interested persons' who attended the appeal hearing in particular, Brighton and Hove City Council (especially the Case Officer and members of the Heritage Team) and all the residents who contributed to this result by taking pride in Round Hill and communicating the neighbourhood's concerns. The number of objections as well as the display of window posters in D'Aubigny Rd and Richmond Road on the day of the site visit, made local people's views clear.

BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS

The Local Authority's closing submission [PDF]

The Appellant's closing submission [PDF]

The latter are the summaries from Brighton and Hove City Council and the QC representing Matsims/ Mortar (the appellants) presented as part of the final stages of the appeal on Tuesday 20th May.

The appellant's document is dismissive of residents' concerns about the design. It accuses the Case Officer of negativity and assumes superior knowledge of the National Planning Policy Framework to that of the Local Authority. The arbiter of the NPPF in relation to this appeal was the inspector. She was not convinced by the arguments made on behalf of the developer so the appeal was dismissed and residents' concerns were listened to both by the Council and by the government's planning inspectorate.

Tuesday 20th May 2014 - Site Visit

Just before 3pm on Tuesday 20th May 2014, the Case Officer for appeal APP/Q1445/A/13/2210775 (Sukie Tamplin), about a dozen Round Hill residents, Mr A Lambor (the owner of Richmond House) and Matsim's team  started by looking at the interior of Richmond House. The developer's purpose was clearly to present the building as a structure which is at the end of its life and has no viable future. Residents were shocked when they entered to see multiple stretches of wiring dangling from the ceilings on each floor, ceiling panels uprooted and an obstacle course created at floor-level which compelled the tour group to step over broken masonry. These challenges to occupation were clearly not present when the building was last let.

Building presented in sorry state

Residents commented on the sorry state which we believed was part of a deliberate strategy. Some residents argued that the building was salvageable and cited other buildings in the city of a similar age which were better looked after and still thriving as business rental properties. The owner emphasized that the current use was no longer viable. Several residents commented on the mismatch between the current building (or a replacement for it) and the massive 5-storey building proposed which would have five times the floorspace of the current Richmond House.

Sealing in the gaps between the CA terraces

Richmond House

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Matsim's emphasized that the height of their proposed development was limited to two-storeys at Round Hill level, not exceeding the height of existing roofs. Residents took exception to the corner of Richmond Road and D'Aubigny Road being sealed off by the proposed building. Instead of seeing trees, the eye would fix on an exterior entirely out of keeping with the conservation area until it met the Amplicom building in Hughes Road which clearly belongs to the Industrial Estate.

A quiet area benefiting from long views

Richmond House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group wandered up Richmond Road to the corner of Mayo Road and back down again, noting the tranquility of the neighbourhood and the long views to the east of Hollingbury across to Moulsecoomb. A large building in the foreground would spoil the long views by subtracting from their depth and the feeling of openess which contributes to the sense of connection with both neighbouring hills and the Lewes Road valley.

Small back gardens - a different scale

Annie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were next invited into Annie's back garden from which there was a view of the service road up to Sainsbury's leading to the tall solid wall which partitions the garden from the supermarket delivery yard to the east.

If the 5-storey building were permitted, the structure would be visible to the north of the back gardens belonging to residents on the east side of D'Aubigny Road. These residents already have the noise of the Sainsbury delivery yard to contend with. Such massive bulk to the north, with further potential for noise breakout, would be obtrusive and involve further loss of amenity.

A settled community with a family presence

Richmond House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Appeal Inspector listened to a resident living at the SW end of D'Aubigny Road who valued seeing green at the north end of D'Aubigny Road and was happy to let their child wander fairly freely in a settled neighbourhood where family occupancy was re-establishing itself.

Vogue Gyratory - does it need more cyclists?


Vogue Gyratory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group walked fairly briskly on to the Hughes Road site of the application site, sampling the noise, obstacles and heavy traffic of The Vogue Gyratory as we went. 

Pitiful space to access such a large building

Yellow lines marked the junction of Hughes Rd and the Sainsbury delivery service road on both sides continuing right up to the gate of the delivery yard. Matsims stressed that they would have a crossing on the small area at the junction that they could claim as an access. This access would extend along a very small part of Hughes Road, but still seemed an inadequate space to service such a huge development with young people mounting & dismounting from bicycles, refuse collection and all the other services which a building of this scale would need.

Access likely to prove untenable

Richmond House

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I commented to the inspector that it was difficult to believe that a planning condition denying access from the Round Hill side of the building could be maintained since little time would pass before the very limited Hughes Road access on which all the servicing functions would have to depend, would prove to be untenable.

Diamond Court couple shocked

On our way back to Hollingdean Road, we encountered a couple we had spotted on one of the balconies of Diamond Court, who were horrified when they realised that the site visit related to what might be built directly opposite their home. They at least had the opportunity to speak to the appeal inspector, even if their representation was last-minute and took them rather unawares.

Green boundary exchanged for ugly building

We crossed to the north side of Holllingdean to look back at the application site and then made our way via the busy crossing just to the south of Lewes Rd bus station to a section of Bear Road looking back to the south west into the Round Hill conservation area. Matsim's building would replace   the green setting of a sizable chunk of the conservation area from this angle, though our particular vantage point was not very pleasant.

Two strong reasons for refusal were omitted

I could not help thinking that the main reasons for refusing the proposal lay far closer to the application site FIRSTLY in the safety risks of Hollingdean Road and The Vogue Gyratory. I did not attend the morning session or the first meeting, but I trust that something was also said SECONDLY about the folly of jeopardising the operation of a successful working industrial estate. This is land designated for employment and not the place to house 16 to 18-year-olds in vast numbers.

First meeting with the appeal inspector

During most of the day on Tuesday 15th April at Brighton Town Hall, The Planning Inspector heard Matsim's appeal (APP/Q1455/A/13/2210775) against the Council's decision to refuse permission to BH2013/02838, the application to build a huge 5-storey 138-room student hostel. 

The Inspector was very experienced and she chaired the day in a very inclusive way, so all the residents who were there were able to give their views and ask questions through out the day.

Matsims/Mortar employed a QC, experts on planning, light, business estate marketing etc......they are clearly very determined to win.

10 Round Hill residents attended for the morning and 5 were able to stay on for the afternoon too. A really good turnout, thank you all so much.

You will have seen the update following the first part of the Richmond Hse planning appeal hearing last week. There is now one final day with opportunities for you to make sure the Inspector understands why this building is completely inappropriate for Round Hill. The Planning Inspector is returning to Brighton for one more day to complete the appeal hearing and to make a public visit to the site.

Having spoken to the Council's Senior Planning Solicitor, we now understand that the appeal process requires the Inspector to 'go back to the beginning' and look at the application as a whole. This means you can still explain to her in person why you object to the application and, indeed, the Inspector said very clearly that she was open to receiving information from people she has not yet met.

What the planning committee said

Application No: BH2013/02838 Richmond House 138-room proposal The planning committee cast their votes as follows
7 AGAINST
3 ABSENTIONS
0 IN FAVOUR


Application No. BH2013/02838 was therefore refused.


Application No: BH2013/02838 Richmond House 138-room proposal

Mr A Lambor (Matsim Properties Limited) has lodged an appeal [APP/Q1445/A/13/2210775] against refusal of their planning application [No. BH2013/02838].  The deadline for public participation in the appeal has now passed, but several residents sent in letters to help to defend Brighton and Hove City Council's reasons for refusal. Here are some sample letters:

  1. proforma letter [Word Format] written by Annie (Chair of The Round Hill Society and D'Aubigny Road resident)
  2. shorter letter [PDF Format] written by Steve (Annie's partner)
  3. letter with pictures embedded [PDF Format] written by Ted.
A massive 138-room development, poorly located on a service road of an industrial estate, part deprived of natural light and part clashing with the period architecture of D'Aubigny Rd & Richmond Rd, is  a questionable way of helping 16-18 year olds from overseas to learn English. They would be better off more dispersed and under the supervision of host families who could give them practice of English.

What the planning committee said (2nd proposal)

Details of the 2nd proposal

Details of the 1st proposal

What the planning committee said (1st proposal)

Richmond House and The Centenary Industrial Estate
why a residential development on a successful industrial estate is contrary to the draft city plan.

Transport assessments which fail the public by putting people at risk

Richmond House as a Care Home? When a member of the planning committee asked for guidance as to what a suitable planning brief would be for the Richmond House site, the officer's answer was ""12 units with mixed use (some residential)". Could the site be suitably used for a Round Hill community care home?

Click here to review the Council's reasons for refusal largely reflecting local residents' concerns.

Click here to read Matsim's statement (summary) to support their appeal against refusal.

Richmond House - reasons for refusal 

BH2013/02838  - 21st November 2013 -  Brighton and Hove City Council

Reason 1 The submitted elevational plans lack detail and clarity. Notwithstanding the lack of detail the proposed development, by virtue of its design, which includes a bulky roof form, bulky mansard dormer features and projecting bay details, is unacceptable and would cause harmful impact upon the visual amenities of the Richmond Road/D'Aubigny Road street scenes and the wider area including the Round Hill Conservation Area and would fail to emphasis and enhance the positive qualities of the neighbourhood. The mass, scale and bulk of the development is substantially larger than the existing office building and would appear out of scale and overly prominent in views of the Round Hill Conservation Area. In addition the actual/visual loss of the existing embankment would result in the erosion of the distinct barrier between the Conservation Area and the less cohesive streetscape located to the north of the site, this in turn would have a harmful impact upon the distinctive layout and predominance of green space of the area when seen in longer views. The proposal is therefore contrary to development plan policies QD1, QD2, QD3, QD4 and HE6 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan.

Reason 2 Part of the proposed development would occupy a site which is identified as having potential for housing provision in the Council's Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which would therefore compromise the Council's ability to meet its housing needs and set an unwelcome precedent for the approval of student accommodation on other housing sites across the City in the future. For this reason the proposed development is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework, and policies CP1 and CP21 of the Brighton & Hove City Plan Part One.

Reason 3 The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the existing B1 office use is no longer viable and genuinely redundant by failing to adequately market the ground floor/entire building on competitive terms for a period of at least twelve months. In the absence of such evidence, the proposal would involve the unacceptable loss of employment generating floorspace. As such the proposal is contrary to policies EM3 and EM5 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan and policy CP3 of the Brighton & Hove City Plan Part One.

Reason 4 The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposed north facing accommodation would receive sufficient levels of daylight/sunlight Furthermore it is considered that the ground floor units would have an oppressive outlook due to the positioning of the proposed cycle storage facilities, facilities which would also create noise disturbance to the ground floor residents. As such the proposal would provide a poor standard of accommodation to the future ground floor residents, harmful to the amenity of future occupiers. As such the proposal is contrary to policy QD27 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan.

Reason 5 The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the proposed development would not have a significant impact upon the amenities of the new development located to the north of the site, between Hollingdean Road and Sainsbury's Service road, with regards to received levels of daylight/sunlight and over-shadowing. The proposed massing, scale and bulk of the building is considered to result in an unneighbourly form of development which is considered likely to have an adverse effect on the amenities of the neighbouring northern development by way of loss of daylight/sunlight, especially in respect of the single aspect flats. As such the proposal is contrary to policy QD27 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan and CP21 of the Brighton & Hove City Plan Part One.

Reason 6 The applicant has failed to demonstrate that adequate refuse and recycling provision can be provided. The proposed refuse store is not large enough for a development of the size proposed based on a weekly collection by the Council. No details of private refuse and recycling collections have been submitted as part of the application. Failure to provide adequate refuse and recycling facilities would have a harmful impact upon the amenities of future occupiers of the development and neighbouring properties As such the proposal is contrary to policies SU9 and QD27 of the Brighton & Hove Local Plan and PAN 05 on Design Guidance for the Storage and Collection of Recyclable Materials and Waste.

The developer's appeal case

This gives a flavour of what the developer will probably argue at the public hearing, so there is an opportunity to prepare good counter-arguments. The reasons for refusal give plenty to draw from.

Click here to read Matsim's statement (summary) to support their appeal.

Two reasons the Council should have added

I was disappointed that [1] protecting land use for employment on The Centenary Industrial Estate and [2] Road Safety in the vicinity of the application site were not among The Council's main reasons for refusal. The volume of traffic we encountered on Lewes Road when attending the site visit with the appeal inspector would have reiterated that offering bicycle parking to meet the transport needs of 16 to 18-year-old learners from overseas showed insufficient concern in planning for their safety.

  • [1] residential development on the Centenary Industrial Estate should be ruled out IN PRINCIPLE. The latter is contrary to what is recommended in Brighton and Hove City Council's 2006 and 2012 Employment Land Studies as well as the policies in our Local Plan and draft City Plan. Unless we establish this as one of the outcomes of this appeal, Matsim's will continue to put in for over-sized developments of 100 rooms plus.
  • [2] the transport arrangements (i.e. bicycles) proposed for '16 to 18-year olds from overseas' are not made any safer by presenting these teenagers as pre-university students.

it was stated in section 5.1 of the Transport Assessment which accompanied the first of Matsim's proposals that The Sussex Police have advised that there are a high number of collisions in the vicinity of the application site, particularly in and around the Vogue Gyratory.
The accident statistics for The Vogue Gyratory are available from Sussex Police, but the developer's Transport Assessment chooses not to record the actual figures (see lame reason for lack of analysis in section 5.2 of the Transport Assessment). Should a tourist city not value the safety of guests from overseas?
Vogue Gyratory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to explore these two themes.

This page was last updated by Ted on 10-Sep-2018
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