47 West Way – my speech to Cttee

On 23 Mar 16, Planning Committee granted permission for the proposed flatted development, by 6 votes to 3.  Vale officers’ view was that these flats are to be sold on the open market, so it’s a case of caveat emptor. Vale says they are providing people with a choice. I spoke to object to it, saying this:

  1. Officer cites as precedence for under-provision of parking the flats down the street, built with zero onsite parking about 8 years ago. That decision led to residents parking their vehicles in streets way over the other side of the A34 flyover. And THAT led to implementing a CPZ at not insignificant cost to residents there. Delivery vehicles to the flats must park half on the pavement and half in the busy road, obstructing both.  This decision was a mistake, harming residents and the wider community, so don’t let that work in your minds as a successful precedent.
  2. The officer’s report fails to adequately consider the accumulated harm from the various shortcomings:
    1. Officer points out harm to the character of the area, due to three stories in the midst of two storey structures, and unmatched styles.
    2. Officer points out that highways thought a dropped kerb in front of Oxford Sofa Studio next door was unsafe due to the busy road. Surely the same applies here?
    3. Officer points out significant noise on the site.
    4. Officer points out harm to the amenity of future residents and neighbours.
    5. Officer points out the density of 110dph is high, but doesn’t give a steer about how high or what would be appropriate for this area. Saved Policy H15 sets 50dph as an effective density within Botley centre. That policy also makes clear that high quality living environments are the most important thing.
    6. Officer points out nearby locations of other dwellings where the noise is worse. Noise and congestion on A34 continues to increase. I don’t think previously built dwellings where noise levels exceed what’s healthy should in any way be used to justify building more of them.
    7. Officer points out that amenity provision is well below Design Guide requirements. I’ve asked him to provide details to committee. In some cases, provided amenity space is only 10% of the minimum required. A 2BR flat should have a minimum of 50sqm, and this one has only 5.
    8. Section 6.37 of the officers report explicitly assumes people living here don’t want amenity space. That’s just not true. That’s like saying people who can only afford to live here don’t deserve nice, quiet, private outdoor space. No! That’s not what we stand for.

The NPPF and our local policies explicitly support high quality design in our developments. This isn’t one.

I think the cumulative harm is significant and demonstrable and outweighs the benefit of the proposals.