In each of its meetings the Planning Sub Committee (PSC) meetings reviews all live applications in the Malvern urban areas.
Since our August meeting, 20 or so of the previously ‘live’ applications in the Malvern urban area have been approved by the Malvern Hills District Council, 1 has been refused. There were 20 ‘brought forward’ applications and 14 new ones, all of which we reviewed in varying degrees of detail. In our opinion just one of the applications warranted response this month. Three matters were discussed in depth.
17/00693/FUL Myrtles & Northcot – Como Road
This application is for the demolition of the existing dwellings on the application area and proposes the construction of a block of 7 new apartments and one town house. The site has a history of planning applications, with approvals and rejections. Our opinion is that the size and scale of the proposed apartment block and the setting of the house would fail the planning requirement “to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Great Malvern Conservation Area”. In this part of the Great Malvern Conservation Area the historical pattern of domestic development is for spacious gardens such that the individual substantial buildings avoided oppressive intrusion on their near neighbours. Should development of this site be approved, proposals should include the repair and reinstatement of the Myrtles Spring, inclusion of a SuDS (Sustainable Drainage System) and the careful protection of the old stone wall at the south of the site.
In technical terms, members of the Planning Sub Committee considered that the degree of harm that the proposal would impose on the heritage asset of the area is considerable and that public benefits of the development will not outweigh the significant adverse impact upon the visible environment. Specifically, that the planning proposal would therefore fail to comply with South Worcestershire Development Policies SWDP6, SWDP21 and SWDP24 as well as policy contained within the National Planning Policy Framework at paragraphs 17, 131, 132 and 134.
Taking all of these matters into account, Malvern Civic Society Planning Sub Committee submitted a recommendation to the Council planners that the application be refused.
HER (Historic Environment Record).
A member of the PSC has requested a summary of the work to date on the HER. Project. Louisa Davidson advised that MCS Architecture Group led by her and Jacob Rock carried out an Historic Record search for the Centre of Malvern in 2013-16. A total of about 2000 buildings were included in a photographic survey project covering Great Malvern, Trinity and Malvern Link up to and including Richmond Road and included about 2,000 buildings. To complete the survey, further work would be needed on the remainder of Malvern Link and the whole of Barnards Green. The feasibility of such a project would require committed voluntary contribution by Society members, particularly including some with architectural expertise, computer and data collection skills.
The possibility was discussed briefly and further consideration deferred until the October meeting.
A “Carbuncle” building in Somers Road, Malvern
A month or two ago, the modern extension to a Victorian house in Somers Road, Malvern was shortlisted for the ‘Carbuncle Cup 2017’, an award run by the website Building Design for Britain’s worst building. The building currently presents as an imposing, carefully maintained Victorian house attached to a substantial rectangular single storey extension faced with white faience tiles. We understand that local planning guidance strongly suggests that a clear boundary should be maintained between new and old structures. This condition has clearly not been met to, in our opinion, the detriment both of the development and the local conservation area.
The development is allegedly to an application approved in 2015, seemingly by delegated authority to planning officers. The architectural documents supporting the application are not presently available for scrutiny on the council website.
When a councillor spokesperson for planning was recently challenged to justify the mismatch between planning policy and approved development for this building, the answer was with words to the effect that it was a “prime example of a bad planning decision”.
Graham Myatt Sept 2017