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Planning - December 2019
When the second plan to build Windsor House was finally approved the parking and access provision had received much scrutiny. Subsequently an application to change storage units into dwellings due to the change in the tenant’s needs led to an agreement for revised parking. A further application for a change of use to create an additional 1 bedroom flat is in progress. No onsite parking is offered, the developer falling back on the oft used mantra that being a town centre dwelling and with excellent public transport the occupant will not need to have a car. I have argued that the planning committee determined how many onsite parking places were required for this overall development. Sliding in additional units without proper parking has been a root cause of increasing the pressure on street parking, the impact of which is manifestly obvious in our residential street.
Red Kite is again seeking to gain maximum benefit from the land and property that it bought from the WDC. I attended the Red Kite exhibition last month in which the plan to build a single block of 12 flats with undercroft parking at Foxes Piece was displayed. The external design was pleasant and I can see no grounds for opposition on current planning grounds. Unfortunately for the residents the land selected for the new build once held garages. It is now is used for parking by residents of the existing 78 dwellings. If these flats were to be built now I calculate they would generate a requirement for 108 parking places for residents plus more for visitors. Manifestly the current planning rules do not protect the actual need of the community so when the new flats are built there will inevitably be a displacement on to the local roads. These are, of course, well parked by daily commuters who presumably will be displaced even further away from the town centre.
We continue to insist that the developer of the Portlands site reconstructs the upper entry on to Portlands Alley in accordance with the planning agreement. At present the stepped gateway is totally inconsistent with the needs of those using mobility aids and is inconvenient for those pushing children’s buggies and using bicycles. In this case the lack of enforcement by the WDC illustrates the power balance between developers and the local authority.
Three years have passed since the last "Lorry crossing the Bridge" incident. Since then the Thames Valley Police have conducted checks and issued penalties but these are now stopped due to higher priorities. We have big white bollards and laser measurement plus CCTV monitoring. None of these is preventing overweight vehicles crossing the bridge. Of the four short term measures proposed in the Highways report of Oct 17 only one has been implemented - the inadequate white bollards. How many more years will pass before the County Council will, quoting from the report:
" achieve its medium to long term objectives of:
Enforcement of moving traffic offences to enable the authority to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to registered keepers of vehicles traversing the structure in contravention of the TRO.
To apply a non-standard weight limit on the structure to allow access to vehicles that, whilst plated above the MGW rarely achieve that weight. The intent is to raise the limit to 3.5T. "
Meanwhile the Berks CC is proving to be intransigent. The MTC has planning approval and funding to replace the lights on our bridge. We have passed on historic information on past lighting but Berks wants a "consultant’s report" to show that the MTC plan is acceptable. [Jobsworth?]
I was very sorry to see the failure of the restoration work on the southern aspect of the obelisk. I flagged it up with Bucks Highways but nothing appears to have been done on site to date.
The Future of Regal House 4 - 6 Station Road
Regal House is a large block of offices on Station Road next to Marlow Place. Sorbon Estates submitted an application in January. This proposed the demolition of existing buildings and the redevelopment of site to provide 25 apartments (6 x 1 bed and 19 x 2 bed) with associated parking (including basement parking), access and landscaping. In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposed loss of an active ongoing employment use and the loss of a scattered business site for future employment use was considered to have a detrimental impact upon the District's ability to cater for future employment/business needs necessary to support economic growth. This aligns with the New Local Plan and the aim of maintaining employment in the town centre. The application offered inadequate parking provision and failed to meet requirement for affordable housing 40% of bed spaces.
On 28 Nov 19 the WDC published Sorbon's prior notification application (Part 3, Class O) for change of use of existing building falling within Class B1(a) (offices) to Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to create 18 residential dwellings. This will not need planning permission.
Local impact of development.
We have to accept that virtually all development work will take place within the built up area of Marlow due to the protected status of the land surrounding the town. Unfortunately the impact of development on local communities is not always recognised by the planning process and enforcement of parking controls is often "overlooked". Developers are supposed to submit a delivery plan as part of the planning process. In the case of Windsor House this worked extremely well with a minimal impact on Dean Street and the local verges. The current work at Wm Borlase’s School is resulting in road and pavement blockages. Much of the work in the central residential streets creates similar inconvenience. I am a member of the recently convened WDC Planning Community Panel. I will flag up this issue at the next meeting. Please let me know if you have been affected.
You may have seen the report in the local paper on the Marlow Town Council's proposal to "double deck" the Riley Road car park. I welcome the lodging of this proposal with the Bucks Council Shadow Cabinet but recognise that it will be parked until the new Bucks Council decides to look at it in conjunction will all similar proposals county wide. I reflect on my past reading of the extremely comprehensive Halcrow report of 1999. Funded by our local authorities this report provided a detailed analysis of Marlow's traffic and parking problems and proposed options for their alleviation. In the subsequent 20 years minor changes, such as our current town centre parking regime, have attempted to reduce the problem of a major increase in car usage within the town and as through traffic. In practice the need for a strategic approach, fully quantified in 1999, is still to be recognised by our local authorities. We will soon be electing our Bucks Council councillors.
Richard Parker has taken up the role of Planning Monitor. Each week he will check the list of applications and approvals and will comment and advise as appropriate.
MB - chair TMS Planning Group