Our recent planning approval sought the conversion and change of use of two garages in Westminster to create extra living space for 2x dwellings.
This was a particularly challenging scheme, not least because of the site’s location within a Conservation Area and close to a terrace of Grade II listed properties. Furthermore, we were seeking to convert the existing garages within a controlled parking zone where the impact of the loss of 2 x garages would be keenly observed.
The importance of planning and community consultation:
Due to the sensitive nature of the development site we recommended and advised on a Community Consultation event which provided a valuable chance for the project vision to be clearly explained to both local residents and council members.
The outcome of the Community Consultation informed the proposals on several relevant planning factors and design considerations. From cycle parking and waste disposal to the design of the façade and preferred materials to be used. The public consultation responses were helpful in identifying key local views regarding the development. The comments made were carefully considered and resulted in several specific amendments to the proposals to address concerns.
Planning in a conservation area and preserving local character:
Due to the location, the design of the external alterations had to be carefully considered to ensure that the proposed scheme would integrate well with the local street scene. The resultant, sensitively designed scheme was developed by the team at Archio.
As for justifying the proposals in planning terms we prepared a site analysis which revealed useful insights in terms of architectural and material variety. We also identified pertinent precedents nearby, relevant planning history and decisions which further supported the proposals to convert a garage into habitable accommodation
Furthermore, we evidenced how the conversion of the garages into habitable accommodation would make a significant improvement to the standard of accommodation within each property, helping them to meet space standards.
The impact on parking and making use of a vacant space:
In this instance, the proposed conversion of the existing garages to habitable accommodation was contrary to local policy and would not be permitted other than in exceptional circumstances.
Our planners showed that a move away from policy would be pragmatic on this occasion, identifying that:
+ The garages were not fit for purpose and conflicted with national policy;
+ The application site benefited from being in a very sustainable location with excellent public transport accessibility;
+ As the site had not been used for car parking purposes for nearly 17 years, the ‘loss’ of the garages could be argued to be somewhat theoretical.
The term ‘Sustainability’ as used in Planning, is about applying a planning balance. In this case, living standards were being compromised to enable the provision of an inadequate garage parking space. We are so pleased that after fruitful engagement with the Council, they responded with an approval at Committee, rightly identifying that the need to try and ensure that these small mews houses met the requirements of the London Space Standards outweighed any minor negative impacts losing two unusable garage spaces might have.
Plainview Planning is an independent planning consultancy. We work on exciting and challenging projects across England, ranging from planning applications and appeals to large developments and commercial new builds. If you have a project and would like our expertise then contact the team today on firstname.lastname@example.org
Image source: Archio 2017