Poole Council are proposing to alter the conservation status of certain roads in the area. Their full report is available here: http://www.boroughofpoole.com/planning-and-buildings/urban-design-and-conservation/heritage-conservation-areas-and-listed-buildings/
On 29th of July 2014 local residents held a meeting to discuss this proposal and the minutes of this meeting follow.
MINUTES OF PUBLIC MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 29 JULY 2014 AT 6.00PM IN THE LOUNGE, BRANKSOME ST. ALDHELM’S PARISH CENTRE
PRESENT: Terry Stewart (TS) John Sprackling (JS)
Chairman Vice-Chairman Membership Secretary
Hon Secretary Magazine Editor
Canford Cliffs Ward Councillor
Senior Urban Design and Conservation Officer Planning Policy & Implementation Manager
Wayne Hancock (WH) Michael Parkin (MP) Carol Parkin (CP) John Gunton (JG)
Cllr Neil Sorton (NS)
Aliis Kodis (AK) Nigel Jacobs (NJ)
Approx 70 Members/residents
JS began by thanking everyone for their attendance and introduced Aliis Kodis. Senior Urban Design and Conservation Officer and Nigel Jacobs, Senior Urban Design and Conservation Officer.
2. Presentations by Nigel Jacobs (NJ), Planning Policy & Implementation Manager & Aliis Kodis (AK) Senior Urban Design and Conservation Officer.
NJ began by thanking the Association for the invitation to give a presentation on the proposed changes to the Canford Cliffs Conservation Area and explained the general context as to why it was thought these were necessary.
AK then covered the following issues (A copy of AK’s presentation will be circulated with these Minutes)
1. What Conservation Area designation seeks to preserve and what constitutes ‘Special Interest’
2. The purpose of the Review
3. Current Policy relating to the existing conservation areas
4. The areas we surveyed
5. The two main issues to emerge from the consultation so far:
· the suggestion to de-designate the Beach Road conservation area, and
· the suggestion to remove Canford Cliffs Road from the Branksome Park conservation area
6. The suggested new approach to dealing with planning applications in Branksome Park
3. Question & Answer session
Q What are the intentions re Pinecliffe Road?
A Pinecliffe Road will stay in the Conservation Area.
Q If the speed limit in Canford Cliffs Road is 30mph how does it get to be designated as a ‘fast’ road?
A It is a wide road and people do speed down there.
A discussion followed about the fact that this road should be designated a ‘fast’ road, as the speed limit was definitely 30mph. Others referred to other roads within Branksome Park where the 30mph speed limit is not observed such as Western Ave and why Canford Cliffs Road, in particular, should be described a
a ‘fast’ road.
Q What exactly is being gained by removing Canford Cliffs Road from the Branksome Park Conservation Area (BPCA)?
A After surveying it, this particular road is not ‘characteristic’ to the rest of the BPCA.
NJ said that Planning Applications not approved by the Council are constantly being overturned by the Inspectorate on Appeal and the Council is aware that by not updating their outdated policy they are vulnerable to having costs awarded against them.
A resident asked for an example and AK cited an example of where the Council’s decision had been overturned because the Inspectorate didn’t agree with the reasons for refusal, but couldn’t remember which specific property this was.
Chairman’s note: This case may be the allowed appeal against 08/25076/009/F (Alterations to existing access and erection of entrance gates and piers) 79 Canford Cliffs Road. Both sides claimed costs, but none were awarded.
Harry Alexander raised the legal aspect and said that, if Poole Council followed the Conservation process in its due form i.e. not taking money for the application then the Planning Application could be decided by the Council without having to go forward to the Inspectorate.
NJ disagreed strongly. He said that the reasons for re-designating some of the Conservation Areas is so that the Council’s policy is ‘robust’.
Q How are the residents to know where the Branksome Park Conservation Area begins and ends, if the natural boundary of Canford Cliffs Road is not used.
A Any resident affected by any changes would be notified by the Council. Q What is simpler than having a long straight road as the boundary.
A A long straight line, though logical, only makes sense if it works.
Q What’s to stop flats being built towards Penn Hill end or further up Canford Cliffs Road as the Council has already allowed the building of flats on Canford Cliffs Road near Compton Acres on both sides of the road.
A Council policy is not to allow flats to be built in a road consisting predominantly of houses.
A resident stated that blocks of flats are creeping along Canford Cliffs Road and this is being driven by developers. It seems to him that, when the Conservation. Area status is removed the Eastern side of Canford Cliffs Road, this will lead inexorably to more flats and that the Council’s proposed changes are being driven by the fear of litigation and costs. None of the proposed changes are going to be of benefit to the residents
This statement was greeted with a large round of applause.
In response, NJ replied ‘I’ll take this as a statement’ – the resident then asked ‘who is going to benefit from this change?’
A Repeated that the Council has to have justification for keeping things as they are.
Q Once again, what is driving this change?
NJ said that, at this stage, the changes are only a proposal. The boundary review proposal is a consequence of an assessment of the conservation area against the criteria for designating such areas.
Another resident said that, in 21 years, there has been no change to the Eastern side of Canford Cliffs Road, except to No.1, and once again, what is driving this decision as it is of no benefit whatsoever to the residents
One member couldn’t see why the Northern side of Lindsay Road, which had a higher density of traffic than Canford Cliffs Road should remain in the Conservation Area, whilst Canford Cliffs Road should be taken out.
A It is felt that the general character of Lindsay Road made it worth maintaining in the Conservation Area, despite the traffic.
Q As there are only six properties in Western Avenue which are classified in the Survey report that are deemed to be ‘positive’ and everything else is deemed ‘negative’ and, as there is also a fair amount of ‘fast’ traffic, when does this road lose its Conservation Area status?
A It is not necessarily the buildings alone in Branksome Park that are important, but the general character. You will find that there is a lot of green in Western Avenue.
A resident retorted that “There is also a lot of green on Canford Cliffs Road”.
Q What are we trying to preserve if an Inspector cannot see it from the road, and is therefore not interested. There are several houses on Canford Cliffs Road that are worthy of preserving, despite what the Council’s Survey report says. “I don’t agree with your survey at all.”
It was pointed out that the findings in the Council’s Survey report were not consistent with what is physically there and some worthy buildings had been scored negatively.
Once again – what are they trying to conserve.
A In terms of Conservation Area status, one has to be able to see the buildings from the public highway. If they are not seen they are not adding to the public amenities of the area, therefore they do not score and thus appear negatively.
A resident pointed out that, if the Council remove the Eastern side of Canford Cliffs Road from the Conservation Area, it is ‘leaving the door wide open’ for another Planning decision to be appealed against and then there will be another block of flats on Canford Cliffs Road and that will erode the character of the area. So far, the character of the road has NOT been eroded. Since 1981, when the Conservation Area was first introduced, there has been very little change to the Eastern side.
The Beach Road Conservation Area (BRCA) was then raised and a resident said that the BRCA was a woodland so why must that be taken out of the Cons. Area.
A Landscape alone is not a reason for designating a Conservation Area.
A member pointed out that Beach Road Car Park is unpopular because the road has to be crossed to access the beach, and there have been several accidents on this road.
Q Are trees on Council-owned land subject to TPOs. A No. not normally.
A resident stated that the only thing wrong with Beach Road Car Park is the lack of proper signage.
NJ agreed and said that he would be taking that up with Transportation Services again.
Aimee Alexander stated that, by sacrificing these Conservation Areas, the whole vista as seen from the Harbour will be changed, and all the years of hard work to put these Conservation Areas in place will be sacrificed at one stroke.
Q Why was Beach Road designated as a Conservation Area in 1990 and now it is proposed to be de-designated.
A The Council view is that it appears to have been designated purely for landscape reasons, and the view now is that it doesn’t justify Conservation Area status.
NJ said that he was not saying that the Council does not value the area as a verdant pleasant area, but that it just does not meet the criteria as a Conservation Area.
A resident stated that, because of the difficulty actually finding Beach Road Car Park, tourists are put off visiting the area and move on.
Bertie Bowman asks if he may call on the Council to arrange a similar meeting for the Lilliput and Neighbourhood Association.
Q If Compton Acres is removed from the Conservation Area doesn’t this leave it open for this to be the next housing development.
A The reason it is proposed that this area be removed from Conservation Area status is that it is already a Grade ii Park and Garden, which actually provides it with more protection than Conservation Area status. The Council feel there is no need for this duplication.
Q So are you saying that the protection status will be no worse than presently.
Q If you ignore the residents’ opinions on these issues is there any comfort you can give us that the three-quarter acre rule of the Covenants in Branksome Park will afford us some protection.
A Planning consent may be gained, but it may not be able to be implemented, as release from the Covenant will be required.
Q Will those of us who have a three-quarter acre plot on the Eastern side of Canford Cliffs Road still be protected from a neighbour wishing to split his plot because of the Covenant, should the Conservation Area status be taken away.
JS intervened at this point and said that, as many of the Covenants had been varied & waived over the years, he thought not and made reference to the Lands Tribunal case involving McCarthy & Stone, 14/14A The Avenue and (The) Branksome Park Association Ltd. As he understood it, the case was dismissed as (The) Branksome Park Association Ltd did not contest this. NJ thanked JS for his clarification on this matter.
Chairman’s note: I’ve always understood it to be the case that, if the Local Planning Authority give consent to a Planning Application, the Lands Tribunal will not over-rule this unless there is an overwhelming reason for doing so.
Q What is the reason for taking Beach Road out of the Conservation Area
A The flats do not meet the criteria for designating this a conservation area.
Q Is Luscombe Valley in the Conservation area. A No
Q It is obvious from the tone of the meeting that residents are far from happy with the proposed plans. What action can be taken by the residents to re-address the balance should the Council decide to go ahead with this plan.
A As we are still within the consultation period, so residents can send their views to the Council.
You can also lobby your Ward Councillors. There is no right of appeal once this has been decided by the Council.
Q Is there an option to make representations through the Residents Association.
A That would be at the discretion of the Chairman.
Chris Stacey stated that, after speaking to people in another part of the country
they felt that there was no point in having Conservation Areas, as the Council allows any sort of building anywhere. CS thought that the meeting was a waste of time as no one will take any notice of what is being said here and things will just carry on as normal.
JS said if residents were unhappy, they should lobby their Ward Councillors and when the changes and results of Public Consultation are reported to the Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee, attend this meeting in force, to show the strength of public feeling.
Cllr NS said, in so many words, that he was ‘gearing himself up’ to receive a large number of e-mails on this subject
JS thanked Nigel Jacobs & Aliis Kodis for attending the meeting and answering residents’ questions and concluded the meeting at 07.30pm.
4. Next Steps
- The ten week Public Consultation ends on 3 September
- The Council will take account of public comments
- Changes and results of Public Consultation will be reported to the Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee to be held later in the year. Chairman’s Note Meetings are fixed for 6 November 2014 and 22 January 2015