Work of the Planning Sub Committee
Overview of discussions at the Planning Sub Committee August 2018
The Malvern Civic Society (MCS) Planning Sub-Committee (PSC) meetings routinely review all live applications in the Malvern urban area; these include those brought forward from previous meetings. Since our July meeting, ten of the 'live' applications in the urban Malvern have been approved by the Malvern Hills District Council (MHDC) and one refused. There were 21 applications reviewed. Three items of business were discussed in depth.
Holyrood House, 11 Wells Road
A planning application proposes conversion of this residential house and bed-sits into 3 self-contained apartments, involving internal and external alterations and provision of car parking. Holyrood House was built in the mid 1800s for Dr. James Manby Gully, who was a leading exponent of hydrotherapy; the house was part of his clinic in Malvern, with Holyrood House for women and the adjacent Tudor House for men.
A spokesperson for the developer advises that the structure of the building has become dangerously insecure by neglect. Nevertheless, the firm intention appears to be that, despite the extreme difficulties, remedial and reconstruction work would be done in restoration. The PSC is keen to monitor the emergent issues as the application is considered for approval. The spokesperson has offered the PSC a virtual presentation of the intended work. The offer was accepted by the PSC with thanks, possibly for the October meeting.
Malvernbury, Abbey Road
The PSC reviewed a draft response letter from the Local Government Ombudsman, dated 23 August 2018, concerning complaints by Malvern residents about ongoing development at Malvernbury. The PSC has monitored the development work on this site for several years and liaised with MHDC planning officers and local residents in attempts to understand the processes allegedly employed by the Council to enforce control over application of the approved planning conditions.
The complaints against MHDC alleged that the Council had:
(a) failed to take sufficient action to enforce breaches of planning conditions on a grant of permission to develop the property;
(b) taken far too long to take enforcement action after being served with a breach of conditions notice (BCN);
(c) in some instances, taken no further action against the developer despite continued non-compliance;
(d) been inconsistent between two responses to the original complainant.
Of the 31 planning conditions set out in the original grant of permission to develop, the draft response letter details a number of instances where the Council is considered to be at fault, and invites MHDC to set out what action the Council intends to take to ensure compliance of the development with planning conditions. The Ombudsman cannot compel the Council to take any action at all, but his public final report and the Council's response are anticipated to attract considerable public interest.
The PSC agreed that any public comment by MCS on the Ombudsman findings and recommendations be deferred until issue of the Ombudsman's report.
NB A new planning application for Erection of 5 Flats and associated parking and engineering operations amendment to permission 09/01697/FUL in lieu of approved 3 town houses on this part of the site was validated on 29 August with close of consultations on 20 September 2018.
Land at Guarlford Road/Chance Lane - Malvern Hills Trust easement
Malvern Hills Trust (MHT) is understood to have received an application for an 'easement' that would enable access to a field between Guarlford Road and Chance Lane. (An 'easement' is a legal term for the granting of the right to use another person's land for a stated purpose. In this case, the right to construct and the public to use a roadway joining the public highway to the applicant's land.)
Speaking to the PSC, a spokesperson for the local residents group explained the concern of local people about the implications of such an easement. The field (estimated at approx.20 acres) would have had access to the highway only over land owned by MHT (formerly Malvern Hills Conservators). Consequently, MHT permission for easement is essential for the development to take place.
The PSC share the concern of the residents about the likely local impact of such development and the motivations of MHT to grant such an easement. There is presently no planning application in place but the size of the land may have the capacity for development in excess of 200 homes.
The PSC agreed to clarify MHT's powers to grant easements in the absence of an established need for such, i.e. access to approved planning permission for resident housing development.