21/500006 Land east of Unit 4 Upper Brents Industrial Estate and north of plot 29 Waterside Close Faversham ME13 7DZ
Mixed use development comprising the erection of a part three storey and part four storey building comprising 6x2 bedroom flats and 4x1 bedroom flats across the upper floors and associated parking, cycle storage and amenity space with access and turning via Waterside Close. Erection of 4 commercial units for class E (g) (iii), B2 or B8 with associated access and turning via a separate road.
This application should be refused because the development of the residential accommodation as a three and four storey building would have the following negative impacts as set out below: Harm to the character and appearance of the Faversham Conservation Area; harm to views of the edge of town from the sea walls and coastal path on the Hollowshore and Sewage Works sides of the creek; harm to the RAMSAR site by the introduction of additional housing with pets that would disturb or consume wildlife; harm to the operation of the Brents industrial estate contrary to policy BIE1 of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan and the agent of change principle in the NPPF.
Part of this site is adjacent to the new houses being built on plots 25-29 Waterside Close. This was part of a scheme approved in 2000 which was mostly implemented but not completed. Two years ago, the owners successfully removed a legal agreement requiring that the ground floors of the houses should remain in class B1 office use to avoid residential being at ground floor level for flood reasons. Very few of the houses were complying. As a result, it became viable to complete the estate and the extra five houses are almost finished and match the style of the main part of the development.
The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan adopted in 2017 forms part of the Swale Local Plan, ‘Bearing Fruits’. It includes policy BIE1 which requires that Brents Industrial Estate shall be retained in industrial use for a mixture of class B1 (now E (g) (iii)) and B2 uses to provide local employment and relatively low-cost premises for small businesses. The supporting guidance acknowledges that part of the site of this development contains the remains of some units destroyed by fire which have not been replaced.
The Brents Industrial Estate is adjacent to the Faversham Conservation Area which includes Waterside Close and is also adjacent to Ham Marshes which forms part of a Special Protection Area and a RAMSAR site. This is a very visible and prominent edge to the town which is visible for long distances along the sea wall on both sides of the creek.
The proposed commercial units would be tall single storey buildings constructed to match other units on the site with metal cladding and doors. It is proposed to set them at right angles to the existing units instead of continuing the row onto the site of the units demolished following the fire damage. By themselves, these would be acceptable but would be better if located to continue the row as they would be less visible from across the creek. They would also comply with the aims of policy BIE1.
In addition, it is proposed to build a block comprising 10 flats with ground floor used for cycle storage and parking. The first, second and third floors would be used as flats, most of which would have terraces. The building would be taller than the existing houses at 25-29 Waterside Close and would be on the furthest part of the site abutting the marsh. It is considered that the principle of creating additional residential accommodation immediately adjacent to the industrial estate would conflict with policy BIE1 because it is likely that residents would complain at noise from class B2 industrial uses which already exist in nearby buildings and could be included in the new units. This also contravenes the agent of change principle in the NPPF.
The applicant argues that the proposal complies with policies HO1 and HO2 of the FCNP. However, these specifically state that housing is only acceptable on sites as set out in the individual site policies. The site policies for Brents Industrial Estate do not encourage housing at all. Further, Swale Borough Council’s position with regard to the Housing Delivery Test has recently improved from requiring a 20% buffer to a 5% buffer, largely because of recent delivery of new housing in Faversham.
The development, because of its height would harm the character and appearance of this part of the Faversham Conservation Area because of its height and bulk. And also its design with many windows and terraces. It would be visible above the existing houses from across the creek and would add a large, bulky and inappropriate building on the edge of Faversham which is visible along the sea wall to the north on the Hollowshore side of the creek and from the town out to the sea wall on the sewage works side. In addition, the new housing would introduce additional domestic pets adjacent to the RAMSAR site that would disturb or consume wildlife on this protected site.
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