22/2225 - Fairgate House, 390-400 and 402-408 (Even), High Road Wembley, HA9
Granted planning permission subject to referral to the Mayor of London (stage 2 referral) and the prior completion of a legal agreement to secure the planning obligations, and conditions and informatives as detailed in the Committee report and supplementary report.
Demolition of existing buildings and construction of an up to part 13 and part 17 storeys (including ground level) building comprising purpose built student bed spaces (Use Class Sui Generis) together with ancillary communal facilities, flexible non-residential floor space (Use Class E), cycle parking, mechanical plant, landscaping together with other associated works.
That the Committee resolve to GRANT planning permission subject to:
(1) The application’s referral to the Mayor of London (stage 2 referral) and the prior completion of a legal agreement to secure the planning obligations as detailed in the report.
(2) That the Head of Planning is delegated authority to negotiate the legal agreement as detailed in the report.
(3) That the Head of Planning is delegated authority to issue the planning permission and impose conditions and informatives as detailed in the report.
(4) That the Head of Planning is delegated to make changes to the wording of the committee’s decision (such as to delete, vary or add conditions, informatives, planning obligations or reasons for the decision) prior to the decision being actioned, provided that the Head of Planning is satisfied that any such changes could not reasonably be regarded as deviating from the overall principle of the decision reached by the committee nor that such change(s) could reasonably have led to a different decision having been reached by the committee.
(5) That, if by the “expiry date” of this application (subject to any amendments/extensions to the expiry date agreed by both parties) the legal agreement has not been completed, the Head of Planning is delegated authority to refuse planning permission.
(6) That the Committee confirms that adequate provision has been made, by the imposition of conditions, for the preservation or planting of trees as required by Section 197 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Victoria McDonagh, Team Leader, North Area Planning Team, introduced the report and set out the key issues. In introducing the report members were advised that the application site consisted of Fairgate House, a vacant seven-storey office building at 390-400 High Road, and Pitsman House, a vacant three-storey office building at 402-406 High Road. The site adjoined an area of hardstanding and mixed scrub to the north, and further to the north there was railway embankment land and the Chiltern Line railway tracks. The site was not in a conservation area and did not contain any listed buildings.
There had been a number of amended plans received during the course of the application as detailed in the report to secure minor changes to the ground floor landscaping proposals and first floor cycle storage. None of the amended plans received materially affected the nature of the scheme, therefore did not require a further period of consultation.
The proposed application sought to redevelop the site as a single building, partly 13-storey, 16 storey and 17-storey, to provide purpose built student accommodation with commercial floorspace (Use Class E) comprising three commercial units totalling 232sqm at ground level. A total of 349 student bedrooms were proposed with a range of internal and external communal space.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the supplementary agenda that set out points of clarification regarding the distribution of the affordable student bedrooms following feedback from the GLA, the mixture of accommodation and some minor updates to planning conditions.
As no Committee questions were raised at this point, the Chair invited Steve Harrington, Regal London supported by Nigel Bidwell, JTP Architects to address the Committee (in person) in relation to the application, who drew the Committee’s attention to the following key points:
· The proposed application had been designed to respond to the outward curve of the High Road, with its stepped profile taking it’s cue from the newly consented developments to the east and stepping up to the taller Wembley Link buildings to the west.
· The building would be aesthetically pleasing, using two blended tones of brickwork comprised of quality and durable materials.
· Considerations had been given to the needs of the post Covid student population, online surveys and sessions with Wembley students had informed some of the developments specific design features that included a roof garden, an extensive collection of amenity spaces including gyms, lounges and study spaces and a unique series of first floor terraces on the High Road.
· The development comprised of a mixture of bed types and rental levels, including 35% of the bed spaces available at affordable rent levels. The majority of the beds in the development were subject of a future Nominations Agreement that linked the development to a single or possibly multiple Higher Education Institutions.
· The development would also benefit from high quality retail space that would further enhance the vibrancy and vitality of the Wembley High Road in addition to boosting local business.
· The development would be highly sustainable, generating a 62.3% reduction in carbon emissions and a Biodiversity Net Gain of 251%. The proposed development also included enhanced tree planting on both the High Road and the rear of the building.
· The Committee were advised that Regal London were also the developers of Fulton & Fifth (formerly known as Euro House) located on Fulton Road, Wembley. Fulton & Fifth would house the Regal London Real Estate Academy due to launch in January 2023. This Academy would provide construction training on site for military veterans and local people from under represented groups. The aim would be to work closely with the local authority and Brent Works to support local people in to training.
· Further benefit for the local community included further local job and apprenticeship opportunities to be secured through Brent Works and the associated s106 agreement, with an estimated 203 on site jobs available.
· Mr Harrington thanked the Committee for listening to his representation before inviting Committee questions.
The Chair thanked Mr Harrington for his representation before inviting any questions from the Committee. Members raised queries regarding tenure mix, specific student accommodation arrangements and the development’s car free status. Mr Harrington and Mr Bidwell clarified the following points in response to the queries raised:
· Mr Harrington explained that due to the capacity of the site and the need to include an adequate number of units that would be appealing to institutions coupled with providing additional amenity and study space, it had not been feasible to include units for residential lettings.
· The Committee were advised that discussion had taken place with a number of Higher Education institutions regarding proposed use of the development as a link accommodation provider for students. These discussions were ongoing pending the outcome of the planning application. There was, however, no concern that there would be a lack of institution support by the time construction was underway, if planning permission were granted.
· It was anticipated that during the summer holidays units would be available for short term lets.
· Mr Bidwell confirmed that although the proposed development was car free, as part of the student management plan there would be ground floor storage and provision for additional staff in the building so that on “moving in” days students could unload at ground floor level and they would be supported in moving their belongings to their rooms. This would shorten the time that cars would need to be parked in the loading bays. A booking system would be in place to manage congestion on the “moving in” days.
As members had no further questions the Chair invited members to ask officers any questions or points of clarification they may have in relation to the application. The Committee raised queries in relation to tenure mix including provision for disabled students, transport assessment and traffic management, daylight/sunlight assessments and greenery and landscaping. In addressing the issues raised the following responses were provided:
· In response to a Committee query regarding the consideration given to the proposed development offering a mixed tenure rather than only student provision, officers advised the Committee that the application had been assessed by officers as being in line with London Plan Policy H15 and Brent Policy BH7. These supported the delivery of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) in well connected locations to meet local and strategic needs subject to specific criteria being met, with officers having assesses that the application met the criteria for approval in line with the associated policies.
· The Committee heard that the London Plan identified a strategic need of 3,500 bed spaces across London and whilst the site allocation did not refer specifically to student accommodation, this type of housing would still contribute to Brent’s housing supply.
· Confirmation was provided that 34 units would be accessible bedrooms, however due to the nature of the development there was no requirement to provide disabled parking bays.
· 35% of the student bedrooms would be provided as affordable student housing with an overall 51% to be provided through a nominations agreement with one or more Higher Education providers, these conditions would be secured by a Section 106 (s106) agreement.
· Additionally, the development would be served by a single core entrance, therefore not suitable for mixed tenure.
· In response to a query regarding the local transport assessment, the Committee were advised that the site had been assessed as providing excellent access to public transport with a PTAL rating of 6a. The development would also be car free with adequate provision of cycle storage. Sustainable transport would be further encouraged through the submission and monitoring of a Travel Plan, secured by s106 agreement. A financial contribution from the applicant of £39k to TfL for bus service improvements would also be secured via the s106 agreement.
· In noting the height of the building members queried how this would impact the daylight/sunlight for neighbouring properties, drawing reference to report, which highlighted a number of shortfalls in Vertical Sky Component (VSC). Officers advised that the proposed development fell within a designated Tall Building Zone and in this respect was in keeping with the local emerging context.
· Officers shared a visual presentation to provide further context on the scale of the proposed development. In doing so the Committee were advised that the side of the building adjacent to the service road would have minimal impact on neighbouring properties VSC, additionally the affected windows were not the only windows to serve the rooms, further NSl skyline assessments were also completed, this evidenced that as a whole the rooms would remain lit within BRE guidance.
· Assessments had been carried out under two scenarios: Scenario 1 - the development’s existing situation and Scenario 2 which included the cumulative impact of the development and the development if the consented schemes that were not yet built. Members noted the outcome of the assessments which had identified that there would be some impacts in terms of daylight to neighbouring properties, primarily affecting the hotel rooms and recently consented but unoccupied developments, although neither would have the same expectations of daylight as established residential properties. As such, it was accepted that the wider planning benefits associated with the redevelopment and regeneration of the Wembley High Road were considered to be sufficient to outweigh concerns regarding the levels of daylight.
· In response to a question regarding how the greenery and biodiversity of the site could be maximised, the Committee were advised that ten new trees were proposed under the landscaping scheme to replace the none low quality trees that would need to be removed to facilitate the development. The applicant would also be making a financial contribution towards street tree planting in the vicinity of the site to increase the biodiversity. The Urban Greening Factor of 0.36 was marginally below the policy target, however given the low ecological potential of the existing site and the gain in biodiversity on site it was felt that the proposal had optimised the scope for greening within the site.
· It was confirmed that construction traffic would be limited to the High Road and would not impact neighbouring streets. A final constructions logistics plan with more detailed arrangements for the routing and parking of construction vehicles would be secured by condition.
As there were no further issues raised and having established that all members had followed the discussions, the Chair asked members to vote on the recommendations.
DECISION: Granted planning permission subject to referral to the Mayor of London (stage 2 referral) and the prior completion of a legal agreement to secure the planning obligations, and conditions and informatives as detailed in the Committee report and supplementary report.
(Voting on the recommendation was as follows: For 5 & Against 1)