18 August 2008

Planning Application, Westwood Park

Below is the text of the Forest Hill Society submission regarding planning application DC/08/69339/X, 15 Westwood Park.

On behalf of the Forest Hill Society I wish to object to the proposed development at 15 Westwood Park which we believe is over development of the site and will have a detrimental effect on the local area.

Context of the site:
15 Westwood Park is just outside the Forest Hill conservation area in a suburban context with housing on three sides of the plot. The removal of three fine trees from the site is already cause for concern and should be reversed, as much as is possible, in any application. Policy HSG 7 states that:
‘The Council will require developers to retain any attractive or ecologically important existing natural features of a site’.
We would ask that the planning officers to ask for tree planting as part of any future development to remedy this loss of trees on the site.

Over development:
Whilst we welcome the building of family housing rather than flats at this location the density levels are too high for this suburban location. We understand that the density level is approximately 300 habitable rooms per hectare and this is significantly higher than outlined in policy HSG 16 which recommends denisty of 180-210 habitable rooms per hectare. The location of this development is not in a sustainable living area and is some distance from Forest Hill station with a substantial hill that impacts on the desirability of high density housing on such a location.

In relation to the London Plan (table 3A.2) this recommends a range of 150-250 habitable rooms per hectare in a suburban setting, outside the town centre and with a considerable hill separating the site from all public transport. This application has exceeded the maximum density recommended by the London Plan on a site that is unsuitable for such density. We recommend that the planning officers reject this application based on the high density levels on this site contrary to council and GLA policy guidance.

Internal layout of the houses:
Plots 1-3 only have a single door between the kitchen and the toilet. We would seek clarification from the officers whether this is in contravention of planning regulations. Many of the bathrooms higher than ground floor level, have no natural light or ventilation. We would recommend that for a more pleasant internal environment, and to save energy that as many of these bathrooms as possible have natural ventilation. In modern buildings we would expect to see the inclusion of windows to allow for natural light and energy saving without impacting on overlooking of other properties, however, with such high density levels on this site such provision would be very difficult.

Another concern is the small gardens of the plots. Policy HSG 7 states that:
‘Family dwellings should be provided with their own private garden area. Normally, a minimum garden depth of 9 metres will be required.’ None of the gardens on the site meet the desired depth set out in this policy.

Cars reversing from the garages and the access road create a concern because of the nature of this road. On this side of the road there is the peak of a hill directly before these houses. Cars exiting from the site will have little visibility of on coming traffic and any cars needing to stop to let them out would create a hazard for more cars coming over the hill. This problem of lack of visibility will only be exacerbated by the need for plots 1-3 to park on the road rather than in driveways or garages.

Policy HSG 8d states that there must be a proper means of access, suitable for the entry and egress of service vehicles which is convenient and safe both for drivers and pedestrians. We do not believe that this egress is safe for other road users or convenient for residents.

Horniman hill has many springs and underground waterways located on it. This has lead to the peculiar architecture of the Horniman School located in close proximity to this site. It is our concern that significant excavation and building on this location could lead to flooding and subsidence for houses in close proximity and further down the hill. We would ask that a full assessment of the affects of this backland development on neighbouring properties is undertaken and includes water surveys for the site.

We believe that for the reasons stated above the council should reject this application.

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