Sunday 30 October 2016

Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

The planning application for the Knowle site has been tweaked ever-so slightly:
16/0872/MFUL | The construction of an assisted living community for older people comprising extra care units, staff accommodation and communal facilities, including a kitchen, restaurant/bar/cafe, a well-being suite comprising gym, treatment rooms and pool, a communal lounge and storage facilities; car parking for residents, visitors and staff of the assisted living community; comprehensive landscaping comprising communal and private spaces; and associated groundworks. | Council Offices Knowle Sidmouth EX10 8HL

It had been expected to be coming to the planning committee (or Development Management Cttee) next month:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the PegasusLife 'vision' >>> >>> "We strive to make all our projects unique, relevant and inspiring"

But it will probably be happening in December now - with the deadline for comments Friday 11th November:
Development Management Committee agendas - East Devon

To reprint from an earlier blog entry:


All of this is confirmed through an FOI request into correspondence with the developer before a formal planning application was submitted:
Pre Application meetings with Pegasus - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

The senior Planning Officer dealing with the application has made it clear that the applicant has certain obligations - and there is also disagreement over the classification of the proposed development:

Our conclusion based on this assessment and a Counsel opinion is that the proposed units should be classed as C3 (dwelling houses). [Rather than the C2 classification desired by the applicant. See: Building Use Classes C1 C2 C3 - Planning Consultants London and Clarification of Planning Classes with regards to C3(b) and C2 - GovYou]

Turning to the issue of affordable housing the newly adopted policy of the East Devon Local Plan (Strategy 34) sets out a target of 50% affordable housing for residential development in Sidmouth. The presumption is that such affordable housing should be provided on site. As a result we will be seeking on-site provision of affordable housing in this case. We appreciate that the provision of your mandatory well-being care and support package is likely to be unviable to a registered provider but can see no reason given the layout of the proposed units on the site why your care and support package would have to apply to all residents. The facilities could still be available to residents of the affordable units on the same basis as they will be available to the wider community. We would however accept that it would be appropriate for the affordable units to also be age restricted and we believe that there is sufficient demand in the local area to fill the affordable units. Strategy 34 does allow for an offsite contribution of equivalent value to be provided where the inability to make provision on-site can be justified through evidence from Registered Providers or for other planning reasons. We would be open to considering a case for provision to be made off-site but as detailed above the presumption is that provision should be made on-site in the first instance and so the onus would be on yourselves to demonstrate to us why this would not be possible. You should also note that Strategy 34 is predicated on ensuring that developments are viable and so in the event that you believe that our requirements are unviable we are willing to consider a suitable robust and independent viability assessment. Our usual practice is to obtain an independent appraisal of such viability information through the District Valuer. We must advise at this stage that we would expect the cost of the District Valuer to be borne by the developer.

We understand that both the assessment that the scheme constitutes a C3 use and the level of affordable housing sought will come as a disappointment but we can assure you that these issues have undergone a very detailed consideration by Officers with appropriate independent legal opinion. To date we believe that we have had meaningful and constructive discussions and look forward to these continuing in respect of this issue. [And 'viability' is a very slippery commodity: 
Revealed: how developers exploit flawed planning system to minimise affordable housing | Cities | The Guardian and  The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities | The Guardian]


The question to ask, therefore, is: 
Why, then, did the District Council chose as its preferred developer a company which specialises in building 'assisted-living apartments and wellness facilities for over 60s'? 
Introduction | PegasusLife
Pegasus agreement re Knowle - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

It had other bidders as part of the tendering process, but nevertheless preferred PegasusLife:
Decision process which led to the award of the conditional contract with Pegasus re Knowle - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project > Pegasus planning application 16/0872/MFUL >>> Strategy 4 - Balanced Communities >>> Strategy 34 - Affordable Housing Provision Targets

Whilst the District Council's contract with PegasusLife is now to be published following a ruling by the Information Commissioner:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: BREAKING NEWS >> >>> Information Commissioner tells East Devon District Council to publish documentation

... the Town Council has been very clear what it thinks about the exact 'classification' of the proposed development:

Members were concerned that the development had been submitted as Class C2 when it was to all intents and purposes C3. They would wish to see a significant contribution towards affordable housing within Sidmouth. 

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project >>> Town Council comment on application 16/0872/MFUL >>> "contrary to Local Plan" ..... "intrusive and out-of-keeping" ..... "overdevelopment" ..... "no affordable housing"

As has every other commentator:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

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