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Agenda item

20 West Mount Street - Erection of 1.5 Storey Rear Extension - 180129


The Local Review Body (LRB) of Aberdeen City Council met on this day to review the decision taken by an appointed officer under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation to refuse the request for planning permission for the erection of a 1.5 storey extension to the rear of 20 West Mount Street, Aberdeen, Planning Reference 180129DPP.


Councillor Boulton as Chairperson gave a brief outline of the business to be undertaken.  She indicated that the LRB would be addressed by the Assistant Clerk, Mr Mark Masson with regards to the procedure to be followed and also, thereafter, by Mr Gavin Evans who would be acting as the Planning Adviser to the Body in the case under consideration this day.


The Chairperson stated that although the Planning Adviser was employed by the planning authority, he had not been involved in any way with the consideration or determination of the application under review and was present to provide factual information and guidance to the Body only.  She emphasised that the officer would not be asked to express any view on the proposed application.


The Local Review Body was then addressed by Mr Masson, Assistant Clerk in regards to the procedure to be followed, at which time reference was made to the procedure note circulated with the papers calling the meeting and to more general aspects relating to the procedure.


In relation to the application, the LRB had before it (1) a delegated report by Ms Jacqui Thain, Planning Technician; (2) the planning application dated1 February 2018; (3) the decision notice dated 5 June 2018 (4) links to the plans showing the proposal and planning policies referred to in the delegated report; (5) the Notice of Review submitted by the applicant along with an accompanying statement with further information relating to the application; and (6) two letters of representation.


The LRB was then addressed by Mr Evans who advised that the submitted Notice of Review was found to be valid and submitted within the relevant timeframes.


Mr Evans described the site, advising that it is that of a 1.5 storey (meaning single masonry storey with accommodation in the roof) mid-terrace dwelling, constructed in grey granite, with a slated roof, and situated on the northern side of West North Street, which runs between View Terrace and Mount Street in Rosemount. Its rear garden extends approximately 20m from the rear of the dwelling (as extended). The building lay within the Rosemount & Westburn Conservation Area and was not listed. There was an existing single-storey, flat-roofed extension to the rear of the building, which projected circa 4.7m along the western boundary (with no.22).


Mr Evans indicated that the application proposed an extension to the rear of the building, providing accommodation across two floors. The extension would project 4.7m from the rear face of the original building, matching the projection of the existing flat-roofed structure, but with a larger footprint. The first-floor accommodation would be set back, projecting 4m from the rear face, and would be positioned along the western boundary.


He intimated that the Appointed Officer’s reasons for refusal made reference to the following factors:-

          Due to its height, scale, design and massing, the extension is not designed with due consideration for its context and as a result, it would have an unacceptable impact on neighbouring properties;

          The proposal results in the loss of part of the historic fabric;

          Excessive scale, which amounts to a 2-storey extension to a 1 ½ storey house would result in unacceptable impact on the character and amenity of the surrounding Conservation Area;

          For these reasons, proposal failed to comply with Scottish Planning Policy, Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement, Policies H1, D1, D4 and D5 of the Aberdeen Local Development Plan, as well as its Householder Supplementary Guidance (HHSG) and the Managing Change in the Historic Environment Scotland guidance on ‘Extensions’; and

          No other material considerations that were sufficient to outweigh the development plan.


Mr Evans outlined the appellant’s case as follows:-

          That the proposed extension helped to address an existing overlooking issue from the side-facing windows at first floor level at number 18 (adjoining neighbour to the East), which looked directly onto the garden and existing rear extension of no. 20. It was contended that this existing relationship was not addressed by the appointed officer’s decision;

          Stated that Council officers did not raise major concerns about the principle of a 1.5 storey extension during pre-application discussions, and that the authority’s position seemed to change following involvement of conservation staff;

          Concerns were raised in relation to loss of fabric which could be addressed through re-use of materials in the proposal (link to policy D5). It was stated that no opportunity was given to do so.

(Mr Evans intimated that the LRB was considering the proposal in the form it was determined, not a revised proposal. The applicant could make a revised proposal taking account of matters raised in the Appointed Officer’s refusal. Policy D5 and associated national policies relating to the historic environment sought retention of fabric in the first instance, rather than simply requiring that downtakings were reused. Mr Evans advised Members that they should consider whether this level of fabric loss was necessary);

          Queried appointed officer’s description of the proposed extension as ‘2 storey’;

(Mr Evans advised that a 1.5 storey description was normally applied where upper floor accommodation was contained within roofspace. The walls of the extension protrude above the wallhead level of the original house, such that the extension effectively has 2 full ‘masonry/solid’ storeys).

          Noted that the sole objector to the application (no.18) had since sold the property and that other local residents have offered verbal support;

(Mr Evans intimated that the lack of objection did not equate to acceptability or Development Plan compliance. He advised that Members should be mindful to assess the application on the basis of impact on any future residents, irrespective of their identity;

          Cited precedent for large rear extensions at 16, 18 and 24 West Mount Street and noted that the planning authority recognised the extension to no18 was a ‘bad neighbour’ in pre-application correspondence.

(Mr Evans referred to point 3 in the HHSG ‘General Principles’ advising that extensions approved prior to introduction of this Guidance did not represent any ‘precedent’ for proposals that did not comply with criteria set out. The term ‘bad neighbour’ was relevant in terms of the HHSG, which at Appendix 3 set out a methodology for assessing loss of daylight to ‘habitable rooms’ in neighbouring properties, highlighting that these guidelines “could only reasonably be applied to buildings which were themselves good neighbours, standing a reasonable distance from the boundary and taking only their fair share of light. Existing windows which do not meet these criteria could not normally expect the full level of protection.” and

          Stated that the applicant and agent had gone to every length to ensure that the proposal could avoid a detrimental impact on either the character or amenity of the area, and contended that this has been achieved.


Mr Evans explained that consultations were undertaken with the Council’s Roads Development Management team who indicated that that the extra bedroom proposed would not result in any significant increase in demand for on-street parking, therefore no objection was submitted.


The Local Review Body were advised that one letter of objection was received.


Mr Evans then indicated that the applicant had expressed the view that further procedure was required, suggesting that one or more hearing sessions and a site inspection should be undertaken.


At this juncture, Councillor Nicoll indicated that he had enough information before him and intimated that a site visit was not required and that the review under consideration should be determined without further procedure, however the Chairperson and Councillor Macdonald indicated that a site visit would give them a better perspective of the site and proposal and by majority, the Local Review Body agreed that the review under consideration should be adjourned in order for a site visit to be conducted in due course.