A renewed attempt to get planning approval for an additional storey to be added to two blocks of flats in Alston Road, Barnet, has again been rejected on the grounds that the enlarged buildings would be out of keeping with the neighbourhood.

 

In refusing the application, Barnet Council said the “height, massing and scale” resulting from an extra floor would be “unduly obtrusive” as the neighbouring properties were two-storey Victorian terraces or Edwardian semi-detached houses.

Chris Nightingale, chair of the SPACES local residents’ group – representing Sebright, Puller, Alston and Calvert roads – had warned that increasing still further the height of the existing three-storey blocks of flats would have had the worst possible impact on the area.

He considered an extra storey on top of the two blocks would “completely change the character” and uniqueness of the Alston Road community 

Robin Bishop, who leads for the Barnet Society on planning and environmental issues, welcomed the decision applauded the way the council’s planning department was “certainly working hard to safeguard the character” the residential streets of High Barnet.

Quadron Properties first applied in June 2021 to add an extra storey to the two blocks at 1-9 and 10-15 Richard Court to provide an additional five flats.

The application was made on the basis that this was a permissible development under government procedures to encourage roof extensions as a way of providing extra homes.

In rejecting the June application, the council said prior approval was required but had been refused because the size of the enlarged four-storey building and the proposed use of metal panelling as cladding which would be detrimental to the existing structure and character of the area.

In its second application, Quadron Properties proposed to use brick and white weatherboarding instead of metal panelling, but permission was again refused as the extra floors would make the flats “unduly obtrusive” and inconsistent with the height and form of the of the modest neighbouring houses.

Public consultation with householders in 180 neighbouring properties had prompted 45 objections which included complaints about the excessive height of the enlarged blocks and their unsympathetic appearance.

In her objection, the Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said she agreed with the Barnet Residents Association that the new design was worse than the previous one.

The developers’ claim that the extra storeys were justified because of the nearby Alston Works, but Ms Villiers considered this was misleading as the Alston Works were sited at a lower level and did not have the same visual impact.

She thought the addition of five self-contained flats would add to the existing difficulties in finding parking spaces – and an additional reason for refusing the extra flats was that they would add to the local pressure on parking.

Whereas Quadron Properties believed the additional flats would add only one vehicle to car ownership in the area, the council considered there was no evidence to support the assumption that the majority of the new households would not own a vehicle.

Therefore, a further ground for refusal was that the developers had failed to secure procedures to restrict future occupiers from obtaining parking permits within the controlled parking zone and the extra flats would increase “on-street parking stress.”

Quadron Properties has a right to make a renewed application or appeal to the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government.

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