Comments on Application 20/03508 - 106 to 114 High Street
Outline application for partial demolition of 106-108 behind a retained facade and demolition of the rear of 110-114 with alterations to the retained building and erection of a 13 storey building fronting West Street to provide 108 apartments with associated car park over basement, ground and first floor and 2 commercial units fronting High Street.
In January 2020 we commented on Application 19/03606 to develop part of this site - to the rear of 106 to 108 High Street. We were broadly supportive of an application to redevelop and improve the frontage of the south side of West Street with a six storey block of 14 apartments, which included one car parking space per dwelling.
Regretfully, this application for a larger ground area incorporating Nos. 106 to 114 is excessive and unacceptable. A 13 storey building comprising 108 flats is of a bulk, height and mass that will completely overshadow West Street. Even if the structure includes one basement level the overall height is still excessive and not supported by the RBWM Tall Buildings Study, which suggests a maximum of 8 storeys for the south side of West Street. The developer is obviously emboldened by previous permission granted for The Landing development and the application pending for Nicholsons Quarter.
The application includes an artist's impression of West Street looking eastwards from the proposed scheme. This shows a further two similar blocks of flats, presumably between the rear entrances of Wilco and Marks and Spencer. This would suggest a potential for a minimum of 300 dwellings (plus any other infilling) along the south side of West Street. The West Street Opportunity Area identifies a total of 240 residential units. The main building on the north side is proposed to be a tower block on the land area of the current West Street Car Park. It is currently unclear how high this tower block will be. Originally, it is believed that 13 storeys was proposed, but this application suggests the West Street Tower will be around 20 storeys. A schematic cross section is included in the application to show how "reasonable" the proposed scheme 106 to 114 High Street appears when set against West Street Tower. If this application is permitted and similar schemes ensue along the south side of West Street then the total number of new dwellings on the street could approach 600 rather than the 240 suggested in the WSOA.
It is agreed that the delivery yards and car parking to the rear of the High Street retail units currently make the south side of West Street unsightly and unattractive. However, the solution is a series of residential developments of reasonable scale and height. This proposal is excessive and because it is positioned right on the pavement line will create a vertical cliff which overshadows the street and will obscure sunlight from the lower floors of West Street Tower. This will apply if further similar 12 storey blocks are built eastwards as suggested. West Street will become a canyon - made worse by the fact that these blocks cannot be set back because of lack of space. For visual appearance the frontages at ground level must be treated sympathetically if dedicated to car parking.
We welcome the fact that this scheme includes 102 parking spaces, but are concerned about traffic management and flow on West Street, especially the narrow section behind Marks and Spencer. Before the whole area is developed a traffic study is required to establish how to manage the flow of hundreds of vehicles from the residential flats plus the movements generated by delivery vehicles servicing the retail outlets. We believe that consideration should be given to West Street becoming one way - west to east - accessed by an additional exit at or near Castle Hill roundabout.
It is clear from the Countryside developments on St Ives Road and Park Street that the prevailing height for residential development in the town should not exceed seven or eight storeys. This will become even more evident when the Shanly development of the Bowling Club site on York Road is completed. We object to this scheme on the grounds of overdevelopment of the site with an unacceptable bulk and mass - but especially height.