This morning, councillors voted unanimously in favour of taking the application for party flats on Baxter’s Place to a hearing.
The Development Management Subcommittee were responding to a call by Cllr Claire Miller, who wanted a more detailed consideration of the case we reported HERE yesterday.
Item 5.2 on the agenda began with a planning officer’s brief presentation. He said the application complied with policy (including Housing 7), and was suitable for an area of mixed uses. He had received no notification of complaints about noise. Environmental Health had not raised any issues. Modification of the original application (replacing one flat with a reception/breakfast area) would minimise potential disturbance.
Cllr Mowat asked the officer to point out adjacent residential dwellings.
Cllr Booth drew attention to that part of Housing 7 describing its aim of preventing deterioration of residential amenity in a mixed-use area. Why was this not relevant?
The officer replied, after a pause, ‘It would not be a further deterioration.’
‘What’s the basis for that assessment?’ pursued Cllr Booth.
The officer referred to neighbours’ separate stairwell and the ‘dedicated manned reception area’.
Cllr Osler said she was ‘confused’, ‘befuddled’ and ‘deeply concerned’ by this ‘borderline case’ in a very congested area. She thought a hearing was necessary to gain a better understanding.
Cllr Booth agreed, saying that the case ‘encapsulates many issues of real concern to residents and community councils in the city-centre area’. There was a need to explore Housing 7 in more detail.
Cllr Staniforth described the case as complicated and having wider implications.
Cllr Mowat said she knew the building well from an earlier problematic application. This case, though comparatively small in planning terms, conflated issues in a ‘very important area of emerging policy’. A hearing would be a good use of time, helping to ‘tease out’ Housing 7 in a changing context.
The Planning Convener, Cllr Gardiner, proposed a site visit to clarify how residents shared the envelope of the building with the party flats, though not via a shared common stair.
Committee members unanimously voted for a hearing and site visit.
Well done to all concerned. This was a necessary, proportionate and well-timed response.