Finally got around to reading the Applicant's Design Statement, and looking at the relevant application layouts/ elevations, I have to say I thought the Design Statement was a masterwork of sorcery and mirage. So full of aspiration, contrasting with designs devoid of inspiration.
Yet another 'pushing the boundary' type application, where the developer is just hoping no-one objects and they can hoodwink the planners and push through an absurdly oversized and underwhelming development - probably not so they can develop it, but so the owner can sell it at a much higher price.
Anyway, fyi here is my objections letter. To be honest, I can see it is possible to construct a better solution for the site than what is there at present, but the current plans don't achieve (and often are in conflict with), the Applicant's own ambitions.
Mr Paul Smith
Head of Planning, Haringey Council
River Park House
Ref application HGY/2011/1329 63 Tottenham Lane London N8
I write to object to the above planning application.
Objection 1 Loss of local amenity – MEB Garage
The applicant’s design statement nowhere mentions the fact that there is a thriving garage offering local residents an invaluable service and employing skilled staff. It states
• ‘Within the site there is a single low rise warehouse building currently occupied by Kwik-fit car repairs and a two storey office building’
• ‘The ‘site is currently fully occupied by the former Kwik-fit building and office building to the right; therefore there is no scope for vehicular access in its current condition.
• ‘The application site can only be accessed via a new entrance off Tottenham Lane’
It is incredible that, for such a large and, the architects claim, carefully thought through proposal, that they did not notice the presence of both the MEB garage and an existing vehicular access leading to that garage. Perhaps they are unaware of the Planning Department’s thorough due diligence on such applications.
The MEB garage is a benefit to the local area, providing both employment and a magnet for locals to come to the area and use other Crouch End businesses whilst they are waiting for repairs or before catching a bus to/ from the garage.
Objection 2 Quality of design especially of the front facade
The design statement states:
• ‘Due to its proximity to an area of special or architectural interest, any development proposals for this site must be of a high standard of design and construction in order to respect the setting and character of the conservation area.’
• ‘The (existing) buildings have no townscape quality and sit awkwardly against the back drop of the adjacent Crouch End Conservation Area.’
The existing buildings are at least interesting, and the wide art deco white columns on either side of the Kwit Fit building are especially unusual and appealing.
• ‘The redevelopment can help to enhance the Tottenham Lane environment by:
o Creating a strong and active street scene along Tottenham Lane with visual cut off points so as not to appear over dominant.
o Replacing the existing buildings with a quality residential development to define a distinctive and unique design within a confined space.
I could understand the architect’s assertions, if their design of the proposed building frontage were actually of high quality’ or, in any way, adding to the townscape quality. But in fact the frontage they propose is a blank wall, with no detailing whatsoever, with windows ‘punched’ into it.
We see cheap buildings just like that in countless modern towns across the country. This proposed frontage has no townscape quality in relation to Crouch End or the Conservation area architecture. They propose to demolish unique, unusual buildings and art deco columns and build the dullest, dreariest, and mass produced frontage which would in fact detract from the townscape quality. They should be ashamed of themselves (in the context of all their highfalutin assertions).
Objection 3 Scale and design of the proposed terrace houses to the rear
The design statement makes a number of assertions regarding the rear mews houses in relation to Fairfield Road:
• ‘The mews houses remain subservient to the terraces along Fairfield Road. The design is intentionally scaled down as it approaches Fairfield Road so as not to overpower the adjacent conservation area’
• ‘The development site sits just outside the boundary of the Crouch End Conservation Area and as such the proposals are designed to compliment this. The conservation area runs to the south east of the site, incorporating the terrace houses on Fairfield Road.’
• ‘Therefore the proposals are specifically designed to a high standard of design and construction in order to respect the setting and character of the area. The houses to the rear of the site are intentionally designed to be subservient to the terrace in terms of footprint, height, bulk and mass.’
• To the south western end of the site, where the three storey properties to the rear of Fairfield Road are located, the development is to be a line of three storey terraced mews houses, the scale and massing of which will reflect the adjacent terrace.
• The roof space is semi enclosed and part covered by a structure to the rear which is designed to appear as a set back continuation of the rear facade.
The proposed mews houses cannot be logically described as in any way ‘subservient’ to the Fairfield Road houses.
• Fairfield Road houses to the rear of 163 Tottenham Lane are TWO stories not THREE stories as the Design Statement alleges
• Fairfield Road houses are detached, semi detached or ‘triple’ houses, therefore no-one would ordinarily describe Fairfield Road houses as ‘terraced’.
• The proposed mews house roof design is such that another 0.75 floor is added before tapering back into a ‘roof’. Therefore the effective height of these mews houses is 3.75 storeys, not 3.
The vertical back walls of Fairfield Road houses are 7.4 meters high. Also the 163 Tottenham Lane land lies about 1 meter higher than Fairfield Road. Therefore, to be ‘subservient’ to Fairfield Road houses, the vertical back walls of the mews houses would have be significantly less than 6.4 metres tall.
In fact, the proposed mews houses would, from Fairfield Road, appear much larger than the existing Fairfield Road houses. I do not have the scale drawings, but a 3.75 storey building must be more than 6.4 metres tall. Therefore the Fairfield Road houses would be subservient to the proposed mews houses.
Objection 4 Overlooking by the proposed mews houses of Fairfield Road gardens
The design statement does not deal with the problem of overlooking from the mews houses to the Fairfield Road gardens. The second floor windows would have a clear, uninterrupted view of the gardens, to which we object.
If the mews houses were one floor lower, then probably there would be little or no objection to proposed mew houses.
Finally, the design statement says ‘The location of the site provides positive scope for a well thought out design, influenced by the existing street scene and the Crouch End Conservation Area.’ This may be true, but the architects need to re draw their plans to create a proposal which fulfils this scope, and addresses the above objections.
Alison and Lillystone