OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

A  comment piece in this week's Ham and High (18/2/2016) caught my eye. I have OCR'd it and it appears below.

Haringey is currently consulting on its Local Plan.

Haringey is under the cosh from higher authorities to build a very great many new dwellings to cater for the ever increasing number of households. I know this number has shot up recently - I will try to find the actual figures.

Haringey has apparently dropped a policy from its local plan to maintain a decent distance between buildings . I will attempt to verify this.

I have worried before that the very way our city looks will change , with particular reference to Crouch End which is growing ever taller, so that the threat of overlooking increases.

I will try to find out whether this is a real fear, and if so we should request the replacement  of the policy on privacy and overlooking.

Enid Hunt of Connaught Gardens, Muswell Hill N10 writes:

I am shocked to see that Haringey  Council's former excellent policy  on privacy and overlooking, which  prescribed separation distances  for residential buildings, has been  excluded from the final version of  its proposed new Local Plan.  

This has been done at the behest  of developers.  

The policy specified a  separation distance of at least  20 metres between facing habitable  rooms, with a further 10 metres  for each additional storey and  was included in the Housing  SPD (revoked November 2014),  and in the Draft Development  Management DPD (February  2015).  

Several developers such as  Savills and Berkeley Homes  objected, on the grounds  that this approach was too  prescriptive and would fail to  optimise development potential.  The council’s response was to  withdraw the policy.  Presumably the council had  included this policy initially for  well considered reasons, so it  would seem that more weight has  now been given to the opinion of  developers with vested interests.  In the absence of prescriptive  guidelines on separation  distances, we can expect more  dense over-development of the  kind recently approved for the  Connaught House site, where a  four-storey block of flats will loom  over houses less than 20 metres  away.

 The Local Plan is open for public consultation until March  5, after which it will be submitted  to the Secretary of State for  independent examination. I  would urge Haringey residents to request the reinstatement of  the prescriptive distances policy  in order to ensure that new  developments do not result in  overlooking and loss of privacy for  neighbouring properties.  Obscure glazing and angled windows, as advocated by  developers, are not a satisfactory  substitute for a clear and robust  policy on separation distances.  

Tags: local plan, overlooking, privacy

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In the February 2015 Local Plan Consultation Document this paragraph appeared

Policy DM3 Privacy and protection from overlooking

A. All dwellings should provide a reasonable amount of privacy to their residents and neighbouring properties to avoid overlooking and loss of privacy detrimental to the amenity of neighbouring residents and the residents of the development, including a distance of no less than 20m between facing 1st floor habitable room windows of neighbouring homes.

In the supporting text was further guidance, e.g.

2.20 Therefore new homes should be designed so they and neighbouring existing homes have 1st floor (2nd storey) windows to habitable rooms that do not face windows of habitable rooms of another dwelling that is less than 20m away. Care should be taken to avoid any ground floor windows being overlooked although there will normally be natural screening (garden walls and fences) that mean this is not possible. There should be an additional 10m for each additional floor; a minimum of 30m between a 2nd floor window and any window that could be overlooked on the ground, 1st or 2nd floor, 40m between a 3rd floor window and any window that could be overlooked on the ground, 1st, 2nd or 3rd floor and so on, up to a separation of 60m (no greater separation is considered necessary).

Responses to this policy included

610 Specifically, paragraphs 2.20 to 2.24 require minimum distances of 20 metres between habitable rooms facing each other where they are at the first floor level and 30 metres at the second floor level (with an additional 10 metres distance for each additional floor). We consider that this approach will fail to optimise the development potential of sites in Haringey and is too restrictive and prescriptive. Residential development of 5-8 storeys is common in Haringey and we do not consider that such developments would need to be 50- 80 metres apart from existing residential buildings, where 20-30 metres are more than adequate, even for tall buildings, where they are carefully designed. Therefore, we consider that the policy should be amended to allow sufficient flexibility for applicants.

To which Haringey's response was 

Action: Amend policy to allow greater flexibility for design considerations on a case by case basis, having regard to good practice guidance.

This response appears 11 times to what is essentially the same comment from developers or their advisers.

The policy now reads :

D Development proposals must ensure a high standard of privacy and amenity for the development’s users and neighbours.

The Council will support proposals that:

a Provide appropriate sunlight, daylight and open aspects (including private amenity space where required) to all parts of the development and adjacent buildings and land;

b Provide an appropriate amount of privacy to their residents and neighbouring properties to avoid overlooking and loss of privacy detrimental to the amenity of neighbouring residents and the residents of the development; and

c Address issues of vibration, noise, fumes, odour, light pollution and microclimatic conditions likely to arise from the use and activities of the development.

This is completely subjective and delegates upwards to the London Mayor SPG or to NPPF

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