I was surprised to see the planning officer's report claiming the 'scheme is of a high quality, sensitive in its approach'. Some of their arguments are very weak. For example it considers the community's needs for a function room will be met based on how often the existing room has been used when even the developers themselves have pointed out the poor state of the room. Whatever you think about the function room, my point is that the argument is flawed as past use cannot be a guide to how a better room would be used in the future.
My primary concern is the visual impact of the new buildings. Here the main justification seems to be that there are already buildings of a variety of heights around the Fox. But the assessment should have focused on the impact to the Fox itself. The scale and 'massing' of a development has always been a legitimate planning issue and I struggle to see how the new buildings could be considered to sit harmoniously in scale with the Fox. I'm not against development and I'm not against a modern design, but it needs to be of the right scale.
Because of the need for more housing, the government recently announced there will be changes to the planning rules that will make it easier for people to 'build upwards', adding additional floors. But it says that the developments should be "... in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the area" and that they "must remain in keeping with the character of the local area". These changes are not yet in force but approval of the Fox application flies in the face of this new guidance.
I objected to the application, but in planning terms this is the only way to get changes to the details of the scheme. I did not object to developing part of the site for housing but set out particular objections such as the visual impact on the Fox. It's not the case that we have to accept developments as submitted or let the place rot - objections can lead to changes to an application with the aim of getting sympathetic developments that will make a pleasant environment for us as individuals and can be a crucial part in attracting shoppers to Palmers Green.
It's right to consider whether we could end up with another Broomfield House, but the situations are very different. Those who objected to converting Broomfield House to a carvery were objecting to the whole principle of the development and I've not seen anyone take this line with the Fox. The developers (Star pubs) have no obligation to the wider community but want to maximise their financial return, so it's not surprising that they seek to over-develop the site. That is precisely why we have a planning system so that wider issues are considered. Sadly, I can't see any realistic chance that the planning committee will go against the recommendations of their officers next week.
"Some of their arguments are weak". Funny. I think that of most of the objections.
Function room - officers rightly understand that a occasionally used room (once, maybe twice, a week max) that isn't always full cannot detract from the whole regeneration of the pub which will hopefully be busy every day of the week (unlike the current dump). Something more akin to the nicer pubs of Winchmore Hill.
Scale/massing/height - it was smaller/lower but the council wanted the affordable housing upped therefore recommended a floor was added. The way some people speak on here you'd think it was towering over the Fox and other neighbouring buildings which is simply untrue. What it IS a lot bigger than, is the horrible ugly car park wasteland that occupies the space now.
Objections can go on ad finitum, because everybody holds a different view and some people, notably objectors, want their views heard and acted upon over-riding all others. Whereas some of us happy to see a high quality redevelopment that offers much needed affordable housing and regeneration potential to a struggling high street.
The planning committee made a massive mistake going against officers recommendations previously (Trent Park Campus) and have to wait several years for a chance to get a second chance at getting it right, which they now thankfully have. Hopefully the Council have learnt from such a mistake and don't cave to individual minority pressure on this one either.
Well, I wasn't going to raise this until I saw David Eden's posting.
To be clear, I support the idea of a refurbished Fox pub and that housing should be included in the project.
I went to the Planning Committee last night and was surprised how the balance of residents’ views was reported to the Committee. The Planning Officer referred only to the crude total figure of those supporting the Fox refurbishment. Support for refurbishment after years of neglect and poor service delivery is not surprising, but the extensive reservations from many groups about the scale of the development and the uncertain future of the function room were ignored. Two letters of support from individuals were quoted, but there was no reference to any letters raising concerns. The fact was glossed over that the general level of support was from consultations on a previous set of plans before the new floor was added and the future of the function room became cloudy.
Much was made of the appearance of the car park, but there was no reference to the fact that it was hidden by mature trees on all sides until they were suddenly felled - just before the development plans began to surface. In addition figures were quoted to show that the function room was under used. Given how decrepit it had become and how poorly it was serviced it's amazing that it was used at all. I was fascinated to hear head counts for use of the function room – I’ve certainly never seen anyone taking notes. If I was cynical I might wonder whether added to the neglect of the Fox itself, this was part of a softening up exercise by the developers. I don’t expect the developers to do other than adduce “evidence” to support their plans, but I might have expected a public authority to at least question it.
Then to top it all, the developers were allowed to read out in its entirety a long letter of support from an individual who seemed to know what people really wanted, ignoring the many who had raised concerns. The author - David Eden.
Contrary to any such claims, it has never been a simple NIMBY matter. It was a legitimate exercise of a right to express a view, which the developers encouraged, then ignored! Regretfully I suspect that this experience will do little to encourage constructive participation in future consultations.
Supporting an overall concept but refusing to accept minutiae detail and block the whole as a result is very different from backing a development.
Reality is it has local backing but a vocal minority oppose for minor detail reasons. Which is what in the past has stopped anything getting done.
The car park has been an eye sore as long as I can remember. Pollarding or not, it was still a pig and a waste of valuable space. As for function room usage - numbers have been debated on this very website in fact therefore it is a tad insincere to suggest this was a provocation from leftfield, not something widely discussed in the open domain.
Can't remember when Heineken bought the existing operator-owner of the pub, but it's been an awful shabby dump since I moved into the area in 2009.
The letter I wrote was not long (am happy to repost if desired) it simply set out the views I wanted to air at the committee meeting. If I had not been runover 2 months ago and still in a leg brace, boot and crutches, I would have attended. Part of it's purpose was to highlight the feeling shared by a number of my age cohort, that younger views and interests get over-ridden by more vocal maturer audiences who pertain to represent a lot more people's views than they actually do.
That a number of people did object, did not make them 'the many' versus 'the few' that supported. It's that kind of disingenuity that planners need to work hard to combat, in this case successfully.
We all have a right to express a view. Some did so in person. Some did remotely. All had opportunity, such is democracy. Qualified professionals made a recommendation and public officials put it all into a hat and decided upon an equitable answer.
Following the acquisition of the Fox site by the dominvs group (yes it's a "v" not a "u") I wondered whether the application was going to proceed . However, I have just noticed a sign on the hoarding (image attached) which appears to repeat the appoved planning application summary. Note that it says that the building start date is 13/04/2020 and is scheduled to take 83 weeks, so if you want one of the promised gastropub meals, you will be hungry!
It’s actually a notice of construction commencing, not a new planning application. 2020 is a typo and should read 2019. That means works should finish approx Nov 2020. The internal fit out of the Fox will be by the pub company so might be a little later opening than the flats but hopefully a matter of weeks/few months max